We need diverse books because, according to Oscar Wilde, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Kids come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and beliefs, so diversify your bookshelf with these ten indie books that depict children from all walks of life with energy, respect, and joy.
Susan Marcus Bends the Rules, by Jane Cutler
This historical novel puts the Jim Crow laws of 1943 at the forefront in a way that encourages children to take a closer look at how our world is changing and continues to change.
The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Prince, by Prince A. Sanders and Ikhsan (bird) Ditya (illustrator)
Parents will delight in this giggle-out-loud lesson in table manners that fills a chasm in today’s picture book market.
When Mama Goes to Work, by Marsha Forchuck Skrypunch and Jessica Philips (illustrator)
Images of diversity and feminine strength beautify these pages to create a realistic, uplifting narrative of family and work life in modern society.
Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah Hoffman, Ian Hoffman, and Chris Chase (illustrator)
Perfect for discouraging gender-nonconforming children from succumbing to bullying, this is a gentle introduction to societal norms and rebellion.
Everyone Prays, by Alexis York Lumbard and Alireza Sadeghian (illustrator)
Celebrating the act of prayer through multicolored panels depicting people from a wide array of religions, this vivid book is a primer for diversity and tolerance.
Let’s Salsa! / Bailemos Salsa!, by Lupe Ruiz-Flores and Robert Castilla (illustrator)
Parents and children will be energized by this lesson on leading a healthy lifestyle … and the bilingual narrative allows for Spanish speakers to enjoy the story as well.
If You Were Me and Lived in … India, by Carole P. Roman
Roman’s conversational tone keeps the book interesting and inspires kids’ curiosity for other cultures.
Hope Is a Girl Selling Fruit by Amrita Das
Conceptual and reflective, this tender, musing story celebrates the bravery of the modern young woman.
Larry and Friends, by Nat Jaspar and Carla Torres (illustrator)
This masterful team introduces children to all the flavors of language, custom, and ambition the world has to offer.
Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments, by Emily Jiang and April Chu (illustrator)
Traditional Chinese musical instruments take center stage in this encyclopedia that uses accessible poetry and magnificent artwork to educate and entertain.
Aimee Jodoin is deputy editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @aimeebeajo.