Our perceptions of the world and its cultures are influenced by the books we read. This makes books essential in reflecting a true society back to their readers. The absence of an inclusive range of characters and role models in books risks putting children from minority backgrounds off from the joy and love of reading.
We have a bunch of books featuring a diverse range of characters and real-life heroes that children can admire again and again. We also have some great books on how to treat everyone with kindness, no matter the race, religion, or gender. Check out our list of children’s books to educate on diversity.
The same but different too – Karl Newson
These children and animals are all very different from each other. Some are big, some are small. Everyone is playful, but who’s the best at hiding? But one thing’s certain: they all love a good bedtime story!
The perfect picture book for little ones who are just beginning to make sense of their place in the world.
Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o
From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colourism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.
Sulwe’s skin is the colour of midnight. She’s darker than everyone in her family, and everyone at school.
All she wants is to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister.
Then a magical journey through the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
The Only Way is Badger – Stella J Jones
One morning, the animals wake up to find that someone has built a huge wall and put up posters on the trees that read “Badgers are best!” Badger wants everyone to be more like him, and when they can’t do things as well as he does, he sends them away to the other side of the wall. But is being the best really the most important thing?
A book about acceptance, difference and learning to say sorry.
Young Gifted and Black – Jamia Wilson
This book brings together 52 icons of colour from the past and present in a celebration of achievement – a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colourful and celebratory illustrations.
Meet figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams.
Coming to England – Floella Benjamin
The inspiring true story of Floella Benjamin, written and illustrated for the first time as a picture book for young children.
When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn’t at all what Floella had expected.
All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold
No matter how you start your day, What you wear when you play, Or if you come from far away, All are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome. A school where children in patkas, hijabs, baseball caps and yarmulkes play side by side. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions. A school where diversity is a strength.
Warm and inspiring, All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school.
Told as a story, with a facts and photos section at the back, this sweet series for kids celebrates triumph over adversity through some of history’s favourite characters.
Rosa Parks – Lisbeth Kaiser
Rosa Parks tells the inspiring story of the ‘Mother of the Freedom Movement.’
Maya Angelou – Lisbeth Kaiser
Maya Angelou tells the inspiring story of this speaker, writer and civil rights activist.
Kamala Harris – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Kamala Harris tells the incredible story of the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian American to be elected vice president of the USA.
Michelle Obama – Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Michelle Obama tells of the life of the iconic first lady, advocate, lawyer and author.
The Mega Magic Hair Swap – Rochelle Humes
Mai and Rose are best friends but they’re not two peas in a pod. Mai has dark hair that is curly and whirly and never stays put. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Rose? Rose has blonde hair, as straight as a ruler, which slips and slides whenever she tries to put it in a ponytail. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Mai? When a magical coconut grants each girl their wish, and they get the hair they’ve always dreamt of, the friends are overjoyed. However, they soon learn that perfect hair is not everything it’s cracked up to be. In fact, their hair was pretty magical and perfect the way it was before…
Don’t Touch My Hair! – Sharee Miller
It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens… until, finally, Aria has had enough!
This humorous board book will spark an important conversation on personal boundaries for children. Commercial, imaginative, and fun, Don’t Touch My Hair! can be used to teach young readers about asking for permission–and that it’s all right to be told “no” as well.
Our Skin – Megan Madison
Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
This first book in the series begins the conversation on race, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.
What do you think of our list of children’s books to educate on diversity? Which books do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.