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Celebrating Diversity in Picture Books

Celebrating Diversity in Picture Books

Picture books allow kids to learn about the wonder and diversity of their world through picture books. With a rainbow of colorful illustrations, the following recommendations encourage children to explore our differences through honesty, kindness, and curiosity. In the process, they might even recognize a piece of themselves among the pages, too. Click on the titles to place them on hold. 


Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel

Throughout Viv’s life, she is taught to raise her hands up, proud and strong. In ballet class, she executes a picture-perfect pirouette with her hands held above her head. When she visits the library, she stretches way up high for the best adventure books, tucked away on the tippy-top shelf.

As she grows older, Viv’s reach extends even further. When she wins a basketball game, she celebrates with her teammates, hands in the air with victory! When Viv helps her community tend their local garden, she learns the importance of high-fives and teamwork. And finally, Viv also learns the importance of a protest, hands in the air, bearing signs that read, Lift Every Voice and Spread Love.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Zuri loves her magnificent hair! It’s big and beautiful, coily and curly. Mum always knows just how to style Zuri’s hair in the best way, with two perfect pigtail puffs, as soft and fluffy as clouds. It makes Zuri feel like a superhero!

When Mum is away, it’s up to Dad to take care of Zuri’s hair and style it. He has a lot to learn but that’s okay. At first, Dad tries to tuck Zuri’s fabulous afro under a hat because it’s quick and simple. But Zuri knows her hair deserves better than that – it’s special and glorious and she never wants to hide it. 

Together, with patience and love, Zuri and her father learn how to properly wash and comb, twist and braid, until Zuri has a hairstyle that she’s proud of!

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While Julián is riding the subway with Abuela, he encounters three marvelous, magical mermaids with long blue dresses like tails and brightly colored hair. In that moment, Julián falls in love. He knows, without a doubt, that he is a mermaid, too.

When he gets home, he makes his own set of mermaid clothes, using a few stems from Abuela’s potted fern for a headdress and Abuela’s ruffled lace curtain for a tail. Julián proudly shows off for Abuela but she doesn’t look very happy.

Then Abuela gives Julián a strand of pretty pink pearls. “For you,” she tells him. 

After that, Julián and Abuela set off down the street for the parade of mermaids by the ocean front that look just like him!

Drawn Together by Minh Lê

When a young boy spends the day with his grandfather, it’s a boring visit at first. They don’t speak the same language, which makes conversation impossible. To entertain himself, the boy pulls out his box of art supplies from his backpack and starts to draw.

Then his grandfather opens his own sketchbook. And for the first time, grandson and grandfather get to communicate with each other in a language that bears no words but which they both understand perfectly!

Vibrant superhero illustrations of the young artist meet the classic black-and-white inked lines of the experienced artist. With paintbrush and pens, two generations separated by words, can finally understand each other through pictures and colors and the art they create together.

Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson

This picture book tells the story of the Birmingham Children’s March. In early May 1963, an army of children marched through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for peaceful protest against desegregation, children bravely faced unspeakable fear, public ridicule, and even getting arrested by the police. But they didn’t stop and “for seven days we walked only in Love.”

At a monumental turning point in history fraught with tension, these young activists showed the world the power of their voices, the strength of their actions, and the mountain of courage it took to make change happen. 


We hope you check out some of these wonderful picture books!

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