My site would be incomplete without including books that help children to understand diversity. While I will list books that deal with emotions around feeling different, We Need Diverse Books is an excellent website that provides a resource page entitled where to find diverse books. Their mission is “[p]utting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.” I cannot even try to replicate their wonderful work so I encourage you to explore their site for more information.
I want to mention two other fabulous websites specializing in multicultural children’s books. Colours of Us makes it easy to find children’s books by searching ethnicities and age groups. Pragmatic Mom has children’s and YA booklists to peruse that highlight books which have diverse characters. The latter site is also one of the originators of the #diversekidlit meme that will allow you to find additional resources in this area.
[LOTS MORE TITLES TO COME]
The Butter Battle Book (1984)
by Dr. Seuss
Amazon.com blurb: The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss’s classic cautionary tale, introduces readers to the important lesson of respecting differences. The Yooks and Zooks share a love of buttered bread, but animosity brews between the two groups because they prefer to enjoy the tasty treat differently. The timeless and topical rhyming text is an ideal way to teach young children about the issues of tolerance and respect. Whether in the home or in the classroom, The Butter Battle Book is a must-have for readers of all ages.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (2015)
Amazon.com blurb: Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
Thompson’s lyrical prose and Qualls’s bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.
by Jo Empson (Author/Illustrator)
Recommended by Myra Garces-Bacsal on her blog Gathering Books
The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
by Dr. Seuss
Amazon.com blurb: Dr. Seuss creates another timeless picture-book classic with The Sneetches and Other Stories. Are you a Star-Belly Sneetch or a Plain-Belly Sneetch?
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are (2008)
by Maria Dismondy (Author), Kim Shaw (Illustrator)
Author’s website: “Lucy, Lucy, eats stinky food that puts us all in a big, bad mood!” How can Ralph be so mean, Lucy wonders? Lucy is one of a kind, and Ralph loves to point that out. Lucy’s defining moment comes when Ralph truly needs her help. Because she knows what she stands for, Lucy has the courage to make the right choice. This charming story empowers children to always do the right thing and to be proud of themselves even when they are faced with someone as challenging as Ralph.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (2001)
Amazon.com blurb: Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.
Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.
But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
Tacky the Penguin (1990)
by Helen Lester
Amazon.com blurb: Tacky’s perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.
From the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity: This delightful tale of an odd penguin who doesn’t fit in with the perfect penguins in his colony is well suited to budding out-of-the-box thinkers who often do things differently from their peers. Stories give children a way to think positively about themselves, and Tacky is a hero for children who struggle with differences.
Whoever You Are (2006)
Amazon.com: “Little one, / whoever you are, / wherever you are, / there are little ones / just like you / all over the world.” So begins the Australian author Mem Fox’s joyful picture book Whoever You Are, a celebration of the world’s diverse cultures, both our similarities and differences. Leslie Straub’s innovative, colorful, folk art–style oil paintings of children from all corners of the globe are bordered with photographs of hand-carved, bejeweled frames—and they all reflect Fox’s message that no matter where we come from, within our hearts “Joys are the same, / and love is the same. / Pain is the same, / and blood is the same.” A gem!