This One's For the Children

By Denise Balkissoon

I'm a former child bookworm who was hurt and confused by the racism in some of my favourites (I suppose Frances Hodgson Burnett was just "a product of her time"). I'm also a very new parent who wants my babe to love books, but avoid those icky feelings. So I was unhappy to see the stark stats in a recent New York Times piece about characters of colour in children's books--of thousands of books published in the U.S. last year, not even 500 have African-American or Latina protagonists--and pleased that it sparked some good convos on Twitter.

I figured that compiling all of the suggested books into a handy list would be handy. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, most especially Amena Rajwani of the Toronto Public Library . If you've got more, add them in the comments!

After the jump: a WHOLE BUNCH of multicultural books for babies, kids and teens (in absolutely no particular order):

Books for little kids:

  • Molly Bang's Ten, Nine, Eight; More, More, More said the Baby; When This Box is Full (kinda); Grace Lin's books.
  • Asian-American kids books: Sam and the Lucky Money, Dumpling soup, Halmoni and The Picnic
  • @paolobacigalupi writes fun fantasy #kidslit with mixed race characters
  • This is great: Nine Picture Books that celebrate mixed race families.
  • Adventures of Boyzie Jones - series. Wooing of Beppo Tate.
  • @Nalo_Hopkinson's YA fantasy The Chaos incorporates Caribbean folklore and is set in Canada.
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman, of course! That's him above, being loved by Lisa.

Two Canadian publishers working to put out more books with aboriginal kids in them: Strong Nations Publishing out of BC, which currently provides books to several school boards in western Canada and Good Minds, from Ontario.

Board Books:

Picture Books: