Great Books Featuring Diverse and Inclusive Families

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Diverse Picture Books

Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart. Vera B. Williams. (1 – 4)  Poems tells how two sisters help each other deal with life while their mother is working and their father is in jail. Friendships and support shine through.

And Tango Makes Three. Justin Richardson. (Pre-K – 2)  The story of two famous dads — penguins Roy and Silo from New York’s Central Park Zoo. The two take turns sitting on an egg until it hatches, and Tango is born.

Bird. Zetta Elliot. (3 – 5)  A touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles from the impact of his older brother’s drug addiction on his family and his beloved grandfather’s death. With drawing and the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.

A Chair for My Mother. Vera B. Williams. (K – 3)  After a fire destroys their home, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save until they can afford to buy a big, comfortable chair for all three of them. Also in Spanish.

The Family Book. Todd Parr. (Pre-K – K)  All kinds of families are celebrated in a funny, silly and reassuring way. Includes adoptive families, stepfamilies, single-parent families, two-mom and two-dad families and families with a mom and a dad.

The Great Big Book of Families. Mary Hoffman. (Pre-K  – 3)  Features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each spread showcases one aspect of home life - from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees.

Families, Families, Families! Suzanne and Max Lang. (Pre-K – 1) This book depicts silly animals in framed portraits, and offers a warm celebration of family love. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers – and even Great Aunt Sue – appear in dozens of combinations.

Hairs / Pelitos. Sandra Cisneros. (Pre-K – 1)  A young girl describes how each person in the family has hair that looks and acts different. The paintings reflect the diversity among the family and personalities. Bilingual.

Happy Like Soccer. Marybeth Boelts. (K – 2)  Her auntie works on the day that Sierra’s soccer games are held, but when a match is rescheduled due to rain, Sierra takes a bold step.

Jacob’s New Dress. Sarah and Ian Hoffman. (Pre-K – 2)  Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Jacob wants to wear a dress. Can he convince his parents to let him wear one to school? Speaks to the challenges faced by boys (and their families) who don't identify with traditional gender roles.

The Keeping Quilt. Patricia Polacco. (K – 3)  Traces the history of a quilt made from bits of Polacco’s ancestors’ clothing connecting generations from one to the next.

Kite Flying. Grace Lin. (Pre-K – 1)  Celebrates the Chinese tradition of kite making and kite flying and lovingly depicts a family bonded by this ancient and modern pleasure. With beautiful signature illustrations by Lin.

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. Daniel Beaty. (K – 2)  Shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.

Last Stop on Market Street. Matt De La Peña. (K – 1) An energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only a grandparent and grandchild can share.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/ Marisol McDonald No Combina. Monica Brown. (Pre-K – 2)  Marisol McDonald, a biracial, nonconformist, soccer-playing pirate-princess with brown skin and red hair, celebrates her uniqueness. Bilingual.

Muskrat Will be Swimming. Cheryl Savageau. (1 – 5)  A heartwarming tale of the lesson a girl learns from a Seneca creation story her grandfather tells her — a lesson of knowing who you are and staying strong in the face of hurtful criticism.

My Abuelita. Tony Johnston. (K – 2)  Abuelita's hair is the color of salt. She booms out words as wild as blossoms blooming. A celebration of family, imagination, and the power of story.

My Brother Charlie. Holly Robinson Peete. (K – 2)  Callie is very proud of her brother Charlie. He’s good at so many things. But sometimes Charlie gets very quiet and his words get locked inside him. A sister’s story of living with a brother who has autism.

The Name Jar. Yangsook Choi. (K – 2)  The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her.

Night Catch. Brenda Ehrmantraut. (K – 2)  When a soldier's work takes him half-way around the world, he enlists the help of the North Star for a nightly game of catch with his son.

One Family. George Shannon. (Pre-K – 2)  While the text looks at numbers and the concept of “one” – one batch of cookies, one family, one world – the images portray a diverse range of people and families – multigenerational, interracial, gay.

Stella Brings the Family. Miriam B. Schiffer. (Pre-K – 1)  Stella's class is having a Mother's Day celebration, but what's a girl with two daddies to do? Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in this sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.

A Tale of Two Daddies. Vanita Oelschlager. (Pre-K – 1)  A young girl answers a friend's questions about what it is like to have two fathers. The boy asks straightforward questions. The story ends with simply, “Who is your dad when you're sad and need some love?” Both, of course.

This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration. Jacqueline Woodson. (1 – 4)  A found piece of rope binds a family together through three generations as they journey from South Carolina to Brooklyn.

Thunder Boy Jr. Sherman Alexie. (K – 2)  Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. In the Native American tradition, he and his dad set out to pick one based on who he is. Celebrates the special relationship between father and son. 

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. Sarah S. Brannen. (Pre-K – 2)  Everyone is happy but the young girl who fears losing her favorite uncle when he gets married until she sees she is really gaining a new uncle.

We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families. Todd Parr. (Pre-K – 1) Explores the ways that people can choose to come together to make a family. It's about sharing your home and sharing your heart to make a family that belongs together.

 

Diverse Middle Grade Books

Almost Home. Joan Bauer. (4 – 7)  When Sugar and her mother lose their home, they head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. But, Sugar shows resilience, especially with the help of a new puppy and a warm foster family.

Also Known as Elvis. James Howe. (4 – 7)  Skeezie’s got the leather jacket of a tough guy, but a heart of gold. While stuck at home for the summer helping out his mom, he navigates first crushes and tough choices about family and friends. Final book in The Misfits series.

As Brave As You. Jason Reynolds. (5 – 8)  Two brothers leave Brooklyn for the first time to spend the summer with their grandparents in Virginia. When they decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally. A story touching on gender expectations, what does it mean to be brave, hurt, and love.

The Best Man. Richard Peck. (3 – 5)  With humor and insight, Newbery Medalist, Richard Peck, follows a boy from elementary school to middle school navigating school and family dynamics. Starts with a wedding disaster and ends with a great one.

Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson. (4 – Adult)  Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s.

Counting by 7s. Holly Goldberg Sloan. (6 – 8)  Follow Willow on her journey towards family after her adoptive parents die in a car crash.

Dancing Home / Nacer bailando. Alma Flor Ada. (4 – 6)  Margie has been making efforts to distance herself from her heritage when her cousin from Mexico comes to live with her. Slowly the girls learn from each other and learn the importance of family and friendship. English and Spanish editions.

Families. Susan Kuklin. (4 – 5)  Combining interviews and engaging color photos, this book shows the diversity of families in America. Includes mixed-race, immigrant, two-dad, two-mom and single-parent families and families for whom religion is a focal point.

 

Ghost. Jason Reynolds. (4 – 8)  Ghost has a natural talent for running. But can he run fast enough to get away from his past or does he have to figure out how to deal with it and his raw emotions – getting support from Coach. Ghost lives with his mom while his abusive dad is in jail.

Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. (4 – 6)  The three sisters from One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven head to Alabama to visit their grandmother and great-grandmother for the summer. The book includes family history, family complications and family fun.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. Wendy Wan Long Shang. (3 – 6)  A humorous and heartwarming story about split cultural identities, and the way life doesn’t go as planned for sixth-grader Lucy Wu – especially when her great-aunt comes for an extended visit from China.

Half a World Away. Cynthia Kadohata. (5 – 8)  Jaden is adopted, considers himself an ‘epic fail’ so that is why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him. Instead Jaden discovers the transformative power of love.

A Handful of Stars. Cynthia Lord. (3 – 6)  This powerful middle-grade novel from the Newbery Honor author of RULES explores a friendship between a small-town girl and the daughter of migrant workers. 

Home of the Brave. Katherine Applegate. (4 – 8)  Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner.

How Tia Lola Came to [Visit] Stay. Julia Alvarez. (3 – 7)  Miguel and his sister have just moved to Vermont with their mother, leaving behind their father in New York. Tia Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to help out, creating a whirlwind from her flamboyant appearance to her lively music, and vivid storytelling.

Inside Out and Back Again. Thanhha Lai. (4 – 7)  Hà who has only known Saigon is forced to flee with her family as the Vietnam War ends. She ends up in Alabama. Follow one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. Short free–verse poems.

The Liberation of Gabriel King. K. L. Going. (4 – 6)  In the summer of 1976, Gabriel, a white boy who is being bullied, and Frita, an African American girl who is facing prejudice, decide to overcome their fears together as they enter fifth grade. Story of the power of friendship, understanding and family.

Locomotion. Jacqueline Woodson. (5 – 8)  In a series of poems, eleven-year-old Lonnie writes about his life, after the death of his parents, separated from his younger sister, living in a foster home, and finding his poetic voice at school.

Love, Amalia / Con cariño, Amalia.  Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta. (2 – 4)  When Amalia’s best friend moves away, she turns to her grandmother for comfort. But when her grandmother dies, where can she turn? A story of the importance of family, heritage, and good food.

Luv Ya Bunches. Lauren Myracle. (4 – 6)  A funny, honest depiction of the shifting alliances and rivalries between girls that shape school days. Written with a mix of instant messages, blog posts, and straight narrative. Four diverse 5th grade girls come together in friendship. One of the girls has two moms.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. Dana Alison Levy (3 – 5)  The Fletchers’ school year is anything but boring with four brothers, two dads – from camping trips to scary tales told in the dark, from new schools to old friends, from imaginary cheetahs to very real skunk sand one new neighbor who just might ruin everything.

My Louisiana Sky. Kimberly Willis Holt. (4 – 6) Tiger Ann wants nothing more than to get out of her rural town—away from her mentally disabled mother, her “slow” father, and her classmates who tease her. But when she has a chance, she has to make hard decisions about her life and her family.

Playground: A Mostly True Story of a Former Bully. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Laura Moser. (6 – 9)  A realistic look at bullying from the perspective of an urban young teen boy in middle school. Looks at the boys feelings as both a target and perpetrator of bullying. Also deals with divorce and gay parenting. Some explicit language.

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang. Amy Ignatow. (4 – 6)  Two fifth-grade best friends are determined to uncover the secrets of popularity
by observing, recording, discussing, and replicating the behaviors of the “cool” girls. Notebook format. Julie has two dads. First in a series of seven books.

Star in the Forest. Laura Resau. (3 – 6)  Zitlally's family is undocumented, and her father has just been arrested for speeding and deported back to Mexico. Meanwhile, Zitlally and a new friend find a dog in the forest near their trailer park. Will her Dad make it back home? Will the dog be OK?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Christopher Paul Curtis. (4 – 6)  Enter the world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan, when Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma in the South at one of the darkest moments in America's history.

Wonder. R.J. Palacio. (5 – 7)  Auggie was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school until 5th grade. Told from multiple perspectives of family and friends that highlight different struggles with empathy and acceptance.

The Year of Billy Miller. Kevin Henkes. (1 – 2)  Follow along as Billy learns to navigate 2nd grade with his stay-at-home dad, his busy working mom and his cute (but annoying) little sister. From the complications of a diorama to a poetry slam on family, Billy makes it through the year. A classmate has two moms.

The Year of the Dog. Grace Lin. (3 – 5)  Pacy and her two sisters are the only Taiwanese-American children at school until Melody arrives. Follow them through the Year of the Dog as they celebrate with family, try to integrate different cultures and navigate school projects and friends. Continues with The Year of the Rat, and Dumpling Days.