Kids + Teens

Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Books with Lovely Illustrations

If you didn’t know, January 27th, 2017 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day—the brainchild of Jump Into a Book‘s Valarie Budayr and Pragmatic Mom‘s Mia Wenjen. The two teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event in 2014 as a way to celebrate diversity in children’s books, as well as bring attention to the need for more. The results and support were overwhelming; authors, publishers, parents, teachers, bloggers and librarians joined forces to shine a spotlight on diversity in children’s literature. Two years later, Multicultural Children’s Book Day is bigger and better than ever—not only working to raise awareness about diversity, but also to put books into the hands of families, teachers, and librarians across the country.

Luckily, there’s no need to stay confined to a single day a year to honor multicultural children’s books—at Chronicle Books, we wholeheartedly believe that all children should see themselves represented in books every day, so in celebration we pulled some beautiful illustrations from a few of our favorite titles.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Green Is a Chile Pepper

By Roseanne Greenfield Thong, Illustrated by John Parra

Green is a Chile Pepper

At the Same Moment, Around the World

By Clotilde Perrin

At The Same Moment

Marvelous Cornelius

By Phil Bildner, Illustrated by John Parra

Marvelous Cornelius

Josephine

By Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Josephine

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

By Hena Khan, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Golden Domes

Why do you think we need more diverse books?

Hannah Moushabeck

Hannah is the Associate Marketing Manager for Chronicle children's books. She is an all-round book nerd, born into a family of book nerds. She can be bribed with avocados and picture books.
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30 Comments

  • Mary January 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

    It is important for all children to see themselves in books. It is equally important for children to be accepting of other races, religions, customs, and books open that world.

    Reply

  • Barbara Gowan January 27, 2016 at 11:32 am

    if picture books are a door into the world of reading then let’s make sure that the door is open to all children of every nationality and color so that they can see themselves IN that world. Let’s open the door and invite everyone in with quality books.

    Reply

  • Florica Vlad January 27, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Words and images shape our reality. Our world expands when we are exposed to diversity. To be inspired –to encounter new ways of thinking that challenge us, help us grow and expand. In this way we also start to shape our inner universe to be a reflection of what we want to see in our outer universe and love and compassion can flourish.

    Reply

  • Danzel January 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Because children need to see themselves reflected in books, and for those whose reflections may differ, then books open a window to the world.

    Reply

  • Rosanna January 27, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    We need diversity in children’s books to reflect the real world so children, young and old, can have a little better sense of cultural understanding of people of all backgrounds!

    Reply

  • Marie January 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    It is human nature to distrust, or even fear, what you do not know. If children get to learn about the diversity of our world, perhaps they will grow up to be more empathetic, tolerant, understanding individuals–even if they grow up in a neighborhood poor in diversity…

    Reply

  • Eileen Kirkland January 27, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    We need diversity because being included and feeling we belong is critical to self esteem.

    Reply

  • Shannon Clark January 27, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Diverse books give children of all races a chance to see themselves in their favorite books and to see others who are different from them. I seek out books with non-white characters to read to my mixed race son (I’m a white male, my wife is an Indian American). Many of my favorite works are ambiguous about the race of their characters though they show children who are clearly not white in the action. I think it is as important for white kids to read these books as it is for non-white kids – helping from an early age to challenge the all to frequent default to white assumption about characters in fiction.

    Reply

  • Eleza Alam January 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    For nurturing young minds and adults alike, diversity in books is essential for building positive attitudes, respect and empathy towards people from different nations, cultures, backgrounds and religions, as well as for building bridges of meaningful, communicative dialogues.
    We get to relate to the diverse characters in the book that look like us as well as obtain a window of opportunities to learn about the lives of children/people different to us. In addition to this, diverse books assist in finding similarities regardless of differences, thus reminding us that we all belong to one human race.
    When exposed to diversity from a young age, it gives the child the opportunity to build his/her self esteem within a positive engaging environment and develop a sense of belonging minus the harmful deteriorating effects of suffering from superiority/inferiority complex that hampers our human society in this modern age. Diversity in books is the first step towards instilling the values, respect, love, peace, harmony and acceptance into our future generations.

    Reply

  • Cat January 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I’m a children’s book reviewer and I find the sameness of the characters exhausting and dispiriting. I live in a fairly homogeneous town and I desperately want my children to see people from all backgrounds and families, and I feel for the children who never see themselves in the books they read. It takes so much work to find excellent children’s literature with non-white, non-privileged characters; most people aren’t lucky enough to be able to afford the time to do it, or they might not even realize how much of a problem it is.

    Reply

  • Erin Strickland January 27, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    The world is diverse. And books are a window to the world. You can go anywhere with a book. Who doesn’t want a wide world for their child with abundant with adventures of all sorts, characters of all kinds and dreams unfettered?

    Reply

  • Susan Cabael January 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    100% of my 2nd grade class is considered diverse (including me!). We deserve to see ourselves in print and recognize that our stories matter too. I’ve taught about MLK, Jr. for 20 years, and kids get it. But boy, when I read SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL, my students were so much more invested to learn about the desegregation of Mexican schools. That’s powerful.

    Reply

  • Heather January 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on, including a large amount of multicultural literature from great teachers, and I think it really broadened my perspective. When I listen to the news, I can’t help but think that so many tragedies and misunderstandings could be avoided if we only made sure that every child had a greater multicultural knowledge and appreciation. While it often feels like there is little I can do to fight the horrible injustices and racism that I hear about in the news, I truly hope, as a teacher, that I am sewing the seeds to prevent future situations.

    Reply

  • Sasha Sharpe January 27, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    How would one share their book through this blog?

    Reply

  • LaRita January 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Diverse books celebrate what we purport America to be – a melting pot of people. These books explore different cultures and also shed light on different types of families. We are all created unique and difference should be celebrated and used as a tool to learn and grow.

    Reply

  • Scooper54 January 28, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Kids need to see there are people that look like them in the literature they read and children from the majority need to know and celebrate the differences of others who live in the world with them.

    Reply

  • Claudia January 28, 2016 at 5:08 am

    We live in a country where diversity is found everywhere. Unfortunately, it is not reflected in our classroom bookshelves. Through books which show diversity children see themselves and learn that is okay to be different. They can also see that eventhough we may have different cultures and look different, we are all value human beings that have more things in common than differences.

    Reply

  • Nneka January 28, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Diversity in books is especially important to me because I have a child with autism who also is an avid reader. The experiences, adventures and characters he meets in books helps to better bridge the gap between his inner world and the global community. Books help to build his language skills and helps him to be a better communicator. It is important to me to expose him to other countries, cultures, languages etc because I know that it will make him a better human being and I can be on hand to help him process the information, answer any questions and explore with him further. Even though I would love to, I couldn’t possibly take him to every place and expose him to everything but through books I can come as close to it as possible. Thanks!!!

    Reply

  • Christina January 28, 2016 at 6:36 am

    We need diverse books so kids can see themselves in the books they read, which will improve their self-worth. It will also allow children in non-diverse areas to understand the perspective of minority children.

    Reply

  • Monique Mansour January 28, 2016 at 8:09 am

    We need diverse children’s books so that kids can see themselves being and doing what they strive to be, regardless of their race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Moreover, it is not uncommon for children’s books to be picked up and made into television shows. Because TV has such a wide reach, seeing diversity in screen is just as important so that children can see on TV/film what their own worlds look like.

    Reply

  • Sofia O January 28, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Books invite children to understand themselves and other, use their imaginations, Learn new words and hopefully learn about the diverse world we live in so they know and respect not only the cultural and ethnic environment they grew in but the one of others.

    Reply

  • Kat F. January 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    What we see in the mirror isn’t always reflected in our communities. My oldest grandson has really found the excitement that books can bring, and I want him, and all kids, to find a reflection of themselves in the adventures of books.

    Reply

  • Veronica Saucedo January 28, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Everyone has a story, but we often grow up with little knowledge of experiences and cultures that are different than ours. Children are the very curious about learning about the world, and books with diverse stories can help them understand that differences are beautiful and deserve to be heard. There are also children who have their own stories to tell and can receive encouragement from books that represent themselves. A connection to a book can nourish a child’s mind and challenge them to see the world through many views. It also helps parents to learn how to talk about topics like race and equality. Diversity in children’s books is vital to making real changes for the future because children will pass along that knowledge as they grow.

    Reply

  • Manjari Chakravarti January 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    My favourite books have always been the ones where i get to peep into other people’s worlds. My daughter’s favourite book was one that was about food in different countries. As i read it over and over to her, we both drooled happily. How wonderful to see different colours, faces, landscapes, families, dresses, lifestyles. Kids get to ‘meet’ people who are in many ways different to them, but essentially the same. That’s a lesson that makes a better world.

    Reply

  • Jerielle Ward January 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    The need for diverse books is similar to the need for one home to have multiple different types of chairs, or pants, or any other thing that we have multiple versions of. They all technically do the same thing, yet each one is unique unto itself. If that’s the life of an object, then how much greater is a person’s story? We all technically follow the same life pattern, but how each human navigates will always be unique unto itself. We need diverse books so that we sit in the seat of another, so that we can try on the fit of another person’s life, and so we can reflect inward on what it means to share this world with someone who looks everything…or nothing like us.

    Reply

  • Elizabeth February 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    We need diverse books because society is diverse! It’s important that everyone’s experience is validated, and that difference is celebrated.

    Reply

  • Jenny February 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    We definitely need these books in school libraries as children come from all parts of the world and for them to identify something from their homeland in a book, I think they would be more engaged in reading the story.

    Reply

  • Chika Ando March 10, 2016 at 1:30 am

    More races in children’s books – I can’t believe I didn’t realize that. This is a great notion to be aware of and should’ve been a common thing many years ago.

    Reply

  • Alison January 30, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Can anyone recommend a his children’s book that is multicultural and focuses on conflict resolution and social-emotional health?

    Reply

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