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The Multi-Cultural Library: Book Suggestions for Children

As you build a library for young people in your family or synagogue, prioritize books that include diversity, multiculturalism and prejudice reduction. This list of books below is a great place to start:

Picture Books

Teammates by Peter Golenbock
A story of friendship between Jackie Robinson and his teammate PeeWee Reese.

If this Bus Could Talk by Faith Ringgold
Hear the story of Rosa Parks as told by the bus.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Laura Rappoport
A picture book biography of the Civil Rights leader.

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinckney
This picture book celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Sit-in in Greensboro, NC.

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee's Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud
A historical fiction that tells the story of how Belle the mule contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Two girls strike up a friendship across a fence that divides white from black residents in their small town. 

Jalapeno Bagels by Natasha Wing
A Mexican-Jewish child learns that food represents both parts of his heritage. Includes Yiddish and Spanish glossaries! 

Jews of the Wild West, A Multi-Cultural True Story by Kay Miller
A picture book of family, friendship and adventure in New Mexico.

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
A look at how each human represents a unique story.

Jackie’s Gift by Sharon Robinson
The author calls the book, “A story to help people look beyond race and religion and into people's hearts.”

As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson
A beautiful and inspiring tribute to a little known alliance in American history. 

The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf
A poem that celebrates the creation of harmony through diversity.

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
The whimsical illustrations celebrate the many ways we are all different.

The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss
A reminder that while we may look different, we are all really the same.

Chapter Books and Books for Older Elementary-Aged Children

Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose
A biography of Claudette Colvin, a teenager who was frustrated by injustice and – before Rosa Parks – sat down to fight it.

When Hurricane Katrina Hit Home by Gail Langer Karwoski
The story of two very different children who were both affected by Hurricane Katrina and how they learn what is important in the aftermath of the storm that changed their lives.

Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
A later elementary appropriate account of Mikey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chauncey, the three young civil rights activists who were murdered in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.

Whirlwind by Carol Matas
Two young immigrants to Seattle in 1942 bond as they endure taunting from their peers because of their origins. 

Across the Alley by Richard Michelson
Willie and Abe develop a friendship that challenges stereotypes as they look out their bedroom windows in post World War II Brooklyn

Stealing Home by Ellen Schwartz
A biracial boy is left orphaned in 1947 and has to learn to cope with a lack of acceptance from his family while learning to accept the different sides of himself.

King's Courage – Blast to the Past by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Four kids travel back in time to convince Dr. King not to get discouraged before leading one of his voting rights marches. 

The War Within by Carol Matas
After General Ulysses Grant issues an order expelling all Jews from the territory under his control, young Hannah Green begins to question many of the values she took for granted, including slavery. 

Understanding Prejudice also provides an amazing bibliography to help you identify other books you may wish to explore. Not all the books are available for purchase, but it links to all books to amazon that are available, even if out of print.