EducationRacial Equity

20 children’s books about diversity for early readers

Children's book about diversity

The historical and current racial injustices experienced by communities of color in our country have provoked much-needed dialogue about race, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. With the goal of understanding each other better, children’s books about diversity, equity and inclusion have facilitated meaningful conversations in hopes of fostering an awareness of the experiences of different races, genders and cultures.

Here’s a list of essential children’s books about diversity to support children’s understanding and celebration of diversity, inclusion and race.

Children's books about diversity

Stamped (for Kids)

by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Jason Reynolds, and Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Rachelle Baker, illustrated by Rachelle Baker
Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with anti-racism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives.
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Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

by Charles Waters and Irene Latham; illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Two classmates who do not know each other are partnered together for a fifth-grade poetry project. Follow along as they go from strangers to friends by learning from one another?
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The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
In this New York Times best-selling debut, 16-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds shatters when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.
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The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López
The Day You Begin follows Angelina, a young, curly-haired girl with brown skin, as she returns to school from summer break. As her classmates share their summer adventures, she reflects on her vacation spent at home and fears she can’t measure up.
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Black Brother, Black Brother

by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Sometimes 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few Black boys at Middlefield Prep, most students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbing him “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.
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The Electric Slide and Kai

by Kelly J. Baptist, Darnell Johnson
Kai’s aunt is getting married, and everyone in the Donovan family is excited about the wedding except Kai. The highlight of every Donovan occasion is dancing the electric slide—a groovy line dance with footwork that Kai can’t quite figure out. He wants to prove that he can boogie with the rest of his family and earn a cool nickname from his granddad. Can Kai break through his nerves and break it down on the dance floor?
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The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth

edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson by Kelly J. Baptist, Darnell Johnson
This engaging short story collection is a call to action that invites all families to be anti-racist and advocate for change. Thirty diverse, award-winning authors and illustrators engage young people in frank discussions about racism, identity, and self-esteem through stories and art filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace, and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow.
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The Dream Team: Jaz Santos vs. the World

by Priscilla Mante (2021)
Jasmina Santos-Campbell is part of the Bramrock Stars. You’ve heard of them, right? But, even if you haven’t, you will soon – they’re the football stars of tomorrow! And Jaz is determined to help the team achieve fame and fortune, despite their differences. And if she can do that, Jaz is sure her mum Mãe will return home. Priscilla Mante’s debut novel Jaz Santos vs. The World, is an uplifting tale about unlikely friendships, family, and proving to the world that girls can play football!
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Hair Love

by Matthew Cherry & Vashti Harrison (2019)
When Daddy has to help style Zuzu’s hair for a special occasion, he has a lot to learn. So, after a few failed attempts, he carefully combs, parts, and twists until Zuzu’s hair is all set for the special day.
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Last Stop on Market Street

by Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson (2017)
CJ and his grandma have just left the church and are about to board the bus for their weekly journey across town. CJ doesn’t want to get the bus, though; he wants to go in a car like his friend Colby and can’t hide his disappointment. But CJ’s grandma helps remind him of the beauty and fun in their routine and daily life. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson, Matt de la Peña’s touching tale highlights the importance of being thankful for what you have.
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The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale

by Charly Palmer
Gravity is the new kid on the Hillside Projects basketball team, the Eagles. He once jumped so high that his teammates went out for ice cream before he came back down. With Gravity on their side, the Eagles feel unstoppable. They’re ready to win “The Best of the Best,” Milwaukee’s biggest and baddest pickup basketball tournament. But when they faceoff with the Flyers in the final round, the most winning team in the whole city, they realize that it may take a little more than Gravity to bring them to victory.
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Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX

by Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura
From a young age, Patsy Takemoto Mink learned that striving for goals came with challenges. But she also learned never to give up. As the Japanese proverb says: fall down seven times, stand up eight.
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I Love You Because I Love You

by Muon Thi Van, Illustrated by Jessica Love
“I love you because you tell the best stories. Because I love you, my best story is you.” What are all the big and small reasons why we love the people we do? And what does it look like when we voice it out loud? To be read aloud by one or even two people, this affirming prose demonstrates that love is a dialogue. Love is complex.
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Strut, Baby, Strut

by Amika Kroll, Illustrated by Ebony Gleen
From baby to toddler to big girl to teen to young lady, and finally, a confident woman, this lyrical, rhyming story teaches little girls to reach high, be bold, and love big at any and every stage of their life. Full of inspiring life lessons every parent strives to teach their child from day one, this story, written for little girls everywhere, is about growing up, loving yourself, and embracing your womanhood.
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Just Help!: How to Build a Better World

by Sonia Sotomayor; illustrated by Angela Dominguez
In a story inspired by her own family’s desire to help others, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes young readers on a journey through a neighborhood where kids and adults, activists and bus drivers, friends and strangers all help one another to build a better world for themselves and their community.
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How Do You Love?: The Five Ways We Show We Care

by Kellie Byrnes; illustrated by Melina Ontiveros
Love is a constant in our lives, but how we express that love differs from person to person! This warm picture book shows children and adults expressing love in many ways through respectful touch, friendly gestures, thoughtful gifts, kind words, and special times together.
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I Am Rudy Bridges

by Rudy Bridges
When Ruby Bridges was six years old, she became the first Black child to integrate the all-white William Frantz Elementary in Louisiana. Based on the pivotal events that happened in 1960 and told from her point of view, this is a poetic reflection on her experience that changed the face of history and the trajectory of the Civil Rights movement.
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When We Say Black Lives Matter

by Maxine Beneba Clarke
In this joyful exploration of the Black Lives Matter motto, a loving narrator relays to a young Black child the strength and resonance behind the words. In family life, through school and beyond, the refrains echo and gain in power, among vignettes of protests and scenes of ancestors creating music on djembe drums. With deeply saturated illustrations rendered in jewel tones, Maxine Beneba Clarke offers a gorgeous, moving, and essential picture book.
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Me Gusta

by Angela Dominguez
In the affirmative and encouraging Me Gusta, acclaimed author and illustrator Angela Dominguez combine Spanish and English in a poetic and touching family story, reminding us that through the adventures and the heartbreak, love conquers all and transcends language.
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Finding My Dance

by Ria Thunder; illustrated by Kalila J. Fuller
At four years old, Ria Thundercloud was brought into the powwow circle, ready to dance in the special jingle dress her mother made for her. As she grew up, she danced with her brothers all over Indian country. Then Ria learned more styles–tap, jazz, ballet–but still loved the expressiveness of indigenous dance. And despite feeling different as one of the only Native American kids in her school, she always knew she could turn to dance to cheer herself up.
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