One of our resolutions for 2020 is to explore more great literature (for ourselves and our children) that features characters of color, diverse socioeconomic and geographic situations, and even books that weren’t primarily written in English.
I’m making sure my own TBR pile is stocked with diverse authors and books in translation (I finished 2019 with Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone and started this year off with Mira Jacob’s Good Talk, a graphic novel about her life, which was outstanding).
When it comes to kids, they pretty naturally seek out diverse literature which is so awesome. They’re very curious about characters that don’t look just like them and places they’ve never been to. It’s just a matter of us not stifling their curiosity about the world.
Here are a few of our recent favorites featuring non-white or non-American heroes and heroines.
Zapato Power, series by Jacqueline Jules
One of my boys’ (5yo and 7yo) favorite series they picked up at the library recently. Freddie Ramos is Latino and just an all-around great kid (which makes him a superhero in my eyes!). He lives with his mom because his dad was a soldier who was killed in action. I love how the author treats this difficult theme so well, and I love how she paints real-life, everyday issues that Freddie and his mom face (like how his mom is busy working during the week so they often have microwave frozen meals…very relatable.)
Anna Hibiscus, series by Atinuke
This is such a sweet series about a young girl growing up in Africa. I love the descriptions of the places in the stories as well as the descriptions of Anna’s extended family and her relationship with them. The author has another series (listed below) that we haven’t checked out yet, but it looks wonderful, too.
Yasmin, series by Saadia Faruqi
We recently binged on these from the public library, and finished the whole series. They’re great simple read alouds for the 3-4yo group and first books for those just starting to read. I love the characters, the simple but meaningful story lines, and I really love that there is a glossary of Urdu words with each book that gives definitions for terms like hijab, kameez, salaam, and more. There are also facts about Pakistan and an activity at the end of each book.
Now here are some that are on our family’s TBR list!
Ruby and the Booker Boys, series by Derrick Barnes
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, series by Nikki Grimes
Ling and Ting, series by Grace Lin
The No.1 Car Spotter, series by Atinuke
The Precious Ramotswe Mysteries, by Alexander McCall Smith
Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins (not a series, but looks great)
I’m still looking for more series or readers with Native American themes and characters, as well as more series featuring characters from Europe, Russia, Australia and the Middle East. I know they’re out there!
**These links are Amazon affiliate links. You can also purchase from your local independent bookstore or mine which is Parnassus Books.