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do you know these books?

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know
Compiled by Ginny Moore Kruse and Kathleen T. Horning
Updated by Kathleen T. Horning, Carling Febry, Merri T. LIndgren and Megan Schliesman
© 2010, 2006, 2001 Cooperative Children's Book Center

At the CCBC, we define "multicultural" literature as books by and about people of color: African and African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacific and Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos. This listing introduces 50 essential books and a range of authors and illustrators for children.

Interested in multicultural literature for older readers? Check out 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know.

Other CCBC multicultural literature resources and links.


Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.



Ada, Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy, selectors. English adapations by Alice Schertle . ¡Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes. Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. HarperCollins, 2003. 64 pages. Ages birth - 6 years

Cumpiano, Ina. Quinito, Day and Night = Quinito, dia y noche. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Children's Book Press, 2008. 22 pages. Ages 2-5

Heo, Yumi. One Afternoon. Orchard, 1994. Ages 2 - 4

Morales, Yuyi. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Chronicle, 2003. 28 pages. Ages 4 - 7

Steptoe, John. Baby Says. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988. Ages 1 - 3

Tarpley, Natasha. I Love My Hair!. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Little, Brown, 1998. Ages 4 - 8

Te, Ata. Baby Rattlesnake. Illustrated by Mira Reisberg. Children's Book Press, 1989.

Thong, Rosanne. Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes. Illustrated by Grace Lin. Chronicle, 2000.

Wheeler, Bernelda. Where Did You Get Your Moccasins? . Illustrated by Herman Bekkering. Peguis, 1986.

Williams, Vera B. More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories. Greenwillow, 1990.

Ages 5-7

Cheng, Andrea. Grandfather Counts. Illustrated by Ange Zhang. Lee & Low, 2000. Ages 4 - 8

Cisneros, Sandra. Hairs/Pelitos. Illustrated by Terry Ybånez. Knopf, 1994. Ages 3 - 7

Diakité, Penda. I Lost My Tooth in Africa. Illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. Scholastic Press, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 4-7

Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love, and Other Poems. Illustrated by Leo & Dianne Dillon. Harper, 1978.

Harjo, Joy. The Good Luck Cat. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt, 2000. Ages 4 - 7

Look, Lenore. Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz / Atheneum, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

McKissack, Patricia C. Mirandy and Brother Wind. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Knopf, 1988. Ages 4 - 8

Messinger, Carla and Susan Katz . When the Shadbush Blooms. Illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden. Tricycle Press, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Pinkney, Sandra L. Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children. Illustrated by Myles Pinkney. Scholastic, 2000. Ages 3 - 11

Tafolla, Carmen. What Can You Do With a Paleta?. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Tricycle Press, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 3 - 6

Vyner, Tim. World Team. U.S. edition: Roaring Brook Press, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 9

Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. Morning on the Lake. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Kids Can Press, 1998. Ages 5 - 8

Zepeda, Gwendolyn. Growing Up with Tamales = Los tamales de Ana. Translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura (from the English). Illustrated by April Ward. Piñata Books / Arte Público Press, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

Ages 7-9

Ada, Alma Flor. My Name Is Maria Isabel. Atheneum, 1993. Ages 8 - 10

Alarcon, Francisco X. From the Bellybutton of the Moon, and Other Summer Poems / Del ombligo de la luna, y otros poemas de verano. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children's Book Press, 1998. Ages 7 - 10

Campbell, Nicola I.. Shin-chi's Canoe. Illustrated by Kim LaFave. Groundwood Books / House Anansi Press, 2008. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Cha, Dia and Chue and Nhia Thao Cha . Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey to Freedom. Denver Museum of Natural History/Lee & Low, 1996. Ages 8 - 11

Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Knopf, 1985.

Lester, Julius. John Henry. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Dial, 1994. Ages 4 - 12

Look, Lenore. Ruby Lu, Brave and True. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. An Anne Schwartz Book / Atheneum, 2004. 105 pages. Ages 5 - 9

Ortiz, Simon. The People Shall Continue. Illustrated by Sharol Graves. Children's Book Press, 1988.

Perkins, Mitali. Rickshaw Girl. Illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge, 2007. 91 pages. Ages 8-10

Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. Crown, 1991. Ages 5 - 11

Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Indian Shoes. Illustrated by Jim Madsen. HarperCollins, 2002. 66 pages. Ages 6 - 9

Walter, Mildred Pitts. Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World. Lothrop, 1988. Ages 7-9

Woodson, Jacqueline. Show Way. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Putnam, 2005. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Ages 9-12

Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes. Scholastic, 1999. Ages 9 and older

Bryan, Ashley. Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song. Photographed by Bill McGuinness. Antheneum, 2009. 58 pages. Ages 9 and older

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999. Ages 8 - 13

Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999. Ages 8 - 12

Grace, Catherine O'Neill and Margaret M. Bruchac, with Plimoth Plantation . 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Photographed by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. National Geographic Society, 2001. 48 pages. Ages 7 - 14

King, Casey and Linda Barrett Osborne . Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen. Knopf, 1997. Ages 8 - 14

Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Little, Brown, 2009. 278 pages. Ages 8 - 11

Nye, Naomi Shihab, editor. The Tree Is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings from Mexican Artists. Simon & Schuster, 1995. Age 8 and older

Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard. Clarion, 2001. Ages 9 - 12

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic, 2000. Ages 10 - 14

Shange, Ntozake. ellington was not a street. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Simon & Schuster, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 6-18

Sheth, Kashmira. Boys without Names. Balzer & Bray, 2010. 320 pages. Ages 9-13

Skarmeta, Antonio. The Composition. Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano. U.S. edition: A Groundwood Book/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. Ages 9 - 16

Taylor, Mildred D.. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.. Dial, 1976.

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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