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27 Multicultural Children’s Book Recommendations!

27 Multicultural Children’s Book Recommendations!

January 26 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Cultural literacy is very important and children can engage with other cultures through books. Some benefits of cultural literacy are the development of communication and self-reflection. Cultural literacy also reduces prejudice and inequality based on culture. 

The books below were written by IBPOC authors or focus on diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, or immigrant and refugee experiences. Most are picture books suitable for children up to 8 or 9. Also, a huge thank you to the librarians at the Burnaby Public Library who picked out these books. All of the books can be found at the Burnaby Public Library.

Multicultural Book Recommendations

  1. Be a Good Ancestor, by Leona Prince (Indigenous author in Canada)

Picture book

“Thought-provoking stanzas encourage readers of all ages to consider they ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and encourages them to think deeply about their behaviors. Rooted in Indigenous teachings, the message delivered by the authors is universal, be a good ancestor to the world around you.”

  1. My Paati’s Saris, by Jyoti Rajan Gopal

Picture book

“A Tamil boy explores his love for his grandmother and her colorful sari collection in this tale of expressing your true self”

  1. Dear Black Child, by Rahma Rodaah (Canadian author)

Picture book

“Lyrical and beautifully illustrated, Dear Black Child is an anthem for young, Black readers–one that defiantly centers the endless, joyful possibilities of Black children’s futures. Dear Black Child, The universe is vast. So take as much space as you can. Stand in your own light. Wear your crown with pride. Let your name be your flag.” 

  1. Malaika’s Winter Carnival, by Nadia L. Hohn (Canadian author)

Picture book

“Nadia L. Hohn’s prose, written in a blend of standard English and Caribbean patois, tells a warm story about the importance of family, especially when adjusting to a new home. Readers of the first Malaika book will want to find out what happens when she moves to Canada, and will enjoy seeing Malaika and her family once again depicted through Irene Luxbacher’s colorful collage illustrations.” 

  1. Kā-āciwīkicik / The move, by Doris George (Indigenous author in Canada)

Picture book

“Rooted in the historical displacement and relocation of members of the Chemawawin First Nation from their ancestral homeland, The Move is a bilingual story of two Cree Elders adjusting to life in their new environment. The story presents two contrasting landscapes of the old community — the homeland of the Chemawawin People — and the new community of Easterville, which at first appears barren and lifeless. Gradually, the couple begins to incorporate their old customs and traditions into their current surroundings. Family members begin to visit, and eventually nature begins to bloom all around them. Through traditional Cree storytelling techniques and vivid imagery, the new landscape springs to life and becomes a true community, filled with life and happiness.”

  1. Giju’s Gift, by Brandon Mitchell (Indigenous author in Canada)

Graphic novel

“”A Mi’kmaw girl battles an ancient giant and forms an unexpected friendship in the first volume of this series of graphic novels inspired by traditional stories. Long ago, all living creatures on this land shared a special balance with one another. The pugulatmu’j–the Little People–were the original guardians of the land, and they looked after all living things. As time passed, we forgot these playful yet powerful guardians, but they did not forget us.”

  1. A is for Bee: An Alphabet in Translation, by Ellen Heck

Picture book

“What letter does the word bee start with? If you said “B” you’re right – in English! But in many, many languages, it actually starts with A. Bee is Anū in Igbo, Aamoo in Ojibwe, Abelha in Portugese. And Arı in Turkish.”

  1. The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky, by Jihyun Kim

Wordless picture book

“It’s summertime and a boy and his dog are leaving behind their apartment in the busy city. His grandparents’ home in the countryside feels like a different world. From the window, the curious boy sees a path leading enticingly into the forest. He can’t wait to explore….This is a beautiful wordless story about allowing ourselves to be present in the moment and see the world afresh.” 

  1. The Flamingo, by Guojing

Wordless graphic novel

“A little girl arrives, excited for a beachy vacation with her Lao Lao. The girl and her grandmother search for shells, chase crabs, and play in the sea, but when the girl finds an exquisite flamingo feather in her grandmother’s living room, her vacation turns into something fantastical.” 

  1. Remember to Dream, Ebere, by Cynthia Erivo

Picture book

“A girl dreams of a rocket ship, and her mother encourages her to follow her big, bright, bold dream.” 

  1. Our Little Kitchen, by Jillian Tamaki (Canadian author)

Picture book

“A crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. Includes a recipe and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.”

  1. Back Home, by Shaista Fatehali (Burnaby author)

Picture book

When Asha, a young Muslim girl from the Middle East, faces her first day of school in a new country, many things seem different at first, but her new classmates soon help her realize that friendship and kindness are the same wherever you go.

  1. Gib-ber-ish

Picture book

“When Dat starts school in a country where he does not speak the language, everything around him sound like gibberish until a new friend helps him make sense of his new world.” 

  1. Luli and the Language of Tea, by Andrea Wang

Picture book

“Though they may speak different languages, kids from all over the world come together to enjoy the shared pastime of tea in this delicious book for young readers. When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together. Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet.” 

  1. Home is in Between, by Mitali Perkins

Picture book

“Immigrating to America, a young girl navigates between her family’s Bengali traditions and her new country’s culture.”

  1. The New Rooster, by Rilla Alexander

Picture book

“The new rooster has come a long way but he is ready to crow for his new job, only nobody seems to understand his dialect–however they all appreciate his skill cooking breakfast.” 

  1. Sugar in Milk, by Thrity N. Umrigar

Advanced picture book

“A young immigrant girl joins her aunt and uncle in a new country that is unfamiliar to her. She struggles with loneliness, with a fierce longing for the culture and familiarity of home, until one day, her aunt takes her on a walk. As the duo strolls through their city park, the girl’s aunt begins to tell her an old myth, and a story within the story begins….The folktale depicted in this book was a part of author Thrity Umrigar’s Zoroastrian upbringing as a Parsi child in India, but resonates for children of all backgrounds, especially those coming to a new homeland” 

  1. Your Name is a Song, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Picture book

“Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class.”

  1. Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls, by Atinuke

Chapter book

“Too Small Tola lives in an apartment with her clever sister, Moji; her big brother, Dapo; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. In the first of three endearing new adventures, Tola is sized just right to wriggle under the bed and rescue Grandmommy’s prized possession when it goes missing. Her savvy and math skills save the day when Grandmommy gets sick, and when the family can’t afford new clothes, industrious Tola finds a way–with a little help from Grandmommy–to be just as fine as the three fine girls she so greatly admires.”

  1. Gigi and Ojiji, by Melissa Iwai

Beginning reader

“Gigi can’t wait for her Ojiji-Japanese grandpa-to move in. Gigi plans lots of things to do with him, like playing tag, reading books, and teaching Roscoe, the family dog, new tricks. But her plans don’t work out quite the way she’d hoped….Will Gigi find a way to connect with her Ojiji?” 

  1. The Big Bath House, by Kyo Maclear (Canadian author)

Picture book

“Soon after a young girl arrives in Japan, she, her grandmother, her aunties, and some cousins celebrate cultural traditions together while visiting a bath house.”

  1. My Grandmom, by Gee-eun Lee

Picture book

“Gee-eun is a little girl whose parents work a lot. So she spends her days with her beloved grandmother. Grandma comforts Gee-eun when she’s sad to see her parents leaving and shares in all of Gee-eun’s daily joys and problems. She even fills in for Gee-eun’s mom at the family sports day, though things don’t quite go as planned…But one thing is for sure: Grandma and Gee-eun always have an unforgettable time until the end of the day, when the whole family can come together for a meal made by Grandma.”

  1. Wishes, by Muon Van

Picture book

“’Wishes’ is an arresting, poetic journey and a moving reflection on immigration, family, and home, from an acclaimed creative team. With themes of kindness, bravery, hope, and love running throughout, this is a must-have book for every child’s bookshelf.”

  1. I Hate Borsch! by Yevgenia Nayberg

Picture book

“A Ukrainian girl finds a new way to appreciate her home country’s national dish after she immigrates to the United States.”

  1. Nour’s Secret Library, by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Advanced picture book

“Forced to take shelter when their Syrian city is plagued with bombings, young Nour and her cousin begin to bravely build a secret underground library.”

  1. Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel

Picture book

“A young girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march.”

  1. The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

Picture book

“Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.”

Thanks for reading this blog and be sure to check the books out!