Friday, June 11, 2021

Loving Day! - 19 Children's Books with Multiracial Families



June 12th is Loving Day! It is the anniversary of the day the US Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in the case of Loving vs. Virginia. In celebration, I'm sharing these beautiful children's books that feature multiracial characters and families. Some are explicitly about race, ethnicity, or skin color, and others are simply good stories that have representation of multiracial people and families. Most of these are for ages 4-8, but my big kid (almost 10 years old) loves them, too!


A Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
By Selina Alko; Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Also

"A Case for Loving" tells the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving and their legal battle to be able to marry each other. Interracial marriages were against the law in Virginia, where they lived, so they got married in Washington, D.C. before returning home. They were jailed for breaking the state law and then took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was struck down. This is a powerful story told in a way that is appropriate for young children. I was so glad to be able to share this piece of history with my kids! Ages 4-8 years old



Tiny, Perfect Things

By M. H. Clark; Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper


This is one of my favorite children's books ever. It is the story of a grandfather and his granddaughter going on a walk, looking for tiny, perfect things: a spider web, a crow, a yellow leaf, a snail, and other simple treasures. In our busy, entertainment-centered culture, this book is a breath of fresh air. It’s a celebration of slowing down, observing and finding joy in the small beauties around us. There’s a quiet intimacy between the grandfather and the little girl, and I love the representation of a multi-racial family. It would be the perfect introduction to a nature studies lesson. Ages 5-8




Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

Marisol McDonald no combina 

By Monica Brown; Illustrated by Sara Palacios


This is one of my preschooler’s favorites! It’s a really fun bilingual book. Marisol McDonald has lovely brown skin like her mom and fire-red hair like her dad. She likes to speak Spanish like her Peruvian mother and English like her father. She wears mismatched clothes, and uses print and cursive to wrote her name. Others seem to want her to match in multiple areas of her life, but she discovers that she is loved and lovely just as she is, in all her uniqueness and creativity. I loved reading this to my daughter in both Spanish and English, as we were missing her Spanish immersion preschool during the quarantine. This is a wonderful celebration of a multiracial family. Ages 4-8




Sonya’s Chickens 

By Phoebe Wahl

“I do everything I can to make sure you are happy, and have a full belly and a warm place to sleep. You did everything you could to make sure your chicks were happy and had fully bellies and a warm place to sleep. Because you love your chicks like I love you. The fox is no different. He loves his kits too. So even though it’s sad for us, we can understand why he did it.”


Sonya adores her chicks and takes good care of them as they grow, but one day, she hears a noise in the chicken coop. One of the hens is missing! When she finds out that a fox got the chicken, her father gently explains in a way that is truthful but empathetic. This is a really beautiful book that is perfect for animal lovers! It lends itself to a broader discussion about empathy and considering multiple perspectives. Ages 4-8




By Andrea Cheng; Illustrated by Ange Zhang

Helen's Gong Gong (grandfather) is coming from China to the United States to live with Helen and her family. She is excited to see him, but her excitement wanes when she sees Gong Gong's disappointment with her inability to speak his language. Slowly, the two find a way to communicate and begin to learn from each other, forming a special bond in the process. Ages 4-7



By Marguerite W. Davol; Illustrated by Irene Trivas

"Mama's face is chestnut brown.
Her dark brown eyes are bright as bees.
Papa's face turns pink in the sun; his blue eyes sequence up when he smiles.
My face? I look like both of them--
a little dark, a little light.
Mama and Papa say, "Just right!"

With lyrical text, this reads like poetry about a little girl considering the unique characteristics of each of her parents, and how she is sometimes a blend of her parents, and sometimes different from both of them, but always, "just right!" This book is joyous and celebratory! Ages 4-8



By Norton Juster; Illustrated by Chris Raschka

From the author of The Phantom Tollbooth, this is a magical book about a little girl and her Nanna and Poppy's special "Hello, Goodbye Window." Through this window, you can play tricks, make silly faces, and look at your reflection. The book explores the simple joys of spending time with grandparents who make everything feel special. Ages 4-8



By Pamela Meyer
Illustrated by Deborah Melmon

“‘Presenting the first ever Jewish Chinese Kreplach Wonton Chicken Soup!’ I said.

‘A little Jewish, a little Chinese—a lot like me,’ I said.”


Sophie loves her bubbe’s Jewish kreplach soup and her nai nai’s Chinese wonton soup. But which one is better? She cooks up a plan to bring everyone together and everyone agrees—mixing it up produces something special, just like Sophie. This is a sweet book about family and embracing all of the parts that make us who we are. Most importantly, who we are is loved! Ages 4-9




Jalepeño Bagels

By Natasha Wing; Illustrated by Robert Casilla


Pablo is having trouble deciding what food to bring to school for International Day. What would best represent his culture? He gets up early to go to his parents’ bakery and help bake some of his mother’s Mexican food recipes and some from his father’s Jewish heritage. At last he has the perfect idea to represent both cultures—jalapeño bagels! I love the warmth of the parents in this story of blending cultures and taking pride in both. Ages 5-8





Lulu the One and Only

By Lynnette Mawhinney; Illustrated by Jennie Poh


"Everyone else might be confused, but I'm not. I love our family. But being a mix of Mama and Daddy always bring around THAT question. I hate THAT question. 'What are you?'"


"'I'm magic made from my parents."


"I'm Lulu Lovington, the one and only!"


Lulu and her brother Zane are a mix of their Black mom and White dad. This seems to confuse other people, who often ask the dreaded question: "What are you?" Lulu's big brother tells her that he has come up with a "power phrase" that helps him answer the question in a way that directs attention to who he is, instead of what he is. Inspired to come up with her own power phrase, Lulu is ready the next time the question rolls around, and she feels great about who she is! This would be a great classroom read to teach and empower kids who feel frustrated or embarrassed by similar questions about their identities. It also sheds a light on how well-intentioned questions like this can feel hurtful as we are getting to know new people. Ages 4-8




Gracias/Thanks

By Pat Mora; Illustrated by John Parra


“Por el sol que me despierta y no permite que siga durmiendo por años y años, y que me crezca una larga barba blanca, gracias.

For the sun that wakes me up so I don’t sleep for years and years and grow a long, white beard, thanks.”


So begins this fun bilingual (Spanish/English) book about giving thanks. A little boy thinks of all the delights and good things he is thankful for, from ladybugs to his uncle’s music to mom finding his homework in the trashcan. I love the representation of a multiracial family and a biracial child in this book of gratitude. It’s sure to bring smiles and chuckles to young readers as it inspires us to consider all the things for which we are grateful! Ages 4-8




Harriet Gets Carried Away

By Jessie Sima

 

We got carried away right along with Harriet in this playful, imaginative book! Harriet loves costumes and wears them every day, year round. She decides to be a penguin for her dress-up birthday party. When she accompanies her dads to the store to pick up items for the party, she wanders off and finds a group of penguins. They lead her on an adventure and she has quite a lot of excitement on her way back to find her dads at the store—she is helped by an iceberg, a parachute, an orca, and some bird friends. This is a magical, whimsical celebration of imagination. Young children will be joyously caught up in Harriet's adventure and find satisfaction in her return to the safety of her home base. We loved this book! Ages 4-8




Papa, Daddy, & Riley

By Seamus Kirst; Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth 


This beauty is a feast for the eyes! Check out  @devonholzwarth’s profile on Instagram for a peek at some of the incredible illustrations. The illustrator’s “work is inspired by childhood memories growing up in Panama and her collection of vintage children’s books.” I love finding contemporary books with artwork that has a vintage feel! When Olive’s classmate asks her which of her 2 dads is her real dad, she is distressed at the prospect of having to choose between Daddy and Papa. She loves them both so much and sees parts of each of them, as well as her “belly mom,” in herself. When her dads pick her up and ask why she is distraught, they have a conversation about all the many different types of families and concludes with, “Love makes a family.” Beautiful book! Ages 4-8




The Colors of Us

By Karen Katz


I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

By Selina Alko


These two books celebrate all the many different skin tones in the people around us! Both are appropriate for preschoolers up to middle elementary. The text is simple but the message is a valuable conversation starter for kids of all ages. For those of us who grew up in a “colorblind” society, books like these are a great way to promote noticing and celebrating differences instead of shushing our children when they inevitability point them out. These would be fantastic books for classroom libraries!





Honeysmoke 

By Monique Fields; Illustrated by Yesenia Moises


Simone’s mama is black and her daddy is white, but she can’t decide what color she is. She searches and searches for just the right words to describe her color and finds it at last when she combines her mama’s “honey” color with her father’s “smoke” color. Gorgeously illustrated, this book is a wonderful celebration of uniqueness and all kinds of beauty. It even has an invitation at the end for the reader to come up with just the right words for his or her own color. This would be a great book to pair with Crayola's Colors of the World crayons! Ages 3-6




My Footprints

By Bao Phi; lllustrated by Basia Tran


Thuy comes home from school upset after being bullied for having two moms, being Vietnamese American, and being a girl. She wants to “be the biggest and strongest and scariest monster,” so she can make the bullying stop. Her moms join her in imagining what kind of creature they could pretend to be together, “because we’re stronger together.” Momma Ngoc’s favorite animal is the phoenix, and Momma Arti’s favorite is the Sarabha—a powerful, part-lion, part-bird creature from Hindu mythology. Thuy decides to make up her own creature, which is a combination of herself and her two moms, called “Arti-Thuy-Ngoc-osaurus.” The author draws on his experience as a refugee. This is an empowering book about family and identity and the strong bonds that support us when we are struggling to find a sense of belonging the world. Ages 6-8




Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas

By Pamela Ehrenberg; Illustrated by Anjan Sarkar


“Lots of people fry potato latkes for Hanukkah. In my family, we do things a little bit differently. Instead of latkes, we make yummy Indian dosas. But doing anything—especially cooking—is tricky when my sister, Sadie, is around...”


This is such a fun story! A little boy’s family is preparing to celebrate Hanukkah in keeping with his father’s Jewish heritage, but they’ll combine it with his mother’s delicious Indian cooking. However, his sister Sadie is such a climber, she keeps getting into everything. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Sadie saves the day when they all get locked out of the house just before their holiday meal! I love this story about family, celebration, and the blending of two different cultures. My kiddos loved it too! Ages 4-7




Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama

By Selina Alko

“I’m a mix of two traditions. From Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama.”


From the author of another favorite listed below (“I’m Your Peanut Butter Big Brother"), this is a wonderful book about a family that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, just like the author’s own family. A little girl describes the traditions they keep, from latkes and jelly donuts to lighting the menorah and opening gifts. They sing both Christmas and Hanukkah songs and tell the sacred stories of both holidays. We love Selina Alko’s inclusive books! Ages 5-8






0 comments: