We live in a beautiful world full of diversity that we should all embrace and celebrate. I enjoyed learning new things with my kiddo, especially about new cultures when traveling the world. However, one of my other favorite things to do with her is reading and exploring the world through books. Here is a list of 15 of our favorite multicultural children's picture books that celebrate diversity and especially empower women and girls.
The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees: Wangari Maathai
This picture book is about Kenyan political activist and environmentalist Wangari Maathai. 2004 Nobel Peace prize. She is the founder of the Green Belt movement in Kenya. Her organization focuses on women's rights and environmental issues; as a result, they have planted over 40 million trees in the past 40 years. This is a great read for you and your kiddos.
The Little Piano Girl
This picture book tells the story of female jazz legend Mary Lou Williams. She is a jazz legend who arranged and wrote music for other jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, etc. She started playing piano at 4 years old, and by 8 years old, she was a professional musician. This beautiful picture book is a great start if you don't know about this jazz legend yet.
26 women who changed the world
We love this book because it showcases women of all backgrounds. Each page covers some phenomenal women of diverse ethnicities who have accomplished amazing things in their lifetime. You will learn both about their struggles and triumphs. A fun, delightful read that will keep your kiddo inspired.
The red piano
Great read. It inspired by international concert pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei life. The story takes place during China's cultural revolution when Zhu was not allowed to play the piano. She was sent away in 1960 to a labor camp. There, she finds a way to practice in secret with the help of a villager until she gets caught. It's a beautiful picture book that we are sure your kids will enjoy.
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat
Who does not love Mrs.Ella Firzgerald? This is a beautiful picture book and a great introduction to her life for little kiddos. It's about her life in poverty, dancing, and singing in the streets for small change and determination.
A judge grows in the Bronx.
This bilingual picture book tells the story of supreme court judge Sonia Sotomayor.
You will learn about her childhood in poverty in the south Bronx, her determination to excel, and the support and love of her mum, who raised her alone.
Beautifully illustrated book accounting the story of Chinese American Hollywood star Anna May Wong in the 1930s and 1940s. You will learn how she broke new ground for generations to come and confronted racial discrimination and stereotypes and rise to stardom.
Little Melba and her big trombone
Another jazz music, unsung hero and prodigy. Melba Doretta Liston. Another beautifully illustrated book of a young little girl who taught herself to play the trombone and also arrange songs for some other jazz legends like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington to name but a few. You will see some original photographs of her and learn some interesting things about her life.
Drum Dream Girl
In the 1930s, in Cuba, girls were not allowed to be drummers. This picture book tells the story of world-renowned percussionist Chinese African Cuban girl Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. We love it because it is a truly inspiring story about persistence, following your dreams, and gender equality.
Separate is never equal.
This book tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and Mexican -Puerto Rican American, who, in 1944, was denied enrollment to a white-only school. Her community and her parent file and won a lawsuit in federal district court, and their success led to California end of segregated education. An excellent read for you and your kiddo that will spark more conversation about race and justice.
Nobody owns the sky
This book tells the story of Bessie Coleman, a young African-American woman who had to go to France to earn her pilot's licence because, in 1920s America, it was not feasible for her. Regardless of all the obstacles she had to face, she became the first licensed African American aviator. The story is told in verse.
She sang promise
This book tells the story of Betty Mae Tiger. In 1923, she was mixed Seminole from her mum's side and white from her dad's side. Unfortunately, her tribe did not accept her mixed heritage at the time, and she grew up isolated and poor. Through this book, you will learn how she overcame many adversities through determination until becoming the first elected Seminole female tribal leader.
Molly, by Golly
This book chronicles the story of Molly Williams, also known as America's first female firefighter. She was nickname Volunteer number 11. In 1888 while working as a cook for the NYC fire department, she helped put out a house fire when many of the volunteer's firefighters were sick with influenza.
When Marian Sang
This book tells the extraordinary story of African American singer Marian Anderson. She is best known for her performance on Easter Sunday, 1939, on the Lincoln Memorial steps. She sang both classical and spirituals music beautifully, and yet her Metropolitan opera debut was delayed due to discrimination and racism.
Rebeca Lee Crumpler
This picture book tells the story of the first African American female physician. Your kiddo will learn about the accomplishment of this leader in medicine during a time where few people of color were allowed to attend medical school, and very few women were physicians in the US. In 1864, Rebeca Crumpler became the New England Female Medical College's only African-American graduate.