Culture: Picture Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about culture?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to culture. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about culture.

Our list includes picture books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about culture, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like You Hold Me Up to popular sellers like The Snowy Day to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Rough-Face Girl.

We hope this list of kids books about culture can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Culture

The Proudest Blue book
#1
The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
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.

Manjhi Moves a Mountain book
#2
Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Danny Popovici
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if your heart is big enough.

Big Papa and the Time Machine book
#3
Big Papa and the Time Machine
Written by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the true meaning of being brave in this tender and whimsical picture book from Daniel Bernstrom (One Day in the Eucalytus, Eucalyptus Tree) and Shane Evans (Chocolate Me!) that follows a grandfather and grandson who travel through time in a beloved 1952 Ford.

A little boy who lives with his grandpa isn’t reprimanded for being afraid to go to school one day. Instead, Big Papa takes him away in his time machine—a 1952 Ford—back to all of the times when he, himself, was scared of something life was handing him.

Full of heartfelt moments and thrilling magical realism, Big Papa and the Time Machine speaks to the African American experience in a touching dialogue between two family members from different generations, and emerges as a voice that shares history and asks questions about one family’s experience in 20th-century black America.

*“Wasn’t you scared?”

“Oh, I was scared,” Big Papa said. “Sometimes you gotta walk with giants if you ever gonna know what you made of. That’s called being brave.”*

What Is Given from the Heart book
#4
What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott book
#5
Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

If I Had a Gryphon book
#6
If I Had a Gryphon
Written by Vikki VanSickle and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring … he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet … or is he? If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations—and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.

Yaffa and Fatima book
#7
Yaffa and Fatima
Written by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and illustrated by Chiara Fedele
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Forced to bring her little sister along to a birthday party, Rubina is mortified when her younger sibling demands to win every game and steals Rubina’s red lollipop party favor.

Malala's Magic Pencil book
#8
Malala's Magic Pencil
Written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats book
#9
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors, “But what can we decorate them with?” Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa’s carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees — but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season. Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship.

I Am Rosa Parks book
#10
I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

Table of Contents
Jump to books about Culture and...

Books About Culture and African Americans

Big Papa and the Time Machine book
#1
Big Papa and the Time Machine
Written by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the true meaning of being brave in this tender and whimsical picture book from Daniel Bernstrom (One Day in the Eucalytus, Eucalyptus Tree) and Shane Evans (Chocolate Me!) that follows a grandfather and grandson who travel through time in a beloved 1952 Ford.

A little boy who lives with his grandpa isn’t reprimanded for being afraid to go to school one day. Instead, Big Papa takes him away in his time machine—a 1952 Ford—back to all of the times when he, himself, was scared of something life was handing him.

Full of heartfelt moments and thrilling magical realism, Big Papa and the Time Machine speaks to the African American experience in a touching dialogue between two family members from different generations, and emerges as a voice that shares history and asks questions about one family’s experience in 20th-century black America.

*“Wasn’t you scared?”

“Oh, I was scared,” Big Papa said. “Sometimes you gotta walk with giants if you ever gonna know what you made of. That’s called being brave.”*

What Is Given from the Heart book
#2
What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott book
#3
Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Written by Dee Romito and illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal. Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how. She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook. The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods. As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked. Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Am Rosa Parks - Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

  2. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut - Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, the Huffington Post , Publishers Weekly , Kirkus Reviews , the Los Angeles Times , the Boston Globe , the Horn Book Magazine , the News & Observer , BookPage , Chicago Public Library, and more The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

  3. Bippity Bop Barbershop - In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

  4. Grandmama's Pride - While on a trip in 1956 to visit her grandmother in the South, six-year-old Sarah Marie experiences segregation for the first time, but discovers that things have changed by the time she returns the following year.

Want to see 15 more children's books about culture and African Americans?

How about children's books about African Americans?

Books About Culture and Mythology

If I Had a Gryphon book
#1
If I Had a Gryphon
Written by Vikki VanSickle and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring … he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet … or is he? If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations—and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.

Viking Myths: Volume Two book
#2
Viking Myths: Volume Two
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Journey to the frozen north for this second spellbinding anthology of Viking myths! Enter the world of Norse mythology, where you’ll find sea monsters, shape-changers, dark forests, and cunning, gold-hoarding underground dwarves. This second volume of Viking tales features more fantastical, entrancing adventures, including Thor’s journey in the land of the giants, and Ragnarok, the apocalyptic battle of the gods, retold in a way that will engage very young readers. Different illustrators bring their distinctive styles to each story.

The Singing Rock and Other Brand-New Fairy Tales book
#3
The Singing Rock and Other Brand-New Fairy Tales
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A genie just wants a chance to grant a wish to the frog who accidentally let him out of his lamp—meanwhile, the frog just wants to be left alone. A witch is tormented by the cheerful (and awful) singing of a persistent bard, but when she finally snaps and turns him into a rock, he just keeps on singing —somehow the power of terrible music overcomes all magic. A wizard wants a pet. An ogre just wants to make beautiful art. Four original, wry, and utterly charming fairy tales comprise this new collection for young readers.

With deft, lively text from Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and eye-popping, painterly art by Simini Blocker, The Singing Rock is the perfect read for kids who love a good yarn—and good comics!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Echo Echo - A new book of unique reversible poems based on Greek myths from the creator of Mirror Mirror What happens when you hold up a mirror to poems about Greek myths? You get a brand-new perspective on the classics! And that is just what happens in Echo Echo, the newest collection of reverso poems from Marilyn Singer. Read one way, each poem tells the story of a familiar myth; but when read in reverse, the poems reveal a new point of view! Readers will delight in uncovering the dual points of view in well-known legends, including the stories of Pandora’s box, King Midas and his golden touch, Perseus and Medusa, Pygmalion, Icarus and Daedalus, Demeter and Persephone, and Echo and Narcissus. These cunning verses combine with beautiful illustrations to create a collection of fourteen reverso poems to treasure.

  2. One Last Wish - A princess marries a man she loves in spite of his impending death. Due to her devotion and persistence, she is granted a wish, which she uses wisely. Themes: love, devotion, bravery.

  3. Jason and the Argonauts - A beautifully illustrated account of the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts with informative details from the award-winning author of Electric Ben The story of Jason and the Argonauts is one of the earliest recorded Greek myths. Here, master artist Robert Byrd has created a striking telling of the legend for a new generation of readers. Complete with explanatory notes and illustrated back matter, Jason and the Argonauts traces each step of our hero’s journey, from the Golden Fleece’s origin story and Jason’s childhood to his triumphant return with the prize and eventual death. Deftly designed to accommodate glorious large pictures and captioned insets, the book is not only a great story, but a wealth of information about ancient Greece.

  4. El Chupacabras - A long time ago, a girl named Carla lived on a goat farm with her father, Hector. One night, a goat disappeared from the farm and turned up flat as a pancake. Only one creature could do that–El Chupacabras, the goatsucker! Legend has it that El Chupacabras is a fearsome beast, but you can’t believe everything you hear…and sometimes the truth is even more interesting.

Want to see more children's books about mythology?

Books About Culture and Native Americans

The Rough-Face Girl book
#1
The Rough-Face Girl
Written by Rafe Martin and illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From Algonquin Indian folklore comes one of the most haunting, powerful versions of the Cinderella tale ever told. In a village by the shores of Lake Ontario lived an invisible being. All the young women wanted to marry him because he was rich, powerful, and supposedly very handsome. But to marry the invisible being the women had to prove to his sister that they had seen him. And none had been able to get past the sister’s stern, all-knowing gaze. Then came the Rough-Face girl, scarred from working by the fire. Could she succeed where her beautiful, cruel sisters had failed?

Stolen Words / Kimotinaniwiw Pikiskwewina book
#2
Stolen Words / Kimotinaniwiw Pikiskwewina
Written by Melanie Florence and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

The dual language edition, in Cree and English, of the award-winning story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in Cree, he tells her that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.

I Am Sacagawea book
#3
I Am Sacagawea
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“A biography of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who served as a translator for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.”

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito - Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for. The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack. The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

  2. Sacajawea of the Shoshone - One minute she was picking berries and the next her tribe was under attack. Running for her life, Sacajawea was scooped up and taken far away from her village and family—and into history. From her mountain home to the banks of the Missouri River, over the majestic Rockies to the pounding waves of the Pacific, Sacajawea would travel farther than any American woman of her time. Richly illustrated and smartly narrated, this book brings to life the story of the real and remarkable Shoshone princess who helped Captains Lewis and Clark navigate their way across the American West.

  3. The Thunder Egg - Stands-by-Herself lives with her grandmother in a buffalo-hide tipi among their Cheyenne people on the Great Plains. Other children make fun of her because she is always by herself dreaming. One day she finds a strange egg-shaped rock and senses there is something special about it. Taking it home, she cares for it as if it were a child, even though the other children mock her. When a terrible drought threatens to wipe out her people, could Stands-by-Herself’s rock hold the key to their survival? The Thunder Egg is the story of a girl’s coming of age, when she realizes that life can require us to think of others before ourselves and to follow what our hearts tell us. Featuring an author’s note, informative notes on the illustrations, and a bibliography, the book is filled with vibrant images of Plains Indian life in the unspoiled West. Carefully crafted text and paintings bring a true authenticity to the time, place, and people of the story.

  4. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga - The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Want to see more children's books about Native Americans?

Books About Culture and Holidays

What Do You Celebrate? book
#1
What Do You Celebrate?
Written by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Christiane Engel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Discover a world of celebrations! This entertaining book introduces kids to 14 holidays, from Brazilian carnival, Chinese New Year, Bastille Day, and the Cherry Blossom Festival to Purim, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, Day of the Dead, and Halloween. As in the popular What’s On Your Plate?, each spread showcases a different holiday, offering background, cultural context, vocabulary words, photographs, and instructions for festive projects.

Night of the Moon book
#2
Night of the Moon
Written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Julie Paschkis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Now in paperback, this sweet tale follows Yasmeen, a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl, as she celebrates the Muslim holidays of Ramadan, “The Night of the Moon” (Chaand Raat), and Eid. With lush illustrations that evoke Islamic art, this beautiful story offers a peek into modern Muslim culture—and into the ancient roots of its most cherished traditions.

Thread of Love book
#3
Thread of Love
Written by Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal and illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Three siblings enjoy the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan—a celebration of the special relationship between brothers and sisters—in this vibrant reinterpretation of the classic song Frère Jacques (Are You Sleeping) from New York Times bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal. It’s time for the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan, the celebration of the special lifelong relationship shared by brothers and sisters everywhere. Join two sisters as they lovingly make rakhi—thread bracelets adorned with beads, sequins, sparkles, and tassels—for their brother. And then see their brother present them with toys and sweets and special gifts! New York Times bestselling authors Surishtha and Kabir Sehgals’ irresistible text, set to the tune of the classic song Frère Jacques (Are You Sleeping), will have little ones singing along while they learn about Indian culture. And the vibrant illustrations by Zara Gonzalez Hoang will have readers wishing they could step right into the characters’ colorful crafting world. This enchanting picture book includes instructions for making rakhi!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Shanté Keys and the New Year's Peas - When Shante´ is sent to find black-eyed peas for her family’s New Year’s celebration, she learns about each of her neighbor’s New Year’s traditions in their home countries.

  2. The Gift of Ramadan - Sophia wants to fast for Ramadan this year. She tries to keep busy throughout the day so she won’t think about food. But when the smell of cookies is too much, she breaks her fast early. How can she be part of the festivities now?

Want to see more children's books about holidays?

Books About Culture and Family

A Different Pond book
#1
A Different Pond
Written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls “a must-read for our times,” A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event - a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son - and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui’s striking, evocative art paired with Phi’s expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.

You Hold Me Up book
#2
You Hold Me Up
Written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions. Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about Reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens. Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this hardcover picture book as a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition.

Together for Kwanzaa book
#3
Together for Kwanzaa
Written by Juwanda G. Ford and illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Thundermaker - The Thundermaker is based on Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy’s spectacular mixed-media exhibit of the same name. In the book, Big Thunder teaches his son, Little Thunder, about the important responsibility he has in making thunder for his people. Little Thunder learns about his Mi’kmaw identity through his father’s teachings and his mother’s traditional stories. Syliboy’s spectacular, vibrant artwork brings the story of Little Thunder to vivid life.

  2. Hamid's Story - This is the real-life story of 10-year old refugee Hamid, who flees Eritrea with his mother to escape the war and threats to his family from the government. Told in Hamid’s own words, this story describes the hardship experienced by immigrants who are rebuilding their lives with little understanding of the language and culture of their new country.

  3. Love You More Than Anything - Colorful picture book about the many kinds of love between people. This book crosses cultures and generations, social change and tradition. It exudes warmth and playfulness, sharing whimsical images and sweet memories. Each colorful page depicts a different couple enjoying their time together: two grandparents, two teenagers, a girl and her granny, a boy and a girl, two men, young girlfriends, a child and parent. Love can happen between anyone of any race, religion or size, anywhere. Love You More Than Anything is a simple, beautiful celebration of love in all its forms.

  4. Pancakes to Parathas - Breakfast varies from country to country, but it’s how all children begin their day. Explore the meals of twelve countries in this playful approach to the world! From Australia to India to the USA, come travel around the world at dawn. Children everywhere are waking up to breakfast. In Japan, students eat soured soybeans called natto. In Brazil, even kids drink coffee—with lots of milk! With rhythm and rhymes and bold, graphic art, Pancakes to Parathas invites young readers to explore the world through the most important meal of the day.

Want to see more children's books about family?

Did you enjoy our culture book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!