Chances are if you are raising mixed race children, your eyes have been opened to the lack of diversity in children’s books. It’s vital your kids have figures to look at and look up to that resemble themselves.
There was never a time when I was growing up, (or throughout life) that I never had an idol or couldn’t imagine myself as the lead character of a book I was reading. That’s because there is no shortage of white characters in children’s books.
Because I never had that shortage of books with characters like me, I had to open my eyes and look outside of my own experiences once I became a mom.
When my kids were born I knew it would be important to get them dolls that looked like them and once they started watching TV to let them watch shows that had lead characters that were of different races (you can read more about supporting mixed race identity here).
But one thing I had forgotten about was books. I did an inventory of my kids books a few months ago to put away the ones that they outgrew. While I was doing that I realized that nearly ever single children’s book we owned had white characters or animal characters.
I was horrified! I felt like the worst mom because I hadn’t realized that my kids had no books with characters that looked like them.
Imagination starts very young. If you don’t have books where you can see yourself as the character, you may not believe that you can do those same things because you haven’t seen someone like you in that role.
I’m gonna give you a very simplified example. When I would read books when I was young, most of the characters had long blonde flowing hair, tan skin, and blue eyes. I had none of those characteristics and it made me wish I looked like that. But I still was able to relate to them, their families, and I could see myself doing the things they did.
Now imagine your kids reading a book with characters who don’t have the same hair texture, same eye color, same skin color, whose families don’t look like theirs. The characters don’t go through the same challenges your kids do.
I’ve never read a children’s book where the character was asked multiple times if people could touch their hair, or be told how hard it must be to maintain it, or asked what they are. Yet my kids go through that regularly.
Your kids need to hear stories of people who go through the same things they do. Or even read stories that solve problems they have yet to figure out how to solve, but want an answer to. Books are crucial to your child’s self-esteem, imagination, literacy, and so much more!
This list of books will give your kids characters who may look like them. They have families that look different than your typical children’s story. The stories have different plots that may resonate more with your child.
So take your time and look through this list of stories to see which ones may fit best in your household.
Click on the picture to read more about the stories.
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This tells the story of twins who are learning about their parents different ancestry and what that means to their identity.
This book talks about life as a mixed race little boy who goes through his days with high energy and lots of questions! He also discusses some of the challenges mixed kids go through from a young child’s perspective, (sometimes people stare).
This book is awesome because it follows a 6 year old boy as he asks people in his life what color he should consider himself. In asking people these questions he learns valuable information, which leads him to his own conclusion of race and color.
This is a great choice because it features the Sesame Street characters along with people of different races. It talks about how people look different on the outside, (like your nose) but all people are still the same, (we all smell with our noses).
This story is about a little girl discovering she is black and white and infused with tips for haircare! I really love this choice because as I said earlier, many mixed kids get comments about their hair. To have a book that talks about how to take care of it and to celebrate it, is a must have!
This story is about a girl who knows she is different because she is black and white. But she knows that being different is special and embraces her uniqueness.
Such a great book once again about the beauty of having hair that is different than other people’s! Your kids will likely be told many times at school or in their life how different their hair is and this book helps to boost their self-esteem and realize it’s great to have hair like theirs!
This is a cute story about a little girl in art class who is trying to paint her mommy. She knows her mommy is mixed but doesn’t know what color that is. The story discusses how everyone is made up of different colors.
While this story doesn’t actually discuss being mixed, it does feature a child of color as the main character. It’s a cute story about how a little girl tries to convince her family to get her a giraffe. Again it’s good to have main characters who are different races in children’s stories to have diversity in your book collection.
While this isn’t an actual story book, I absolutely love this because it takes 24 scenes from fairytales and replaces the regular characters with children of color. It’s no secret that many of the fairy tales have white characters. So now your child can color the picture however they want and see themselves in the fairytale!
If your kids read books with characters who look like them, they are more likely to be engaged in the story. If they are more engaged in the story, they will probably want to hear it again. Hearing or reading those stories builds a love of books and can help grow their self-esteem.
What books that feature biracial children do you have in your collection? I’d love to know your favorites!!