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10 must-read multicultural children’s books

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10 must-read multicultural children's books | recommendations for younger and older readers @teachmama

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and we are celebrating diversity in children’s literature!

Woo-hoo!  You better believe I’m all for it.

Our kids must read a wide variety of books, books that feature characters of all shapes and sizes. They need to read about different families, foods, and cultures.  Different holidays, customs, and crafts.  Different experiences, events, and celebrations.

It’s imperative that our books reflect the world around us, and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to open up the doors of conversation and learning rather than with books.

And though there are a million, trillion books out there, today you’ll be able to add some great, new titles to your list for your next library trip, thanks to my list here and the many other bloggers who are writing about their favorite multicultural children’s books today.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Must-Read Multicultural Children’s Books: I’ll be honest. I’m kind of cheating here.

Narrowing this list down was pretty tricky for me, since I have a boatload of favorite multicultural children’s books.

But what I also realized is that because my own kiddos (10, 8, and 6 years old) are slowly moving over to that YA (young adult) bookshelf, my picks are a bit of both.

I couldn’t help it.

My top five must-read multicultural children’s books are:

  • Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore  | Little Cora learns the art of cooking pancit with the help of her mama on a rare day when her brother and sisters are out of the house.
  • The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie de Paola  |  I love Tomie de Paola’s take on this Indian legend about how a young boy, the artist of his tribe, creates a painting to fulfill his Dream-Vision.
  • So Far from the Sea, by Even Bunting  |  The Iwasaki family visits Manzanar, where Japanese were interned during WWII, and little Laura says goodbye to her Grandfather in a touching and memorable way.
  • The Legend of the Bluebonnet, by Tomie de Paola  |  The story of a courageous Comanche girl and how she parts with her most prized possession in order to help her people is moving and unforgettable.
  • Mama’s Saris, by Pooja Makhijani  |  I have always loved the grace and beauty of not only the sari but the story of how important it is for a little girl to wear a sari like her mother.
  • I also love, love, love the A Child’s Day series–a day in the life of a child in some part of the word.   It’s a photo journal, a glimpse into what life is like for children all around the world. Love these.

diversity quote maya angelou |  teachmama.com @teachmama

For slightly older kids, I love these multicultural books for young adult (ya) readers:

  • The Recipe for Adventure series, by Giada DeLaurentiis  | (ages 7-12)  Adventure, cooking, and a whole lot of Italian family is the focus of this series which follows Alfie and his sister Emilia all over the world as they solve mysteries and sample food along the way.
  • Aloha, Kanani, by Lisa Yee  |  (ages 8+)  Kanani’s Hawaiian life is totally foreign to her New York City cousin, Rachel, but the girls have a whole summer to learn from each other and embrace their differences.
  • Children of the River, by Linda Crew  | (ages 9+) Sundara and her family move to Oregon to escape the Khmer Rouge army, and Sundara struggles with balancing her Cambodian identity with the new American lifestyle.
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros  |  (ages 13+)  Beautiful and poetic, this coming of age story tells Esperanza’s experiences growing up in the inner city.
  • The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte  |  (ages 13+ ) Alfred works hard to stay out of trouble, but he finds out that a winner isn’t always the guy who comes out on top.

It’s really just a start. I have a ton more to recommend, but I do want you to check out other folks’ recommendations as well!

Want to know a bit more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day? Sure you do.

blogger buttonMission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.

Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The event’s sponsors are Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of  My Grandfather’s Masbaha.

Do check out the other great bloggers who are participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event:  

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s BooksKid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

 

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Comment (7) | Leave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for joining us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Amy and for your great list of children’s books! I think it’s so important to share the multicultural books we love so hopefully more will find their way into the hands of kids!

    I also found So Far From the Sea to be so moving. I love how Eve Bunting can really deeply understand sometimes painful issues from any culture and bring them to life. My mom was relocated during WWII for being Japanese American and living in Japantown in San Francisco so this book resonates particularly for me and I want my kids to know their heritage.

    Thank you again for your support! We could not have done it without you!!!

    ps Will be checking out your other recs too! Many are new to me.

    Reply
    • Awwwh, thank YOU, Mia, for organizing such an incredible event and for your patience and support along the way! YOU are doing awesome things, my friend!!

      I feel so strongly about Eve Bunting’s books; she has an amazing way of really bringing heavy topics to life in a way that is both gentle but real. She’s so talented. Off to check out the other posts!

      Reply
  2. I am off to look for The Recipe for Adventure! That sounds like something my daughter would love.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for the list. Have to go check them out.

    Reply
  4. There are 2 lovely books by author Gladys Barbieri, that are wonderful stories. One is called “Pink Firetrucks” and the other is “Rubber Shoes”.

    Reply
    Veronica
    31/01/2014

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