A Culturally Diverse Reading List For Parents and Children
Join us in reading books from the culturally diverse list below. Through reading we can do the important work of listening to voices other than our own, understanding where our biases lie, and working to create a more loving and just world.
This list has been shared with us, and while the books link to Amazon, we encourage you to purchase them from your local bookstore.
Red = Highly Recommended for BRWS/Reviewed Blue = Recommended but not fully reviewed
Categories in alphabetical order. As list grows, categories can get more specific.
All books are picture books unless noted as board books or chapter books.
Children of Long Ago by Lessie Jones Little
What was it like long ago? What did children do? Were they like kids today? Lessie Jones Little answers these questions in this classic poetry book by tapping memories from her own rural childhood in the early 1900s. The result is a collection of warm, lyrical poems.
Bring me Some Apples and I’ll Make you a Pie by Robin Gowley (farming)
Long before the natural-food movement gained popularity, Edna Lewis championed purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and farm-to-table eating. She was a chef when female chefs—let alone African American female chefs—were few and far between. With lyrical text and watercolor illustrations, Robbin Gourley traces the roots of Edna's appreciation for the bounties of nature through the seasons. Folk rhymes, and songs about food are sprinkled throughout the text, and five kid-friendly recipes and an author's note about Edna's life are included.
In a Nutshell by Joseph Anthony (farming)
Black family featured naturally. Gorgeous story. (AE)
Here, in luminous illustrations, is the life cycle of an oak--and how it supports life even after it is gone. An acorn drops from a great oak and grows. Animals nibble at it, a fire threatens it, but overcoming many challenges it eventually towers high in the forest, observing the changing human scene below. Eventually its energy passes into many other life forms--even the cherry pie enjoyed by the boy in the house below.
Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia C. McKissak
Gorgeously illustrated; deep approach to change from childhood to adolescence, with an African-American man/spirit as the element of wind. (AE)
In this Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning tale, Mirandy is determined to capture the best partner for the junior cakewalk jubilee. And who is the best partner? The wind, of course!
Summer Sun Risin’ by W. Nikola-Lisa (farming)
From sunrise to sunset, an African American boy spends an activity-filled summer day helping his family on their farm. Feeding animals, mowing hay, picking vegetables, and eating freshly caught fish fill the hours. Set in Texas in the 1950s, Summer Sun Risin is Parenting Reading
Magic Award winner W. Nikola-Lisas tribute to childhood, farm life, and family togetherness. Don Tates sun-drenched paintings depict the family’s daily activities and trace the sun as it travels across the sky.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one's world by flying over it. A practical and stunningly beautiful book.
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell
Sarah Jean’s Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He had a kind heart and a warm smile. And he had a dream. Everyone has a favorite relative. For Sarah Jean, it was her Uncle Jed. Living in the segregated South of the 1920s, where most people were sharecroppers, Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks—from five-year-old Sarah Jean’s emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression—before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.
A young boy abandons his beloved electronics when an old-fashioned yellow-jointed tape
measure causes his imagination to run wild, in The Carpenter, a wordless expression of the simple joys found in exploration and creative play. Brazilian illustrator Bruna Barros uses basic yet bold contrasting colors, and lines that showcase the transformation of a carpenter’s shop into a veritable ocean of wonder, giving Harold and his purple crayon a run for his money.
In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby (farming)
Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snow Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a
child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.
California the Magic Island by Doug Hansen
Queen Calafia, the main character of a sixteenth-century Spanish romance about an island overflowing with gold and populated by Amazon-like women, is incensed when she hears that we have adopted her name for our state. Being the good and reasonable queen that she is, she's willing to hear from twenty-six animals about why California is worthy of her name. But if she decides it isn't, she'll launch an army of goddesses riding griffins to wreak her vengeance! Each animal characterizes California in a key cultural object or historical event: for example, the swordfish describes the tomols of the Chumash people, while the gull tells Calafia about the Gold Rush. Large, intricate illustrations display a wealth of research into every subject, rendered with the highest level of artistic skill.
When I Was Little by Toyomi Igus
Noel learns what it was like to grow up in the country without television, telephones, or cars, when his grandfather tells him stories of his own youth many years ago
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter (farming)
As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans This true
story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.
The true story of how environmentalist Farmer Tantoh is transforming the landscape in his home country of Cameroon. When Tantoh Nforba was a child, his fellow students mocked him for his interest in gardening. Today he's an environmental hero, bringing clean water and bountiful gardens to the central African nation of Cameroon. Authors Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul share Farmer Tantoh's inspiring story.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
Mufaro's two daughters react in different ways to the King's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king disguises himself to learn the true nature of both the girls and chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be the queen.
Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson
The circle of life turns in unexpected ways. Earth Mother awakes with the dawn. As she walks the land, swims the seas, and climbs the mountains, nurturing all of creation, she comes across: Man, Frog, and Mosquito. They each give her thanks for nature's bounty, yet can't help but give her advice about making their lives better. Everybody's got an opinion, it seems, and Earth Mother is amused when it becomes clear that the circle of life is not without a healthy dose of cosmic humor.
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
Kondi is determined to make a galimoto—a toy vehicle made of wires. His brother laughs at the idea, but all day Kondi goes about gathering up the wire he needs. By nightfall, his wonderful galimoto is ready for the village children to play with in the light of the moon.
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier
This illustrated book offers the true story of how a poor African girl was able to attend school after receiving a goat as a gift through a special international project and then sell its milk to get the money needed to buy her books.
My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel
I emptied my secret money box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows . . ." The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle--and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn't saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale, set in Tanzania and illustrated with glowing watercolors that capture the warmth of Saruni's family and the excitement of market day.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (chapter book)
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of
once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke (series)
Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her mother, her father, her baby twin brothers, and lots and lots of her family. Join her as she splashes in the sea, prepares for a party, sells oranges, and hopes to see sweet, sweet snow!
Imani’s moon by JaNayBrown-Wood
Imani is a young Maasi girl with a loving mother and a desire to do something great. When she decides she wants to touch the moon, she works hard to reach her goal, even in the face of teasing from the naysayers around her.
Crafty Chameleon (African Animal Tales) by Mwenye Hadithi
Tormented every morning by leopard and bullied by crocodile, the clever little chameleon decides to play a trick on them. He manages to get the better of his two oppressors without them even knowing how he did it! This is the story of why Crafty Chameleon changes colour and hides when he hears you coming.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Folk Tale by Verna Aardema
In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster. "Elegance has become the Dillons' hallmark Matching the art is Aardema's uniquely onomatopoeic text
. . . An impressive showpiece.
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
A cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Verna Aardema has brought the original story closer to the English nursery rhyme by putting in a cumulative refrain and giving the tale the rhythm of “The House That Jack Built.
Why the Sky is Far Away (A Nigerian Folk Tale) by Mary-Joan Gerson
The sky was once so close to the Earth that people cut parts of it to eat, but their waste and greed caused the sky to move far away.
African Folk Tales by Hugh Vernon-Jackson
This exciting collection of traditional African folk tales introduces you to a host of interesting people and unusual animals. Eighteen authentic fables, recorded as they were told by tribal members of Nigerian and other cultures, range from the imaginative "Story of a Farmer and Four Hyenas" to an entertaining account of "The Man with Seven Dogs." In "The Magic Crocodile," you'll meet a reptile with very strange powers, while "The Boy in the Drum" teaches a valuable lesson in the importance of obeying one's parents. In "The Hare and the Crownbird," a fine, feathered friend is rewarded for its acts of kindness. You'll also learn why a ram has a large head and a tortoise a small one in "The Greedy but Cunning Tortoise"; and in "A She-Goat and Her Children," you'll discover how a clever animal managed to provide food for her children.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan
Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality
through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith.
ASIAN / SOUTHEAST ASIAN
Yoko’s Paper Planes by Rosemary Wells
Ever since Yoko moved with her Mama from Japan, she misses her Obaasan and Ojiisan (her grandma and grandpa) very much. She especially misses doing origami with them. Luckily, Yoko knows just what to do for Obaasan's birthday.
My Friends by Taro Gomi (board book)
Using simple words and bright illustrations, author-illustrator Taro Gomi shows children that sometimes knowledge can come from all kinds of friends.
Tua and the Elephant by R. P. Harris (chapter book)
Ten-year-old Tua—Thai for "peanut"—has everything she needs at home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, except for one thing she's always wanted: a sister. In the market one day, Tua makes an accidental acquaintance—one with wise, loving eyes, remarkable strength, and a very curious trunk. And when Tua meets Pohn-Pohn, it's clear this elephant needs her help.
Together, the unusual team sets off on a remarkable journey to escape from Pohn-Pohn's vile captors. From the bustling night market to the hallowed halls of a Buddhist temple and finally, to the sanctuary of an elephant refuge, this clever girl and her beloved companion find that right under their noses is exactly what each has been searching for: a friend.
Time for Bed, Miyuki by Roxane Marie Galliez
Like children everywhere, Miyuki's imagination peaks at bedtime, when she remembers all the things she has to do before she can possibly go to bed: she needs to water the vegetables, gather snails, and prepare for the arrival of the Dragonfly Queen. Her patient grandfather follows along on her adventures, gently encouraging her to go to sleep. In this beautiful story about family, nature, and love, young children and their parents find a welcome companion for their own bedtime journey.
When the Sea Turned to Silver (and two other chapter books) by Grace Lin
(By Laura Podwoski- Grace Lin wrote three absolutely beautiful stories that take place in China. I read them to my 2nd grader. There is magic and heroism and warm family love with a female heroine, and they are so well written. I thought they were perfect for my 2nd grader.)
Rescue and Jessica by Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes
Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she'd imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. An endnote from the authors tells more about the training and extraordinary abilities of service dogs, particularly their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.
The Storm by Marc Harshman
Because of a destructive tornado, Jonathan's classmates and other people may see the wheelchair-bound boy in a new light, may see him and not just his wheelchair.
DIVERSE RACES AS SUBJECT
Gondra has inherited traits from both her eastern (Asian) dragon dad and western (European) dragon mom and enjoys them all. She's especially happy that she's a combination of both.
Cheerful banter and hilariously adorable dragon portrayals present a warm, appealing family portrait. The beautiful and fanciful illustrations are rich in whimsical details that invite repeated readings.
DIVERSE RACES FEATURED
APPEARING NATURALLY (WITHOUT EMPHASIS) WITHIN STORY
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown
This heartwarming classic picture book by beloved children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown is gorgeously re-illustrated for a contemporary audience by the critically acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson. One day, the children find a bird lying on its side with its eyes closed and no heartbeat. They are very sorry, so they decide to say good-bye. In the park, they dig a hole for the bird and cover it with warm sweet-ferns and flowers. Finally, they sing sweet songs to send the little bird on its way. A beautiful book to share with children beginning to grapple with loss.
The Littlest Family’s Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin
Who is only under 5 inches tall and has just moved to the woods? The cutest and littlest bear family you have ever seen--and their adopted teeny tiny fox tot! What happens when they venture out to explore their new world? With an easy-to-read story and the careful brushstrokes of Emily Winfield Martin's illustrations, The Littlest Family's Big Day captures the mystery and magic of the woods. Inspired by classic children’s books such as The Littlest Fur Family and Dream Animals, this is a radiant treasure to be cherished for generations.
All the World by LizGarton Scanton (board book)
Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning until night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to the warmth of family connections, to the widest sunset sky.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Each kindness makes the world a little better. This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they've put it down. Chloe and her friends won't play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe's teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she'd shown a little kindness toward Maya.
Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert
This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author's own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them "real sisters" even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike. "I liked how they took care of one another in their pretend-play scenario about climbing a mountain," Lambert says, "and I loved how they also took care of one another's feelings as they talked about adoption. Real Sisters Pretend captures these interactions perfectly and movingly. Also, the parents are two moms, and this is shown naturally.
Monday, Wednesday and Every Other Weekend by Karen Stanton
Henry Cooper and his dog Pomegranate have two houses. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other weekend, they live with Mama in her new apartment, but on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other weekend, they live with Papa in his new house. Henry and Pomegranate are happy as they dance with Mama and sing with Papa, but Henry knows that sometimes Pomegranate gets confused and just wants to go . . . home. This gentle and accessible story about dealing with the many changes that come with divorce is beautifully brought to life by author Karen Stanton's vivid and memorable illustrations.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
A gem of a debut, Julián is a Mermaid is a beautifully illustrated celebration of individuality, love, and acceptance.
In this spare, lyrically written story, we join a child on a journey of self-discovery. Finding a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, the child develops as an individual comfortable in the natural world and in relationships with others. The child begins Within / The deep dark earth, like a seed, ready to grow and then dream and reach out to the world. Soon the child discovers birds and the sky and other children: Trees and trees / Just like me! Each is different too. The child embraces them all because All trees have roots/ All trees belong. Maya Christina Gonzalez once again combines her talents as an artist and a storyteller to craft a gentle, empowering story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self.
Young readers will be inspired to dream and reach, reach and dream . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.
I’m Jay, Let’s Play by Beth Reichmuth, Nomy Lamm
I'm Jay, Let's Play, by Beth Reichmuth and Nomy Lamm, is an exciting story about Jay's morning at preschool playing with friends. Jay loves playing in the kitchen, driving dump trucks, twirling in skirts and crashing tall towers. Jay, Ren, Finn, Casey and Riley are dynamic kids with exciting ideas -- probably a lot like any preschooler you know and love. I'm Jay, Let's Play models gender fluidity as a normal and delightful part of the lives of young children. Rather than gendered pronouns, the characters in this book are referred to by their names. Their styles and interests are equally open-ended. To support adults in navigating the conversations that may arise, a note in the back of the book offers some suggestions of simple, inclusive, developmentally appropriate messages about gender for all young children. Gender expression can be playful. It can be dynamic. It can be joyful. And in I'm Jay, Let's Play -- it is.
When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of his life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self. When Aidan Became a Brother is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience.
The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya
In this beautiful children’s picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old South Asian boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot
commonly worn by Hindu women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.
IMMIGRATION / MIGRATION
Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago
In this moving and timely story, a young child describes what it is like to be a migrant as she and her father travel north toward the U.S. border. They travel mostly on the roof of a train known as The Beast, but the little girl doesn’t know where they are going. She counts the animals by the road, the clouds in the sky, the stars. Sometimes she sees soldiers. She sleeps, dreaming that she is always on the move, although sometimes they are forced to stop and her father has to earn more money before they can continue their journey. As many thousands of people, especially children, in Mexico and Central America continue to make the arduous journey to the
U.S. border in search of a better life, this is an important book that shows a young migrant’s perspective.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed. She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams. . . and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and six-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales's gorgeous picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly's passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it. Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It's a story about family. And it's a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time
but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless. The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. Also included are a brief autobiographical essay about Yuyi's own experience, a list of books that inspired her (and still do), and a description of the beautiful images, textures, and mementos she used to create this book.
Calling the Doves/ El Canto de Las Palomas by Juan Herrera
Now available in paperback, poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s bilingual memoir paints a vivid picture of his migrant farmworker childhood. His rich, evocative prose re-creates the joy of eating under the open sky, celebrating at a fiesta with other farm families, and listening to his mother singing Mexican songs and his father calling the doves. “A welcome alternative to the usually bleak portrayal of the migrant farmworker experience, this is an inspirational self-portrait of a loving Latino family
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE AMERICAS
We Sang You Home written by Richard Van Camp (Dogrib); illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis) (board book)
In this sweet and lyrical board book from the creators of the bestselling Little You, gentle rhythmic text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. A celebration of the bond between parent and child, this is the perfect song to share with your little ones. Internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author Richard Van Camp teams up with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett for a second time to create a stunning board book for babies and toddlers.
We Are Grateful/Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee); illustrated by Frané Lessac The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.
Dragonfly Kites written by Tomson Highway (Cree); illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis) Dragonfly Kites is the third book in Tomson Highway's magical Songs of the North Wind trilogy. Like Fox on the Ice and Caribou Song, it has a bilingual text, written in English and Cree. And once again Tomson Highway brilliantly evokes the very essence of childhood as he weaves a deceptively simple story about the power of the imagination.
The Hunter’s Promise: An Abenaki Tale written by Joseph Bruchac, (Abenaki), illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Promise to remember me!" was all the beautiful woman had ever said to the hunter. She had appeared from nowhere one day, when he had been lonely during the long winter hunting trip. Isolated in the vast wilderness of the northeast, he would only return to his village in the spring. Except that this year he would not be alone, because she had appeared. The hunter had quickly fallen in love with the mysterious woman, and together they had become their own little family. But when spring arrived and it was time to return to the village, she disappeared just as suddenly as she had arrived. Would he ever see his love again? The hunter didn't know, but he was sure he would keep his promise and never forget her. That is, until one day the chief's daughter cast a spell on him! World-renowned storyteller Joseph Bruchac retells this traditional story of love, loyalty, trust, and magic, which can be found in various forms among many of the indigenous nations of the northeast, both Iroquoian and Algonquin. Join him and award-winning illustrator Bill Farnsworth, as they recount this ancient and unique Abenaki tale of keeping a promise to one's family and of the proper relationship of humans to the natural world.
A Day with Yayah written by Nicola I. Campbell (Interior Salish-Metis), illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis)
Set in the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, in Canada's westernmost province, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. A grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life and the natural world to her young grandchildren.
Caribou Song (Songs of the North Wind) written by Tomson Highway (Cree); illustrated by John Rombough (Dene)
Joe and Cody are young Cree brothers who follow the caribou all year long, tucked into their dog sled with Mama and Papa. To entice the wandering herds, Joe plays his accordion and Cody dances, whirling like a young caribou. They are so busy playing and dancing, they don't hear the rumble of the caribou. Bursting from the forest, ten thousand animals fill the meadow. Joe is engulfed; he can barely see Cody a few yards away. Their parents seem to have disappeared.And yet what should be a moment of terror turns into something mystical and magical, as the boys open their arms and their hearts to embrace the caribou spirit.
Jingle Dancer written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muskogee), illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem—how will her dress sing if it has no jingles? The cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe's dress sing tink, tink, tink, tink Jenna's heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum as she daydreams about the clinking song of her grandma's jingle dancing. The warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu complement author Cynthia Leitich Smith's lyrical text in this picture book. Perfect for classroom and library sharing.
The Birchbark House Series written and illustrated by Louise Erdrich (Ojibwe) (chapter books)
The missing companion piece to Little House on the Prairie (AE)
In this story of a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847, Louise Erdrich is reversing the narrative perspective used in most children's stories about nineteenth-century Native Americans. Instead of looking out at 'them' as dangers or curiosities, Erdrich, drawing on her family's history, wants to tell about 'us', from the inside. The Birchbark House establishes its own ground, in the vicinity of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House' books.- (This is Laura Podwoski- I read this series with my 8 year old and absolutely couldn’t recommend it more highly! Well written, poinant and the voice of the girl was from an 8-12 year old.)
Morning on the Lake by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
In the first of three linked stories, a young boy and his grandfather set out in a birchbark canoe early one spring morning. Together, they discover the peaceful beauty of the lake. In the second story, the sun rises high in the summer sky as they climb a rocky cliff for a bird's-eye view of the land. And, finally, as an autumn night descends, they venture into the woods. Under the patient and gentle guidance of his grandfather, the boy gradually comes to respect the ways of nature and to understand his own place in the world.
The Angry Moon by William Sleator
An Indian girl insults the moon and is held prisoner by him until her friend reaches the sky country to rescue her.
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola
When a killing drought threatens the existence of the tribe, a courageous little Comanche girl sacrifices her most beloved possession--and the Great Spirit's answer results not only in much needed rain but a very special gift in return.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (chapter book)
The thrilling Newbery Medal–winning classic about an Eskimo girl lost on the Alaskan tundra. Julie of the Wolves is a staple in the canon of children’s literature and the first in the Julie trilogy. The survival theme makes it a good pick for readers of wilderness adventures such as My Side of the Mountain, Hatchet, or Island of the Blue Dolphins. (This is Laura Podwoski- I read this to my 8 year old daughter and the story is beyond inspiring, a beautiful read, but a few words on some of the more mature content. First of all, the narrator is probably about 16 years old, so some of how she sees the world is through that older child lense. There is a scene towards the end of family sexual abuse. I was reading it to my daughter, could see it coming and simply skipped over it, but it seems important to note that for parents.)
All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor (chapter books)
Classic, much-loved stories about a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of NY around the turn of the century. These stories involve the day to day struggles of a Jewish family during this time. There are family squabbles, money issues, school challenges and details of ‘laundry day.’ It has a lot of historical accuracies that make it interesting for older children and the simple day to day struggles that might be more appealing to younger children.
LATINX / SPANISH-SPEAKING
Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda
A 1993 Parent's Choice Award honoree, this story about the importance of family pride and personal endurance introduces children to the culture of Guatemala through the eyes of little Esperanza, who works with her abuela--her grandmother--on weavings to sell at the public market. Full color throughout.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (chapter book) (farming)
Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances-because Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.
Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead by Kathleen Krull
An enchantingly illustrated look at honoring loved ones who have died (AE).
In Mexico, Maria and her family celebrate Los Dâias de los Muertos, The Days of the Dead. Includes a recipe for pan de los muertos.
BOOKS TO LOOK INTO / FUTURE
[Please contact WIDE with any additional suggestions--or just add them right into this document as comments!]
Tatterhood and Other Tales, edited by Ethel Johnson Phelps
Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
Bippety Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke
Just Us Women by Jeanette Caines
Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson
The Leaving Morning by Angela Johnson
Joshua by the Sea by Angela Johnson
Rain Feet by Angela Johnson
Joshua’s Night Whispers by Angela Johnson
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
My Father’s Shop by Satomi Ichkawa
The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou
Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folk Tale from Algeria by Howard Schwartz
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah Da Costa
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
The Water Princess by Susan Verde
One Plastic Bag: Isatu Ceesay and the Recycling Women of Gambia by Miranda Paul
Throw Your Tooth on the Roof
Momo by Michael Ende
“When the Sea Turned to Silver (and two other chapter books) by Grace Lin (By Laura Podwoski- Grace L…” (Jewish Culture)
The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter by Eric-Shabazz Larkin
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty The Balcony by Melissa Castrillon Mango Moon by Diane DeAnda
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Most People by Michael Leannah
Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari