Books that celebrate diversity for preschoolers
The Twins’ Blanket
by: Heyewon Yum - (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) 40 pages.
Getting bigger is doubly hard for identical twin sisters. They once shared everything: clothes, toys, a bed, and even mommy’s belly. But now that they’re 5, they’ve outgrown their bed and colorful striped blanket. Humorous illustrations change along with the girls as they learn to celebrate their individuality — one chooses yellow fabric for a new blanket, while the other chooses pink. Like the piece of the old blanket that their mom sews into the new ones, they also learn that they’ll always be there for each other.
Perfect for: Twins or any children who are a little scared of growing up.
Find The Twins’ Blanket at your local library.
Lola Reads to Leo
by: Anna McQuinn, illustrated by: Rosalind Beardshaw - (Charlesbridge, 2012) 28 pages.
The hook: Lola loves reading, especially reading with her mom and dad every day before bedtime. One night, Lola gets super excited when the book is about a girl with a new baby brother. When Leo arrives, Lola helps out by reading a book to him for every occasion: a duck story when he’s in the bath, a potty book when he’s being diapered, and a sleepy story when it’s his bedtime. Then it’s Lola’s turn. At the end of the day, Leo’s big sister still gets to cuddle and read with her parents. Vibrant, cheerful illustrations and simple, lively text make this and other books in the Lola series a joy to read.
Perfect for: Big brothers and sisters who want to share something they love with the new kid in town.
The Snowy Day
by: Ezra Jack Keats - (Macmillan, 1962) 40 pages.
Young Peter wakes up to find that snow has fallen — and he can’t wait to go outside and play! Although he’s disappointed when he finds that he can’t save a snowball in his pocket, his sadness melts when he wakes up the next morning to yet another day of snowy fun. Keats’s collage-style illustrations are wonderful — especially the sharp contrast of Peter in his red snow suit (with its little pointy hood) against the snowy landscape. Keats’s classic Snowy Day beautifully captures a child’s sense of wonder.
Perfect for: Kids who like realism.
Find The Snowy Day at your local library.
Good Morning China
by: Hu Yong Yi - (Roaring Brook Press, 2007) 32 pages.
It’s a typical morning in China and the park is filled with children engaged in all the usual activities. One rides a bicycle while another rests dreamily by the lotus pond. Some play badminton as others play cards. On one side of a tree, a child practices the traditional Chinese exercise tai chi while another child practices sword dancing on the other side. The easy-to-read sentences blossom through graceful illustrations that culminate on the last page, which folds out to reveal a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the entire park and all the children. It’s a gentle reminder of the universal truth that children are the same wherever they live.
Perfect for: All preschoolers and beginning readers.
Find Good Morning China at your local library.
by: Hallie Durant, illustrated by: Tony Fucile - (Candlewick Press, 2011) 40 pages.
The hook: “Mitchell was three years, nine months, and five days old when he got his license.” It was the only way his father could get him to go to bed. Instead of chasing Mitchell around the house each night at bedtime, his dad came up with a clever solution: Mitchell could drive to bed, and dad would be the car. Through rollicking illustrations, Mitchell hops into the driver’s seat (on his dad’s shoulders) and with a lead foot takes a wild spin around the house to his bedroom. The trip leaves Dad more tired than Mitchell. This book and Mitchell Goes Bowling show the lovely bond between dad and son with wit and warmth.
Perfect for: Your rambunctious, cars-and-trucks-loving preschooler.
by: Brandon Stanton - (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014) 40 pages.
You may already love street photographer Brandon Stanton’s popular blog Humans of New York. Here, Stanton has plucked his favorite snapshots of NYC’s children and plotted them along an original narrative featuring children from all walks of life. The page-turning result is an age- and content-appropriate Buzzfeed for kids, complete with little hipsters, micro-fashionistas, and pint-sized rockers.
Perfect for: Budding photography enthusiasts who love an urban tale.
Find Little Humans at your local library.
On Mother’s Lap
by: Ann Herbert Scott, illustrated by: Glo Coalson - (Clarion Books, 1972) 32 pages.
Michael loves sitting in his mother’s lap. But now that he has a baby sister, he worries that there won’t be enough room for him. Charming illustrations show Michael rocking with his mother — and jumping up to gather his toy boat, his cozy doll, his blanket, and his puppy to bring them onto the rocking chair, too. When his sister begins to cry, Michael learns that his mother’s lap, like her love, is big enough for all of them. This contemporary Inuit family illustrates the important truth that moms have room to love all their children.
Perfect for: All new big brothers and sisters.
Find On Mother’s Lap at your local library.
Susan and Gordon Adopt a Baby
by: Judy Freudberg, illustrated by: Joe Mathieu - (Random House, 1986) 24 pages.
Big Bird is excited when Susan and Gordon Robinson from Sesame Street adopt a baby. Gordon explains adoption in simple terms as, “one of the ways a baby comes into a family.” Big Bird has big plans for baby Miles, just as any older sibling might. But when Miles arrives, Big Bird feels like he’s in the way. He does wind up being very helpful. After all, this is Sesame Street. You can also watch the adoption episode of Sesame Street.
Perfect for: Helping very young children understand adoption.
Find Susan and Gordon Adopt a Baby at your local library.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
by: Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by: Trina Schart Hyman - (Holiday House, 1989) 32 pages.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah gets a silly monster makeover in a village where goblins are haunting the synagogue to prevent residents from lighting the Hanukkah candles. A traveler named Hershel of Ostropol agrees to break the spell. That means he must stay in the synagogue and keep the candles lit for all eight nights of Hanukkah and trick the king of the goblins into lighting the last candle. Each night a bigger, fiercer, and goofier goblin arrives, and each night Hershel outwits it. One goblin gets his hand stuck in a pickle jar, another flies off in a huff after losing the Hanukkah game of dreidel. Humorous and detailed illustrations keep young children laughing and thoroughly engaged in the story.
Perfect for: Kids who are learning about Hanukkah or other religions.
Find Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins at your local library.
Global Baby Girls and Global Baby Boys
by: Global Fund for Children and Maya Ajmera - (Charlesbridge, 2013) 16 pages.
Colorful and riveting close-ups of infants from Bolivia, Peru, Russia, China, and beyond. These picture books are the perfect way to introduce your child to new cultures. Parents looking to instill gender equality at a young age will love the reminder that not all baby girls around the world are treated the same — but all children deserve to be loved. Kids who squeal, “Baby!” when they see other little ones will adore the portraits. Expect to read this picture book again and again.
Perfect for: Little ones who get excited when they see babies.