These children’s books by authors of color are specifically for children 5 and under. We can teach children about empathy when they’re young.
Children’s Books by Authors of Color
I teach in South Los Angeles. My students live in a world where everyone looks like them, but for a long time school’s didn’t didn’t teach our history or read our stories. Literature plays a crucial role in shaping young children’s understanding of the world around them – and children need to see characters that look like them. In reading children’s books by authors of color, we introduce children to different cultures, traditions, and perspectives, fostering inclusivity and cultural understanding from an early age.
You do not have to be a person of color to enjoy children’s books by author’s of color. Exposing all children to diverse books helps them develop empathy, respect, and appreciation for people from all walks of life.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of reading children’s books by authors of color and highlight some top recommendations that you can incorporate into your little one’s reading routine.
This will be the first of several posts highlighting the diversity in many of our neighborhoods. Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy these lists. 🙂
Why Should We Read Children’s Books by Authors of Color?
One word: Representation. Part of my reason for writing this post is because I know how lacking my education was as a child. We didn’t read any books about people of color. I remember one! It was called, “Tituba”, and it was about a black woman who was accused of being a witch.
I remember it because even though I am not black, it was the only book with a person of color in the classroom. I was so intrigued that I finished the book in a weekend, a full month before the class.
A Sense of Belonging
Children’s books by authors of color tend to highlight characters from various ethnic backgrounds. These books give children a sense of belonging and validation. That’s what I wanted as a child but didn’t have the words for it. When kids see themselves reflected in the stories they read, it boosts their self-esteem and helps them develop a positive self-image.
Moreover, exposure to diverse cultures through books allows children to recognize that everyone’s experiences are unique and equally valuable.
Another significant benefit of multicultural books is that they promote cultural awareness and understanding. Through engaging narratives and vibrant illustrations, these books transport children to different parts of the world, introducing them to new customs, traditions, languages, and celebrations.
As kids immerse themselves in these stories, they learn about the similarities and differences between their own culture and others’. This exposure helps cultivate an open-minded attitude towards diversity and encourages acceptance of individuals from different backgrounds.
As a person of color, I understand the cultural nuances of my culture and by reading children’s books by authors of color, we learn the nuances of other cultures. It’s an invaluable experience for children.
Moreover, reading children’s books by authors of color enhances language development in young children. Reading aloud diverse stories exposes them to a wide range of vocabulary words and sentence structures. Children learn new sounds and rhythms present in various languages.
As children listen attentively to these stories being read aloud by parents or educators, they absorb language patterns effortlessly. It enriches their vocabulary and also improves their communication skills.
A Window into Cultures & Customs
In addition, children’s books by authors of color serve as windows into other cultures as well as mirrors reflecting our own society back at us. Stories provide opportunities for children to learn about different customs, traditions, and lifestyles, expanding their worldview beyond their immediate surroundings.
As they read, children gain insights into the experiences of others and develop a sense of empathy and respect for all individuals.
Top Children’s Books by Authors of Color for Children Under 5
When it comes to choosing multicultural books for children under the age of 5, there are limitless titles available. Way more than when I was a child.These books not only expose young children to different cultures but also promote empathy, tolerance, and acceptance.
Here are some top multicultural books that are perfect for children under 5:
1 “Global Babies” by The Global Fund for Children
This board book features adorable photographs of babies from around the world, showcasing the diversity of cultures and ethnicities. It introduces little ones to different faces, clothing styles, and traditions.
2 “The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi
This heartwarming story follows a young girl named Unhei who moves to America from Korea. She is worried about fitting in at her new school, so she considers changing her name. Through this book, children learn about identity, acceptance, and the importance of embracing one’s heritage.
3 “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña
Winner of the Newbery Medal, this picture book tells the story of CJ and his grandmother as they take a bus ride through their diverse city. It highlights themes of gratitude and appreciation for what we have while also celebrating the beauty found in everyday moments.
I like Matt de la Pena. He’s got some great books. You’ll see his name several times on my lists.
4 “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry
I just love this book. It’s up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison.
5 “The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk” by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal
Set in India, this rhythmic picture book takes a multicultural twist on the classic nursery rhyme “The Wheels on the Bus.” Children will delight in learning about Indian culture while enjoying a fun-filled tuk tuk ride through the bustling streets.
6 “Dreamers” by Yuyi Morales
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a mother and her son who immigrate to the United States. It explores themes of hope, resilience, and the power of imagination. With its poetic language and vibrant illustrations, it is sure to captivate young readers.
7 “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
This timeless classic follows Peter, an African American boy, as he explores his neighborhood after a snowfall. Through simple yet powerful illustrations, children are introduced to diverse characters and experiences in an urban setting.
These children’s books by authors of color provide windows into different cultures and experiences. By incorporating these books into their reading routine, parents, teachers, and educators can create opportunities for meaningful discussions about cultural differences and similarities.
Reading children’s books by authors of color also helps them develop a positive self-image by seeing characters who look like them. Additionally, exposure to diverse literature can lead to increased cognitive development, language skills, and social-emotional growth.
Incorporating Children’s Books by Authors of Color into Reading Routine
Incorporating children’s books by authors of color into a child’s reading routine is not only important for fostering inclusivity and cultural understanding, but it also has numerous benefits for their overall development.
By exposing children to diverse cultures through books from an early age, parents, teachers, and educators can help broaden their perspectives, promote empathy, and instill a sense of respect for different cultures.
Here are some practical ways to incorporate multicultural books into a child’s reading routine.
1 Create a Diverse Bookshelf
One of the simplest ways to incorporate children’s books by authors of color into a child’s reading routine is by creating a diverse bookshelf at home or in the classroom. Ensure that the bookshelf includes books from various cultures, countries, and ethnicities.
This will provide children with exposure to different languages, traditions, and customs.
2 Read Aloud
Reading aloud is an effective way to engage children in storytelling and introduce them to new ideas and concepts. Choose books that are age-appropriate and read them aloud to children regularly.
This will not only enhance their language skills but also expose them to different cultural experiences.
3 Discuss Cultural Differences
While reading children’s books by authors of color, take time to discuss cultural differences portrayed in the stories. Encourage children to ask questions about unfamiliar traditions or practices mentioned in the book.
Use these discussions as teachable moments to promote understanding and acceptance of diversity.
4 Incorporate Multicultural Themes into Activities
I say this with a bit of caution. We don’t want to create caricatures or perpetuate stereotypes, however reading children’s books by authors of color fosters curiosity, especially if the characters do not look like the people reading them.
There are some fun and inoffensive ways to celebrate diversity. For example, if you read a book about Chinese New Year, you can organize crafts related to this celebration or cook traditional Chinese dishes together.
A hands-on approach allows children to immerse themselves in different cultures and make connections between what they read and real-life experiences.
5 Collaborate with Others
I love the idea of book clubs for kids. Organize book clubs or story time sessions where children can interact with their peers and discuss the books they have read. Speak with parents or educators to expand on things others are learning.
This not only promotes social interaction but also exposes children to different perspectives and interpretations of the stories.
6 Visit Libraries and Bookstores
Libraries are a great place to find children’s books by author’s of color. I think I mention the library in every post, but I LOVE the library. I also love bookstores.
Encourage children to explore different sections and choose books that pique their interest. Exposing children to a wide range of options will empower them to make their own choices and develop a love for reading diverse literature.
7 Integrate Children’s Books by Authors of Color into Curriculum
If you are an educator, consider integrating children’s books by authors of color into your curriculum. Use these books as teaching tools to introduce topics such as diversity, tolerance, and global citizenship. Incorporate related activities, discussions, or projects that allow children to delve deeper into the cultural themes presented in the books.
By incorporating children’s books by authors of color into your child’s reading routine, we can play a crucial role in shaping their understanding of diversity and fostering inclusivity. These skills are essential in our world.
Reading about different cultures not only expands children’s knowledge but also helps them develop empathy, respect, and appreciation for the world’s rich tapestry of cultures.
In conclusion, children’s books by authors of color play a crucial role in fostering inclusivity, cultural understanding, and empathy from an early age. They offer a window into different cultures, traditions, and perspectives, allowing young readers to develop a broader worldview.
By introducing diverse characters and stories, multicultural literature helps children recognize and appreciate the beauty of their own culture while also learning about others. Children gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and develop respect for people from all walks of life. Together, we can create a brighter future where every child feels seen, heard, and understood through the power of literature.