Each year, Multicultural Children’s Book Day showcases diverse books for children and raises awareness about why representation matters. (Read more about this event at the end of this post!) This year, as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I have the honor of reviewing five wonderful diverse picture books about positive qualities that children can develop, like friendship and compassion.
I’m also thrilled that most of the books highlighted below are not only diverse picture books but also #OwnVoices books. In other words, the author shares the same identity as the character whose story they are telling, such as an African-American writing about an African-American character. And each book focuses on children learning to value their inner strength.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Diverse Picture Books About Inner Strength
Enjoy these wonderful diverse picture books about developing inner strength!
So many children can relate to Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, a tender tale of two best friends faced with the terrible news that they will no longer be living next door to each other. Daniela and Evelyn are as close as sisters, so for them it is unthinkable to be separated. When moving day comes, the two do their special handshake one last time and hug each other tight. They know that no matter what, they will always be best friends.
I love the vibrant urban setting and the sprinklings of Spanish throughout. Written by Newbery medalist Med Medina, this beautiful story is a testament to the enduring bonds of friendship, no matter the time or distance. Also available in Spanish, as Evelyn Del Rey se muda.
Moms often feel guilty for not being there for their children as much as they would like, because of work, school, or other responsibilities. Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess was born out of the challenges author Deedee Cummings faced as a single mom. In the story, Kayla’s mom works long hours but always takes time to start Kayla’s day off with affection and a reminder to never lose sight of your dreams. But these are more than just words: Mother and daughter celebrate together when the mom’s long hours result in a well-deserved promotion.
I love the illustrations, which lend the book a magical, fairy tale quality. Releasing in April 2021, this lovely story about chasing your dreams is a follow up to the author’s award-winning books This Is The Earth and In The Nick Of Time. Don’t miss this wonderful interview with the author and her encouraging words for busy parents.
Believing In Yourself
Best in Me, written by veteran educator Natalie McDonald-Perkins, addresses the topic of bullying head on. A school counselor gathers a group of students who have experienced bullying and helps them see the beauty in themselves. She tasks each of them with writing a poem about what makes them special. Their poems show the difficulties they have faced because of being different – because of disability, language, or looks. But as they share, it also becomes clear that the children have learned to see these differences as something to be proud of rather than ashamed. Moreover, the students show their support for one another, as they deepen their friendships and their empathy for each other. A beautiful book about loving what makes you special and always believing in yourself.
One particularly poignant story is Vy’s Special Gift, based on a true story about pandemic life in the author’s homeland, Vietnam. A young girl stands in a long line in hopes of getting rice for her family. As time drags on, Vy notices a young boy in front of her and begins to sing and read to him to help him pass the time. Then, when she finally reaches the front of the line, she respectfully lets an older woman go first. As she reaches out for her own portion of rice, however, Vy discovers that there is no more. Yet her acts of compassion have not been forgotten. A heart-warming tale about community and neighbors looking out for each other during these difficult times.
Vy’s Special Gift also has the distinction of being read aloud on Room to Read by Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng (Barack Obama’s sister).
A “Tail” of Three Lions is a picture book from the founder of Green Kids Club, which works to raise awareness among children about environmental issues. In this latest story, we meet Tau, a young lion whose two brothers are taken by poachers. Tau is determined to rescue his brothers, and so, when he grows older, he sets out to find them. Along the way, he learns about the cruelties of lion captivity as well as the efforts to help lions who have been mistreated. This adventure story is a wonderful way to spark a passion for protecting animals and their habitats. I also love the science section at the end of the book, with a deeper look at the issues raised in the story.
What are your favorite diverse picture books?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.
MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!
Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press,
MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!
Poster Artist: Nat Iwata
Authors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell , Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & Intrepids, Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series
MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!
MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!
Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!
FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day
TWITTER PARTY! Register here!
Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!
This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.
We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **
Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.