What better way to expose children to the diversity of cultures, backgrounds, languages, and food traditions in our country than to choose a book that celebrates multiculturalism for your next bedtime story? These new picture books explore timely themes in subtly and digestible ways for little ones, feature wide casts of relatable characters, and tell stories that will be sure to bring a smile to your face as you read them.
8 Children’s Books That Celebrate Multiculturalism
Where Are You From?, by Yamile Saied Méndez | Available here
In this picture book, the complicated question “but where are you really from?” prompts a young girl to reconsider her own sense of belonging and turn to her Abuelo for answers. He teaches her to embrace her heritage and feel confident about where she belongs.
The Proudest Blue, by Ibtihaj Muhammad | Available here
In this story, young Faizah is mesmerized by her older sister’s new sky-blue hijab and watches excitedly as Asiya wears it to school for the first time. She’s surprised when she sees that her sister is greeted at school with unkind words and bullying rather than admiration, but she is inspired as she watches Asiya refuse to let others’ cruelty get her down and remains proud of her beautiful blue hijab.
Bilal Cooks Daal, by Aisha Saeed | Available here
In this picture book celebrating family and tradition, young Bilal can’t wait to share his favourite meal with his friends. Together, they spend the day preparing a big pot of daal, learning to have patience as the ingredients take time to slowly simmer. The book even features a daal recipe at the back so that you can try it at home.
Planting Stories, by Anika Aldamuy Denise | Available here
This picture book brings the true story of library Pura Belpré to life. After arriving in New York from Puerto Rico in the 1920s, Pura soon finds a job in a public library. She begins spreading her love of the folk stories from her home, soon publishing her own, and builds a career as a champion of bilingual literature.
The Someone New, by Jill Twiss | Available here
This adorable picture book with classic watercolour illustrations tells an important of-the-moment story. Jitterbug the chipmunk is comfortable with life as it is and is happily surrounded by familiar friends in the woods. Change scares her. But when a snail named Pudding arrives seeking a new home after his garden was flooded, Jitterbug must learn to put aside her fears of “The Someone New” and welcome the stranger into her home.
Encounter, by Brittany Luby | Available here
This beautiful book, inspired by documents from Jacques Cartier’s arrival in North America in 1534, reimagines the first encounter between Indigenous fisher and European sailor. Their interactions demonstrate how we can both acknowledge our differences with others while also appreciating our common humanity.
Sulwe, by Lupita Nyong’o | Available here
In this poetic book written by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, a little girl is born with darker skin than her family and friends and after years of name-calling, learns to see her own beauty and love herself inside and out.
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, by Kat Zhang | Available here
This book tells the endearing story of a little girl who is determined to make the perfect bao, even if it takes her all day to do it. The story is a testament to the power of determination—and it features a delicious bao recipe at the back so you can try making one too.