• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup: Picture Books


Diversity Reading Challenge Roundup

Picture Books

It’s SUMMER! Summertime means more time for reading, YAY!  Not sure what to read? Your fave unconventional librarian has got you covered. I’ve compiled a list of kids books that contain diversity. No need to scour the internet or ask your friends to find the right book. I’ve got them here. All you’ll hafta do is go to your local bookstore or library and start reading.

#1 Mapping My Day By Julie Dillemuth, Lura Woods

Mapping My Day by July Dillemuth

Is a delightful book! I’m all about any book with a POC on the cover, right? But also? I love when books are sneaky and get some teaching in. The sneaky teaching way this book helps kids learn is by talking about something that kids use and love every day: maps! What kid doesn’t love drawing a treasure map like a pirate? Without even knowing it, kids will realize that they already know how to read and/draw maps and possibly legends. What kid doesn’t love tracing routes on a map? You know those: help so and so get to X location? That’s tracing a map. Kids love those activity sheets!

Spatial relations is a big word that means where things are in relation to other things and kids will love the fun and easy way that Flora (with her multi-racial family) relate to each other and other places spatially. Bonus points for milk squirting out of your nose at dinner.

So much fun learning. Also, counts for the Diversity Reading Challenge because the main character is a poc. Yay!

#2 Calling The Water Drum Latisha Redding

Calling the Water Drum by LaTisha Redding

There is so much to love about this book. First the author and illustrator are both people of color which is a big win in my book. But of course, that’s what makes L&L so fab. They specialize in diversity. Calling the Water Drum is a tender fictionalized account of the Haitian refugee crisis from the 80s and 90s but told through the viewpoint of a very young boy who plays the drum instead of speaking. Young Henri’s perished traveling from Haiti to freedom in America and all the boy has left of his parents is the bucket they used in the boat to bail water out. Henri uses the drum as a way to connect to his family and friends he left back in Haiti and to connect with his new friends in New York.

Because children generally respond well to music I thought it would be fun to learn to make a drum so kids can express themselves like Henri.

The easiest way to make a drum is to find an old bucket, make sure it’s clean and empty, and bam, instant drum.

If you want to get a little more creative, there are many ways to make a drum without spending a dime.

  • Find an old coffee can or oatmeal container.
  • You’ll need materials to cover the open end, like: a balloon, an old scrap of leather, or wax paper.
  • Cover the open end with your material, ie., wax paper. use string, duct tape, or very large rubber bands to hold the wax paper to the sides of the can.
  • You’re done!
  • If you want to get extra fancy you can decorate the sides of your drum however you like: markers, spray paint, stickers, etc. The sky’s limit with your imagination!

When you’re ready to play, you can use your hands like Henri or use pencils as drumsticks. There are lots of lessons on Youtube to teach you how to drum with your hands if you want to go that route. Try to imitate the sounds and the rhythms that Henri makes in the book.

#3 Schmelf the Hanukkah Elf by Greg Wolfe, Howard McWilliam

Shmelf is one of Santa’s most important elves. He’s part of the List Checking department, and he makes sure all the good boys and girls get their presents! But when Shmelf finds out that some children are missing from Santa’s list, he goes to investigate.

What Shmelf uncovers is Hanukkah, a wondrous and joyful holiday that Jewish families celebrate each year. As Shmelf observes a family lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and hearing the Hanukkah story, he sees how special the traditions of the holiday truly are-and he wants to be a part of it! Luckily, Santa just might have a special role in mind for Shmelf….

Isn’t that the cutest little elf face ever? I love that this book is focused on the little ones. I know some little ones don’t understand that they celebrate differently than their friends. Here’s a way to make Hanukkah feel special for the little ones who are confused or who want to learn about Hanukkah.


Even though this book is for the littles, let’s make it count for their Diversity Reading Challenge.

#4 Marvelous Cornelius By Phil Binder

Marvelous Cornelius by Phll Binder

In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater than anyone had seen before. In this heartwarming book about a real garbage man, Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspiring story of a humble man and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

You know you’re gonna love a book when the opening quote features Martin Luther King, Jr. And this quote is a good one: “Even if it’s called your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo…who swept his job well.” That’s a great quote to aptly describe Cornelius, a garbage man in New Orleans. Marvelous Cornelius had a great spirit and a love for his community, which my buddy Phil aptly captures in the book. Young readers can learn about the history of Hurricane Katrina, but also learn that you can take pride in any job you do.

And who doesn’t love a book when the call to arms is “Hootie Hooooooo”?

No one, that’s who.

This book is great for K-3 and older. Also perfect for the Diversity Reading Challenge!

#5 Lillian’s Right To Vote By Jonah Winter & Shane W Evans

Lillian's Right to Vote by Jonah Winter & Shane W. Evans

An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history in this picture book publishing in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. Veteran bestselling picture-book author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America’s battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman’s fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.

What I love about this book is that, as a picture book, it tells the story in a way kids can receive it. Probably best for early elementary grade students but the symbolic way Lillian walks up the hill and sees her history is unmistakably brilliant and probably suitable for even younger kiddos. Kids will get it. Gentle language describing the often violent situations helps to soften the harshness of the historical events.

It’s so incredibly amazing.

I love this book so hard.

And Jonah is the bomb.

#6 Beautiful By Stacy McNautly, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable. . . .Every girl is BEAUTIFUL.
Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong!
BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the illustrations in this adorable picture book. It shows girls of every race, ability, etc, doing what girls do; which is everything. A great way to break those gender stereotypes that kids start to believe in their preschool years.

#7 My First Book Of Hockey


If it weren’t for Sports Illustrated Kids, I might never understand sports at all! Thank goodness they have published a hockey book. To be honest, though, I grew up watching hockey or rather I grew up going to hockey games waiting for the big guys on skates to start slamming each other around. And after all, when you’re a kid, what’s more exciting than watching a bunch of guys on skates chase around a tiny puck and slam each other into the boards?

Fortunately for you you don’t have to learn the rules of the game from me. Inside the book, written for the tiniest goalie in training is a super simple guide to hockey. It explains the number of players on a team, what they do and the different types of moves on the ice. From Power Play to Hat Trick it’s all inside.

The cartoon like cut out photographs are super fun and the little guy who’s trying to infiltrate the team will make little readers like they are seeing themselves in the game.


#8 Lil Libros

Cuauhtemoc - Shapes - Formas

I love Lil Libros so much! I add them to my library whenever I can. There’s no better way to teach a small child than combining their heritage with basic shapes, colors, numbers, etc.

A sneaky way to get some knowledge inside the kiddies about the Aztecs.


So here you go. Get your summer reading on with Diversity.