Simply turn on your television, and you see that the issue of race remains an important one in our society. Although the stories of prejudice can be both sad and infuriating, as parents, these tragic stories present an opportunity to teach your kids to respect others who may be different. And, in addition to using real world examples,one great way to introduce ideas of racial and cultural diversity to your children than through the magic of books. If you'd like to add some diversity to your reading list, you should include some kids books that feature people of color as main characters.
According to an article on NPR's website, only 6 percent of children's books published in 2012 featured diverse characters, making it more important than ever to support literature that more accurately reflects the world we live in.
Although the characters on this list come in a variety of colors and cultures, the themes of friendship, family, and determination are ones that every child can benefit from. So at your next visit to your local library or bookstore, check out some of these books with diverse main characters, and share the joy of discovering new ideas and cultures with your little ones.
1. 'Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match' by Monica Brown
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match is a beautifully written story about cultural diversity. A young girl of Peruvian and Scottish heritage loves everything that makes her different, from her red hair to her favorite peanut butter and jelly burritos.
2. 'The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses' by Paul Goble
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses tells the story of a Native-American girl who had a special relationship with the horses in her village. After being separated from her family in a storm, she has the opportunity to live among them and form a lasting bond.
3. 'Come On, Rain!' by Karen Hesse
Come On, Rain! paints readers a vivid picture of a young girl moving through the city streets with her mother on a hot, summer day. She observes the movement of her neighborhood as she wishes for a rain shower to cool things off.
4. 'The Hello, Goodbye Window' by Norton Juster
The Hello, Goodbye Window tells the story of a little girl who discovers all of the wonders that take place outside of her grandparent's kitchen window. The picture book, geared towards preschool readers emphasizes the special bond between children and grandparents.
5. 'My Brother Charlie' by Holly Robinson Peete
My Brother Charlie is based on actress and author Holly Robinson Peete's own son who is autistic. The story is centered around the special relationship a young girl has with her twin brother, who has autism. Even though his brain "works in a special way," the siblings have a lot in common.
6. 'Dalia's Wondrous Hair' by Laura Lacamara
Dalia's Wondrous Hair is a bi-lingual story of a young girl whose hair magically grows to the sky in her sleep. But rather than get upset, Dalia begins to collect items from nature around her to transform her newly grown hair into a beautiful butterfly garden. The book also includes a guide to making your own butterfly garden at home.
7. 'Same, Same But Different' by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
In Same, Same But Different, two young boys form a friendship through letters. Elliot describes his life in America, while Kailash, writes about his experiences growing up in India. The two learn that while there are things that make them different, their love for climbing trees, their families, and their pets make them very much the same.
8. The 'Sofia Martinez' Series by Jacqueline Jules
The Sofia Martinez series centers around a fun-loving little Latina girl who solves mysteries and has adventures with her tight-knit family. The series, which is best for readers ages 5 to 7, centers around basic family values, and introduces kids to Spanish words.
9. 'Tar Beach' by Faith Ringgold
City kids will be able to relate to Tar Beach, a book about a young girl who picnics with her family on the roof of their Harlem apartment building. She and her family look down on the world around them, and make the most of their "tar beach," sharing food, laughter, and love.
10. 'The Snowy Day' by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day is a classic children's story that features a young African-American main character. The book centers around a boy who explores the wonders of a first snowfall in his neighborhood.
11. 'Hush! A Thai Lullaby' by Minfong Ho
Every parent can relate to trying to keep the house quiet when one of their children is sleeping. In Hush! A Thai Lullaby, a mother cautions the animals around her to be quiet and not disturb her sleeping chid.
12. 'Lola At The Library' by Anna McQuinn
In Lola At The Library, a young girl looks forward to Tuesdays, when she gets to spend some special time with her mom. The two go to the library for story time, check out some of her favorite books, and have cappuccino and juice before they head home. At bedtime, mommy reads one of Lola's library books to her – a perfect way to end the day.
13. 'Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School' by Kim Baker
Kids in fourth through seventh grade will laugh out loud at Pickle In the story, a diverse group of middle school pranksters decide to form a club as a disguise for their sneaky tricks.
14. 'The Name Jar' by Yangsook Choi
The Name Jar follows a young girl moves to America from Korea. She wants her new classmates to like her so much that she decides to let them choose a name for her. But when one of the children discovers her given Korean name and it's special meaning, they decide that it suits her best.
15. 'Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl' by Sanae Ishida
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl is a colorful picture book that will introduce your children to Japanese culture and teach them about the value of hard work. The story of a young ninja in training, who is struggling to overcome obstacles (including wearing a bright pink ninja suit) to become a fierce warrior.