Books Change Lives | A Diverse Booklist for ages 0-18

Every week I visit the homes of clients in Louisville and am deeply saddened by the lack of children’s books present.

And for those that do have books, rarely do they have books with powerful messages and characters who look like them. This is not a unique situation no matter what city or state you live in. I firmly believe it is not that parents don’t care about their child’s reading habits. Oftentimes there are financial reasons, but there is also a thread of frustration due to the fact that the book publishing world has not been representative of all cultures.

I understand that frustration on more levels than I can express!

Fortunately, the winds of change have been shifting perspectives. Many are actively working to make the children and young adult book world more diverse and multicultural thanks to the dedicated work of initiatives like Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Real Dads Read, the #OwnVoices movement, We Need Diverse Books, It Pays to Read, and publishers like Lee & Low Books.

Simply put: reading changes lives…but our children need to read and see stories with characters of all colors, religions, ethnic origins, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Having more diverse books written and published is only half the battle. Parents, educators caregivers, and librarians need to know these books exist in order to give our kids what they need. Here are a few of the standout books I personally would like to shine the spotlight on.

A Diverse Booklist for ages 0-18

Big Cities Little Foodies: Hong Kong

Big Cities Little Foodies: Hong Kong

Board books are in high demand and diverse board books about FOOD are even more exciting!

In Big Cities Little Foodies: Hong kong, readers explore and experience the city of Hong Kong through a much-loved theme: food! From assorted dim sum to wonton noodles, Big Cities Little Foodies serves up ten treats from the local cuisine in bold and stylized illustrations. A lyrical and visual board book for globe-trotting families to share, sure to whet the appetite of children and parents alike.

The Unexpected Friend – A Rohingya Children’s Story by Raya Rahman.

The Unexpected Friend – A Rohingya Children’s Story

Raya is the founder and editor of a bilingual picture book company called Guba Publishing. She works in partnership with other authors, illustrators, and non-profit organizations to publish diverse and multicultural children’s stories and learning resources. Raya’s debut picture book is “The Unexpected Friend – A Rohingya Children’s Story”, a fictional story based on the real lives of Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh that she wrote in collaboration with aid agency Save the Children.

Daddy, Can I Cry?

Author Kenneth Braswell takes what can be a troubling story and uses the misfortune of a community as a mechanism to stimulate and encourage discussions of pain, loss, trauma, violence with our children. This story; the fourth in the “Daddy Series” continues with the Applewhite family and addresses the loss of Cory’s best friend Michael. As a young boy, Cory learns from his father that grieving is acceptable and that both boys and men can cry. Braswell also is the Chief Executive Officer of Fathers Incorporated, a widely recognized national and international nonprofit organization supporting fathers, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers that provides capacity building services to thousands of organizations working to ensure that fathers contribute to the healthy well-being of their children.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Graphic novels are an excellent way to get reluctant readers interested in books again! Veteran author, JERRY CRAFT doesn’t disappoint with his new middle-grade graphic novel that has earned five starred reviews. Booklist magazine calls this book “possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.”

LOVE IS…

Love Is...

This book has a simple message, but it is one that bears repeating; love is precious and something we must nurture, take care of, and never take for granted.

     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 many different ways that love is 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 in. {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 Love

Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club

This amazing book is an anthology that consists of five short stories written by some of our 8th-grade members, Sarah Ford, Aubrey Heiges, Nadia Lessing, Valerie Swing, and Makayla Wright who are all members of the Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore (GFCB). These creative writings showcase the bravery and confidence of teens trusting their decisions, standing in their power, and protecting their friends through challenges and in some cases, time travel. This book is best for Elementary, Middle Grade, and Young Adult. Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore is a stress-free group for girls, which encourages reading, vocabulary expansion, comprehension skills, and confidence in a fun environment.

Happy reading!

diverse booklist

One More Thing…

For the second year, I was the Multicultural Children’s Book Day SUPER Platinum Sponsor for MCBD2020! Check out the scoop on this highest level of sponsorship and support for this non-profit diverse children’s literacy initiative HERE.


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 ten 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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