Best Kids Books About Diversity

88 Kids Books About Diversity

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse book
#1
Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
Written by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come. Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse--the best and most beautiful horse anywhere. But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse? The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important. Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

The Spelling Bee Before Recess book
#2
The Spelling Bee Before Recess
Written by Deborah Lee Rose and illustrated by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The students were squirming but none made a sound, as the spelling bee entered its championship round. It’s right before recess, and the annual school spelling bee is down to just three spellers: Cornelius the Genius, Smart Ruby, and The Slugger, who never strikes out. Round after round, the words whizz at them, but with one minute left until recess, there’s still no winner. Who will triumph? It all comes down to one final word, and a curveball that no one sees coming! Deborah Lee Rose’s clever rhyming text packs a laugh-out-loud wallop with words that young readers will enjoy spelling and reading aloud again and again. Fun and whimsical illustrations by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis provide the perfect balance of humor and suspense as readers find out whether The Slugger will hit a grand slam or finally strike out. The book includes three spelling lists that can be used for spelling bees at home, in school, at the library, or for community events. An author’s note describes why and how words were chosen.

Can't Sleep Without Sheep book
#3
Can't Sleep Without Sheep
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Whenever Ava can't sleep, she counts sheep. But Ava takes so long to fall asleep, it's the sheep that are growing tired-until finally, they quit! When the sheep promise to find a replacement that Ava can count on, chaos ensues as chickens, cows, pigs, hippos, and more try their hand at jumping over Ava's fence. Finding the perfectly peaceful replacement for sheep might not be so easy after all. With irresistibly adorable art, this delightful take on a familiar sleep tactic is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#4
Les & Ronnie Step Out
Written and illustrated by Andrew Kolb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Meet a left and right foot who are a pair of complete opposites! Full of clever, giggle-inducing details, this lively odd-couple tale celebrates what makes us all unique, as well as the power of friendship to bring us together despite our differences. Feet come in twos, so they need to step out together. But Les and Ronnie often find it hard to cooperate. Les likes having a clean sock and being responsible. Ronnie is fine with a dirty sock and loves letting loose. Les is straight-laced while Ronnie doesn’t even care about laces. What’s a duo to do?

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut book
#5
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

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.

Grandmama's Pride book
#6
Grandmama's Pride
Written by Becky Birtha and illustrated by Colin Bootman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

The Way Back Home book
#7
The Way Back Home
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes an imaginative tale of friendship in a world where what makes us different isn’t nearly as important as what makes us the same. When a boy discovers a single-propeller airplane in his closet, he does what any young adventurer would do: He flies it into outer space! Millions of miles from Earth, the plane begins to sputter and quake, its fuel tank on empty. The boy executes a daring landing on the moon . . . but there’s no telling what kind of slimy, slithering, tentacled, fangtoothed monsters lurk in the darkness! (Plus, it’s dark and lonely out there.) Coincidentally, engine trouble has stranded a young Martian on the other side of the moon, and he’s just as frightened and alone. Martian, Earthling—it’s all the same when you’re in need of a friend.

Those Magnificent Sheep In Their Flying Machines book
#8
Those Magnificent Sheep In Their Flying Machines
Written by Peter Bently and illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The sheep on the hillside were munching away, much as they always did, day after day, when suddenly something went ZOOM overhead! "Let's go and see what it is!" they all said. And so begins a ripping, round-the-world adventure as the magnificent sheep take to skies in their spiffing, yellow flying machine...

Mixed Me! book
#9
Mixed Me!
Written by Taye Diggs and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Mom and Dad say I'm a blend of dark and light: "We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right." Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

That's Not How You Do It! book
#10
That's Not How You Do It!
Written and illustrated by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Lucy knows how to do everything. All her friends ask her for help if they need to know the right way to do something. When Toshi arrives, Lucy thinks he can't do anything properly at all. She can barely hide her frustration. When she finally tries to teach Toshi the right way to do things, she learns a very important lesson herself.

Duck for Turkey Day book
#11
Duck for Turkey Day
Written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Tuyet finds out that her Vietnamese family is having duck rather than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, she is upset until she finds out that other children in her class did not eat turkey either.

The day you begin book
#12
The day you begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

We Planted a Tree book
#13
We Planted a Tree
Written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Simple text reveals the benefits of planting a single tree, both to those who see it grow and to the world as a whole.

I Got the Rhythm book
#14
I Got the Rhythm
Written by Connie Scholfield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.

All are welcome book
#15
All are welcome
Written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
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.

Hello Hello book
#16
Hello Hello
Written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A new picture book from Brendan Wenzel, the New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor-winning author of They All Saw a Cat! Hello, Hello! Beginning with two cats, one black and one white, a chain of animals appears before the reader, linked together by at least one common trait. From simple colors and shapes to more complex and abstract associations, each unexpected encounter celebrates the magnificent diversity of our world—and ultimately paints a story of connection. Brendan Wenzel's joyous, rhythmic text and exuberant art encourage readers to delight in nature's infinite differences and to look for—and marvel at—its gorgeous similarities. It all starts with a simple "Hello." The book includes: • An afterword from author Brendan Wenzel about the importance of conservation and protecting the wildlife on our planet. • A glossary of the animals featured in the book and a notation on their status (Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered).

Music Is for Everyone book
#17
Music Is for Everyone
Written by Jill Barber and illustrated by Sydney Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Music is for Everyone is sure to get you excited about making music! Singer-songwriter Jill Barber takes her young readers through many different kinds of music—hip-hop, jazz, classical, folk—and instruments in an energetic, rhyming tour. Sydney Smith’s gleeful illustrations capture all the joy that comes from making music in all its forms!

Dear Dragon book
#18
Dear Dragon
Written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A sweet and clever friendship story in rhyme, about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath. George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face?

The Great Big Book of Families book
#19
The Great Big Book of Families
Written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Ros Asquith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This fun and fascinating treasury features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life-from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Ros Asquith’s humorous illustrations perfectly complement a charming text from the acclaimed Mary Hoffman; kids will love poring over these pages again and again. A celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over, The Great Big Book of Families is a great big treat for every family to share.

Americans book
#20
Americans
Written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What makes Americans great? Americans are different from one another in many ways. And despite these differences, Americans share certain ways of doing and being that hold us all together. From the Fourth of July to the Bill of Rights, Douglas Wood and Elizabeth Sayles share the story of what it is to be American.

F Is for Flag book
#21
F Is for Flag
Written by Wendy Lewison and illustrated by Barbara Duke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

June 14 is Flag Day, but with so many American flags proudly displayed, every day seems like Flag Day. Perfect for reading together with a young child, F Is for Flag shows in simple terms how one flag can mean many things: a symbol of unity, a sign of welcome, and a reminder that-in good times and in bad-everyone in our country is part of one great big family.

The Tiger and the Wise Man book
#22
The Tiger and the Wise Man
Written by Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Diana Mayo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A wise man takes a survey from the forest creatures to prove that he should not be eaten by the tricky tiger, but his plan backfires until a jackal comes along.

Fur, Feather, Fin—All of Us Are Kin book
#23
Fur, Feather, Fin—All of Us Are Kin
Written by Diane Lang and illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

There are so many wild and wonderful animals in our world. Some have fur, some have feathers, some have fins, but all are connected. This fact-filled rhyming exploration of the diversity of the animal kingdom celebrates mammals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and more! It’s a perfect match for budding naturalists and animal enthusiasts everywhere.

When I Grow Up book
#24
When I Grow Up
Written and illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What is your family like? All of the children in Miss Ester’s class know what they want to be like when they grow up: their families! And each family is special and unique. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find that Johnny the duckling’s mom and dad have curly tails, stubby noses, and hooves. Johnny and his classmates make it easy for parents to show their little ones that there are many types of families, and they’re all made of love. Paula Vásquez’s fun illustrations and sweet writing style make this unique family story a must-have.

My Name Is Zedonk book
#25
My Name Is Zedonk
Written and illustrated by Jia Han
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

In the 2010 Census, almost 10 million Americans identified as multiracial. As our population grows, more and more families will be made up of people who may not look just like one another. My Name is Zedonk is a charming children’s book celebrating diverse and multiracial families—or just a little story about a zedonk, read into it what you wish. Originally published in Korea, the story is for ages 3 to 8 and illustrated with full color, mixed media drawings that will resonate across ages, races, and genders. This story captures love, acceptance, and the mystery and magic of family. “My mama is a donkey, my papa is a zebra, and I am a zedonk. Each of us is a bit different and we are all happy together.”

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.