It’s been a while since I’ve done a diverse children’s picture books feature. I’ve missed it! My daughter is participating in a program through our local library called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. Since we have a bit of reading to do before August 2019, I figured this would be the perfect time to get back into this feature.
*Diverse Children’s Picture Books is a feature where I spotlight a few diverse children’s picture book that I feel deserve some attention. What do I mean by diverse children’s picture books? I mean children’s picture books that are written by or about people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and any other minorities. Diversity in books is just as (if not more) important in children’s literature.
Books included in this post: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, I Am Enough by Grace Byers, and A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
*All titles link to Goodreads & all author/illustrator names link to their websites
» The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson & Illustrated by Rafael López
Published: August 2018
If you are not familiar with Jacqueline Woodson’s work, I highly encourage you to look into her books. She writes across the board from children’s picture books to middle grade to young adult.
The Day You Begin is about that feeling that children have when they walk into a room and realize there is something that sets them apart from everyone else. This could be skin color, social class, gender, etc. We see diverse cast of characters struggling with something that makes them stand out: a boy from Venezuela who is struggling with learning a new language after moving to a new country; a little girl that stayed home all summer reading books while her classmates traveled the world; a little girl who is embarrassed that her mother packs her kimchi for lunch when the other kids eat sandwiches; a little boy that is not good at sports not being allowed to play.
Reading this book broke my heart for many reasons. Firstly, I know Jacqueline wrote this to her younger self because I had the pleasure of attending her book tour for this book. You can read more about that here ⇒ Book Event: An Evening with Jacqueline Woodson in Conversation With Sharon Draper. Secondly, I know that many children feel this way even today. I loved how Jacqueline was able to write such a beautiful message in her stunning prose that is still understandable to young children: share your story, and you might be surprised to find similarities with others that you wouldn’t expect. Also, celebrate those differences that makes you, YOU.
The illustrations are absolutely beautiful! Full of color and imagination.
» Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Published: September 2018
Dreamers is the story of a mother and her baby boy immigrating to the United States from Mexico. Once in the United States, the mother quickly realizes it is much harder than she imagined. They do not know the language, so they feel very isolated & alone. They do not have a voice. They begin walking around their new city until one day they stumble upon the public library. Mother and baby take comfort in the library among the stacks of books. Here they didn’t need to be able to read the language in order to understand the story, they could look at the beautiful illustrations!
The best part about this story? It is the true story of the author’s life. Make sure to read the author’s note at the end of the book!
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous with touches of Mexican culture throughout.
» I Am Enough by Grace Byers & Illustrated by Keturah Bobo
Published: March 2018
Are you looking for a book that celebrates diversity and girl power? Look no further!
Not only does this book include characters from all different races, ethnicities, religions, physical abilities, etc, BUT it features all GIRL characters. I am a huge proponent of girl power in children’s books. Let’s face it, society isn’t always kind to girls & women, so I am always on the lookout for books to empower young girls.
This book has an important message: we are all different, but we are each enough just as we are.
I Am Enough has very realistic looking illustrations set against a white background which makes them really pop. One of the illustrations included is a group of girls from all different backgrounds all holding hands standing on top of the world… probably one of my favorite illustrations to date!
» A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Published: August 2018
I absolutely adore Grace Lin’s middle grade books, so I was very excited to see Children’s book at my local library.
Inspired by the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, A Big Mooncake for Little Star is a modern folktale about the changing phases of the moon. Here, a little girl & her mother hanging their mooncake in the sky to cool after baking. When the temptation proves to be too much, Little Star sneaks over to sneak a bite. I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of the story goes. Guess what the crumbs Little Star leaves behind become? The stars! I just love the way Grace Lin crafts stories that feel so much like mythology & folklore.
Set against a black backdrop, these illustrations are perfect for bedtime reading.