I am currently in a fourth grade classroom for placement and eventually in the spring, I will be student teaching. The teacher I am learning from reads picture books to her class frequently, and always tells her students that even though they are older kids, picture books can be for everybody. This concept has inspired me to look for picture books that are inspiring, wholesome, and support diversity in a positive way. I am so happy to say that there are SEVERAL books out there that fall under these categories! These are books that I have read and immediately put into my teacher wishlit on Amazon. Here are just a few of my favorites.
- Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
This picture book celebrating the diversity of the human race is written for kiddos ages two to five. The illustrations depict several families that stray from the typical white family with one mom and one dad. It highlights different aspects of different cultures, while also showing how similar they can be. We all should be happy in our skin!
- The Bell Jar by Yangsook Choi
Unhei has just moved to America and is starting school. Many of her classmates have a hard time pronouncing her name and she begins to wonder if she should change her name to a more American name. Throughout the story, she learns to accept her name and teaches her classmates (who are more than willing to learn) how to pronounce her name correctly.
- Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Meet Ada, an African American girl who loves science. She learns about the scientific process and learns that anyone can be a scientist throughout the course of the book. As an integrative STEM minor, I am very passionate about teaching young girls that they can be engineers, scientists, or have any other career in the STEM field. Andrew Beaty has several other books, including Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect. This books are super inspiring! Let’s show young girls that they can do anything they set their minds to!
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
In And Tango Makes Three, two male penguins want to have a family. A friendly zookeeper helps the two penguins have a family by introducing them to Tango, a young penguin who needs parents. This book has been on the banned book list for quite some time, which upsets me. This is simply a wholesome story about how families can be structured differently, but are still families.
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
This uplifting picture book shows the importance of community in a school, repeating the phrase “All are welcome” often. The illustrations show students of all races and religions getting along in their classes. It’s a reminder that everyone should be welcome in school.
- Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
Cloudette is one of my favorite picture books. The illustrations partnered with the text tell a story about a small cloud trying to find where she belongs. Cloudette wants to do something BIG, but it’s hard being such a small cloud. Will she find her purpose? Hint: it’s a super sweet ending :)
Picture books have the power to change the world and I know for sure that these books are doing just that :)
HCXO, Hannah N