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Children's Books That Represent Respect For Diversity

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I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

There has been so many missed teachable moments in households that has resulted in the overlooking of justice and acceptance of racism in this country. It has to stop!

Let's stop making excuses and start the conversation with our kids. 

As a mom to 2 beautiful black boys; sadly (but honestly) I know the world will put them in a box and view/treat them unfairly before knowing them. That is why I seek out books that promote confidence in their beauty and represents the true world around them. As parents in today's world it is even more important we do this at the earliest of ages so our children can fight and resist the racist influences that exist.

Representation can be hard to find in Cartoons/TV Shows/Movies let alone in children's books, which is why I am so proud to introduce you to our expert, Meena Harris

Meena founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered brand that brings awareness to social causes and recently authored Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea (available today)a beautiful book about girl power and creating change in a community. 

Below, Meena curates a list of books you can read to your little one that will both teach them about the world and strengthen your bond.

Read her amazing article below!

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In 2018, there were as many kids books with animals as main characters as there were books with Black, Latinx, Asian, or Native main characters combined. That same year, only 21% of children’s books were written or illustrated by people of color.

When I was growing up, these numbers were even worse. We’ve made some progress, but we still have a long way to go.

That’s why I wrote Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea. I wanted my daughters to see themselves represented in the picture books they read.

Books can teach us something new, make us rethink the way we see the world, and even help us to feel like we’re not alone. All children of color — as well as white children — deserve more diverse stories.

I also believe that to fight for women’s equality, we need to begin with girls. This book is one of many steps in that direction, starting with listening to girls, supporting their big ideas, and following their lead.

In this difficult and uncertain time, books can feel like an extravagance. But with so many of us at home with our children, we’re looking for new things to do and things to look forward to. In that spirit, here are a dozen books that center characters of color that I can’t wait to read with my girls. 

All books are linked to IndieBound, which connects to your local bookstore that likely needs your support more than ever right now.  

*Books with female main characters are denoted.

 

1. Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea* 

By me! (Meena Harris)

Illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

Release date: June 2, 2020

Pre-order here

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea is based on a true story from the childhood of my mom Maya Harris, and aunt, Kamala Harris. I am so thankful to everyone who is pre-ordering this story about two powerful little girls. For the pre-sale, I teamed up with 25 local independent bookstores for a special promotion (you can get a free Phenomenal Girl tee!) because these pillars of our communities need our help more than ever to stay in business. And don’t miss our free, downloadable activity pages to help your little ones develop their big ideas and write thank you letters to changemakers, just like Kamala and Maya do in the book. 

 

 

2. Lulu the One and Only* 

By Lynnette Mawhinney

Illustrated by Jennie Poh

Release date: June 9, 2020

Pre-order here

Lulu gets the question I’m often asked…“What are you?” Lulu hates this question (and I totally get it). With the help of her brother, she comes up with a response to describe who she is, not what she is.

 

 

3. Libby Loves Science*

By Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes

Illustrated by Joelle Murray

Release date: June 9, 2020

Pre-order here

Just like Kamala and Maya do in my book, Libby and her friends work together to make positive change in their community, by bringing more visitors to their science fair booth. In a world where women — especially women of color — are still underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) I love seeing Libby, the young scientist, front and center.

 

 

4. When My Dad Went to the Jungle 

By Gusti

Illustrated by Anne Decis

Release date: June 16, 2020

Pre-order here

When My Dad Went to the Jungle takes readers on a journey from the city to the Amazon, where we learn how to take care of our precious rainforests and be respectful of the Indigenous people who call it home. It’s a lesson that’s not just for kids, but also for readers of any age.

 

5. Danbi Leads the School Parade*

By Anna Kim

Release date: July 7, 2020

Pre-order here

It’s not easy being the new kid in school. It can be even harder when you’re entering a new culture that is different from your own. In Danbi Leads the School Parade, Anna Kim (who herself immigrated from Korea to the U.S. as a child) shows all of us how we can be kind, welcoming, and find joy in wholeheartedly embracing newcomers.

 

6. I Got the School Spirit*

By Connie Schofield-Morrison

Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Release date: July 7, 2020

Pre-order here

I love a new school year. The fresh school supplies, the excitement of finding your new classroom, of being a year older. This book embraces all of the wonderful aspects of returning to school after a summer away. It’s also a book with a main character who happens to be a little black girl, but her race isn’t the subject of the story. We need more books like this. 

 

7. I Promise

By LeBron James

Illustrated by Nina Mata

Release date: August 11, 2020

Pre-order here

What can’t Lebron do?! After becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time and establishing a renowned public school, the I Promise School, in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, King James gives us a motivational guide for kids (and adults). The book shows readers how to be their best selves, which includes being caring stewards of your community.

 

8. The Unicorn Came to Dinner*

By Lauren DeStefano

Illustrated by Gaia Cornwall

Release date: August 11, 2020

Pre-order here

I adore all of Lauren Detefanos’ books, so I’m excited about the latest coming out this year. Her newest is about anxiety and fear (two emotions we’re all dealing with these days) and helps families with kids talk about those feelings. Plus, there’s a unicorn!

 

9. Saturdays Are For Stella*

By Candy Wellins

Illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan

Release date: August 11, 2020

Pre-order here

My grandmother was an icon to me. She helped raise me, and she is my greatest role model for what strong, smart women can accomplish. Her loss a few years ago is something that still affects me. In Saturdays are for Stella, the main character is a little boy navigating a new world of weekends without his beloved grandmother. The book teaches kids how to celebrate cherished memories and make new ones. Might need a box of tissues for this one…

 

10. Bunheads*

By Misty Copeland

Illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey

Release date: September 29, 2020

Pre-order here

In 2015, Misty Copeland made history as the first black woman to be promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Her promotion was many years too late, but not a moment too soon. She’s a role model for all of us, and I can’t wait to twirl around the living room reading this book with my daughters.

 

11. 3 2 1 Awesome!: 20 Fearless Women Who Dared to Be Different* 

By Eva Chen

Illustrated by Derek Desierto

Release date: October 6, 2020

Pre-order here

Counting down 20 awesome women with the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Shirley Chisholm, and Sonia Sotomayor is a great way to teach all children about the incredible and varied accomplishments of women.

 

12. My America

By Karen Katz

Release date: June 1, 2021

Pre-order here

Told through beautiful illustrations, My America is a celebration of immigration — the intricate, woven tapestry that makes most of us American. While it’s a book that highlights the things that make us different and special, it’s also about the similarities we share and how immigration, and the immigrants in our communities, enrich the American dream.

 

 

"It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength." 
- Maya Angelou.

We live in world rich with beauty and culture. Sadly representation of such beauty can be hard to find in Cartoons/TV Shows/Movies let alone in children's books, which is why I am so proud to introduce you to our expert, 
Meena Harris.

Meena founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered brand that brings awareness to social causes and recently authored Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea (available today!) a beautiful book about girl power and creating change in a community.

Meena has curated a list of books you can read to your little one that will both teach them about the world and strengthen your bond.

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