15 Children’s Books that Celebrate Diversity

By Christel M. Hoydic June 4, 2023
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are some favorite books from our shelf that celebrate diversity, teach acceptance and self-confidence, while also encouraging conversations about important life lessons between you and your child. It is never to early to teach peace, love, & kindness.  

1 - The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
  • Are you a plain belly sneetch or a star belly sneetch?  As only Dr. Suess can he teaches a wonderful lesson in equality with his rhymes and silly stories; As the sneetches remove stars and add stars to find out Who is better?  Who is Who?  In the end it does not matter at all "That day, they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches, and no kind of sneetch is the BEST on the beaches.  That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars, and whether they had one of not upon thars."
2 - Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Tacky the Penguin is just plain odd! Tacky is annoying and his friends all let him know. The illustrations in this story help to depict the story of acceptance when Tacky's friends learn to accept Tacky for who he is after he helps to save the day.
3 - And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
  • Based on a true story about the penguins that lived at New York City's Central Park Zoo, the author captures something "a little bit different" about two penguins in particular. Two male penguins that is. Uplifting, and eye opening their story is irresistible as we discover they "must be in love" but their nest remained empty until one day Tango made three!
4 - Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Everyone in Chrysanthemum's class laughed at her funny name that takes up 13 letters. Chrysanthemum's spirit is wilted by the bullying at school. Through the story children can see the effects such "teasing" can have on someone and the importance of kindness and respect. With the love and support of her family, Chrysanthemum learns to love who she is and her name that she loves.
5 - Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
  • This is a great book for teaching diversity and acceptance and the power of our words. The encouraging words from a new friend help a "clumsy Gerald" learn that he can dance even with his crooked knees and thin legs, no matter what anyone says!
6 - Jack & Jim by Kitty Crowther
  • A blackbird and a (white) seagull become friends even when the others didn't like this strange friendship. Diversity is the theme throughout the story’s innocent plot of friendship regardless of race.
7 - The Family Book by Todd Parr
  • Every family is different and comes in many varieties, as Todd Parr points out for all to see. "Some families have a stepmom or stepdad and stepsisters or stepbrothers. Some families adopt children. Some families have two moms or two dads. Some families have one parent instead of two." Todd and his vibrant illustrations celebrate ALL types of families with love.
8 - Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel Kindersley
  • Real interviews with young children provide an educational and eye opening look into different cultural backgrounds and diverse lives. You and your children will not only learn about the differences, but also discover how similar we all are!
9 - Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the courage to be who you are by Marisa Dismondy
  • Lucy may look different and she may like to eat different foods but does that mean she is “different?” Lucy feels sad when the classroom bully makes fun of her and is ready to give up when she gets her last bit of courage to continue being Lucy. A wonderful book to teach respect and accepting differences!
10 - The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordon Al Abdullah
  • A story about just what the title says - a sandwich swap. This story can lead to lessons from trying new things to having the courage to learn and try new experiences.
11 - Elmer by David McKee
  • Elmer the colorful elephant helps to teach children about individuality and the power of laughter when he learns to love his brightly-colored patchwork even when the other elephants laugh at him for being different. The humor used in this story is one of a kind and the lesson is valuable for all.
12 - Special People Special Ways by Arlene Maguire
  • Through sweet rhymes, the author helps children to discover and respect disabilities. "Share a joke or a dream. Make someone feel good. We need laughter, hugs, and to be understood...Though we seem different, inside we're the same. Our hearts are for caring, no matter our name."
13 - The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
  • A simple rhyme, a lively story, and an important lesson - Social acceptance no matter what shade you come in! Accepting others for what's on the inside is as simple as that.  
14 - It's Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr
  • Another favorite by Todd Parr with bright colors, silly scenes, and inspiring and simple text that gets right to the point and celebrates individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence.
15 - Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
  • Pen-pals from across the world - one lives in America and the other India - learn that even though their worlds look different, they certainly do have a lot in common.

You can purchase these titles at your local bookstore, online or check them out at the local library for free!