Monday, June 15, 2015

Alex Is Reading...Picture Books With Characters of Color!

 Interior art from ONE FAMILY.

This one's not apropos of any single book I'm reading this week, but instead is a short answer to one very frequent customer request: PICTURE BOOKS WITH CHARACTERS WHO ARE NOT WHITE. There is plenty of wonderful stuff out there that fits this bill, but it can be hard to find, especially when all you can see is the skinny spines on our (very) full shelves. For next time you're in, here is a list of books from the classic to the shiny and new.

16 Picture Books with Main Characters of Color
The New Small Person by Lauren Child--Not all new siblings are welcome...ESPECIALLY NOT THIS ONE. Absolutely delightful book about how to turn unwanted family additions into your closest friends and allies.

Keats's Neighborhood by Ezra Jack Keats--This volume collects twelve classic picture books by Ezra Jack Keats, showing the everyday lives of young children (usually Black) living in the city.

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams--It's a colorful, heartful classic that I really can't recommend enough. A working class family suffers setbacks but, ever loving, manage to save the money to buy a beautiful easy chair for their hard-working mother.

The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell, illustrated by Eric Velasquez--Jazmin the baton twirler is disappointed when the parade is rained out, but she starts a parade of her own, joyfully stomping the rain in time to the thunder. The whole neighborhood joins in.

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin--A simple, delicious book about a family out for dim sum.

Stone Soup by John J. Muth--The traditional story of sneakily getting a stingy community to share their way into a delicious meal for everyone, as carried out by Buddhist monks. Gorgeous watercolors and a great readaloud text.

My Pen by Christopher Myers--This lovely book about the freedom and power of imagination rides along on Myers's intricate ink drawings, and is based on his experiences as a young black artist.

Float by Daniel Miyares--Float came out this month, and it's a beautiful, contemplative addition to the library of picture books about imagination. Like My Pen, it features a young child who follows their creativity through adventures of their own making. 

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julie Cairns--A bright and rhythmic counting book filled with Maasai characters, wild animals, and counting in Swahili.

Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat--What is NOT to like about a book where a young girl scientist makes a killer robot that has psychic power over dogs? Caldecott winner Santat's illustrations are delightful, and there's a surprise under the dust jacket...

 Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson--A little boy and his grandmother travel farther and farther outside the "nice" parts of town, but the nicest things are waiting for them at the end of their story.

Bigmama's by Donald Crews--When the family heads down to Bigmama's for the summer, it's a joyful, loving celebration of family and good times.

Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers--The award-winning picture book story of ballerina  Misty Copeland, illustrated with vibrant pantings by Myers.

Mimi and Ling and Tariq and Mika by Annalien Wehrmeijer, illustrated by Deborah Van de Liejgraaf--This series of board books features children around the world with their pets. It also features in-book finger puppets of those pets, so little readers can play along.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora--A dynamic retelling of the fairytale that moves the story to Africa, with Isadora's trademark style.

5 Ensemble Picture Books with Characters of Color 
These books feature broader ideas more than they do stories, and part of their broadness is in their inclusion of racial, ethnic, gender, age and family diversity.

10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

 One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanch Gomez

Love Always Everywhere by Sarah Massini

Peace Is an Offering by Annette LeBox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams

We usually have these books on our shelves, and you can follow the links to find them online. (And do you have favorite picture books featuring characters of color? Let other people know in the comments!)

Happy reading!

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