Update: A Diverse Reading List for Kids

Add these to your bookshelf today

Hello friends,

Earlier this year, I posted my response to a reader wanting to diversify their kids’ bookshelves. That original post is here, and I asked at the time for more recommendations from subscribers. Here are the books they recommended. I haven’t read most of these myself (my daughter is way, way past the age where I choose books for her), but check them out and see if any of these are useful. If it’s available, I’ve included the suggested reading age.


Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry

“A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.”


Islandborn/Lola by Junot Diaz

“A debut picture book about the magic of memory and the infinite power of the imagination.”


This is How we Do It by Matt Lamothe

“One day in the lives of seven kids from around the world”


“A little girl celebrates her multiracial background and pride in her individuality through a creative and non-conformist attitude.”


“Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations.”

No reading age given

“The story of how one girl becomes inspired to change the world…”


I am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian Jones

“Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds, and as they will discover, they can enjoy the best of both.”


The Day you Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

“A poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.”

No reading age given

Handa's Surprise by Eileen Browne

“A delightful surprise colorfully unfolds when a little girl called Handa puts seven delicious fruits in a basket to take to her friend.”


Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway and Jude Daly

“Without rain the well will run dry and the crops will fail. Lila is so worried that when her grandfather whispers to her the secret of rain, she decides to go and talk to the sky herself. “


Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

“Even though her classmates discourage Grace from trying out for Peter Pan in the school play because she is black and a girl, Grace wins the part and proves that she can be anything that she wants to be.”


“Inspirational stories of 50 famous and under-celebrated women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka”


Princess Truly in I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt

“Princess Truly is strong and confident, beautiful and brave, bright and brilliant. She can do anything she sets her mind to.”


Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

“A collection of linked short stories taking place within ten city blocks”


Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found By Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

“Magic has all but disappeared in Brooklyn, but one tenacious young magician is determined to bring it back in this exciting middle grade mystery.”


“The story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.”

Other resources

I hope you find some great books here to add to your bookshelf. If you’ve found any other books for kids you’d like to share, drop the title in the comments.

Thanks for reading


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Nelanthi Hewa and Nicole Cohen are researchers at the University of Toronto conducting a study on the experiences of racialized writers/journalists running newsletters on Substack. If you're a racialized writer currently producing a newsletter (or have produced one in the past) and are open to speaking with us about how race shapes your work, please get in touch with Nelanthi Hewa at [email protected] for more details. You will be compensated with a $30 (in the currency of the location where you are based) gift card at the end of the interview.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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I am an anti-racism writer, a professional B2B writer and blogger, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast. If you value my perspective, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.

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