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Books About Diversity and Celebrating Differences

Curated by LibraryMom
Have you heard the metaphor of books being like mirrors, windows, and doors? Like a mirror, they allow children to see themselves reflected in the characters. Like a window, stories can provide children with a view into another experience. And like a door, books can create an opening to step through and visit different worlds. Because stories can hold so much power for children, it is crucial that we share books that celebrate diversity. Here is a list of books that will hopefully help children find a representation of themselves, expand their world view, and promote inclusivity
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The Proudest Blue book
7.0
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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by Hatem Aly and S. K. Ali
Thoughts from LibraryMom
Faizah could not be prouder of her sister as she wears her beautiful new hijab on the first day of school. She begins to doubt herself, however, when her sister faces unkind comments from other students. This book expertly weaves in themes of family, acceptance, fostering empathy, and finding inner confidence making it a real standout.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school–and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab–by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

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All are welcome book
6.5
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All are welcome
Written by Alexandra Penfold & illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Thoughts from LibraryMom
Poignant language paired with colorful illustrations featuring a diverse group of students drive home the message that school is an inclusive and welcoming place to ALL. This is sure to become a classic classroom read aloud that is reread every year.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

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A Normal Pig book
6.5
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A Normal Pig
Written & illustrated by K-Fai Steele
Thoughts from LibraryMom
Pip feels like a normal pig until a new pig comes to school and makes her question the things she likes. This engaging story takes a realistic scenario and helps reinforce in children the importance of celebrating differences and individuality.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Pip is a normal pig who does normal stuff: cooking, painting, and dreaming of what she’ll be when she grows up. But one day a new pig comes to school and starts pointing out all the ways in which Pip is different. Suddenly she doesn’t like any of the same things she used to . . . the things that made her Pip. This charming picture book celebrates all our differences while questioning the idea that there is only one way to be “normal.”

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The Day You Begin book
6.0
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The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Rafael López
Thoughts from LibraryMom
At some point in our lives just about everyone feels like they don’t belong. This complex feeling can be especially confusing and scary for children. The Day You Begin is a powerful book that encourages children to celebrate their uniqueness and share their stories. In doing so, they will often find commonalities with others. With moving text and beautiful illustrations, this special story will resonate with a number of age groups.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

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Just Ask! book
5.8
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Just Ask!
Written by Sonia Sotomayor & illustrated by Rafael López
Thoughts from LibraryMom
Inspired by her own experience with juvenile diabetes, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has created a vibrant picture book encouraging children to ask questions and learn more about people’s differences to better understand and embrace them. This is a beautiful book that raises awareness on conditions that many children face such dyslexia, autism, Tourrette’s syndrome, ADHD, and several others. Questions are posed to the reader creating an interactive element that allows children to connect with the characters in the book and learn that even though we all may be different, we also share commonalities. Using a garden as a metaphor, Sonia Sotomayor shares the important message that just like plants “each of us has unique powers to share with the world and make it more interesting and richer.”
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and award-winning artist Rafael Lopez create a kind and caring book about the differences that make each of us unique.

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

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  • Family Is a Family Is a Family - LibraryMom -

    When a group of diverse students share what makes their families special, they realize each family is different and unique. Free from labels, a variety of family situations are presented in a tender and positive light leaving children with the understanding that a family is a family no matter what the configuration.

  • Same, Same But Different - LibraryMom -

    Elliot and Kailash are pen pals who discover that even though the countries they live in are very different, the two boys still have a lot in common. Colorful illustrations and simple text will help children see how to appreciate differences and how friendships can be formed by finding similar interests.

  • Shades of People - LibraryMom -

    Minimal text and cheerful photographs feature a myriad of diverse children in this delightful book. Smiling faces adorn the pages and children receive the clear message that skin can appear in a variety of shades and most importantly “you can’t tell what someone is like from the color of their skin.” This is an excellent resource for introducing racial and ethnic diversity to young children.

  • This Is How We Do It - LibraryMom -

    This brief glimpse into the life of seven children from countries including Uganda, Italy, Japan, India, Russia, Peru, and Iran provides readers with insight into how other people may live. The book follows the children as they prepare for a typical day starting with what their homes and families are like, what they eat for meals, an overview of their school day, and how they play. The book ends with one final spread featuring the moon and the stars with the simple text, “This is my night sky” signifying that no matter how different our lives may be, we all have something in common. Photographs of the real families the book is based on appear in the back along with a glossary of words in different languages and a map of where the children live. This is a fascinating book that gives children more of a global perspective.

Julian Is a Mermaid book
5.0
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Julian Is a Mermaid
Written & illustrated by Jessica Love
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world. While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

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Lulu the One and Only
Written by Lynnette Mawhinney & illustrated by Jennie Poh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Lulu loves her family, but people are always asking <p/><b>What are you?</b> <p/> Lulu hates that question. Her brother inspires her to come up with a <i>power phrase</i> so she can easily express <i>who </i>she is, not <i>what </i>she is. <p/> Includes a note from the author, sharing her experience as the only biracial person in her family and advice for navigating the complexity of when both parents do not share the same racial identity as their children. <br>

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