Monday, August 10, 2015

Celebrating Multiracial Families and Friendships: A List of Books for Kids and Teens

This past April, at the Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival, we welcomed Tanya Hutchins, author of Born Beautiful Biracial: A Compilation of Children's Essays, and Mt. Airy author Lori Tharps, creator of ?RU! t-shirts (for sale in the bookstore!), to facilitate a fascinating discussion dealing with the "What Are You?" questions that many people who grow up biracial or multiracial regularly face, as well as issues around who is perceived as family.

Here's a list of books we started compiling then, that address these questions in some way. Some feature multiracial families; some feature strong interracial friendships. Others celebrate the wide diversity of skin tones and other physical features among people of different races and cultures. It is, of course, only a small subset of all such books, though I expect it to grow over time. At the end is a list of links to other lists and resources, with even more books to explore.

Within each section below, the books are arranged chronologically, to give a sense of how things have evolved over time. An asterisk * marks a book in which multiracial/multicultural identity is incidental and not central to the story. (If I don't know or am not sure how to characterize it, I've left it off.)

Compiled by Jennifer Sheffield, with help from Jennifer Woodfin and Lori Tharps
latest update: 7/9/17


Talking with kids about race:

The Skin I'm in: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas, illustrated by Lesley Harker (2003)
Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester (2005)
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, illustrated by David Lee Csicsko (2005)
Born Beautiful Biracial: A Compilation of Children's Essays (by children ages 6-14), compiled by Tanya Hutchins (2014)

Board books for babies and toddlers:

*More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (1990)
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (1992)
Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2000)
*Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2001)
I am Latino: The Beauty in Me by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2007)
Global Babies, a Global Fund for Children book (2007)
American Babies, a Global Fund for Children book (2010)
*A is for Activist (2013) and Counting on Community (2015) by Innosanta Nagara [also available in Spanish]
*Good Night, Wissahickon Valley Park by Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper, illustrated by Scotti Mann (2016)

Picture books about families, bodies, and reproduction:

*All Families Are Special by Norma Simon, illustrated by Teresa Flavin (2003)
The Family Book by Todd Parr (2003)
*The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith (2010)
*Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies by Robie Harris (2011)
*What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth (2012) [This book separates the genetic/biological components from the emotional component of making a baby, thus allowing for nontraditional families.]
*Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Walsh (2012)
*It Takes Love (and Some Other Stuff) to Make a Baby by L.L. Bird, illustrated by Patrick Girouard (2014) [Two-mom family using donor insemination.]
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang (2015)
One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (2015)

General picture books:

Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff (1973)
*Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (1993)
*Jamaica and Brianna By Juanita Havill, illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien (1993)
All of the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka (1994)
Jalapeño Bagels by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Robert Casilla (1996)
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, illustrated by Leslie Staub (1997)
*A Child's Calendar: poems by John Updike, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (1999)
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz (1999)
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2001)
It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (2001)
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (2001)
*The Princesses Have a Ball by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Lynne Cravath (2002)
*Felicia's Favorite Story by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Adriana Romo (2002)
I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Elivia Savadier (2002)
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka (2005)
Oscar's Half Birthday by Bob Graham (2005)
I am Latino: The Beauty in Me by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney (2007)
In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco (2009)
*Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey, illustrated by Miriam Latimer (2010)
*Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010)
*A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc (2011)
I am the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr. (2013)
*The Lonely Typewriter by Peter Ackerman, illustrated by Max Dalton (2014)
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (2015)
*The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton (2015)
*Double Trouble For Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (2015)
Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (2016)
My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo (2016)
Quackers by Liz Wong (2016)
*Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo (2016)
*The Airport Book by Lisa Brown (2016)

Middle Grade/Chapter books:

*The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, starting with Sandry's Book (1997)
Crossing Jordan by Adrian Fogelin (2000)
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee (2003)
*The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (2007, basis for the 2015 DreamWorks movie Home)
*The Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, starting with The Popularity Papers (2010)
*The Flower Power series by Lauren Myracle, starting with Luv Ya Bunches (2010)
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine (2012)
The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (2012)
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (2013)
*The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher (2014) and The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (2016) by Dana Alison Levy
[Note: The asterisk here refers to the first book; the sequel does deal with race as a significant, though plot-secondary, issue.]
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (2014)
*Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (2014)
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrations by Katie Kath (2015)
Ghosts by Raina Telgemaier (2016)
Threads by Ami Polonsky (2016)
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, with illustrations by Caroline Hadilaksono (2017)

Young Adult books:

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson (1994)
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (1995)
If You Come Softly (1998) and Behind You (2004) by Jacqueline Woodson
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña (2008)
Liar by Justine Larbalestier (2009)
*The Legend trilogy by Marie Lu, starting with Legend (2011)
*Hidden by Helen Frost (2011)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2012)
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (2012)
*Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (2013)
*The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson (2014)
Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios (2014)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (2014)
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (2015)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (2015)
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (2015)
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S Davis (2016)
*Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (2016)

Some other lists and resources:

Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America's Diverse Families (2016) by Lori Tharps, author of the blog My American Melting Pot (as well as creator of the shirts mentioned above)
Cool Mom Picks blog: How to talk to your kids about prejudice with the help of 12 of our favorite books
Pinterest: Anti-Bias Children's Books
Goodreads Listopia: Children's Books Depicting Multiracial Families
What Do We Do All Day blog: Multicultural and Diverse Children's Books (a list of lists)
Multiracial Asian Families blog: Multiracial Asian Children's Books
ComeUnity Adoption books: Multiracial Diversity Books for Children
Gay-Themed Picture Books for Children blog (includes foreign language books): Mixed-Race Families
Goodreads Listopia: Alternative Families in Children's Literature
Oakland Library: DÍA (Diversity in Action!): Great Kids' Books with Multiracial Characters
Goodreads Listopia: Mixed race protagonists in middle grade and young adult novels
Booklist Online: Classroom Connections: Multiracial Characters (Middle Grade and YA)
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA): Mixed, But Not Mixed Up: Biracial Characters in YA Lit.

*An asterisk marks books in which multiracial/multicultural identity is incidental and not central to the story. If I don't know or am not sure how to characterize it, I've left it off.

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