A few of our favorite books featuring characters of color! This list is perfect for readers both young and old who want to diversify their bookshelves.
“Mama, she looks like me!” Such a sweet thing I love to hear while reading books that feature characters of color to my daughter. Unfortunately it isn’t something that happens as often enough, or without a lot of work researching and finding the books. According to this article by the Huffington Post, 50% of children’s books feature white characters, 27% animals, and only 23% feature characters of color.
As more people use social media to speak up against oppression and systematic racism, I have been seeing more book lists being shared for adults and children. Often times these lists focus only on Black historical figures or discussing diversity and acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, these books and discussions are SO important and should be introduced into your home. BUT I think it’s also important to read the books showing kids of color being kids. The books that show them finding dragons or story telling with bugs or playing dress up. This list focuses on those books that show every day joy.
p.s. our favorite librarian shares tons of diverse book lists on her Instagram here.
Our Favorite Children’s Books
To create this list I am going to link each book through to Amazon so that you can see the covers and their ISBN info. I encourage you to take this information and shop local or Black owned bookstores to continue to give support.
A sweet story about a girl and her family who own a farm and discover a dragon egg!
Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima: Harriet is the cutest girl who loves costumes and has a big imagination. This book also has LGBTQIA+ representation with Harriets two loving dads.
Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
All of the Lola books are too cute but this is a fave for my little garden lover. In this book Lola reads the Mary Quite Contrary nursery rhyme and plants her own garden. We did a project inspired by the book here!
Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max
Astrid loves space and tells her dad she wants to be an astronaut! They then reenact the way astronauts live in space. I loved the surprise ending!
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
This series features beautifully illustrated scenes as you learn about nature. A boy and his mom float through the pond and discover the creatures above and swimming below.
Can You Hear the Sea? by Judy Cumberbatch
A story about a girl and her grandparents and the magic of a seashell. I loved the colors of the illustrations in this book!
Merbaby’s Lullaby by Jane Yolen
If you followed us before the name change you know why we love this book! My little merbaby loves the illustrations, and the words are so sweet.
Mary Had A Little Glam by Tammi Sauer
This is her favorite book on the list! We have read it so many times and each time she finds something new about Mary’s fabulous outfits that she loves.
B is for Baby by Angela Brooksbank
Aaliyah loved this book about a baby and her brother and lots of things that start with the letter B. This was great practice for the letter sounds and she was able to sound out and guess what most of the words were!
A sweet story featuring siblings talking about colors and vegetables that grow in their grandparent’s garden. We did a fun and simple sensory activity you can see here.
One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck
Sophia had us laughing as we read this story as she tried to convince her family she needed a giraffe for her birthday.
Hank’s Big Day by Evan Kuhlman
The big adventures of a little bug! Hank goes on a big journey working his way through the grass to meet his friend Amelia and go on an even bigger imaginary journey.
Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin
Tameika loves to sing and act on stage, but has to regain her confidence after some of her fellow students tease her about the school play. This book does have some discussion about race and acceptance.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love:
A beautiful story about acceptance and self love Julian turns himself into a dazzling mermaid with the help of his loving grandmother.
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley
Aaliyah found this book absolutely hilarious! Nick tries to teach his cats to read and while one is quickly engaged, his grumpy kitty is not as excited about his flashcards.
I had to include these two Non-Fiction books as well. I don’t see them on many lists and they are too good to not be shared!
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
There are multiple books in this series as well as board book versions for younger children! The illustrations in this book are beautiful and the facts are written out simply for children to understand. I let her look through the photos and pick out different women to discuss. We did an Alma Thomas inspired project after reading!
Women in Art by Rachel Ignotofsky
I loved this book and I’m not just saying that because I have an art history degree. The illustrations are so unique, and the facts on each artists are so diverse and show multiple examples of each artists’ work. I love that it goes beyond the women artists who are usually discussed and include artists of all mediums. The author has other on women in science and sports as well.
Books with Characters of Color for Adults
It is also important for me to find books that feature characters of color for my own reading! These are a few of my favorites I have read in the past year.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Halsey Street by Naima Coster
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Gods of Jade and Sorrow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
What are a few of your favorite books? Share them below, we can alwaysss add more books to our shelves. 😉