Great Books Featuring Diverse Characters

Yesterday was  multicultural book day. A wonderful chat took place last night on twitter. Be sure to search #ReadYourWorld to read about the great ideas and recommendations shared during this discussion. We know the important work of diversifying our classroom libraries and curriculum must extend beyond one day of the year. Therefore, to help raise awareness about wonderful books that are reflective of our diverse world, below are twenty must read titles. These books are terrific additions to classroom libraries featuring diverse characters, many of which are written and illustrated by diverse authors. Shout out your favorite from this list or another that you love. Let’s keep it going!


  • Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
  • Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby
  • Poems to Dream Together=Poemas Para So’ar Juntos by Francisco X. Alarcon



  • The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle
  • The Case for Loving: The Fight For Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko



  • The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
  • When Tia Lola Came to Visit (Stay) by Julia Alvarez
  • Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter



  • Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling
  • Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
  • A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee Tai
  • Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson



  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Come On Rain by Karen Hesse
  • Honey I Love by Eloise Greenfield
  • Mama Where Are You From? by Marie Bradbury


Sonja Cherry-Paul is a member of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee. She has been immersed in reading wonderful books created by authors and illustrators who address themes related to social justice. The best part of this process is sharing these incredible books with her 6th graders and the insightful conversations they spark.  She is co-author of Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning and Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach. 


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