Baby Toddler Book Club has always strived to feature books that promote inclusion and an understanding of diverse experiences*, but this year, we have been especially intentional about selecting books that provide windows and mirrors for a greater range of readers.
Our group members are predominantly, but not exclusively white. As parents of white children, we have a responsibility to help raise them to be anti-racist. This means, we will have to be intentional about discussing race with our children, pointing out that many of the characters in children’s literature are disproportionally white, and showing them the importance and value of books that feature or are written by people from a more diverse range of races, religions, and perspectives. In doing so, we hope to acknowledge race exists and then move forward educating our children to help repair inequities as they grow older.
We also hope that by selecting books with diverse characters, more of our blog readers and followers will find that their children see themselves reflected (mirrored) in these pages.
Finally, we hope that our themed activities and snack ideas for groups encourage parents, caregivers, playgroup leaders, educators, and librarians to consider and select books with multicultural characters and contexts to teach common themes.
We know this list isn’t perfect. We know that are many wonderful books left off this list. We only meet once a month, so we had to be selective! We scoured diverse reading lists and articles about diversity in children’s literature**. We tried to select books that would also allow us to develop an activity and snack for our group around a theme that we hadn’t featured previously. Research suggests that for very young white children, pointing out race differences and then finding similarities between children of different races can help set a foundation for future anti-racist behavior. Older children need more explicit communication about racial differences and racism, but given that the children in our book club are between the ages of 2 and 4, we will focus on reading our children positive stories featuring children and characters of various races, backgrounds, and religions. That said, we will discuss, not ignore, race while reading these books.
Please read along with us and share this list with those who will find it helpful. We invite you to connect with us if you have a constructive suggestion.
As we read, play, eat, and give this year, we will certainly stumble, but we will try to work toward raising race conscious children who acknowledge their privilege, grow up to fight against injustice, and embrace diversity.
*Be sure to check out our previous meetings with books featuring multicultural themes or characters such as:
Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz
All of Me by Molly Bang
The Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman
Children of the World by Donata Montanari
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
Stone Soup by Heather Forest
Stone Soup by Jon J Muth (Big Kid Book Club)
Red, White, and Boom by Lee Wardlaw (Special Series)
Apples Here! by Will Hubbell
Apples Here! By Will Hubbell (Intergenerational Book Club)
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López (Special Series)
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña (Special Series)
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley (Big Kid Book Club)
One by Kathryn Otoshi (Big Kid Book Club; related to bullying)
**Some multicultural reading lists and articles about diversity in children’s literature (in no particular order) from other sources:
Windows, Mirrors, & #OwnVoices by Kate Olson on Nerdy Book Club
20 Books Featuring Diverse Characters to Inspire Connection and Empathy
Raising Race Conscious Children Book List
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
60+ Resources for Talking to Kids About Racism – Creative With Kids
Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books – Teaching for Change
We Don’t Only Need More Diverse Books. We Need More Diverse Books Like The Snowy Day.
Diverse Characters in Stories Just Because We are Diverse | Multicultural Children’s Book Day
5 Black Children’s Authors and Illustrators You Should Know
10 Picture Books with Muslim Characters – No Time For Flash Cards
50+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families
12 fantastic children’s books to help talk about prejudice
From Refugees to Voting Rights, Books to Inspire a Just, Inclusive Society
Children’s books featuring kids of color being themselves. Because that’s enough.
28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball
28 More Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses, or Basketball
Multicultural Books for Preschool
9 Multicultural Children’s Books about Autism | Colours of Us
Classics, Colonization and a Call for Change by Padma Venkatraman
Children’s Book about Puerto Rico – Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
Black Boy Joy: 29 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists | Brightly
A Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids 4-8 Years Old
19 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy
The Anatomy of a Diverse Book Shelf-Biracial Bookworms
If you are interested in additional resources related to this topic and our reading list, here’s a few of the many references available (in no particular order) from other sources:
How to Talk to Kids about Racism|Rage Against the Minivan
Raising Race Conscious Children | A Resource for Talking About Race & Diversity With Young Children
‘We Stories’ aims to get white families talking about race, racism through children’s books
Your 5-year-old is already racially biased. Here’s what you can do about it.
Talking to Our Children About Racism & Diversity
Teaching your kids not to “see” race is a terrible idea, studies have found
Opinion | Let Black Kids Just Be Kids
White parents, here’s how to start talking to your children about race
Five Ways to Reduce Racial Bias in Your Children
How White Parents Should Talk to Their Kids About Race
7 Things I’m Teaching My White Kids About Privilege
Picture Books that Teach Kids to Combat Racism