Overview: We MUST teach our children to value people who are different than they are from a young age. Want books to teach diversity?!? Here you go!
We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. But we do have lots of commonalities with other people in our community. We can relate best to people who are most like ourselves – whether that means people who have the same skin tone, are from the same country, the same ethnic background, the same disabilities, the same age we are, or the same religion.
Our world is diverse, however, and it’s important for us to teach our children that diversity is a good thing from a very young age. Just because someone does things differently than we do doesn’t make it bad. In fact, our lives will be richly blessed if we work to understand and appreciate the differences of the people around us.
It’s always best if we can spend time with people to learn about them personally. But that isn’t always possible. Books should also be mirrors and windows to help us appreciate the diverse world around us.
Here are 30 Best Books to Teach Diversity to Younger Kids:
1 – Babies Come From Airports (Ages 3-8) – A diverse, kid’s-eye view of adoption, one special day, and familial love, Babies Come From Airports has a child-friendly rhyming text and lively and colorful illustrations filled with details. It’s a heartwarming adoption story for any and all kinds of families, steeped in love.
2 – All About Friends (Ages 3 and up) – Why do we need friends? How can we make friends? What makes a good friend? What can friends do together? Find out in this friendly book!
3 – All About Family (Ages 3 and up) – Families come in all shapes and sizes and from all sorts of backgrounds. They speak various languages, eat different sorts of food, live in different kinds of homes, and celebrate special occasions in a variety of ways. This book lets children explore questions such as ‘What is a family?’, ‘What different sorts of families are there?’, and more.
4 – A Celebration of Sisters (Ages 3 and up) – Celebrate sisters, young and old, with this heartwarming, gently rhyming ode. The charming illustrations depict different families and sibling combinations, making them just right for anyone.
5 – A Celebration of Brothers (Ages 3 and up) – Celebrate brothers, big and small, with this joyful salute to family, filled with whimsical, engaging artwork and a lively rhyming text. Different families and sibling combinations make this book universal.
6 – Scribble & Author (Ages 3 and up) – Scribble’s journey starts on a peaceful shore called THE BEGINNING, continues to the rough, adventurous MIDDLE, and leads finally to the gate of THE ENDING, but it’s not at all what Scribble expected. Scribble is a scribble and Author is an author, but who really gets to tell the tale? An innovative picture book about finding your own voice, making your own decisions, and writing your own story.
7 – Home Sweet Home (Ages 3-7) – Explore homes from around the world and through time, celebrating different cultures and what is central to each and every home: the family who lives there!
8 – The Biggest Story (Ages 3-7) – Errol’s mom is too busy to tell him a story so she tells him he should try to make one up himself, but as soon as he starts, all the creatures in the garden – and beyond! – overhear and all want to be the hero! A celebration of imagination, packed full of humor, energy, and adventure.
9 – Grandma’s Favorite (Ages 3-8) – Whether a grandma fixes cars, goes to the gym, loves loud, silly songs, or catching bugs, time with her grandkids is what she loves most of all!
10 – Dan the Taxi Man (Ages 4 and up) – Here’s Dan, Beep! Beep! the Taxi Man, going to the show and picking up the band. Climb inside while you still can with Dan, Beep! Beep! the Taxi Man. And what a band it is! A symphony of sounds and colors, this cumulative tale is as much fun to read aloud as it is to listen to. Singer/songwriter, author and renowned performer Eric Ode has crafted a delightfully engaging cumulative verse brought to life by Kent Culotta’s exuberant paintings. The rhyme sings with the sounds belonging to the various instruments of each hip band member as they pile into Dan’s taxi, heading to the show.
11 – Boy (Ages 4-8) – The king’s battles with the dragon were always mighty and loud. Boy lived in silence and couldn’t hear the fighting. He is deaf and while his family loves the stories he tells with his dancing hands (sign language), the villagers don’t understand him. But Boy could see the fear around him… and how everyone would be much happier without it. This book is perfect for anyone who feels different or misunderstood.
12 – Jessica’s Box (Ages 4-8) – Will Jessica find a friend at school? It’s not easy when you’re shy, so every day she brings her cardboard box filled with something different to share. Until, finally, she discovers that all she truly needs to share is herself. Jessica’s Box will capture the heart of every child, parent, teacher, and friend.
13 – The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears (Ages 4-8) – When Jamie and his Dad create a bedtime story, a predictable fairy tale soon transforms into an energetic, hilarious story of bears and princes jostling with broccoli-wielding frogs, evil-eyed ninja witches, and jewel thief princesses. An action-packed adventure that will inspire parents and children to embark on their very own storytelling journeys together.
14 – Luna Loves Library Day (Ages 4-8) – Luna’s parents live apart, but she loves library day: that’s the day she spends with her dad. They read a book together about two parents that fight and separate but the moral of the story is that both parents still love their daughter even though they aren’t together anymore.
15 – Upside-Down Sid (Ages 4-8) – Sid spends most of his time at home. He is upside down, so it’s easier that way. Until, one day, a basketball lands in his breakfast and changes everything. A book about accepting our differences and the positive ripple effect of including others.
→ Related Content: The 30 Best Books for 8-Year-Old Boys
16 – Steve, Terror of the Seas (Ages 4-8) – Steve is not very big. His teeth aren’t very sharp. And even though he’s no Angel Fish, there are far scarier fish in the sea. So why are all the other fish so frightened of him? Real facts introduce sea creatures in a fun and appealing way. Spot Steve’s friend George on every page!
17 – Can I Join Your Club? (Ages 4-8) – Duck just has one question: Can I Join Your Club? He wants to belong to all of them. To any of them. Elephant Club, Lion Club, he just wants to belong. And he tries so hard to fit in so he can – kids will love pointing out in the illustrations just exactly how he tries – a curly wig, dark glasses – but it just doesn’t work. He can’t be someone else. So, he starts his own club. And there’s ONE rule – everyone is welcome! Because when it comes to making friends, being yourself is all that counts, in this heartwarming celebration of diversity, inclusiveness and friendship.
18 – The Big Race (Ages 4-8) – Aardvark is competing in the Big Race. It’s a huge challenge – all the other animals are faster, bigger, and stronger than she is – but she’s determined to keep going. An inspiring story of perseverance told with humor and subtly introducing some basic concepts.
19 – Two Sides (Ages 5-7) – Lula and Lenka are best friends and total opposites, but together they make the perfect pair. Until the day that Everything Goes Wrong. Suddenly they are no longer friends. Each blames the other and neither is prepared to listen or forgive. Will it be this way forever?
20 – Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (Ages 5-9) – In this very special story, Wilfrid Gordon helps his 96-year-old friend, Miss Nancy, regain some of her memories. Author Mem Fox wrote Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge in the hope of bringing children and the elderly together and it remains a modern-day classic, used in homes, classrooms, and even training sessions for volunteers who work with the elderly.
21 – A Tale of Two Beasts (Ages 5-9) – When a little girl rescues a strange beast from the woods, she takes him home. But for some reason, the little beast is not happy! There are two sides to every story, and this funny and charming tale is no exception. Author/illustrator Fiona Roberton offers both points of view in this discussion-starting tale of the importance of seeing the world in different ways
22 – Extraordinary Lives Biography Series (Ages 7-11) – From real-life narratives to timelines and facts, each fully illustrated book focuses on the life of an inspirational historical or modern figure. Explore the childhood, the achievements, and the qualities of each figure – the very things that helped them have such an incredible impact on the world. This collection includes the following titles: Anne Frank, Katherine Johnson, Malala Yousafzai, Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks, Stephen Hawking.
23 – Shine Series (Ages 7-11) – Bethany has been keeping a secret from her best friends: she’s a scholarship student; but with homework and a long commute, she’s struggling. Will Bethany be able to find her voice and shine in the concert? Join Chloe and her friends at The Shine School for the Performing Arts, where dreams of stardom really can – and do – come true.
24 – Bully on the Bus (Ages 7 and up) – All the emotions seven-year-old Leroy experiences as the bully on the bus taunts and threatens him are perfectly captured in this sensitive and beautifully written verse novel. The heartwarming ending is empowering and offers courage to anyone who’s ever felt small.
25 – Here and There (Ages 7 and up) – How do people in other countries shop for groceries, go to school or work, or go on vacation? See the ways our lives are different and what we all have in common with this entertaining and informative look at the lives and cultures of people all over the world.
26 – Polly and Buster series (Ages 7-10) – If Polly and Buster walk past each other in the street, they never say hello. After all, whoever heard of a witch being friends with a monster? But Polly the witch and Buster the feelings monster have been best friends forever. Somehow, they’ve managed to keep their friendship a secret. Until one day, when everything changes. This is a spellbinding trilogy about the magic of friendship.
27 – Patty Hits the Court (Ages 7-10) – Patty Mills has always been good at sports, so when he tries out for basketball, he expects it to be easy. When it’s not, he realizes he’s got a lot to learn, on and off the court, but will he and his school team be good enough to make the finals?
28 – Dr. Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System (Ages 8 and up) – Space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock takes readers on the trip of a light-speed lifetime – from the surface of our very own planet to the farthest sectors of the Solar System. Get set for a mind-blowing visual tour of the celestial bodies surrounding us and far beyond.
29 – Lightning Girl (Ages 8 and up) – Ten-year-old Aurora Beam feels utterly unremarkable, until the day she sees her little sister being picked on and suddenly, beams of light shoot out of her fingertips! A brand-new series with all the classic tensions of superhero versus super-villain! This high-voltage adventure series has relatable family and friendship dynamics, laughs on every page, and fantastically funny art throughout.
30 – What a Wonderful Word (All Ages) – Did you know there is a word for friends who are like family? And for searching for something in the water using only your feet? This collection of untranslatable words from all over the world celebrates the magic of language, with gorgeous original artwork and fascinating facts about each word and the culture it comes from.
Have you read any other great books for younger kiddos about diversity that you can share with us? Please leave a comment below!