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Collage of diverse and multicultural children's books

The Diverse Bookshelf

Learn more about why diverse books matter for all kids and how to find high-quality fiction and nonfiction books that explore and celebrate our diverse and multicultural communities. 

On this page:

Books that reflect different cultures and family experiences give all kids a window into the diverse world we live in. Exposure to a wide range of books helps build both empathy and background knowledge

In this section you’ll get guidance on finding high-quality fiction and nonfiction books. And you’ll hear from children’s authors about their own experiences growing up and the books they write for young readers. 

You’ll also find guidance on assessing and diversifying your classroom library and how to use diverse books in the classroom — throughout the school year. 

I think the thing I try to do as a writer is to bring worlds to the page. What happens with readers is they step inside those worlds, and they experience them in a way that they might not in their real life, and it gives them a chance to think about a bigger society and the greater good.”

Jacqueline Woodson, author, MacArthur Foundation Fellow (2020), National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2018)

The importance of diverse books

In the clip below, education professor and author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop talks about how diverse books allow children to see themselves in stories, as well as provide a window into the lives of people who may seem different from us.

Voices of children’s authors

Children’s authors complete the phrase “We need diverse books because ….”

From our Meet the Author series, Video Interviews with Top Children’s Authors and Illustrators.

Grace Lin: The windows and mirrors of your child’s bookshelf

Featured multicultural booklists

Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander books

Featured booklists

Voices of APA authors

Black history and culture books

Featured booklists

Voices of Black authors

Hispanic and Latino books

Featured booklists

Voices of Hispanic and Latino authors

Voices of Native American/Alaska Native authors

Learning differences and neurodiversity in children’s books

LGBTQ books

I think that the more we read and the more widely we read, the more diverse authors we read, the more we understand the world. And to me that’s a really powerful aspect of literature — that it can create empathy in us in a way that’s really safe where we’re not always able to go out in the world and meet people who are having wildly different experiences than we are …”

Kekla Magoon, author

Finding diverse books

In addition to the booklists on Reading Rockets, there are many other great online resources to help you find diverse books for children of all ages. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison has compiled data on children’s and young adult books by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) (opens in a new window) published since 1985.

Free and low-cost book programs

Choosing culturally relevant books

Reading Rockets’ Book Finder

Create your own customized list of fiction and nonfiction books! Search through more than 5,000 books on Reading Rockets — by author, illustrator, age, reading level, genre, format, topic, and country or region. Browse Book Finder 

Book recommendations from Colorín Colorado

Book recommendations from the National Education Association

Award-winning books

Using diverse books in the classroom

Classroom and library resources from Reading Rockets

Resources from Colorín Colorado

Author Jaqueline Woodson talks about the benefits of reading “beyond ourselves.” Multicultural books are a powerful way to introduce kids to different kinds of people, even if their own community is not diverse.

Diverse books toolkit

As you bring diverse, inclusive, and culturally relevant materials into children’s reading experiences, this diverse books toolkit from Teaching Books (opens in a new window) can help analyze collections, identify and bring to life diverse texts, and encourage reflection on cultural representation. Registration required. 

More resources on teaching with diverse books

Author Carole Boston Weatherford meets teachers who use her books in the classroom to introduce historical figures or historical events to their students. For example, Birmingham, 1963 might be the jumping off point for a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. “My poems have such a powerful punch that they automatically make kids want to know more,” she says.

Education professor and author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop talks about the importance of using diverse books in the classroom throughout the school year.