8 Things We’ve Learned From Our Favorite Representative Kids’ Books

“Books are the way I teach my daughter everything,” says Myrna.

A mom to 2 children, she’s always in search of the best picture books she can find that celebrate a world where they belong. But finding representative books can be tricky for Myrna and her family: in 2020, only 30% of all children’s books published in the United States featured racially diverse characters. “I’m a Black woman married to an Italian man. My children are mixed: Haitian and European. From the time they are born, my children will go back and forth on, ‘Am I white or am I Black?’ It’s going to be hard trying to find themselves in society.”

We’ve listened to thousands of parents like Myrna and work with a dedicated team of parent advisors, and each of you told us just how important it is to find the right diverse books for your young readers. Whether it’s books about Black main characters, how to talk to your child about grief, or stories that encourage thoughtful curiosity in other cultures, every child deserves to feel like they belong in a world as vibrant and colorful as they are. “The only way I taught myself English was through reading,” adds SK, a mom of 3 and an avid reader herself. “It made me more aware and imaginative.” 

 To help you find the best books for your 4-8 year old, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite representative books out there – and the lessons that await your reader when they take a peek between the pages.

8 Things We’ve Learned From Our Favorite Representative Kids’ Books

  1. Celebrate your beauty and where you come from 

When a young Taiwanese girl notices that her eyes look different from her friends’, she begins to wish they looked like everyone else’s… until her mom, grandma Amah, and sister Mei-Mei show her that they all share the same beautiful eye shape. Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, by Joanna Ho, will invite your reader along a journey of self-love and legacy with the help of tender storytelling and illustrations that spring off the page.

  1. Embrace your identity with those you love

While riding the subway home with his abuela, Julián becomes transfixed by three mermaids, and his imagination unwinds into a sea of possibilities. “I am a mermaid,” he tells his abuela, and his declaration brings them both along a journey of acceptance and understanding. Julián Is A Mermaid, by Jessica Love, is an empathetic and beautifully painted story set against an urban backdrop that will be sure to help your child celebrate the mermaid within themself.

  1. Black hair is beautiful, just like you

Black hair is imaginative, magical, beautiful, and brings the whole family together in Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love. Join Zuzu, Daddy, and Rocky the cat as they try to find the perfect hairstyle for Zuzu. Lively illustrations and energetic storytelling will keep your kiddo laughing while making thoughtful connections about celebrating all kinds of beauty.

  1. Your culture is a part of what makes you special

First days of school can be tricky, and even harder with bullies to face. The Proudest Blue, by Ibtihaj Muhammad, is a powerful tale about two sisters’ first days of school and one sister’s first day of hijab. An uplifting universal story of strength, new experiences, and the incredible bonds of sisterhood, this picture book shows just how powerful it is to live your truth. 

  1. Showing the world who you are is a gift

“For as long as I could remember, I knew I was a boy,” says Calvin, the transgender main character of Calvin, by JR and Vanessa Ford. Calvin needs to be brave: he’s about to tell his parents, his grandparents, and his friends at school who he really is. Co-written by two parents to a transgender child, this picture book uses gentle imagery and confident narration to show readers that the best gift of all is showing the world – and yourself – who you really are.

  1. When you believe in yourself, anything is possible

Your curious kiddo will love diving into the deep with Eugenie Clark, star of Jess Keating’s Shark Lady. Eugenie has a lot of questions about the ocean, especially about an animal everyone else seems to find too scary to think about: sharks! Based on the life of a real scientist, this book shows readers the strength in defying expectations and believing in yourself.

  1. "What ifs" can be scary, but talking about them can help

If your child experiences a lot of worry, they’re sure to relate to Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival. This reassuring title will help your child navigate how to handle worries big or small — and help you talk openly with them when worries arise. Your child won’t want to miss these sweet illustrations and sensitive storytelling. 

  1. Traditions live on when we continue them with others

Saturdays are George’s favorite days, because he gets to spend them going on adventures with his grandmother, Stella. When Stella passes away, George learns that Saturdays can still feel special when he shares them with his new baby sister. Candy Wellins’s Saturdays Are For Stella masterfully depicts what it’s like to move through grief, and the comfort to be found in passing on traditions.

Looking for amazing, affirming books for your child? Browse ColorPop Books today.