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50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know

Compiled by Kathleen T. Horning, Carling Febry, Merri T. LIndgren and Megan Schliesman
© 2012, 2010, 2006, 2001 Cooperative Children's Book Center

At the CCBC, we define "multicultural" literature as books by and about people of color: African and African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacific and Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos. This listing introduces 50 essential books and a range of authors and illustrators for children.

Interested in multicultural literature for older readers? Check out 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know. Some books on that list will be suitable for older children.

Other CCBC multicultural literature resources and links.

Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
Complete list of CCBC bibliographies


    Ada, Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy, selectors. English adapations by Alice Schertle . ¡Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes. Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. HarperCollins, 2003. 64 pages. Ages birth - 6 years

    Ada, Alma Flor. I Love Saturdays y domingos. Illustrated by Elivia Savadier. Atheneum, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Cumpiano, Ina. Quinito's Neighborhood = El Vecindario de Quinito. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Children's Book Press, 2005. 22 pages. Ages 3-5

    Hughes, Langston. My People. Photographed by Charles R. Smith, Jr.. Ginny Seo Books / Atheneum, 2009. 32 pages. Age 3 and older

    Slier, Debby. Cradle Me. Star Bright Books, 2012. 10 pages. Ages birth - 3

    Steptoe, John. Baby Says. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988. 23 pages. Ages 1-3

    Wheeler, Bernelda. Where Did You Get Your Moccasins? . Illustrated by Herman Bekkering. Peguis, 1986.

    Williams, Vera B.. More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories. Greenwillow, 1990. 32 pages. Ages 9months - 3 years

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Pecan Pie Baby. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Putnam, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 3 - 6

    Yum, Hyewon. The Twins' Blanket. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 3-6

Ages 5-7

    Argueta, Jorge. Sopa de frijoles: un poema para cocinar = Bean Soup: A Cooking Poem. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Atinuke, . Anna Hibiscus. Illustrated by Lauren Tobia. U.S. edition: Kane/Miller, 2010. 112 pages. Ages 4-8

    Diakité, Penda. I Lost My Tooth in Africa. Illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. Scholastic Press, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 4-7

    Frame, Jeron Ashford. Yesterday I Had the Blues. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Tricycle Press, 2003. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 10

    Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love, and Other Poems. Illustrated by Leo & Dianne Dillon. Harper, 1978.

    Hamanaka, Sheila. Grandparents Song. HarperCollins, 2003. 32 pages. Age 7 and older

    Harjo, Joy. The Good Luck Cat. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt, 2000. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 7

    Lin, Grace. Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!. Little, Brown, 2010. 43 pages. Ages 4-7

    Look, Lenore. Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz / Atheneum, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

    Morales, Yuyi. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Chronicle, 2003. 28 pages. Ages 4 - 7

    Park, Linda Sue. The Firekeeper's Son. Illustrated by Julia Downing. Clarion, 2004. 37 pages. Ages 4-8

    Pinkney, Sandra L. Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children. Illustrated by Myles Pinkney. Scholastic, 2000. 28 pages. Ages 3 - 11

    Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 8

    Tafolla, Carmen. What Can You Do With a Paleta?. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Tricycle Press, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 3 - 6

    Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. Morning on the Lake. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Kids Can Press, 1998. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 8

Ages 7-9

    Ada, Alma Flor. My Name Is Maria Isabel. Illustrated by K. Dyble Thompson. Atheneum, 1993. 57 pages. Ages 7-9

    Campbell, Nicola I. Shin-chi's Canoe. Illustrated by Kim LaFave. Groundwood Books / House Anansi Press, 2008. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

    Cheng, Andrea. The Year of the Book. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 160 pages. Ages 7-9

    Compestine, Ying Chang. Crouching Tiger. Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Candlewick Press, 2011. 40 pages. Ages 4-8

    Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Knopf, 1985.

    Myers, Christopher. Wings. Scholastic Press, 2000. 40 pages. Ages 5 - 11

    Myers, Walter Dean. Looking Like Me. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Egmont, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 9

    Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 6 - 10

    Perkins, Mitali. Rickshaw Girl. Illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge, 2007. 91 pages. Ages 8-10

    Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. Crown, 1991. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 11

    Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Indian Shoes. Illustrated by Jim Madsen. HarperCollins, 2002. 66 pages. Ages 6 - 9

    Tonatiuh, Duncan. Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. Abrams, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

    Zepeda, Gwendolyn. Growing Up with Tamales = Los tamales de Ana. Translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura (from the English). Illustrated by April Ward. Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

Ages 9-12

    Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes. Scholastic, 1999. 63 pages. Ages 9 and older

    Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963. Delacorte, 1995. 210 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999. 235 pages. Ages 8 - 12

    Grace, Catherine O'Neill and Margaret M. Bruchac, with Plimoth Plantation . 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Photographed by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. National Geographic Society, 2001. 48 pages. Ages 7 - 14

    Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out & Back Again. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 262 pages. Ages 10-13

    Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Little, Brown, 2009. 278 pages. Ages 8 - 11

    Marcantonio, Patricia Santos. Red Ridin' in the Hood and Other Cuentos. Illustrated by Renato Alarcão. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. 185 pages. Ages 8-12

    Parker Rhodes, Jewell. Ninth Ward. Little, Brown, 2010. 224 pages. Ages 9 - 13

    Resau, Laura. Star in the Forest. Delacorte Press, 2010. 149 pages. Ages 8-11

    Sheth, Kashmira. Boys without Names. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, 2010. 320 pages. Ages 9-13

    Skarmeta, Antonio. The Composition. Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano. U.S. edition: A Groundwood Book/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. 36 pages. Ages 9 - 16

    Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad / HarperCollins, 2010. 218 pages. Ages 8-12

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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