by Julius Lester
In this acclaimed book, the author shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special and introduces race as just one of many chapters in a person’s story. Lester’s poignant picture book helps children learn, grow, discuss, and begin to create a future that resolves differences.
by Yamile Saied Mendez
An unkind question becomes an opportunity for conversation and self-acceptance―thanks to a wise grandpa.
A great book for exploring personal backgrounds and histories, celebrating diversity, and heartwarming family relationships.
by Alexandra Penfold
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.
by Susan Verde
A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.
by Jacqueline Woodson
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. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text 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.
by Calida Garcia Rawles
Same Difference addresses the sensitive and sometimes divisive issues of beauty and identity. Vivid illustrations capture the spirit and innocence of Lida and Lisa, two first cousins who find themselves at odds with each other over their physical differences. With the help of their wise grandmother, the girls soon realize that their bond is deeper than what they see and our differences are what make us beautiful.
by Ilene Cooper
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – everybody knows the Golden rule. But where does it come from and why is it important? It’s easy to say, but what does it mean? Why is it called Golden? Here, a grandfather explains to his grandson the importance and universality of this simple rule and demonstrates the wonderful effect following it.
by Grace Byers
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers.
We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
by Fran Manushkin
Is there anything more splendid than a baby’s skin? Cocoa-brown, cinnamon, peaches and cream. As children grow, their clever skin does, too, enjoying hugs and tickles, protecting them inside and out, and making them one of a kind. Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family―and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.
by 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.
by Karamo Brown
In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other. This story captures the magic of building strong childhood memories. The Browns and Syed celebrate the special bond between parent and child with a meaningful message of kindness and inclusion.
by Latashia M. Perry
From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine, the second book in the Kids Like Mine Series, is a fun, easy-to-read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry.
by Dr. Seuss
The story of the Sneetches (as well as the other stories in this collection) demonstrates that regardless of our differences, we have more in common than not. Some other big ideas are materialism, brand names or labels, discrimination, racism, inner wealth, and consumerism. (Link to video relating to theme of materialism.)
by Peter Holwitz
Living in a world filled with scribbles and squiggly lines, the residence fall into a state of chaos when a stick-straight newcomer arrives and builds a perfectly square house in their community, yet the intriguing nature of one young boy helps to ease their fears after he meets the new neighbor and reveals to them all a very special secret!
by Matthew A. Cherry
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to step in! And even though daddy has a lot to learn, he LOVES his Zuri. And he’ll do anything to make her—and her hair—happy. Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair—and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.
by Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow
Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.
by Lupita Njong
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
by Thelma Godin
A spunky African American girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun. With vibrant illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is a charming celebration of family and community ties. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.
by Doreen Rappaport
This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life.
by Shane Evans
On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience.
by Junot Diaz
Every kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. When Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited…except for Lola. She can’t remember the Island that she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”
by Crystal Hubbard
The true story of Marcenia Lyle, an African American girl who grew up to become “Toni Stone,” the first woman to play for a professional baseball team
One day in the 1930s, Marcenia and the boys she plays ball with learn that Gabby Street, a famous baseball manager, is scouting children for a baseball summer camp sponsored by the St. Louis Cardinals. Eager to earn a spot, Marcenia plays her best, but is discouraged when Mr. Street tells her there are no girls in his camp. Convinced that baseball is her destiny, Marcenia won’t give up, ultimately proving her skill and passion to Mr. Street and her dubious parents.
by Minh Lê
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens.
by Helen Recorvits
Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names―maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
by Yangsook Choi
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.
by Navjot Kaur
Explore human difference with a question – Do you know who I am? Join this little human’s quest for self-discovery through the metaphor of a lion’s mane. The narrative’s rhythm flows alongside the red fabric of a dastaar (turban worn by members of the Sikh community), connecting the character’s identity to cultures from around the world. Mindful words are embroidered into the dastaar. Each page turn invites you to adjust your lens, and discover more about what the lion represents to peoples of the world.
“When we learn something new, it makes each of us stronger.”
by Hena Khan
Grandma’s hijab clasps under her chin. Auntie pins hers up with a whimsical brooch. Jenna puts a sun hat over hers when she hikes. Iman wears a sports hijab for tae kwon do. As a young girl observes the women in her life and how each covers her hair a different way, she dreams of the possibilities in her own future and how she might express her personality through her hijab.
by Juana Martinez-Neal
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.
by Aisha Saeed
Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?
by Margriet Ruurs
This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather, and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.
by Virginie Fleming
Christy’s mother always tells her to be good to Eddie Lee, a neighborhood child with Down’s Syndrome. But Christy wants to run and play — and not worry about Eddie Lee tagging along. One hot summer day, though, Eddie Lee takes Christy to a secret place in the woods and teaches her that beautiful things can be found in unexpected places.
by Kate Gaynor
This is a special education children’s picture book that introduces autism. When an autistic child joins a mainstream school, many children can find it difficult to understand and cope with a student that is somewhat ‘different’ from them. This story encourages other children to be mindful and patient of the differences that exist and to also appreciate the positive contribution that an autistic child can make to the group
by Diane Burton Robb
When Adam started kindergarten, the teacher wanted him to learn about letters. But “p” looked like “q,” and “b” looked like “d.” Adam would rather color or mold clay. In first grade, his teacher wanted him to put the letters into words so he could read. That was the beginning of the Alphabet War. Almost everyone else in his class was learning to read, but Adam was fighting a war against letters.
by Christine Baldacchino
Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. But most of all, Morris loves wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress-up center. The children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls.
by Michael Hall
A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis. This story is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.
by Jazz Jennings
The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere
This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions.
by J.J. Austrian
When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?
The answer is: It doesn’t matter. Because worm loves worm.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm…and a worm.
by Theresa Thorn
Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others.
by Daniel Haack
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far from here, there was a prince in line to take the throne, so his parents set out to find him a kind and worthy bride. The three of them traveled the land far and wide, but the prince didn’t quite find what he was looking for in the princesses they met. It wasn’t until he met a knight when fighting a dragon that he found what he was looking for all along.
by Robb Pearlman
Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow.
by Erica Silverman
Susan thinks her little sister Jackie has the best giggle! She can’t wait for Jackie to get older so they can do all sorts of things like play forest fairies and be explorers together. But as Jackie grows, she doesn’t want to play those games. She wants to play with mud and be a super bug! Jackie also doesn’t like dresses or her long hair, and she would rather be called Jack.
by Scott Stuart
My Shadow is Pink is a beautifully written rhyming story that touches on the subjects of gender identity, self acceptance, equality and diversity.
Inspired by the author’s own little boy, ‘Shadow’s’ main character likes princesses, fairies and things ‘not for boys’…he soon learns (through the support of his dad) that everyone has a shadow that they sometimes feel they need to hide.
by Melanie Florence
The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits 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. Stolen Words 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 was taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
by David Bouchard and Andy Everson
David Bouchard dives into his own life and identity in this beautifully illustrated book. Personal totems are often described as animal spirit guardians. Totems are passed down through family lines. The beautiful prose describes an amazing personal journey of discovery, finally, inviting the reader to do the same.
by Jodie Callaghan
Ashley meets her great-uncle by the old train tracks near their community in Nova Scotia. When she sees his sadness, he shares with her the history of those tracks. Uncle tells her that during his childhood the train would bring their community supplies, but there came a day when the train took away with it something much more important. One day he and the other children from the reserve were taken aboard and transported to residential school, where their lives were changed forever. They weren’t allowed to speak Mi’kmaq and were punished if they did. Uncle tells her he tried not to be noticed, like a little mouse, and how hard it was not to have the love and hugs and comfort of family. He also tells Ashley how happy she and her sister make him. They are what give him hope. Ashley promises to wait with her uncle as he sits by the tracks, waiting for what was taken from their people to come back to them.
by Joanne Robertson
The story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine-ba Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth, have walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters, or oceans, to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges, and by her example Josephine-ba invites us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water, the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.
by Bruce Swanson
Young Gray Wolf sets out on a journey of self discovery when his uncle, the clan shaman, tells him that his future success depends on completing an important task—finding a very important person and getting to know him well.
by Celina Kalluk
This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.
Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little Kulu; an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.
by Margot Landahl and Celestine Alec
Eagle perches himself in a grove of cedar trees high above a school playground. He explores the characteristics of 6 different Pacific Northwest animals and connects them with strengths we grow in ourselves.
by Danielle Daniel
Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children seeking to understand themselves and others.