11 Picture Books That Celebrate Multiculturalism


One awesome benefit of starting our family through international adoption was the way it so naturally moved us towards intentionality in filling our home with non-white representation.  Although our country is becoming increasingly more colorful and flavorful, there is no doubt that the boom in diversity (and the acknowledgement of the importance of it) is slow to trickle down in actual products and advertisements.  Most of what we see is still an overrepresentation of Caucasians, which is part of what it means to have white privilege.  It's not hard to find toys, pictures, or even role models who look like us and like the family we grew up in.  I think it's fair to say that most white people subconciously give our children mostly white faces in the form of dolls, toys, and media.  It's very normal to gravitate towards that which is most familiar and it doesn't make us inherently racist; it's just part of being a human.

Yet I think most parents would say that we want our children to feel comfortable with, show respect to, and interact well with people of other races and cultural backgrounds.  Many of us are well aware of just how short we fall in some of those areas, and we want more for our children.  One simple way of doing this is intentionally keeping multiculturalism in mind when we bring toys, dolls, books, and cartoons into our home.  It's actually an easy task these days, but it requires an extra step of mindfulness than what we might normally be prone to.

In our family we consume books like bread, so it's the genre I'm most qualified to offer recommendations on.  Here is a list of picture books for toddlers to lower elementary aged kids that we have found helpful for growing in the education on and appreciation of other beautiful cultures.  I hope you and the kids in your life enjoy!

I See the Sun in Afghanistan by Dedie King
(Look for other countries featured in the "I See the Sun in..." series as well)

(Keats has several books featuring urban African American life, this just happens to be my kids' favorite.)

This is just barely scraping the tip of iceberg.  I know I've left some good ones out, either because they've slipped my mind or because we haven't found them yet!  If you have some favsies of your own that you don't see here, leave the titles in the comment box for us and others to enjoy!

(Last year I rounded up some more favorite children's books in this post.  I also have a Pinterest board devoted to children's lit if you're interested in that!)

*as usual, book links are Amazon affiliates

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)