A Kindle Kind of Summer: A Diverse eBook Booklist

June is a month full of relief that school is done and joy because summer has begun!

Many households are buzzing with plans to soak up the sun, enjoy some much-deserved downtime, and set their packed schedules aside for a little while. While kids may be elated at the thought of no school, the thing that is always on the minds of the adults is the dreaded “summer slide.”  Summer slide is a phrase coined by educators that acknowledges the fact that summer freedom also means lack of academic structure. Which, in turn, causes kids’ reading habits to backslide.

Ebooks to the rescue!

Not only are ebooks the perfect “portable” reading tool, but today’s kidlit ebook offerings are more diverse than ever.  Ebooks that include diverse characters, or books written by #OWNVOICES authors, help kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and learn about lives that are entirely different from theirs. It’s also a great way to encourage inclusion, empathy, and compassion. Books on topics like special needs, being a refugee, and even racism can open a child’s eyes to things that they may not understand or have experienced before.

Like I mentioned in my On #OWNVOICES blog post not long ago, adults need to remember that diverse books are just not for families of color. The phrase “mirrors and windows” was initially coined in the late 1990s by scholar and activist Rudine Sims Bishop as a way to summarize the need for young readers to see stories that reflect their family dynamic, socio-economic status, disability, ethnic origin, and even religion.

But unfortunately, book buyers sometimes forget to “windows” part of “mirrors and windows.” Read my thoughts on that here.

Back to ebooks–books on Kindle or other devices provide hours of reading while traveling or when kids are away from the family bookcase.

The following is a list of diverse picture and chapter ebooks that will give kids options for more exciting, fun, and inspiring books that will keep them eagerly reading during the lazy months of summer.

Diverse eBook Recommendations

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry with illustrations by Vashti Harrison

This sweet book started as one author’s desire to “See more representation in children’s book while also wanting to normalize black hair.” The beautifully illustrated diverse picture book begins with young Zuri waking up and deciding that, because it is a very special day, she needs the perfect hairstyle. The young black girl thinks of the wondrous things her hair can do and how it reflects her personality. Readers will love how this little girl embraces her individuality while also relating to daddy’s struggles to tame the wild poof in mommy’s absence. [picture book, ages 4-8]

This Is The Earth by Deedee Cummings

A Purple Dragonfly Award First Place winner, Cummings uses bold and bright illustrations in This is the Earth to share a message of peace, love, respect, compassion, inclusion. Published in early 2019, the book’s message bears repeating: peace is meant for all of us and it is everyone’s responsibility to care for each other like the united family that we really are.

This exceptional and timely book shares the reality that we are all sharing this world that we call home instead of acting as though each continent, each, country, and each neighborhood is like a completely different planet. Within the pages of This is the Earth, readers will discover thought and conversation-invoking concepts on issues and struggles that have our world at odds with each other. Kids and adults will love the lyrical message and thoughtful artwork that reinforces the fact that every human being is our neighbor on Planet Earth; a place also known as Home. {ages 4 and up}

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

In the spirit of Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, and is a celebration of diversity. A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess by Deedee Cummings

The first in an upcoming 5-book series, Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess is a heartwarming story about family, role models, dreams, and discovering a determination for growth. This diverse picture book series shines the spotlight on a little brown girl who loves musical theatre and never lets anything get in the way of her dreams. It seems that everyone else has an idea for who she should be, but in the end, she discovers that she is the one who gets to decide.

The story also reveals the very special family dynamic that Kayla shares with her mom- a hard-working woman who struggles with the guilt of not being as available for her young daughter as she would like. But as the story progresses, Kayla and her mom realize the impact of valuing the time they have together as well as the importance of seeing each other acknowledge (and pursue) their individual dreams. {ages 4 to 8}

Fun fact: The Kayla: Modern-Day Princess series is inspired by MY OWN real-life princess and Broadway actress, Kayla Pecchioni! Read the story about this journey with my oldest child here.

It Doesn’t Take a Genius by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

A hilarious and moving coming-of-age tale that explores the intersection between self and community and the complexity of Black identity as a boy wonders: if he’s not who he’s always thought he was, who exactly can he be. Emmett and his older brother Luke have always been “Batman and Robin,” though they’re quick to bicker about who’s who. Spending the summer at a historic Black summer camp seems like a wonderful adventure for the two to share, but since Luke is there as a junior counselor, he seems to spend all of his time being everyone else’s big brother and ignoring Emmett.  As Luke seems to be moving on to new adventures, Emmett struggles in unexpected ways, especially in swim class and the “It Takes A Village” entrepreneurship class. Without his brother to turn to for support, Emmett works to build a new crew of “superfriends,” who’ll help him plan something spectacular for the end-of-camp awards night and celebration. Along the way, Emmett learns that no matter what, there can be many ways to define family. (for ages 10-15)

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Approaching the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is an own voices, very personal story written by the daughter of a Hiroshima survivor

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and since the Japanese newspapers don’t report lost battles, the Japanese people are not entirely certain of where Japan stands. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bombs hit Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture-something not done before. Based on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity. Winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Michael B. Jordan!

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge—of adolescence, of grief, of violence—and shows how Lolly’s inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.

I love that communities across the U.S. are becoming more diverse by the day and the awareness of the need to provide books for young readers is reflected in this as well.

But there is still much work to be done.

The need for representation and inclusion in the books that are added to home and classroom bookshelves will never falter and for that, I’m grateful. Our world is filled with amazing cultures, foods, traditions, music, religions, and ethnicities, so it only seems right that we introduce our young readers to this vibrant world through the pages of the books they read. Books are such an easy way to broader horizons, encourage empathy, and let the next generation see what is possible.

Other Make A Way Media eBooks!

Love Is…

Love Is…is a charming children’s book that shares a valuable message: love is a gift meant to be shared by every being. Filled with beautiful illustrations and a stunning palette, this book shows children the different ways that love can be expressed – many of which can easily be forgotten or taken for granted. Love is… is a masterpiece of word and color poetry that draws readers of all ages into the story. {For ages 2 and up}

     “My 6- year old son saw ‘Love is…’ and couldn’t wait for me to read it to him. It filled his bucket. We discussed the beautiful illustrations and talked about love. We love the positivity of the book and that it reminds us to shine our light and to not close off our hearts.”~Eat Pure Lov

My Trip to the Beach

The young girl depicted in this story is feeling down so she finds a space all her own–an imaginary beach that makes her heart feel happy. With the help of the sun, the waves, sand, and sea spray, she discovers how to use nature’s gifts to take each bad thought and erase them like the waves wiping the flaws in the sand away. Through calming, inspiring, and simple exercises in My Trip to the Beach, readers will learn that mindfulness and meditation can transport them to special places to aid in the coping process. These practices can also enhance the skills of readers when it comes to important life skills like strengthening concentration, decreasing stress levels, reducing anger and impulse issues, and aiding in better self-awareness. As a seasoned therapist, the author provides poetic perspectives on life and its struggles that will help encourage children to focus on imagery, positivity, and the important message that with each sunrise comes a chance to begin again. {ages 5 and up}

“When I visit the beach, I am reminded how awesome and majestic the world is.”~ author, Deedee Cummings

I Want to be a Bennett Belle

In this endearing children’s story, a smart and curious little girl asks her grandmother what she hoped to be when she was growing up. From there, another future Bennett Belle is born.

After her grandma begins sharing the story of how she became the woman she was meant to be, the young girl learns all about the mission of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina: to instill each of its students with self-respect, confidence, compassion, pride, and preparation to compete as a professional in an ever-changing world. As the little girl falls in love with the spirit, sisterhood, and legacy of Bennett College, she discovers it is never too early to think about higher education or becoming the best woman she can be.

This book is also the author’s tribute to the HBCU (Historically Black College) that her mother and several female family members attended. Bennett College is special for many reasons and is often referred to as “the Mecca of Black girl magic.”  In this endearing children’s story, a young girl learns all about Bennett College and its mission from her grandmother, a proud Bennett Belle. {ages 5 and up}

My Dad’s Job:

Being a father is one of the hardest jobs on earth and in My Dad’s Job, the story of a dedicated father teaches his son how to be a responsible, intelligent, and loving person.

This sweet story of a young boy growing up with his beloved father will remind the adult readers that their children are watching and listening to them as examples of adulthood. Inspired by the author’s husband Anthony, and the couple’s oldest son, Little Anthony, My Dad’s Job shares a powerful message about the value of being present and parenting with love, direction, purpose, modeling, and consistency. {ages 5 and up}

“In therapy, we call this act of steady guidance and modeling to kids ‘planting seeds.’ Sometimes it seems as nothing has changed, mattered, or taken root and then one day you look up, and there’s a full bloom!” ~ author, Deedee Cummings


Lyrically and visually beautiful, Heart is a book for all ages and all walks of life.  Within the pages of Heart, readers, parents, and educators will find affirmations that, when hearts close from fear, other emotions like love, peace, joy, and happiness become closed off as well. Inspired by her work with foster children, the author uses lyrical prose and stunning illustrations to share beliefs of love, life, faith, and the power of prayer.

 This is a much-needed book for children of all ages, especially those who have experienced trauma in their lives. Heart provides an overall message to readers that, to find faith, they must never stop believing that there are good people in the world. This is a book is an excellent resource for classrooms, home bookshelves, and children’s counselor’s office. Heart will help lift readers’ spirits and serves as a guide to the path to healing. {ages 5 and up

In The Nick of Time

A timely tale about a Little Brown Boy who Saves Christmas. Nick Saint never really put a lot of thought into his name until one snowy day in December when he accidentally receives a letter meant for Saint Nick. Realizing there is not much time left until Christmas, Nick opens the letter. The unexpected message inside ultimately leads him on a journey of understanding poverty, gratitude, and service to others while discovering the real meaning of the holiday spirit.

In The Nick of Time is a story that is beautiful and filled with messages that all children need to hear about poverty, gratitude, and service to others. We believe Santa would be so proud.

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess Series Book One is HERE!


Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess: is a heartwarming story about family, role models, dreams, and discovering a determination for growth. This five-part diverse picture book series shines the spotlight on a little brown girl who loves musical theatre and never lets anything get in the way of her dreams. It seems that everyone else has an idea for who she should be, but in the end, she discovers that she is the one who gets to decide.

Grab your copy of Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess (Book One) in the Make A Way Media Bookstore or on Amazon in paperback form or for Kindle.

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess: Dishes, Dancing, and Dreams will be available for purchase on June 1, 2021! 

Available on Amazon and Kindle.

The Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess series of #OWNVOICE books is for Dreamers and the Doers of all ages. This diverse picture book series is a heartwarming look at the importance of family, speaking our truth, dreaming freely, and knowing our worth. Book 2 is part of a five-part series that shines the spotlight on a little Black girl who never lets anything get in the way of her dreams.


Parents, Caregivers, and Educators: By investing in this series, you help every child see that Black and Brown girls can be leaders, princesses, and the stars of their own stories. Children need to read stories that include characters who look like them. Offering these types of books to young readers is an essential part of building self-esteem, cultivating empathy, encouraging tough conversations, and letting children of color know they matter

GO HERE to order your copy of Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess: Dishes, Dancing, and Dreams (Book Two in the Kayla: Modern-Day Princess series).  

All Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess books are FREE on Kindle Unlimited! Download today!

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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