70+ Children’s Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters

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Affiliate Links Looking for multicultural children’s picture books with culturally and racially diverse main characters? I’ve gathered up over 70 of my favorites here.

From board books to picture books, these books have characters with non-white skin tones and cultures –in other words, representative of the real world. No matter our skin color, ethnic, or cultural background, it’s important to read stories that show lots of different people so that we can build understanding (we are all human beings!) and empathy (we can imagine ourselves into the shoes of another).

Happy reading.

picture books with diverse main characters

Multicultural Children’s Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters

Whose Knees Are These? 60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Whose Knees Are These?
by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This is a delightful celebration of a child’s strong, brown knees!

girl-of-mine
Girl of Mine
by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
You’ll love this sweet board book about a playful girl and her imaginative father as he gets her ready for slumber.

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Baby Dance
by Ann Taylor, illustrated by Marjorie Van Heerden
Swing to and fro with this book that inspires moving and singing. Taken from a poem called “The Baby Dance” with exuberant main characters of color.

 
B is for Baby
by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
This story brilliantly celebrates the letter b as well as the culture and people of West Africa. Baby is going to take a basket of bananas to baba’s bungalow. (See all those “b” words?!) Big Brother doesn’t notice that he has a little stowaway in the basket — but we do. Readers will delight at seeing Baby’s little face peeking out of the basket while Brother rides his bike, passing a baobab, baboon, bus, and other words that start with the letter b before arriving at Baba’s. When Baba looks in the basket, out pops Baby! I’m in love with this book’s concept and the gorgeous illustrations.

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Lullaby (For a Black Mother)
a poem by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Sean Qualls transforms Langston Hughes’s poetic lullaby with swirls of blues, purples, and pinks of nighttime. “My little black baby, My dark body’s baby, What shall I sing For your lullaby? / Moon, Moon, Great diamond moon, / Kissing the night.” The poem captures a mother’s love as she sings her baby to sleep. Pure magic!

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
Play peekaboo with this little girl, her family, her puppy, and more. Don’t you love the playful characters?


Saturday
by Oge Mora
Everything on their special day goes wrong but the mom and child acknowledge it’s all okay still because they’re together. What an important message about spending time with someone you love. Also, the ART — I can’t get enough of Mora’s collage artwork, it’s vibrant and beautiful.

picture books with diverse multicultural main characters
This is the Day You Begin
by Jaqueline Woodson, illustrations by Rafael López
Evocative, lyrical text illuminates the awkwardness of a girl’s first days at school. She listens to other kids’ big stories of summer and feels like she doesn’t fit until …she finds out that she might have something in common with others after all. And can still be her unique self.

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Mary Had a Little Glam
by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (diversity)
Mary loves all things fancy — glamorous. When she goes to school, she helps the other kids get glam, too. Until they need to unglam and play!

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town and CJ notices the many economic and cultural differences about the neighborhoods. A remarkable story and Caldecott winner!

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Twenty Yawns
by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo (diversity)
Lucy yawns while her mother reads her a bedtime story and drifts off to sleep. Only she wakes up suddenly in the dark, realizing that she doesn’t have her special stuffed bear, Molasses. As she makes her way back to bed with Molasses and her friends, keep counting the yawns. Can you count all twenty? Beautiful illustrations perfectly match this comforting bedtime story.

Between Us and Abulea A Family Story From the Border
by Mitali Perkins illustrated by Sara Palacios
This small moment focuses on the trip a family takes in order to reunite for las posadas. They arrive at the border fence where you’ll see the fence, see the regular people, and see the kids and their mama talking to their abuela between the fence slats. In a sweet resolution, when the boy can’t give his abuela his drawing, the little girl helps make it into a kite to fly it over the top of the fence.
multicultural diverse picture books
IslandBorn
by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Díaz captures Lola’s heartfelt longing to remember the island of her birthplace for a school assignment. She left the island as a baby so she can’t remember.  Lola interviews her family and friends, listening to their snap-shot, detailed stories of the island’s bats, music, agua de coco, heat, and the Devil Monster. Through their stories, she creates her own tapestry of island memories that will always be in her heart. Stunning illustrations explode in colorful exuberance on every page of this 2018 picture book.

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boeltz, illustrated by Norah Jones
Jeremy wants the black, high-cut sneakers with stripes. But, his grandma can’t afford to buy them. When Jeremy’s own shoes fall apart, he buys the high-top sneakers at a thrift store in a too-small size.  Those Shoes raises the relatable issue of wanting to fit in and the difference between a want and a need.

60 Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Chocolate Me!
 by Taye Diggs and Shane Evans
I really love this book. The boy feels so un-okay because of his skin color. It takes the eyes and wisdom of his mom for the boy to see how awesome he is, and embrace who he is and the color of his skin. It’s simple and meaningful.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Curious Ada loves questions and thinking just as much as she loves science experiments. Even when in time out, Ada is thinking and wondering . . . all over the wall. Ada is a spunky science-loving (multicultural) main character of color that you’ll love.
picture books with diversity
Jabari Jumps
by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board. Mostly. His dad tells Jabari that he feels scared too, and sometimes after a deep breath and telling himself he is ready, the thing stops feeling scary and feels like a surprise instead. I really like this advice. And it works for Jabari, too. Beautiful illustrations, perfect text to picture ratio, and a helpful, relatable story with a diverse (multicultural) main character make this a new summer favorite.
picture books with main characters of color
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness
by Kerascoët
When a classmate is being bullied, what can you do? This wordless picture book shows that sometimes it’s about showing someone that they are not alone. You can do what this girl does: show kindness and walk home with a lonely, hurting person. Added to: Picture Books About Kindness
Thunder Boy Jr
Thunder Boy
by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Thunder Boy wants a name all his own, not just a littler version of his dad’s name. So he begins brainstorming the best name, all the while figuring out who he is. The story is humorous and playful while placing importance on knowing yourself.

Up, Up, Up, Down!
by Kimberly Gee
Lyrical and repetitive, this relatable storyline captures a day in the life of a talkative toddler and a stay-at-home dad with evocative, diverse illustrations. Sure to bring a chuckle to both you and your growing reader when you read it aloud.

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
A must-own lavishly-illustrated book that is both eye-opening and empathy-building as it increases a reader’s understanding of others; in particular, other people with physical and neurological differences. It’s set up so each two-page spread features a different kid who introduces themselves and then asks a question of the readers.

The Proudest Blue A Story of Hijab and Family
by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly
I love the loving, tender bond between the sisters and especially how this relatable, sweet story that shows the importance of the hijab in the Muslim faith and feeling pride in who you are. The little sister, Faizah, looks up to her big sister, Asiya, who shows her what it looks like to be strong and proud of your faith even if other people aren’t kind.

Early Sunday Morning
by Denene Millner, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
It’s Sunday and Sarah and her family are going to church. But this day, Sarah is singing her first solo in the choir. As we watch she and her family prepare for services, she gets advice to help her nervousness, and a wonderful surprise when she does sing. This picture book is a beautiful portrayal of an African-American family and their church culture accompanied by outstanding illustrations.
picture books with diversity
Princess Hair
by Sharee Miller
I love this joyful celebration of the many styles, textures, and shapes of black hair! These princesses have dreadlocks, kinks, head wraps, curls, and bantu knots. “Princesses with AFROS do-si-do. // Princesses with BRAIDS throw parades.” All the princesses love their hair. We can see it in the exuberant illustrations of playful, happy little girls. This is a favorite picture book for 2017, Delightful Picture Books That Celebrate Hair, and a Must-Read Book for 3-Year-Olds.
picture books with diverse main characters 
Sleep Well Siba and Saba
Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra van Doorn
Siblings Siba and Saba dream of the things they lose, until one day they dream of the things they’ll see. Playful s-sound alliteration delightful the tongue as you read aloud the gentle story set in colorful, magical Africa. And I’m in love with the appealing illustrations, too. This is a stunning picture book masterpiece.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library
 by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Andy Elkerton
Just in case, you better learn all the reasons why it’s not a good idea to bring your pet dragon to the library. Better read to him at home.

picture books with diversity
Luna Loves Library Day
by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers
Luna’s parents live apart. On library day, her mom drops her off to meet her dad. She and her dad look at books and read books and play. Luna loves library day. There’s a sweetness in Luna’s family situation as well as a playfulness around books that makes this a jewel of a book that shows a mixed-race family. Love, love, love.

picture books with diverse main characters
Crown An Ode to the Fresh Cut
by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Sitting on the barber’s chair, a young boy reflects on how, when he leaves, he’ll feel like royalty. Not to mention, people will take notice of his fresh cut — his teachers, his mom, and the girls in his class. Because he’ll be looking good. The author transports readers into this boy’s shoes as he celebrates his cool cut, the men around him on the chair, and the barber who cuts his hair. Rhythmic, vibrant words plus bold, oil painting illustrations give this barbershop experience a swagger of its own. (Also on: Delightful Picture Books That Celebrate Hair)


Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
This beautifully written gem celebrates Native American culture through the lens of the food Fry Bread. The repetitive text starts each two-page spread, “Fry bread is…” then descriptive, lyrical verse follows each statement, elaborating on the meaning. “Fry bread is sound / The skillet clangs on the stove / The fire blazes from below / Drop the dough in the skillet / The bubbles sizzle and pop.” This rich text paired with evocative illustrations culminates in a wonderful book that will show children Native American traditions of family, food, and love.

picture books with diverse main characters
Drawn Together
by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
This story shows how art brings together two generations separated by language and age. Mostly wordless, this is almost a graphic novel with exquisite artwork in comic-style panels. A boy arrives at his grandfather’s house. He’s frustrated because his grandfather doesn’t speak English. The two eat in silence. Then the boy begins drawing himself as a caped-superhero. Excited, his grandfather draws himself as a superhero, too — only one garbed in what appears to be a traditional ceremonial dress. Their connection continues through art — each with his own unique style. It’s beautiful on so many levels. Added to: Books about Grandparents

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred 
by Samantha Vamos, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Vamos writes a cumulative tale about making arroz con leche (rice pudding.) Throughout the story, she introduces nouns in Spanish, which, because of her format, repeat as she adds on. Vamos says she was inspired by This is the House that Jack Built. I love the diversity of this new version.

“This is the duck
that went to the market
to buy the sugar
to flavor the leche
made fresh by the vaca
while teaching the cabra
that churned the crema
to make the mantequilla
that went into the cazuela that the farm maiden stirred.”

picture books with diversity
Festival of Colors
by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
I love everything about this book —  illustrations that are so captivating and just-right text-to-picture ratio. Two siblings gather flowers for the upcoming festival of color, Holi. Each two-page spread is a different flower and color. “They gather irises because irises make BLUE.” When the flowers are gathered, they’re dried and pressed into fine powders of color.  Then, the family and friends gather together where they throw the brilliant colored powders into the air and onto each other. Added to: Children’s Books about India, Indian Holidays, and Indian Mythology

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Under the Same Sun
by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by A.G. Ford
This is a warm-hearted multicultural picture book about a grandmother’s visit to her son and grandkids in Tanzania based on the daughter of Jackie Robinson’s real family.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
My Little Sister and Me
by Maple Lam
Today is a big day for this big brother — he gets to walk his little sister home from the bus stop all by himself. As they journey home, you see a caring big brother and sister relationship that ends in a sweet thank you note from little sister to big brother.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
In Plain Sight
by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Every day after school, Sophie’s grandpa hides something for her to find. Usually, it’s simple, a paper clip or rubber band, and it’s always in plain sight. Sophie decides to hide something for grandpa, too —  herself! Lovely illustrations throughout this picture book.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Please, Baby, Please
by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by  Kadir Nelson
My kids LOVE this book so much — and repeated readings were no problem because so did I. The parents implore their spunky young child to please behave, PLEASE. Great use of repetition and so relatable. Added to: Best Books for 2-Year-Olds.


Dreamers
by Yuyi Morales
The artwork is exquisite. The narration takes you on a journey of a mom and child together going to a new place to live. It celebrates their loving bond, how books helped them develop their voices in a new country.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong
My daughter says this is SO MUCH better than the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears because in this story of a young Chinese girl named Goldy. Goldy returns to the scene of her crime to apologize and help fix things. This is a better ending, don’t you think?

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
When a snake eats him, the boy (from inside the snake’s tummy) encourages the snake to eat more — which he does. From grapes to bears, to a cat, to a beehive, . . . the list goes on (think Old Lady Swallowing a Fly) until just a small fly makes the snake burp everything all out. Good thinking on the boy’s part, eh!? The diversity in main character and setting plus the use of repetition make this one of the best books I’ve read this year. Added to: Favorite Books for 4-and 5-Year-Olds.


Under My Hijab
by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
A little girl shares her life with us starting with her grandma baking bread. We meet her mama working as a doctor and her auntie creating art in her studio. The significant women in this girl’s life wear hijabs and also, sometimes don’t. They inspire her with all that they do and who they are. It’s an important slice-of-life story featuring strong, inspiring Muslim women not to mention, an area of diversity that doesn’t have much representation in children’s literature. Ultimately, this is a strong choice to add to your bookshelves.

 
Another
by Christian Robinson
In this exuberant celebration of imagination, a little girl is asleep in her bed when an oval door opens into the wall. She follows her black cat and the new cat into what seems to be another world of topsy-turvy colorful dots and rectangles, more oval doors, many diverse kids, and another girl and her cat that look exactly like them. The white space and repetition of shapes feel playful and fresh. A feast for the eyes and mind! Also on: Meaningful Activities with Wordless Picture Books and Best Books for 4-and 5-Year-Olds.


Daniel’s Good Day
by Micha Archer
A boy walks through his neighborhood talking to neighbors about what makes a “good” day. From the neighbor painting to the nanny pushing a stroller to a gardener and even his Grandma, Daniel listens and observes…and has a good day, too. Exquisite artwork plus a beautiful message about finding joy in the little things make this a wonderful, memorable story.


The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh
by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley
A relatable story about feelings, moving homes, and finding a friend. Harpreet loves colors and expresses his feelings with the colors of his patkas which are a kind of turban that he wears each day. One of the best children’s picture books of 2019, this beautiful book includes some much-needed representation and addresses the importance of talking about feelings.

T
The King of Kindergarten
by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Don’t miss this delightful book showing a sequential day filled with the many happy possibilities at school including storytime, recess, playing with new friends, and a kind teacher. Because today you’re going to be the King of Kindergarten! Rich imagery filled with hyperbole and metaphors harmoniously complement the lush illustrations, creating a festive atmosphere filled with exuberance and bravery.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Yoon loves writing her name in Korean but her father insists she must write her name in English. Yoon decides she isn’t sure about her name in English and wonders if another name would be better.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
A Day’s Work
by Eve Bunting
A young boy named Francisco accompanies his non-English speaking grandfather to look for day labor and gets him a job as a gardener, even though he knows nothing about it. Powerful.

diverse main characters picture books
Cece Loves Science
by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashi Harrison
Cece loves to ask questions — why, how, and what if. Her teacher at school, Ms. Curie, encourages her and teaches her about famous scientists and different science. Then, Cece and her best friend Isaac work on a science project using the scientific method. Their question is: Do dogs eat vegetables. They use Cece’s dog, Einstein, to observe, test, and draw conclusions. You’ll love this delightful STEM story that shows the creativity of scientists motivated by curiosity.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao
by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua
Amy can do a lot of things but she can’t make bao very well. Amy watches the dough rise, her dad rolls the dough while Amy’s dad makes the filling. Amy tries to make her own bao but she tries and tries and she just can’t. Then Amy has a great idea — to make Amy-sized pieces. Perfect! They get boiled and taste delicious. Want to make your own bao? There’s a family recipe in the back. A yummy introduction to Chinese dumplings and that with a little creative problem solving, you can achieve your goals.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting
Farah struggles to be new in a country where she doesn’t understand the language or culture. But a field trip to an apple orchard helps her find common ground with her new peers.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia
Keyana’s mom combs her hair every night before bed. Sometimes the tangles hurt. When it does, her mom tells her how beautiful her hair is and together they think of all the great things about her hair.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
We love this book about a little girl and her mom’s library ritual. It’s simple and absolutely wonderful. (I’m partial to the coffee at the library!)

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Maya’s Blanket / La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz
Share this warm-hearted story with brilliant illustrations about a little girl whose favorite blanket is wearing out as you cuddle under a big blanket. (This happened to my daughter’s favorite blanket, too!)

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Gia is fed up with all the excitement over her sibling-to-be. But her mama helps Gia see that maybe she and the new baby will get along and have things in common.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Bob, Not Bob!
by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, illustrations by Matthew Cordell
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! Everyone in my family laughed so hard at this hysterical story about a boy with a very stuffy nose. Every time the boy, Louie, tries to call his mom, instead of “mom” it sounds more like “Bob” — which is the dog’s name! The dog always comes running and slobbering but Louie just “wan by bob!” Hilarious.
Books with Diverse Main Characters
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch
Don’t miss this beautiful story! Grace is a girl with a big love for stories and an even bigger imagination. She confidently tries out for the role Peter Pan despite her classmate’s assertion that Grace couldn’t possibly get the role because of her gender and skin color. Will she get the role? Also read: Princess Grace.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
Set in 1939 Harlem, a little girl imagines watching her family and neighbors on their building’s rooftop (their own beach made of tar) and other important places to her as she flies in the sky above them. Gorgeous artwork!

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Hair / Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros
I used this bilingual book often in the classroom to teach descriptive writing because it’s a sensory celebration of the different kinds of hair in her family.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J Muth
Tess is hoping for rain. And when it rains, it pours! She and her family welcome the rain with their own dance celebration. Beautifully written with glorious language.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Abuela by Arthur Dorros
Abeula and Rosalba fly over New York City, seeing the sites and sounds from above with Spanish words peppered throughout.

Books with Diverse Main Characters
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Sassy, nicknamed for her mouth, is tall with big feet but she doesn’t let that stop her from working toward her dream of being a ballerina.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Double Happiness
by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Alina Chau
Written in poems, this is a bitter-sweet story of moving from their home, saying goodbye to family and favorite things and traveling to a new, colder home. Throughout, Gracie shares her feelings and her observations as well as her wonderful imagination. The text is simple but meaningful. Wonderful!

Books with Diverse Main Characters
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
My favorite picture book from childhood still endures today as a classic! It has finally snowed and the little boy can’t wait to go play…

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Too Many Tamales
by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez
Christmas Eve is for family and tamales. Except on this holiday, Maria accidentally buries her mother’s diamond ring in the batch of tamales. Now what will she do?

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
One Word from Sophia
by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail
This picture book is a great way to teach kids summarizing! Sophia really wants a pet giraffe for her birthday. She sets out to convince her family. She starts with her mother, a judge, and presents her case. Mother says that Sophia’s argument is too verbose. She tries fewer words with Father. But he says her presentation is too effusive. Sophia continues with each family member until she reaches her last-ditch attempt and says one word: PLEASE. And that one word works!

Books with Diverse Main Characters
Land of Milk and Honey by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Travel by train with our young heroine from Oklahoma to the land of milk and honey in this true story of Joyce Carol Thomas’ own life. The prose evokes excitement, hope, and wonder. Thought-provoking.

Look at the people!
And their fascinating faces
Look at the people!
All ages, all races

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Green Is a Chile Pepper A Book of Colors
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra
Explore colors with the delicious tastes and details of Latin culture — red is salsa and a skirt for baile folklorico, orange is the platos for special bread on Day of the Dead.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by John Parra
As we journey through the day, we notice shapes all around us. “Triangles are crunchy chips for guacamole and other dips.” I absolutely love this book. I’m so glad to see a book of shapes that stands out from the crowd and celebrates Latin culture. “Stars for parties, stars for light, lining streets with colors bright. There are so many shapes wherever you go. How many more shapes do you know?”

Multicultural Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Abuelo
by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Raul Colon
I’m in love with the illustrations in this bilingual picture book, and the lyrical story of a boy’s memories of his abuelo. His abuelo teaches him that there are many ways to be strong, fuerte; that it’s good to laugh, es bueno reirse; and to look, mira, at the stars. Even when the boy moves to the big city, his abuelo is always with him in spirit.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
The New Small Person
by Lauren Child
Elmore (who has dark skin color, good to see some diversity!) loves his life as an only child. Lauren Child wonderfully captures the abrupt and shocking transition from being the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person in his parent’s universe to having a new small person enter this universe. A small person who touches everything and follows Elmore everywhere at first is annoying but then the new small person helps Elmore with the scaries and understands about Elmore’s precious things.
Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Emma and Julia Love Ballet
by Barbara McClintock
This is a well-written and illustrated parallel story (top of the page is one, bottom of the page is the other) that shows two dancers on a performance day — one an adult professional dancer and a young student dancer. Both dancers work very hard and love ballet. It culminates in Julia’s performance on stage with Emma watching.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
A little girl named Rosa helps save every penny to get a comfortable chair for her mom who gets tired after a long day of working in this heart-warming picture book with diverse main characters.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios
LOVE this book. You’ll adore Marisol, too because she’s a spunky girl with a unique Peruvian-Scottish-American background. Meaning, she doesn’t match. She doesn’t fit into a box or to a label and that’s okay with her. Ultimately, the story is about self-acceptance!

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Grace is spunky and smart. She’s horrified that there are no girl presidents and with her teacher determines to run for president of the class. Will she win against the popular Tom? The class is divided into states and learns about the electoral vs. popular vote.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
A Squiggly Story
by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Mike Lowery
This children’s picture book with a diverse main character proves that all of us are writers — even when we can’t write letters or words quite yet! And this determined young diverse main character writer proves it.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read
by Curtis Manley and Katie Berube
Nick, our main character, does everything with his cats — except read books. That’s why Nick decides to teach his cats to read, too. Verne, the cat, is interested but Stevenson, the cat, is not. Until . . . Nick discovers Stevenson’s drawing. All Stevenson the cat needs are words and he’ll write his own story to read!

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer by  Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
The little boy considers all of the people around the world and says a prayer for each — the people with no homes, the sick, the soldiers fighting wars, his teacher, his turtle, and more. It’s a beautiful reminder to think of others (with a lot of diversity) accompanied by gorgeous pictures.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
My Two Blankets
by Irena Kobold, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Cartwheel arrives in a new country where no one speaks like her and everything sounds and feels strange and lonely. She meets a friendly girl at the park and they play on the swings but she still doesn’t understand what the girl is saying. But, the girl helps her learn new words every time they play. Soon Cartwheel begins to feel comfortable in her new home. What a great example of kindness!

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Lizard from the Park
by Mark Pett
Leonard takes good care of his egg and the lizard it hatches. When the lizard grows and grows, it’s clear that he’s unhappy so Leonard decides he must return his pet to the park. Very sweet story.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings
Little Red is an ice skater in need of a partner in this fractured fairy tale with a main character of color. She’s determined to win the pairs skating competition and win a new pair of skates. Will wolf be the perfect partner?

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Little Kunoichi The Ninja Girl
by Sanae Ishida
If your kids are like mine, they LOVE ninjas. In this book, children can see what a real ninja does for training. The problem is that this girl isn’t doing well at ninja school. When she meets a boy, Chibi Samurai, who is training to be a samurai and not doing so well at his school either, the two pair up and train together shugyo style. Thus, their combined, new goal is to be better, not perfect, and to have fun. Added to: Best Ninja Picture Books for Kids

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Back home Jin and Fatimah knew their languages and were included in their classes. Being new, they now feel lonely and confused. This book gently shows how it feels to be new and the process of making friends from the perspective of children from different cultures and countries.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Inside Outside
by Lizi Boyd
If you’ve never read a wordless picture book, you must read this one with a diverse main character. And when I say read, I mean to engage in the story through the detailed illustrations on kraft paper and the revealing die-cuts sharing glimpses of more.

Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
The Song of Delphine
by Kenneth Kraegel
We loved this story about a servant girl in an African palace who sings to help with her loneliness. When the giraffes hear her songs, they befriend her. But the princess has her locked up — until the Queen hears her sing. Delphine finds her happily ever after with her new friend, the apologetic princess.

Multicultural Children's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Police Officer (Busy People) by Lucy M. George, illustrated by AndoTwin
Seth is a police officer who protects people in the community. Follow along as he and his partner, Officer Thea, go to a local festival where they help a lost boy find his parents. You’ll learn about Officer Seth’s duties, uniform, and other busy people that work with him. This nonfiction series is excellent for children, it’s spot on with pacing, text to picture ratio, and vocabulary and it’s diverse main characters reflect the diversity in our multicultural world.


The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung
by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Sebastia Serra
You’ll have a blast reading this cheerful bilingual diverse picture book with a diverse main character! The farm maiden hangs the piñata. Who is it for? How did it get to be ready? You will see in this clever cumulative tale how the farmer, his family, and the animals helped to prepare the piñata and the birthday party festivities. Spanish words are in bolded capital letters and supported with lively illustrations so readers can infer what each word means. The repetition will help reinforce each new word. Ultimately, I love this sparkling celebration of culture and family! Also read: The Best Cumulative Picture Books.

 multicultural children's booksChildren's Picture Books with Diverse Main Characters
Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley
Absolutely relatable, relevant, and fascinating — this multicultural children’s book is one you’ll be pouring over for hours and days and weeks. Because learning about kids that are your own age, or close to it, and where they live, what they eat, what kind of school they attend, and all about them is SO interesting! I love how much you can learn about diverse cultures and countries.

 

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2 Responses

  1. I would love to see Norman’s Architecture Adventure on this list! It helps children explore their imagination, sense of adventure, and bravery.

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  • WELCOME

    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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