Books that reflect different cultures and family experiences give all kids a window into the diverse world we live in. Exposure to a wide range of books helps build both empathy and background knowledge.
In this section you’ll get guidance on finding high-quality fiction and nonfiction books. And you’ll hear from children’s authors about their own experiences growing up and the books they write for young readers.
You’ll also find guidance on assessing and diversifying your classroom library and how to use diverse books in the classroom — throughout the school year.
I think the thing I try to do as a writer is to bring worlds to the page. What happens with readers is they step inside those worlds, and they experience them in a way that they might not in their real life, and it gives them a chance to think about a bigger society and the greater good.”
Jacqueline Woodson, author, MacArthur Foundation Fellow (2020), National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2018)
The importance of diverse books
In the clip below, education professor and author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop talks about how diverse books allow children to see themselves in stories, as well as provide a window into the lives of people who may seem different from us.
- Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors (Rudine Sims Bishop)
- Why Diverse Books Matter: Mirrors and Windows (Colorín Colorado)
- Why We Need Diverse Books (National Education Association)
- Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? (Walter Dean Myers, New York Times op-ed)
- More Nonwhite Characters Are Needed (Sharon Flake, New York Times op-ed)
- Tell Me Another Story documentary featuring Andrea Davis Pinkney, Meg Medina, Grace Lin, and Christopher Myers (Ezra Jack Keats Foundation)
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander books
Voices of APA authors
Black history and culture books
Voices of Black authors
Voices of Hispanic and Latino authors
Native American/Alaska Native books
Voices of Native American/Alaska Native authors
Learning differences and neurodiversity books
Learning differences and neurodiversity in children’s books
I think that the more we read and the more widely we read, the more diverse authors we read, the more we understand the world. And to me that’s a really powerful aspect of literature — that it can create empathy in us in a way that’s really safe where we’re not always able to go out in the world and meet people who are having wildly different experiences than we are …”
Kekla Magoon, author
Finding diverse books
In addition to the booklists on Reading Rockets, there are many other great online resources to help you find diverse books for children of all ages. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison has compiled data on children’s and young adult books by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) published since 1985.
- Where to Find Diverse Books from the team at We Need Diverse Books
- Selecting and Using Culturally Responsive Children’s Books from the Office of Head Start National Center on Cultural & Linguistic Responsiveness
- Social Justice Books from the Teaching for Change Project
- Brightly from Penguin Random House
Free and low-cost book programs
- Stories for All Project from First Book
- We Need Diverse Books in the Classroom from We Need Diverse Books
Choosing culturally relevant books
- Rubric to Evaluate Asian American and Pacific Islander Youth Literature from Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA)
- Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books from Teaching for Change
- Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Native Books and Resources from Colorín Colorado
- Choosing Children’s Books: Cultural Relevance Rubric from Colorín Colorado
- Culturally Relevant Books in the ELL Classroom from Colorín Colorado
- Diversifying Your Classroom Book Collections? Avoid these 7 Pitfalls from KQED MindShift
Reading Rockets’ Book Finder
Create your own customized list of fiction and nonfiction books! Search through more than 5,000 books on Reading Rockets — by author, illustrator, age, reading level, genre, format, topic, and country or region. Browse Book Finder ›
Book recommendations from Colorín Colorado
- Finding Diverse Books Across Different Topics and Genres
- Books for kids that celebrate a wide range of cultures, languages, and experiences
Book recommendations from the National Education Association
Using diverse books in the classroom
Classroom and library resources from Reading Rockets
- Diverse Classroom Libraries for K–6 Students
- All Kinds of Readers: A Guide to Creating Inclusive Literacy Celebrations for Kids with Learning and Attention Issues
- Reading Without Walls: A Nationwide Program Celebrating Reading and Diversity
- Gene Yang’s Reading Without Walls video podcast
- Reading Rockets blogs focusing on multicultural books
Resources from Colorín Colorado
- Using Diverse Books with ELLs: A Guide for Educators : practical resources and tips for finding books for your students, as well as ideas on how to expand access to diverse books for all students.
- How to Increase Access to Diverse Books in the Classroom and Community
- 12 Strategies for Creating Inclusive Literacy Celebrations for ELLs
- Using Diverse Books to Support Writing Instruction
- Literacy Strategies for Librarians in Diverse Communities
- Meet the Authors: Video Interviews
Author Jaqueline Woodson talks about the benefits of reading “beyond ourselves.” Multicultural books are a powerful way to introduce kids to different kinds of people, even if their own community is not diverse.
Diverse books toolkit
As you bring diverse, inclusive, and culturally relevant materials into children’s reading experiences, this diverse books toolkit from Teaching Books can help analyze collections, identify and bring to life diverse texts, and encourage reflection on cultural representation. Registration required.
More resources on teaching with diverse books
- Multicultural Children’s Literature in the Elementary Classroom from Lee & Low Books
- Reading Your Way to a Culturally Responsive Classroom from the National Association for the Education of Young Children
- Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids’ Books by Mitali Perkins, from School Library Journal
- Educator Resources (lessons, articles, recommended books and media by topic), from Teaching for Change
- The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children from the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
- Expanding the Canon: How Diverse Literature Can Transform Literacy Learning from the International Literacy Association
Author Carole Boston Weatherford meets teachers who use her books in the classroom to introduce historical figures or historical events to their students. For example, Birmingham, 1963 might be the jumping off point for a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. “My poems have such a powerful punch that they automatically make kids want to know more,” she says.
Education professor and author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop talks about the importance of using diverse books in the classroom throughout the school year.