28 Multicultural Children’s Books Celebrating Books & Reading

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It’s National Library Week! This year’s theme, “There’s More To The Story”, promotes the fact that libraries don’t only offer books but also items like museum passes, games, musical instruments, and tools. Library programs bring communities together through book clubs, story times, movie nights, crafting classes, and lectures. And libraries advance communities by providing internet and technology access, literacy skills, and support for businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs.

Celebrate libraries, books and the love of reading with these inspiring multicultural children’s books!

28 Multicultural Children’s Books Celebrating Books & Reading

Babies & Toddlers

Lola at the Library
by Anna McQuinn

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Lola At The Library

My daughter’s all-time favourite book! Lola at the Library follows adorable little Lola on a colourful library adventure: From returning books to storytime and singing, from choosing new books to reading them with her mom at bedtime. Lola’s enthusiasm for books is reflected in the bright illustrations of this wonderful book. ~ African – Babies & Toddlers

Books Always Everywhere
by Jane Blatt

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Books Always Everywhere

With simple rhyming text and colourful illustrations Books Always Everywhere celebrates books of all shapes and sizes: “Book big / Book small / Book wide / Book tall”. A diverse bunch of babies and toddlers explores all the things you can do with books: Stack them to make a chair, pop them on your head as a hat, and of course read them, in the park, at the book store, when it’s rainy or when it’s sunny.  ~ Diverse – Babies & Toddlers



Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built
by Angela Burke Kunkel

In the city of Bogata, little José dreams of Saturdays– the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. Another José is a garbage collector who scans the sidewalks as he drives, searching household trash for hidden treasure . . . books! Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, he’s been collecting books for his home library. And on Saturdays, kids like little José run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with wonder. Based on the life of José Alberto Gutiérrez, Digging For Words is an inspiring celebration of perseverance, community, and the power of books. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

The Loud Librarian
by Jenna Beatrice

Penelope is perfect for the job of student-librarian. Friendly? Check. Helpful? Check. Book lover? Check. There’s just one snag. Penelope is…LOUD. Bookcases may topple and the ground may quake at the sound of her voice, but Penelope is determined to prove she’s perfect for the job and stay true to herself. Can a little librarian with a big voice find a place where she belongs? The Loud Librarian is a sweet and uproarious picture book about being true to yourself—no shushing required! ~ African – Preschool

Related: NEW Multicultural Children’s & YA Books April 2023

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books
by Karen Leggett Abouraya

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Hands Around the Library

In January 2011, thousands of protestors against the regime – young and old, Muslims and Christians – formed a human chain to protect the Library of Alexandria, whilst chanting “We love you, Egypt!”. Award-winning Hands Around The Library with its expressive photo, paper and fabric collages captures this touching historical moment beautifully. ~ African – Preschool

The Library Book
by T. Chapin & M.Mark

What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library! Based on the hit song by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, here is an affectionate, exuberant, uproarious celebration of books, reading, and—SHHH!—libraries! The rain is pouring, Dad is snoring, and the same old stuff is on TV—boring. What is there to do today? Go to the library, of course! Who will we meet there? Let’s find out! The Library Book is a fun read-aloud about a young girl’s exciting visit to her neighbourhood library. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

Book Fiesta!
by Pat Mora

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Book Fiesta!

Award–winning Book Fiesta! is a bilingual celebration of Children’s Day/Book Day (El día de los niños/El día de los libros) which is observed annually on April 30th to emphasize the importance of literacy for children of all backgrounds. Founder Pat Mora’s fun text coupled with López’ lively illustrations make this picture book a hit for story time. Includes a letter from the author and suggestions for celebrating Children’s Day /Book Day. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

The Night Library
by David Zeltser

After a young boy goes to sleep upset that he’s getting a book for his birthday, he’s visited in the night by Patience and Fortitude, the two stone lions who guard the New York Public Library. Soon, he’s magically whisked away from his cozy home in the Bronx, and the two mighty lions show him the wonder of the library. There, the inquisitive Latino boy discovers the power of books and their role not only in his own life, but also in the lives of the people he loves. With gorgeous art, The Night Library is a fantastical picture-book adventure about the magic of books and libraries. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! The Oldest Student follows the life of Mary Walker who did just that. Born into slavery in 1848, Mary was freed at age 15, and married and expecting her first child at age 20. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. With stunning illustrations by Oge More, this is the inspirational story of a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 80 Picture Book Biographies About Bold Black Women & Girls

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library
by Julie Gassman

Have you ever thought about bringing your dragon to the library? Don’t do it! You might have the best intentions, but that dragon will cause nothing but trouble. Using rhyming text and a diverse cast of characters, Do Not Bring Your Dragon To The Library is a charming picture book that will provide some important―and some not so important―library etiquette in a very entertaining way.  ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 10 Laugh-Out-Loud Funny Multicultural Picture Books

Lottie Paris and the Best Place
by Angela Johnson

Lottie’s favourite place is the library, even though the rules there are not always easy to follow… Her favourite books are about space, and her new friend Carl’s favourite books are about dinosaurs. Part of the Lottie Paris series, Lottie Paris and the Best Place follows spunky little Lottie on her library adventure with fun text and energetic illustrations. ~ African – Preschool

Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories
by Annette Bay Pimentel

Pura’s abuela always has a cuento to share. She crows ¡Qui-qui-ri-quí! for Señor Gallo, booms Borom, Borom for Señor Zapo, and tells of a beautiful cockroach who loves a mouse. Pura clings to these stories like coquíes cling to green leaves. When Pura grows up and moves from Puerto Rico to Harlem, she gets a job at the library, where she is surrounded by stories—but they’re only in English. Where is Señor Gallo? Where is Pérez the mouse? Where is Puerto Rico on these shelves? She decides to tell children the tales of her homeland in English and in Spanish. Lyrically written, with lively illustrations, Pura’s Cuentos captures the exuberant spirit and passion of Pura Belpré: celebrated storyteller, author, folklorist, and the first Latina librarian in New York City. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children & YA Books

Once Upon a Book
by Grace Lin

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She went to a place alive with colours, where even the morning dew was warm. Alice loves to imagine herself in the magical pages of her favourite book. So when it flaps its pages and invites her in, she is swept away to a world of wonder and adventure, riding camels in the desert, swimming under the sea with colorful fish, floating in outer space, and more! But when her imaginative journey comes to an end, she yearns for the place she loves best of all. With vibrant illustrations and lyrical text, Once Upon A Book invites young readers to savour each page and indulge in the power of imagination. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers


Elementary School

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Working as a bilingual assistant at the New York Public Library, Pura Belpré turned her popular retellings of Puerto Rican folk stories into books and spread story seeds across the land. Since then, generations of children and storytellers have continued to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy. Brought to life by exuberant illustrations and lyrical text, Planting Stories is an inspiring picture book biography of New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian who championed bilingual literature. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
by Jeanette Winter

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: The Librarian of Basra

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'” When war comes to Iraq, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker takes matters into her own hands to protect the books from being destroyed. Every day she packs her car with books and takes them home, thus saving 70% of the 30,000 books in her library. The Librarian of Basra is a true story about an inspiring woman’s love of literature and respect for knowledge.  ~ Asian – Elementary School

My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World
by Margriet Ruus

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: My Librarian is a Camel

A library doesn’t have to be in a building. In many countries, books arrive in unusual ways: by bus, boat, train, elephant, camel, and even by wheelbarrow. My Librarian Is a Camel is a stunning photo essay that celebrates book, readers, and libraries all over the world, from Indonesia to Peru, from Thailand to Zimbabwe. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Yasmin the Librarian
by Saadi Faruqi

It is library day and helper Yasmin is busy shelving books, but suddenly she discovers that her own special book is missing prompting her to calmly retrace her steps. Part of a delightful early chapter book series about a Pakistani American girl and her multi-generational family, Yasmin The Librarian subtly weaves Muslim traditions into a fun, relatable story about books and reading. ~ Asian – Elementary School

The Storyteller’s Candle / La Velita De Los Cuentos
by Lucía González & Lulu Delacre

In the winter of 1929 Puerto Rican cousins Hildamar and Santiago are struggling to adapt to their new lives in enormous, chilly New York. But when a storyteller and librarian named Pura Belpré arrives in their classroom, the children begin to understand just what a library can mean to a community. The Storyteller’s Candle is a beautiful tribute to the remarkable woman who pioneered New York’s library’s outreach within the Puerto Rican community. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2021

How to Read a Book
by Kwame Alexander

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Find a tree—a / black tupelo or / dawn redwood will do—and / plant yourself. / (It’s okay if you prefer a stoop, like Langston Hughes.)”.  How To Read A Book is a stunning new picture book from Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander that takes children on a sensory and poetic journey about the wonderful experience of reading. ~ African – Elementary School

Tomas and the Library Lady
by Pat Mora

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Tomas and the Library Lady

Every summer story-loving Tomás and his family follow the crops north, working in the fields from Texas to Iowa. When his grandfather tells him about the books at the library, a whole new world opens up for Tomás. With gentle text and warm, earthy paintings, Tomás and the Library Lady tells the inspiring story of Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor at the University of California. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Librarian on the Roof!
by M.G. King

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Librarian on the Roof!

RoseAleta Laurell is one determined librarian: In order to raise money for a children’s section at Eugene Clark Library in Texas, she spent a week camping on the library roof, even through a dangerous storm. Her initiative became known across the country and raised over $39,000. With vibrant cartoon-style illustrations, Librarian on the Roof tells the true story of a woman dedicated to making books available to the children in her community. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Love in the Library
by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese American Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. She works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with colour and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Beautifully illustrated Love In The Library is a moving love story set in a shameful chapter of American history. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books for Children & Teenagers


Richard Wright and the Library Card
by William Miller

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Richard Wright and the Library Card

One of today’s most brilliant writers, Richard Wright grew up in the segregated South of the 1920s. Forbidden from borrowing books from the library, the author of Native Son and Black Boy uses his white co-worker’s card to gain access to the library. Complemented by expressive muted paintings, Richard Wright and the Library Card tells the touching story of Wright’s love of reading and his unwavering perseverance. ~ African – Elementary School

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: The Book Itch

“Knowledge is power. / You need it every hour. / READ A BOOK!” In 1930s Harlem, Lewis Michaux Sr. opened the National Memorial African Bookstore – a place where people could read books about African American history, have discussions and speak their minds publicly on a platform outside the store. Even famous people like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X came to visit and speak. Written by a relative and illustrated with bold, colourful paintings, The Book Itch tells the story of this unique bookstore from the perspective of Lewis Michaux Jr. ~ African – Elementary School

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
by Jeanette Winter

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Nasreen's Secret School

Since her parents were taken by the Taliban, little Nasreen has not spoken a word. In a desperate attempt to draw her out of her shell of sadness, her grandmother sends her to a secret school for girls. Reading books slowly helps Nasreen back into life. Nasreen’s Secret School is a powerful true story from Afghanistan, told in a matter-of-fact style and complemented by precise acrylic paintings in muted reds, greens and yellows. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Waiting for the Biblioburro
by Monica Brown

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Waiting for the Biblioburro

Little Ana is thrilled when the travelling librarian returns to her village on his trusted mules, Alfa and Beto. Inspired by real-life librarian Luis Soriano, Waiting for the Biblioburro introduces children to the concept of mobile libraries that bring literacy to rural Colombia. The colourful folk-style illustrations perfectly match this beautiful celebration of books and reading. ~ Hispanic Elementary School

The Year of the Book
by Andrea Cheng

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: The Year Of The Book

The Year of the Book is an early chapter book about friendship and the love of reading. 4th grader Anna Wang finds comfort in her books when her best friend Laura starts spending more time with other girls. Anna loves reading and books but also realises that they cannot be a substitute for friends.  ~ Asian – Elementary School

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass
by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Multicultural Children's Books celebrating books & reading: Words Set Me Free

“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” Told in the voice of Frederick Douglass, famous advocate of equal rights, this picture book biography chronicles his youth. It was through reading and writing that Douglass was able to stand up for himself and others. Words set me free is a moving account of the life of a young slave for whom literacy became a catalyst for liberation. ~ African – Elementary School

*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA by clicking on the book titles or images*

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8 Responses

  1. Marjorie (MWD)
    | Reply

    Another wonderful list:-) I would add Storyteller’s Candle – do you know it?

    • Colours of Us

      No, I must check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Jane
    | Reply

    What a great list!! As a children’s librarian, I have a real soft spot for books about libraries, especially ones that show the library as a fun and happy place, rather than a stiff and boring one where everyone whispers all the time and the librarians are grumpy! 🙂

    • Colours of Us

      Thank you! I am totally with you on that!

  3. Katie @ The Logonauts
    | Reply

    Great collection of books! Several of these are ones that I share each year with my third graders. So important to get them to think about the importance of books. Thanks for sharing these with #diversekidlit!

    • Colours of Us

      Good to hear you find the list useful. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Erin
    | Reply

    All of these books sound so fascinating, some I want to buy! Alas our library here in Australia doesn’t have any of these books however 🙁

    • Colours of Us

      I know, same here in South Africa 🙁 You should be able to find them on Amazon Australia though. If not, you can buy them through Amazon USA by clicking on the book titles in the post.

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