Multicultural books for preschoolers or multicultural books for kids in general, continue to become a bigger part of the children’s books that are being published each year. Children need to see themselves in books.
Scan your own bookshelves, how many multicultural books can you count? If you were like me, not enough!
Though the choices in multicultural books are growing, publishers still have bigger strides to make. I find that I have to be very intentional in seeking out great multicultural books to fill our shelves.
To make your life easier, I’ve created a list of some of our favorite titles for preschoolers. This list just scratches the surface. Let’s start exploring.
Multicultural Books for Preschoolers
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Gracias~Thanks by Pat Mora uses simple English and Spanish text to explain being grateful for things during the day from dawn until dusk. This is a wonderful book to introduce the idea of gratitude journals with kids.
Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke is an award winning book. It is the story of a mother and her baby who visit a market in South West Nigeria. While Mama shops, different sellers give the adorable baby different foods to sample and keep. Baby fills Mama’s basket with lots of extra market samples. It’s not until the end of the story that Mama discovers her heavy load. Also, check out Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke.
Of all the books on this list, the illustrations in this one rank at the top for me. In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van begins with a Vietnamese fisherman on a boat thinking about his home. Each page zooms in closer to his home where we find his wife in the kitchen all the way to a cricket in a whole in the wall. There is just as much to explore in the illustrations as there is within the words.
Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin is a fun one to enjoy with preschoolers. In Saffron Ice Cream kids learn about the common pleasures of swimming and enjoying ice cream in two different parts of the world- Iran and Brooklyn, NY.
Celebrate the World Series Each board book introduces little ones to the world through cultural celebrations. These are board books but are really relevant to the preschool crowd. There are currently four books in the series- Lunar New Year, Ramadan, Dia de los Muertos, and Diwali.
Red is a Dragon by Roseanne Thong not only exposes kids to colors but also learning about the Chinese-American culture.
Another book about colors but themed around a Hispanic culture is award winning, Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong. It’s a very rhythmic read and the illustrations are vibrant and engaging.
One of my son’s all-time favorite books is Bee-Bim-Bop by Linda Sue Park. The rhythmic text makes it a perfect read-aloud book. A Korean family busily preps for dinner together. It’s all about food AND family. And, you have to try the recipe included in the book. It’s fantastic! Also, check out No Kimchi For Me by Aram Kim.
Rainbow Stew has appeared on Growing Book by Book before. I love it. In fact, I’m featuring it in my new e-book, Read, Create & Share. An African-American family venture out into the wet garden with grandpa to pick produce for the vegetable stew. It’s great for teaching kids about gardening, healthy eating and color recognition. Plus, there is a recipe included to do some cooking with your preschooler.
All children should see themselves in books. I’m always amazed at the patience African-American little ones need to display when they have their hair done. Kids will truly see themselves in I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. A few other books to check out are Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cutby Derrick Barnes and Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry.
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz is the story of a little girl who wants to paint a picture of herself. After a walk through the neighborhood with her mom, she discovers that there are lots of different shades of color in the people that she meets. We are all people, but we are each unique is the overriding theme.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan and published by showcases the different ways a hijab can be worn as well as featuring when they are and aren’t worn by women. It’s a wonderful book to bring awareness to this dressing practice by Muslim women.
I’m always a softie for books about books. Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter is about a man that travels on his two burros named Alfa and Beto through the Colombian hills bringing books to people in small villages. One warning…there was one page that I felt was out of place and not really needed. While the man is traveling, he encounters a bandit with a gun. The bandit ends up taking a book since the man doesn’t have money. My boys were a bit surprised by the gun and we had to spend a great deal of time talking about it. The book is based on a true story.
Printable Preschool Multicultural Book List
Grab a printable book list of the books shared above.
This list doesn’t cover every culture, but it is a start. I’d love to hear what multicultural books you think every preschooler should enjoy.
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