Multicultural Books for Kids

Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan. Photographed by Bill McGuinness. 2009.
African-American illustrator and author Ashley Bryan’s fascinating look at his life and career as an artist & writer. Bryan gives a visual tour of the incredible art he has created in his lifetime - from book arts, to puppets, to panels of sea glass illustrating scenes from the Bible. Grades 4 and up

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2010.
A young girl from an immigrant family wants more than anything to attend a typical American birthday party. Much to her dismay, her mother insists she take her younger sister, Sana, to the party as well.  A story of sibling-rivalry and growing up. Kindergarten – Grade 4

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. 1999.
Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. Grades 3 and up

Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey to Freedom by Dia Cha and Chue and Nhia Thao Cha. 1996.
The story cloth made for her by her aunt and uncle chronicles the life of the author and her family in their native Laos and their eventual emigration to the United States. Grades 3 – 5

Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 2004.
Text for this story is based on the poem “Mood Indigo” by the author. The book celebrates the social and cultural history of African-Americans and highlights the names and stories of many African-American musicians, artists and other historical figures. Grades 3 and up

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. 2000.
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression. Grades 4 and up

From the Bellybutton of the Moon, and Other Summer Poems = Del ombligo de la luna, y otros poemas de verano by Francisco X. Alarcon. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. 1998.
A bilingual collection of poems in which the renowned Mexican American poet revisits and celebrates his childhood memories of summers, Mexico, and nature. Kindergarten – Grade 4

The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo. Illustrated by Paul Lee. 2000.
Because her good luck cat Woogie has already used up eight of his nine lives in narrow escapes from disaster, a Native American girl worries when he disappears. Preschool – Grade 3

Grandfather Counts by Andrea Cheng. Illustrated by Ange Zhang. 2000.
When her maternal grandfather comes from China, Helen, who is biracial, develops a special bond with him despite their age and language differences. Preschool – Grade 2

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. 1993.
A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather's journey to America which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries. Preschool – Grade 3

Growing Up with Tamales = Los tamales de Ana by Gwendolyn Zepeda. Illustrated by April Ward. 2008.
Six-year-old Ana looks forward to growing older and being allowed more responsibility in making the tamales for the family's Christmas celebrations. Preschool – Grade 3

Hairs=Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros. Illustrated by Terry Ybånez. 1994.
A girl describes how each person in the family has hair that looks and acts different, Papa's like a broom, Kiki's like fur, and Mama's with the sweet smell of bread before it's baked. Preschool – Grade 2

I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité. Illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite. 2006.
While visiting her father's family in Mali, a young girl loses a tooth, places it under a calabash, and receives a hen and a rooster from the African Tooth Fairy. Kindergarten – Grade 4

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales. 2003.
In this version of a traditional tale, Senor Calavera arrives at Grandma Beetle's door, ready to take her to the next life, but after helping her count, in English and Spanish, as she makes her birthday preparations, he changes his mind. Preschool – Grade 2

More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories by Vera B. Williams. 1990.
Three babies are caught up in the air and given loving attention by a father, grandmother, and mother. Baby-Preschool

One Afternoon by Yumi Heo. 2003.
Minho and his mother have a busy afternoon doing errands in the neighborhood. Preschool – Grade 2

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. 1985.
Retold Afro-American folktales of animals, fantasy, the supernatural, and desire for freedom, born of the sorrow of the slaves, but passed on in hope. All ages

¡Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Illustrated by Vivi Escriva. 2003.
A collection of more than two dozen nursery rhymes in Spanish, from Spain and Latin America, with English translations. Baby - Preschool

Quinito's Neighborhood = El vecindario de Quinito by Ina Cumpiano. Illustrated by Jose Ramirez. 2005.
A bilingual book that features a young Latino boy, Quinito, who describes the jobs done by members of his immediate and extended family as well as others in his neighborhood. Preschool – Grade 2

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. Illustrated by Jamie Hogan. 2007.
In her Bangladesh village, ten-year-old Naimi excels at painting designs called alpanas, but to help her impoverished family financially she would have to be a boy--or disguise herself as one. Grades 2 - 5

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Rosanne Thong. Illustrated by Grace Lin. 2000.
As a little girl discovers things round, square, and rectangular in her urban neighborhood, she is reminded of her Chinese American culture. Preschool

Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. 2004.
"Almost-eight-year-old" Ruby Lu spends time with her baby brother, goes to Chinese school, performs magic tricks and learns to drive, and has adventures with both old and new friends. Grades 1 - 3

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney. Illustrated by Myles Pinkney. 2000.
Photographs and poetic text celebrate the beauty and diversity of African American children. Preschool – Grade 1

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. 2005.
The making of "Show ways," or quilts which once served as secret maps for freedom-seeking slaves, is a tradition passed from mother to daughter in the author's family. Kindergarten – Grade 5

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. 2001.
Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself. Grades 5 and up

Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding by Lenore Look. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. 2006.
A Chinese American girl describes the festivities of her uncle's Chinese wedding and the customs behind them. Kindergarten – Grade 3

What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. 2009.
A young Mexican American girl celebrates the paleta, an icy fruit popsicle, and the many roles it plays in her lively barrio. Preschool – Grade 2

What the Rat Told Me: A Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Marie Sellier, Catherine Louis, and Wang Fei. 2009.
A wonderful introduction for young readers to the Chinese zodiac adapted from a Chinese Buddhist legend dating from the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Kindergarten – Grade 3

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. 2009.
Minli, an adventurous girl from a poor village, buys a magical goldfish, and then joins a dragon who cannot fly on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain and freshness to Jade River. Grades 3 and up

World Team by Tim Vyner. 2002.
All over the world, children in places as different as Germany, Kenya, Japan, Australia, and India are practicing and playing soccer, all dreaming of winning the World Cup. Kindergarten – Grade 2