20 picture books to help you talk to your children about race

20 picture books to help you talk to your children about race

After I wrote my post on books you should read by black authors I was asked to share my recommendations for kids books. I’m may not be a parent but I am a children’s book editor and have worked with children in schools and in girlguiding groups so I like to think I know what I’m talking about!

These books aren’t all written by black authors but they are all diverse and will hopefully help you start a conversation with your child about celebrating our differences.

I’d especially like to shoutout Sheree @shereerobinson who sent me lots of recommendations for this post. She’s a knitwear designer and an all round lovely person so you should definitely check her out!

Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

This is such a wonderful book I have bought it multiple times for friends. It celebrates love, race, identity and being unapologetically yourself.

Long Walk to Freedom: Illustrated Children’s edition written by Nelson Mandela, illustrated by Paddy Bouma

Nelson Mandela’s famous biography has been specially adapted for children in this wonderful picture book.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

I hadn’t thought of including this one but it was suggested to me and I realised it actually was quite a good one as it is about how all babies are different yet in some ways they are all the same.

The Girls written by Lauren Ace and illustrated by Jennie Lovlie

This beautifully illustrated book is a celebration difference, individuality and friendship as it follows four friends from children to adults.

Islandborn written by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

Lola immigrated from her island but she can’t remember anything about it. With the help of her family and friends, Lola’s imagination takes her on a journey to find her home.

Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment written by Parker and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson

Inspired by the first time Parker saw Amy Sherald’s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, this is a story that will inspire children to believe “anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender.”

And to bring a smile to your face, here is Michelle Obama and Parker Curry having a little dance.

Kee Kee’s ABC of hairstyles by Kyra Morgenstern

An alphabet book with a bit of a twist… and a braid… and a bun… This book is not only great for black children to help see themselves in a book but also I strongly recommend buying this book for kids who aren’t black so they can understand black hair more.

Luna Loves Library Day written by Joseph Cobello, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

Written by one of the UK’s greatest up-and-coming poets for children, this is a bout one child’s love of books and the magic they hold.

Izzy Gizmo written by Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Izabelle Gizmo just loves to invent, but her inventions never seem to work the way she wants them to. And that makes her really CROSS! 

When she finds a crow with a broken wing she just has to help. But will she be able to put her frustrations to one side and help her new friend to fly again?

Same, same but different by jenny kostecki shaw

Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different!

Through an inviting point-of-view and colorful, vivid illustrations, this story shows how two boys living oceans apart can be the best of friends.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

The Little Leaders series provides an excellent introduction to people who have changed the world. This one focuses on black women who stood up to the status quo and made a real difference.

Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

These exceptional black men fought injustice and prejudice to make the world a better place for everyone.

Little Leaders: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

OK I know I’m sharing three from the same series but honestly, I think it’s a great series. I’ve just ordered all three of these for myself. I don’t have children but I find these books really informative for adults as well as children.

Baby Goes to Market written by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

A baby-friendly board book which will help children learn to count and identify food as mum and baby go around the market.

I Am Perfectly Designed written by Karamo and Jason Brown, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Chances are you have heard of Karamo from Queer Eye, but did you know he’d written a children’s book? This is a funny and touching story about a dad and son’s day out.

Look Up! written by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola

Rocket is a space-obsessed girl who is going to be the greatest astronaut, star-catcher, space-traveller that has ever lived! But first she needs to get her big brother to look up from his phone and look up at the stars.

We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders

With words from Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. among others, this collection of quotes from inspirational people will inspire and educate young children.

All Are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

A must have for every child’s bookshelf, this book celebrates our differences and how no matter what, they are welcome.

Mixed by Arree Chung

Mixed is a charming story about how life is better when reds, yellows and blues are all friends.

The Colours of Us by Karen Katz

A story of one girl’s realisation that brown comes in many different shades. This book celebrates the differences and similarities that connect all people.


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