Children’s book publishers have come a long way in addressing disparities in representation, but kid lit still remains disproportionately white. Estimates suggest, for example, that only about 30% of books for young children published in the last two decades or so feature Black characters.
Fortunately, there has been a flowering of more diverse books over the past few years, particularly those featuring Black, Indigenous and characters of color whose race or ethnicity is not central to the plot. Diverse Book Finder, a free catalog of more than 2,000 picture books with BIPOC characters from researchers at Bates College, calls these “any child” books.
A classic example of an “any child” book is “The Snowy Day,” which was one of the first children’s books to center around a Black character — and one to feature a character whose race wasn’t key to the plot in any way. There’s something powerful about books featuring kids who are growing up, making friends, playing in the snow, using their imaginations and enjoying life, and who also just happen to be BIPOC.
As the novelist Rumaan Alam said in a 2016 Slate article, “Must every book featuring black faces force our children to confront the tortures of our past and the troubles of our present? These are important things that our black and brown children must learn — but they must also learn the pleasure of reading a story in the relaxed, quiet moments before bed, reading not to learn but to feel safe, feel loved, laugh, wonder.”
Of course, stocking up on “any child” books alone won’t teach children about the power of representation, but it is an important step.
With that in mind, here are 15 new(ish) diverse books that aren’t explicitly about diversity.
This STEM-focused book teaches children about the challenges (and joys!) of teamwork. (Available here
"How To Take Care Of Your Dinosaur"
The main character in this sweet book gets a dinosaur for a pet and learns a few good lessons about caring for it — how to walk it, feed it and clean up for it. It's sure to delight any pet-owning kiddo. (Available here
"Five On The Bed"
West Margin Press/Amazon
This colorful counting book celebrates how families come together through cuddles. (Available here
Crown Books for Young Readers/Amazon
Esther the fairy does some excellent science-based problem-solving in this book for budding STEM fans. (Available here
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Amazon
This wordless book from beloved author and illustrator Christian Robinson (who illustrated "Last Stop on Market Street") follows a girl and her cat on a big adventure. (Available here
Doubleday Books for Young Readers/Amazon
This funny book about a little girl who wishes she had a canine pal (but gets a cat instead) will delight feline fans and dog lovers alike. (Available here
"Norman: One Amazing Goldfish"
"Welcome To Your World"
This beautiful, nature-filled book introduces young kiddos to the wonders of the world around them. (Available here
This imaginative book is about two kids who have both discovered a fort in the woods — and have to find a way to share it. (Available here
"All Aboard The Moonlight Train"
Doubleday Books for Young Readers/Amazon
A new offering for train lovers to add to their collection, this rhyming bedtime book is full of adventure. (Available here
"Poesy The Monster Slayer"
When her parents are asleep, Poesy fights monsters of all kinds (and tries to stave off bedtime for as long as she can). (Available here
Princeton Architectural Press/Amazon
Patience is a virtue that's challenging for kids to learn — and this charming book offers them practical guidance. (Available here
"Grace Goes To Washington"
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Amazon
Book two of the popular "Grace" series delves into some basics about how the United States government works. (Available here
"Sofia Valdez, Future Prez"
Harry N. Abrams/Amazon
Another rhyming bestseller from author Andrea Beaty, this book teaches children how one person's voice can make a big difference in the world. (Available here
First Jabari jumped
, and now he's trying to build a machine that will actually fly in this relatable book about resilience and working together with younger siblings. (Available here
This story is part of a HuffPost Parents project called I See Me, a series for all parents and kids on the power of representation. We know how important it is for kids to see people that look like them on the biggest stages, from politics to sports and entertainment and beyond. Throughout February, we’ll explore the importance of representation in teaching kids about difference, acceptance, privilege and upstanding.