Racial and ethnic diversity in children’s literature is an important topic for children, parents, and the people who serve them. There are many books that discuss heavy issues such as race, history, immigration, etc. While these books certainly have their place, we must also remember that reading is fun! Children from all walks of life should be able to see other children from all walks of life having fun, discovering the world around them, and using their imagination.
Here are several new titles that feature characters of color that are just about kids being kids.
First up, we have Memory Jars, by Vera Brosgol.
Freda is devastated when she can’t eat all the delicious blueberries she’s picked. She has to wait a whole year before they’re back, and she doesn’t want to lose them! Then Gran reminds her that they can save blueberries in a jar, as jam. So Freda begins to save all her favorite things. But it turns out that saving everything also means she can’t enjoy anything, and Freda realizes that some things are best saved as memories.
This is an adorable and funny story about family, friendship, and memories. I especially love the whimsical and cartoon-like artwork.
Next is The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
A lovely variation of “The Wheels on the Bus” song, this book features a Chinese family enjoying a meal and good times together. The artwork has a classic, 1950s feel with bright pictures that will engage your little one. I’m also a fan of books you can sing, and books with onomatopoeia. This title has both!
Carpenter’s Helper, by Sybil Rosen and Camile Garoche
Join a girl as she helps a mama and papa bird build a nest in her bathroom, hatch their eggs, and teach their babies to fly away. This is a great STEM focused title. We all know that the road to good science starts with discovery, observation, and questioning.
Amira’s Picture Day, by Reem Raruqi
Ramadan has come to an end, and Amira can’t wait to stay home from school to celebrate Eid. There’s just one hiccup- it’s also school picture day. How can Amira be in two places at once?
This book features a Middle-Eastern girl who is super excited about celebrating Eid with her friends and family. Islam is a global faith, and the artwork of this book shows that via children of many ethnicities dressed in their finest holiday attire.
Lastly, we have I Am the Subway, by Kim Hyo-eun (translated by Deborah Smith)
This is a lovely snapshot into the daily life and hustle and bustle of South Korea. Take a ride on the subway with Mr. Wanju as we meet many people on the train.
Don’t hesitate to pick up one or more of these great titles at your nearest library!