There are plenty of reasons your children should read, but one of the most important reasons is to expose them to new ideas and possibilities, which includes new people and cultures. Reading diversely is not only important to expose children to characters who are different than them, but it is also important for children from all backgrounds to see themselves in the pages of the books they read. Thus, they should better start learning now.
There are many ways to raise avid readers, from reading programs to local library collections to incentive-based reading challenges, but the best way to raise a reader is simple: Find them a good book! With that in mind, here are seven great multicultural books your kid should read:
Is your child too small to read on his or her own? If so, read one of these great picture books out loud together:
1. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
This colorful and vibrant book has been awarded for both its gorgeous illustrations and its beautiful story. In the book, young CJ rides the bus with his grandma each week, which slowly exposes CJ to the differences in class between him and his friends.
2. My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best
This is a charming and uplifting story about a girl who wants to run a school race with her three best friends—even though she is blind. This book encourages children to look beyond disabilities and focus on the person instead.
3. Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong
Yes, this book is meant to teach children about colors, but it teaches them so much more! During this colorful book, readers are taken on a journey through a Hispanic-American neighborhood, which means they also learn about cultural traditions including Mexican food and holidays, such as Dia de Los Muertos.
4. All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
This poetic book about a multicultural family exploring their world will resonate with readers from all kinds of families, and the illustrations are lovely!
For children who are old enough to read on their own, encourage them to pick up one of these books:
5. Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh
This book of diverse short stories is great for beginning or reluctant readers not only because it represents children from all walks of life, but also because children who don’t often read may enjoy the opportunity to read one story at a time, rather than feeling intimidated by a full-length novel.
6. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The premise of this book may sound sad—a preteen girl’s adoptive parents die in a car crash—but it is really anything but. Instead, we watch the main character grow through her grief and find a new family in an ultimately hopeful read.
7. The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue
The Lotterys are a big family. When a grandfather of the family is diagnosed with dementia and comes to live in the already crowded household, 9-year-old Sumac decides he doesn’t fit in with her family and needs to find somewhere else for him to live.
There are millions of children’s books to read to your kids or encourage them to read themselves. Considering there are so many books to read, why not weed through your choices by ensuring the characters in those books represent children of all kinds? Whether your child wants to see him or herself in the pages of a book, or whether you live in a small community and want your child to learn more about the people outside their comfort zone, books are one of the best windows to the world for any reader.