Photo: Natalie via Living by the Page

With a family heritage that is South American on my side and Germanic/British/American on my husband’s, we have quite a mix in our family that is reflected in hair color, skin tone and the like. And I have many friends from various ethnicities or those who are in biracial marriages, or raising a blended family via adoption. All that to say is that we are all very intentional of reading books that feature characters that actually reflect the world around us and I’ve led workshops with children’s author Lauren Ranalli on creating an intentional bookshelf (please contact me if you would like more information on that).  

I grew up surrounded by the European/North American ‘ideal’ of blonde hair and blue eyes and while much has changed in the world of children’s literature, it is still staggering to note that only 13% of books in the last 24 years (1994-2017) contain multicultural content (source: Lee & Low Books). Representation matters and we can do our part by being mindful of what we put into the hands of our littles. With that in mind, here’s a short list of some of our favorite picture books and early chapter book series with diverse characters if you’d like to intentionally diversify your children’s summer reading:

Picture Books:

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin

Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack

Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes

Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev

The Bake Shop Ghost by Jacqueline Ogburn

The Blacker the Berry (poetry) by Joyce Carol Thomas

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker

Early Chapter Books/Juvenile Fiction:

Book Uncle and Me

Ellie May on President’s Day

Ellie May on April Fools’ Day

Princess Truly series

The Clubhouse Mysteries series

The Questioneers series

West Meadow Detectives series

Zoey and Sassafras series

This post originally appeared on The Faith Feast.