NEW Multicultural Children’s Books September 2021

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New Multicultural Children's Books September 2021


Lots of beautiful new multicultural children’s books for all ages this fall! Our favourites this month are Sumo Counting (Babies & Toddlers), Change Sings (Preschool), When We Say Black Lives Matter (Elementary School), The Insiders ( Middle School), and House Of Glass Hearts (High School). Enjoy browsing!

NEW Multicultural Children’s Books September 2021

Babies & Toddlers

Sumo Counting (Little Sumo)
by Sanae Ishida

Take a peek into the lives of sumo wrestlers in this adorable counting book! With simple text and charming illustrations, Sumo Counting lets young readers practice numbers from one to ten, fifty, and one hundred, while they learn how sumo wrestlers do chores, practice, sleep, bathe, and eat together. Each page features a Japanese word related to sumo culture, as well as the number in English and Japanese. ~ Asian – Babies & Toddlers

More in the series: Sumo Opposites (Little Sumo)



Time for Bed, Old House
by Janet Costa Bates

Isaac is excited about having a sleepover at Grandpop’s house, but he’s a little nervous about being away from home for the first time. Luckily, his knowing Grandpop tells him it’s not quite time to go to bed yet—first, he needs Isaac’s help in putting the house to bed. Quietly and slowly, they move from room to room, turning out lights and pulling down shades, as Grandpop gently explains the nighttime sounds that Isaac finds unfamiliar. With warm illustrations, Time For Bed, Old House is a tender story that’s just right for children visiting a new place, or for adopting a new ritual at home. ~ African – Preschool

Related: Top 10 Multicultural Bedtime Stories for Babies & Toddlers

New in Town
by Kevin Cornell

One morning, the people of Puddletrunk find their bridge has been destroyed by termites. Luckily, bridge-building expert Mortimer Gulch will gladly rebuild their bridge for a pretty penny. But when a newcomer to Puddletrunk does not want to pay for the repairs, Mortimer is displeased. To make matters worse, this unusual foreigner has some innovative ideas that threaten Mortimer Gulch’s entire business. New In Town is a whimsical yet timely picture book allegory about what new people with new ideas can bring to communities. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 12 Multicultural Children’s Books about the Power of Community

Beautifully Me
by Nabela Noor

When Bangladeshi girl Zubi sees her mother frowning in the mirror and talking about being “too big,” she starts to worry about her own body and how she looks. As her day goes on, she hears more and more people being critical of each other’s and their own bodies, until her outburst over dinner leads her family to see what they’ve been doing wrong. Beautifully Me is a much-needed picture book about loving yourself as you are. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books To Help Build Self-Esteem

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
by Amanda Gorman

“I can hear change humming / In its loudest, proudest song. / I don’t fear change coming, / And so I sing along.” In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey that shows them that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. With lyrical text and dynamic illustrations, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 40 Multicultural Poetry Books for Children

Looking for a Jumbie
by Tracey Baptiste

“I’m looking for a jumbie, I’m going to find a scary one.” But Mama says jumbies exist only in stories. So Naya sets out on a nighttime adventure to find out for herself. “No such thing”, say the friends she makes along the way. But Naya is sure that jumbies are real. Some have big mouths. Or thick fur. Or glowing skin. Or sharp teeth. Kind of like her new friends.… Looking for a Jumbie is a bouncy and creepily fun read-aloud inspired by traditional Caribbean tales. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 36 Children’s Books set in the Caribbean

Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites
by D. Michiko Florence & J. Michalak

Niki faced many naysayers in her pursuit of haute cuisine. Using the structure of a traditional kaiseki meal, this picture book biography details Niki’s hunger for success in thirteen “bites” ― from wonton wrappers she used to make pizza as a kid to yuzu-tomatillo sauce in her own upscale Los Angeles Michelin-starred restaurant, n/naka. Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites tells the story of the powerhouse Japanese-American chef’s rise to fame. ~ Asian – Preschool

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

Jazz for Lunch!

by Jarrett Draper

Auntie Nina and her nephew are cooking up a symphony of food and sounds. The lip-smacking smells and be-bopping tunes might just get the whole neighbourhood shimmying over to join in. From Nat King Cole Slaw to Art Tatum Tots to Billie Hollandaise Sauce, Jazz For Lunch is a finger-licking good celebration of music, food, and family. ~ African – Preschool


Elementary School

I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience
by Susan Verde

This companion book to the New York Times bestsellers I Am Human and I Am Love celebrates everyday courage: believing in ourselves, speaking out, trying new things, asking for help, and getting back up no matter how many times we may fall. Grounded in mindfulness and awareness, I Am Courage is an empowering reminder that we can conquer anything.
Inside, you’ll also find exercises to inspire confidence. ~  Diverse – Elementary School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Fear and Courage

My Heart Flies Open
by Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis

“In every situation I can blossom. Breathing in and breathing out, I know…I AM PEACEFUL.” Beautifully  illustrated, My Heart Flies Open takes readers on a yoga journey of mindful reflection, self-discovery, and self-love. With every yoga pose, each breath in, and each breath out, this uplifting picture book brings young readers home to themselves: they are life, love, joy, and kindness; bold, fierce, peaceful, and whole. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

When We Say Black Lives Matter
by Maxine Beneba Clarke

“Little one, when we say Black Lives Matter, / we’re saying Black people are wonderful-strong. / That we deserve to be treated with basic respect, / and that history’s done us wrong.” With rich illustrations and lyrical text, When We Say Black Lives Matter is a moving picture book that explores the strength and resonance behind the words ‘Black Lives Matter’. In family life, through school and beyond, the refrains echo and gain in power, among vignettes of protests and scenes of ancestors creating music on djembe drums. ~ African – Elementary School

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone
by Traci N. Todd

Little Eunice sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons and went on to perform under the name Nina Simone. Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination. With expressive illustrations, Nina: A Story of Nina Simone tells the extraordinary story of acclaimed singer Nina Simone and her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

The People Remember
by Ibi Zoboi

The People Remember tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It begins in Africa, where people were taken from their homes and families. They spoke different languages and had different customs. Forced onto ships sailing into an unknown future, these people had to learn one common language and create a culture that combined their memories of home with new traditions. Sumptuously illustrated, this is a lyrical story of survival, joy, celebration, and innovation of Black people in America. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: Top 10 Children’s Books about Kwanzaa

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic
by Rebel Girls

The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic features 100 barrier-breaking Black women and girls who showcase the spirit of Black Girl Magic. Amongst the women featured from over 30 countries are tennis player Naomi Osaka, astronaut Jeanette Epps, author Toni Morrison, filmmaker Ava DuVernay; aviator Bessie Coleman, Empress Taytu Betul, journalist Ida B. Wells, and many other inspiring leaders, champions, innovators, and creators. ~ African – Elementary School

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


Middle School

How to Find What You’re Not Looking For
by Veera Hiranandani

Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg’s family’s Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel’s only constant, she grapples with both her family’s prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, while learning to define her own beliefs. How To Find What You’re Not Looking For is a deeply moving historical fiction novel about family, identity, and finding your own voice. ~ Diverse – Middle School

The Samosa Rebellion
by Shanthi Sekaran

Muki Krishnan shares a bedroom with Paati, his grandmother, who has just arrived on the island of Mariposa from India. Soon after her arrival, the president divides citizens into ‘Butterflies’—families who have lived in Mariposa for three generations—and ‘Moths’, who, like Muki’s family, are more recent immigrants. The changes are small at first but then a camp is built to imprison Moths before sending them away. When Paati is taken there, Muki discovers that a secret rebellion is underway, and realizes that rescuing Paati will be the fight of his life. The Samos Rebellion is a fascinating and timely novel about immigration, racism, classism, and xenophobia. ~ Asian – Middle School

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

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
by Alda P. Dobbs

It is 1913, and twelve-year-old Petra Luna’s mama has died while the Revolution rages in Mexico. When her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra, her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito flee north through the unforgiving desert. Through battlefields, hunger and fear, Petra will stop at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border—a life where her dreams could finally become reality. Based on a true story, Barefoot Dreams is the gripping tale of one girl’s perilous journey during the Mexican Revolution. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: 24 Children’s Books set in Mexico

Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds
by Samira Ahmed

On the day of a rare super blue blood moon eclipse, twelve-year-old Amira and her little brother, Hamza, attend a special exhibit on medieval Islamic astronomy. While stargazer Amira is wowed by the amazing gadgets, a bored Hamza wanders off, stumbling across the forbidden Box of the Moon. Amira can only watch in horror as Hamza grabs the defunct box and it springs to life, setting off a series of events that could shatter their world—literally. Amira & Hamza is a thrilling fantasy adventure intertwining Islamic legend and history. ~ Asian – Middle School

The Insiders
by Mark Oshiro

At Héctor’s new school, being gay couldn’t make him feel more alone. Most days, he just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of friendship, adventure, and a little bit of magic. The Insiders is a hopeful and heartfelt coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: 75+ Multicultural LGBTQIA Books For Children & Teenagers

The Hungry Ghosts
by Miguel Flores

Witches have been banned from Arrett for years. Which is why Milly has tried to ignore the tingling light that appears in her palm anytime she conjures up a wish. She has too many responsibilities as the oldest girl at St. George’s Orphanage to get caught up in magicks. Sweet, quirky Cilla, though, has always longed for that power, even if it could be dangerous for her. Milly has always kept an eye out for her, but then Cilla is kidnapped by an angry, exiled witch who believes she’s the one with magicks—not Milly. The Hungry Ghosts is a captivating tale of magic, found family, and the power of being yourself—even when the world asks you to change. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

A Soft Place to Land
by Janae Marks

After Joy’s dad lost his job, the family has to move into a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold. But then Joy discovers the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble? Joy is determined to find out who this mystery writer is. A Soft Place To Land is a compelling story of connection, mystery and hope. ~ African – Middle School

by Thomas King

Borders is a masterfully told story of a boy and his mother whose road trip is thwarted at the border when they identify their citizenship as Blackfoot. Refusing to identify as either American or Canadian first bars their entry into the US, and then their return into Canada. In the limbo between countries, they find power in their connection to their identity and to each other. This powerful graphic novel explores nationhood from an Indigenous perspective and resonates deeply with themes of justice and belonging. ~ Diverse – Middle School

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

Paradise on Fire
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, Addy is left to be raised by her grandmother. Years later, her grandmother enrolls her in a summer wilderness program where Addy joins five other troubled Black city kids. Deep in the forest the kids learn new skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other. When a devastating forest fire starts, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Paradise On Fire is a powerful coming-of-age survival tale exploring issues of race, class, and climate change. ~ African – Middle School

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero
by Saadia Faruqi

Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas. He is determined to win the regional robotics competition this year. But with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks around the corner, this is going to be more difficult than he thought. With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and protests against the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice? Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero is a poignant and timely story about discrimination, identity and hope. ~ Asian – Middle School

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

Pahua and the Soul Stealer
by Lori M. Lee

Pahua Moua is a lonely eleven-year-old Hmong girl with the unique ability to see spirits. One day she accidentally untethers an angry spirit from the haunted bridge in her neighbourhood. When her brother suddenly falls sick and can’t be awoken, Pahua fears that the bridge spirit has stolen his soul. She returns to the scene of the crime with her aunt’s old shaman tools, hoping to confront the spirit and demand her brother’s return. With its unforgettable characters, unique nature-based magic system, breathtaking twists and reveals, and climactic boss battle, Pahua And The Soul Stealer offers everything a fantasy lover could want. ~ Asian – Middle School


High School

White Smoke
by Tiffany D. Jackson

Phantoms of Marigold’s old life keep haunting her, so the move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. But the picture-perfect home on Maple Street has its secrets. Household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Soon Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks. White Smoke is a chilling psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story. ~ African – High School

Iron Widow
by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia want to pair up with girls to pilot giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens lurking beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter to them that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. After that she survives attempt after attempt on her life, whilst trying to figure out how to stop more girls from being sacrificed. Iron Widow is a a gripping blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction. ~ Asian – High School

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

by Candace Buford

For Russell Boudreaux football is the only way out of his small town. He has one goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear. Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But with the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice. Kneel is a fearless debut novel that explores racism, injustice, and self-expression. ~ African – High School

For All Time
by Shanna Miles

Tamar is a musician, a warrior, a survivor. Fayard is a pioneer, a hustler, a hopeless romantic. Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, seen the world build itself up from nothing only to tear itself down again. But in each life one thing remains the same: their love and their fight to be together. One love story after another. But they never get to see how their story ends. For All Time is a vivid, utterly romantic novel about two teens who relive their tragic love story over and over until they uncover what they must do to change their fate. ~ Diverse – High School

House of Glass Hearts
by Leila Siddiqui

Seamlessly blending history with myth, House of Glass Hearts follows a Pakistani-American teen’s ruthless quest to find her missing sibling, even if the truth would reveal her grandfather’s devastating secret and tear her family apart. In a narrative that switches between colonial India and present-day America, this ambitious debut explores how the horrors of the past continue to shape the lives of South Asians around the world. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 15 Children’s Books set in Pakistan

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