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School is almost out and our youngsters are settling into a new summer routine of sleeping in and hopefully doing some exploring and discovering. With the hectic days of summer just beginning, oftentimes one of the first habits to go by the wayside is the habit of daily reading.
Reading is always an important part of our children’s lives no matter what time of year it is so I decided to wrap my knowledge of fun kidlit books and activities and create a unique resource for parents who are looking for creative ways to keep their kids reading this summer. Reading is important, but so is helping our young readers learn about other cultures, religions, and traditions through the pages of these books.
Another hot topic on the minds of parents, teachers, and librarians is the lack of diverse books available for young readers. We’ve come a long way in changing this thanks to non-profits like Multicultural Children’s Book Day–and we still have a ways to go. Luckily the number of kidlit and YA books available these days has grown exponentially; providing families with the invaluable opportunity to discover our world through vibrant stories, education resources and colorful illustrations, and imagery.
If world travel isn’t in your budget, this free list of 180 multicultural books for kids is a great way to explore cultures, race, religions, languages, and traditions with our summer readers. Enjoy!
Diverse Kidlit Books for Summer Reading
What country holds the title as the world’s smallest continent and yet the world’s largest island? I stand for island, but one that’s not too small. Australia is a continent, but it’s an island, too. Originally founded as a penal colony, Australia has long been known for its contrasts (think: wild outback and sophisticated Sydney Opera House). Accompanied by vibrant colorful artwork, D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet captures the spirit of this proud country and its many treasures, natural and man-made. Visit spectacular Sydney Harbor, try your hand as a jackaroo working at a sheep station, or just sit back and enjoy a Vegemite sandwich. Below the starry night glitter of the Southern Cross constellation, Australia’s “down under” wonders shine brightly.
Mariam is a delightful young Muslim girl who was inspired to create a book with a powerful message about kindness and inclusion. She is also a guest poet, writer, contributor and a source of inspiration for the book, Soulful Sydney Explores Diversity: a delightful children’s book written in rhyme this is fun to read. Learn more about Miriam and Soulful Sydney here.
Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango: On summer nights Marisol helps out in Papi’s music store. As customers come and go, they share memories of the Latin music and dance of their various homelands, expressed in a dazzling array of poetry. The diversity of Latin American music is brought to life in poems that swivel, sway, and sizzle with the rhythms of merengue, vallenatos, salsa, and samba.
The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia from This Little Street Press is the first book of a new whimsical travel series for kids, and I think readers of JIAB will absolutely love it not only for its content and esthetic but also for how much Lily’s adventures teach kids about the world, about being brave + curious + adventurous and embracing different cultures. This book is soooo vibrant and fun! Read our full review here.
My First Book of Korean Words is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces young children to Korean language and culture through everyday words.
The words profiled in this book are all commonly used in the Korean language and are both informative and fun for English-speaking children to learn. The goals of My First Book of Korean Words are multiple: to familiarize children with the sounds and structure of Korean speech, to introduce core elements of Korean culture, to illustrate the ways in which languages differ in their treatment of everyday sounds and to show how, through cultural importation, a single word can be shared between languages.
To share a colorful Indian holiday and tradition with your readers, check out the beautiful diverse picture book, Celebrate Holi With Me! Also called the Festival of Colors, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month marking the beginning of spring, making the date vary with the lunar cycle. The date falls typically in March, but sometimes late February of the Gregorian calendar. Holi is not just a Festival of colors but also a celebration of good over evil.
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