Your authors here at Our Everyday Parables are committed to the way of love and to the flourishing of all people. We are not experts. Our efforts are imperfect. Yet we would like to do what good we can by sharing how God is growing us in our personal parenting journeys.
With that in mind, Karis and Valerie are collaborating here to bring you a few books they’ve used to talk with their kids about racism and promote a healthy view of diversity. Look for more books to be added from them and our other authors as we continue these conversations with our families.
And now, here are 17 diverse books we love!
Our family has picked up a handful of new hobbies during the quarantine–one of our favorites is doing puzzles. A couple weeks ago, to amp up the challenge, I gave the gentlemen a new puzzle to work on together but I did not show them the picture on the box. After several frustrating hours, they came to me and said “Mom, we can’t figure this out without seeing the picture on the box.” All those small pictures and tiny fragments didn’t make sense without seeing the bigger picture. Even though everything they needed to create a masterpiece was right in front of them, they didn’t know how it all went together when it was broken into small, fractured pieces.
Scattered pieces come together
I have come to understand the same thing is true for American history. The history taught to me, and to my boys, is not the full picture, only small pieces. Without the full, honest truth, it’s hard to make sense of what is going on in our country today–and I do want to understand. So to help fill in those missing pieces, the gentlemen and I have enjoyed learning from and being inspired by Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison.
While reading about this group of world changers and history makers, a fuller picture of American history and the people who made it is starting to come together. When your child needs examples of perseverance, hope, standing up for what’s right, creativity, success despite all odds, and selfless leadership, you can point to the stories of these men as I have started to do. The lives of the men in this book celebrate excellence and inspire us to be better. To do better. And to tell the whole truth to our kids about how our country has achieved what it has. This is only the beginning, friends.
Our family values telling the truth, even when it’s hard. We are working on uncovering our own blind spots in American history as we know it. May God give us courage, wisdom, and humility to see the big picture and how important, valued, and needed each and every person is to the final masterpiece.
Along that same theme of celebrating courage and excellence, these two biographies have captivated my family this year. Both tell the stories of amazing Black women: their talents, how they dealt with racism, and how they gave back to their communities.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills (Renée Watson, Christian Robinson) shines a light on a celebrated performer who used her singing voice and her voice of advocacy to open doors for others. Florence’s incognito hospital visits and the song “It is Well with My Soul” bring in themes of faith and compassion that hit home with my boys.
In Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams (Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome), we see the Williams sisters’ grit and bravery. We witness the love of family through sisters who are competitors and best friends. The inspiring moments moved me deeply, and I was not alone. My husband Josh is a rock, and his voice broke on that last page! It’s one our boys ask for again and again.
Another way to build the puzzle
As Karis and I have shared, learning about the whole of American history and celebrating heroes from diverse backgrounds are two ways to help the puzzle pieces come together for kids.
Another way we can do this is to introduce kids to fiction books where the protagonists are people of color. We want our kids to experience stories where the cast of characters is diverse and diversity is celebrated, where families of color enjoy everyday experiences, where we may not share the hero’s skin color, but we see something of ourselves in the shared human experiences of love, loss, fear, friendship, growing up, and learning about life.
Diverse books like this are some of our favorites. These topped our list recently.
Diverse books for younger kids (preK to 1st grade)
The Snowy Day, The Trip, and Peter’s Chair are just a few of the classics by Ezra Jack Keats
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! is so engaging and musical!
Press Start! is graphic novel series my six-year-old can’t get enough of.
On My Block is simple, powerful, and fun with activities in the back!
Though On My Block was written for younger kids, my boys, then 9 and 6, connected to it. They also had fun doing the creative activities included. Of course, they both wanted to do the same page…(yay, copy machine).
Diverse books for all ages
Last Stop on Market Street is a long-time favorite of ours.
The Day You Begin has a great message about bravery. See our post about it here.
Gracias~Thanks had us smiling and laughing the whole way. We gush over it here and share fun ways to teach kids gratitude.
See the look on her face? That’s what it’s like to read My Papi Has a Motorcycle. Delightful!
The New Small Person gets to the heart of sibling life like few others.
Diverse books for older kids (3rd grade to 6th grade)
The Year of the Book explores the importance and the complications of friendship. We’re two books in on this six-book series and love it!
Dragons in a Bag and The Dragon Thief are full of fun and adventure. They also lean into the beauty and the pain of family and friendship. We enjoyed this series through both hardcover and audio, and it was so much fun.
We would love to learn about the books you and your kids are sharing and enjoying. Drop us a line in the comments!
Love Kids’ Books? You May Also Like…
If you want to connect with kids and introduce them to amazing children’s books, check out these posts:
Thank you for all of these book suggestions!
Our pleasure! Thank you!