You may have noticed that most easy readers contain animal main characters. While diversity has gotten a little better in some categories such as realistic beginning chapter books and realistic middle grade books, we still aren’t seeing much representation in early readers. (Or in other genres like fantasy, mystery, and science fiction.)
However, there are some!
You’ll find some really great culturally and racially diverse books for early readers on this list.
(We know there are many more kinds of diversity, neurodiversity and physical diversity, for example. This list is focused on culture and race.)
Use these books for your kids who are learning to read. These books represent the diversity in our world.
Remember, emergent and early readers need several things to grow: explicit, direct instruction, good books, and practice.
We can help our growing readers ages 5 to 7, in kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade, to grow by reading good books and giving them time to read.
NOTE: If your child is learning to read or struggling with reading (or you teach growing readers,) I highly recommend Reading Simplified’s resources and membership site.Dr. Ginsberg streamlines the reading research into understandable activities that get results!
You might also like: DIVERSE BEGINNING CHAPTER BOOKS.
Diverse Easy Reader Books for Developing Readers
Ruby and the Magic Garden (Fairy Hill) by Cari Meister, illustrated by Erika Meza
Ruby and her friends live in Fairy Hill. They love to learn magic and dream of what their big wings will look like when they earn them. In a sweet act of kindness, Ruby helps a lost baby deer find its home.
Ballet Stars by Joan Holub, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Easy rhymes for new readers tell the story of friends in ballet class, rehearsal, and a performance.
Snow Day by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Erika Meza
Siblings, brother and sister, watch the flakes falling outside the window. When school is cancelled, they’ll get to play outside with their friends. This continues their easy reader book series which also includes Apple Picking Day, Pumpkin Day, and Garden Day.
I Want to Be a Doctor by Laura Driscoll, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
A story filled with helpful information about doctors, this little boy and his family go to the hospital because his brother Jack hurt his foot. They’ll learn about different doctors who can help fix Jack’s foot.
I Want to Be a Veterinarian by Laura Driscoll, illustrated by Catalina Echeverria
It’s time for their family dog’s check up. Follow along with the check up and learn what veterinarians do and the different kinds of vets.
Baseball Buzz (Sports Illustrated Kids Level 1 Readers) by CC Joven
In this simple story with one sentence per page, Jackson likes baseball. In the game, everything goes well until a bee comes along and he gets distracted.
Nick and Nack Fly a Kite by Brandon Budzi, illustrated by Adam Record
I LOVE these new Highlights Puzzle Readers! Nick is a boy and Nack is a robot. After a windy day, they pick up sticks and use them to make a kite. But first, they need to find all the supplies. The best part of this story is that as you read, you’ll get to help them find their supplies.
Nick and Nack Build a Birdhouse by Brandon Budzi, illustrated by Adam Record
Clever Nick and Nack eat a lot of ice pops then use their popsicle sticks to build a birdhouse. Help them find the materials they need by searching for the hidden objects. The combination of an interesting story with a diverse main character, the interactive hidden pictures, and the integration to STEM concepts is a sure-fire win for kids.
Princess Truly I Can Build It! by Kelly Greenawalt, illustrated by Amariah Rauscher
In this positive, diverse, girl-powered, STEM story, inventor Princess Truly loves to build. So when her dog Sir Noodles tells her that the animal shelter is out of treats, Princess Truly decides to invent a snack machine for the shelter.
The Lost Kitten (Katie Fry, Private Eye) by Katherine Cox, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
It’s a good thing that Katie Fry solves mysteries because she needs to use her detective skills to help a lost kitty (whom she names Sherlock) find his home. A darling, entertaining, and diverse book series for early readers.
Kendall’s Snow Fort by Meredith Rusu
The WellieWishers are worried about the animals getting cold in the snow. They decide to make a fort out of snow. When they start, Kendall gets distracted by all the other fun snow activities. Friendship and teamwork help the friends get the job done.
Pass the Ball, Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
In a favorite early reader series about a boy who likes to try new sports, in this story, Mo is obsessed with basketball. Unfortunately, everyone on his team is taller and he’s having trouble passing the ball high enough. His dad helps him practice passing higher and higher. Their practice pays off during the next basketball game.
Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Mo is smaller than the kids on his football team. So his coach thinks up a game-winning strategy to use Mo’s small stature to his team’s advantage.
Kick It Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Mo’s been working on improving his kicking but it won’t matter if he doesn’t get the ball. Will he get the chance to use his new skills in the big game?
Emerson Is Mighty Girl! by Meredith Rusu
Emerson and her WellieWisher friends are playing pretend in the garden, searching for The Wicked Wellie of the West. Emerson enthusiastically catches the Witch but her behavior ruins their fun. She’ll need to figure out a way to fix things with her friends but she’s up to the task.
CeCe Loves Science: Push and Pull by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Cece’s teacher, Miss Curie, explains to the class about the opposite forces of push and pull. She divides the class into to teams. The teams are tasked with making a dog treat dispenser using either pushing or pulling forces. Readers will appreciate the diversity, the STEM themes, and the growth mindset.
The Outside Dog by Charlotte Pomerantz, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
Marisol lives a quiet life with her grandfather in Puerto Rico. One day, she finds a stray dog near her house and names it Pancho. Like the other stray dogs she sees, Marisol wants to keep Pancho. However, her Grandfather worries about fleas and ticks. Maybe this time Grandfather will reconsider when he sees what a good dog Pancho is.
Hamster Chase by Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Allan Elzen
Oh, no! Peter takes the class hamster out of the cage and it scurries away. He and his friends try to capture it but every time they get close, it escapes again. Will they ever get it back in its cage?
Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Andrea Offermann
Destined to fight the dragon, twins Mei and Wei each have their own ideas of how to thwart the dragon when he attacks. Nothing works until they learn to work together…and that kindness wins.
Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Six short stories about twins, Ling and Ting, show their unique personalities, even though they look identical. From getting their hair cut or making dumplings, kids will find their daily adventures to be funny, sweet, and relatable. This diverse easy readers series is a favorite with many kindergarten and 1st grade students.
Surf’s Up (Moby Shinobi and Toby Too!) by Luke Flowers
A beach adventure with Moby, a ninja, and his dog! They discover that no matter what they do such as building a sandcastle, if they work together, they’ll have more success. Rhyming, easy-to-read text, adorable characters, and fun adventures make this a new must-read series for early readers.
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