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Has anyone got any recommendations for preschool picture books with culturally diverse characters?

28 replies

NannyR · 13/04/2021 21:51

I'm looking for some books suitable for three/four year olds that have black and ethnic minority characters.
Some of our favourites at the moment are the Alfie books, Topsy and Tim, Mog books, Julia Donaldson, Hairy Maclary. I've realised that what is missing on our shelves are books a bit like Alfie or Topsy and Tim, where children are going about normal life and learning about new things, but with more diverse characters - our books are either animal based (like The Large Family, Peace at Last) or fantasy characters (like Winnie the Witch, the Gruffalo) or 2.4 children white families.
We have a few books like Handa's surprise, which are great but ideally I was looking for books and stories set in situations that are a bit closer to home.
I bought The Girls by Lauren Ace which we really enjoyed and is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for but I wondered if anyone else had any other good suggestions or recommendations.

OP posts:
APurpleSquirrel · 13/04/2021 22:05

Ada Twist, Scientist
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Look Up!
Clean Up!
Hair Love
The Dot

MNChkn · 13/04/2021 22:11

You need more of Shirley Hughes’ Alfie books - there are loads, and it’s remarkable that they were written 30 years ago because they’re racially and socially diverse. There’s a particularly wonderful one where Alfie is a page at the wedding of family friends, a black couple, and the illustrations are a delight because they’re definitely West Indian without it ever being mentioned.

Compare and contrast with Judith Kerr - just down the road in Barnes, but never a single non-white character in any of her books, although the Great Granny Gang was written just a few years ago.

Christmas in Exeter Street has black/mixed family friends coming to stay, not to mention more than one single mum.

We’re a mixed family and the Smeds and the Smoos by Julia Donaldson is a good effort with a great rhyme scheme, but quite crude in its obviousness.

RicStar · 13/04/2021 22:16

Izzy gizmo, The everywhere bear, The Something, The new small person. Are a few more to consider.

Twizbe · 13/04/2021 22:18

Curious Pearl, science girl. Although possibly older, my 4 year old loves those books.

Fivemoreminutes1 · 14/04/2021 04:30

Anna Hibiscus
Several of the Charlie and Lola books e.g. I Slightly Want To Go Home and My Best Best Friend
The Girl, The Bear and the Magic Shoes by Julia Donaldson
The Girls by Lauren Ace
Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

Dianasquest · 14/04/2021 06:47

I've written a book series called The Adventures of Spy Baby, inspired by my 1 and a half year old who is mixed race.

Here's my amazon link

I started the series to fill a gap for her as she grows, I wanted her to read about a really capable and amazing girls of colour.

I'm going to be looking at some of these books people have suggested though Smile

It can all be a bit disappointing looking around at the hero's on screen and in books. Anyway I just wanted her to have or be her own hero :)

NannyR · 14/04/2021 20:04

Thanks for the great suggestions!

OP posts:
stuckinarutatwork · 14/04/2021 20:37
amiahoarder · 14/04/2021 20:39

On the way home, by Jill Murphy , maybe for slightly older than pre school children as it's quite long

mogtheexcellent · 14/04/2021 20:39

We love Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen and I think there is a follow up now.

PineappleUpside · 14/04/2021 20:41

Nick Sharatts Goldilocks is black.
My DD's loved the 'jump at the sun' fairy tale books too.

FaintlyMacabre · 14/04/2021 20:44

So Much and Full Full of love by Trish Cooke are gorgeous.

BunnyRuddington · 15/04/2021 11:38
RomanMum · 25/04/2021 17:56

Lulu Loves the Library.

RomanMum · 25/04/2021 18:06

Also The Night the Lights Went Out. Both firm favourites in our household.

stackthecats · 26/04/2021 00:09

I found this really difficult when my DD was smaller, as almost all children's picture books that feature non-white characters frustratingly seem to be of the "my hair is different and that's okay!" type, rather than just books featuring people of diverse races living normal life. I did find some good ones in the end, and I'll take a look at our picture bookshelves tomorrow and see what I have.

I also found it irritating that so many picture books are so focused on boy characters, especially the Boy and His Animal narrative. Cute once, but after the tenth time of the Little White Boy And His Penguin/Tiger/Dog/Elephant/Magical Creature Adventure it gets really tedious. Thankfully there are lots more lively girl protagonists in books for older age groups, but for some reason picture books still seem very samey.

Off the top of my head, try Viviane Schwarz's How To Find Gold which my DD loved, plus her How To Be On The Moon, which are more fantasy based than about normal life, but very charming, and at least they invert the Boy And His Animal trope. The US author Mo Willems has written a lovely book about music which is great in representing diversity and has a lovely message about how art is created by lots and lots of people together. Also A Mighty Girl has some great resources and suggestions for diverse picture books -- it's a US based site but lots of the books can be got hold of here:

stackthecats · 26/04/2021 00:11

Agh sorry, I forgot to give the name of the Mo Willems book! It's called Because and there's a Youtube reading of it here:

PhilODox · 26/04/2021 00:50

Michael Rosen - This is Our House
Lots of Jan Ormerod books have people of many backgrounds too, and she did lots of lovely story books.

MeadowHay · 27/04/2021 14:51

Ah thanks for this thread will need to have a good read.

I would recommend Antiracist Baby, We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty, and Come All You Little Persons by John Agard.

FelicityPike · 27/04/2021 14:56

Eat up Gemma.
Julian is a mermaid.
Julian at the wedding.

FelicityPike · 27/04/2021 14:57

JoJo and GranGran have books too.

sleepyhead · 27/04/2021 15:02

So Much is one of my favourite pre-school books "What madness all around!"

3GbalaOpx · 02/06/2021 21:36

Hello. Fantastic suggestions already. You may want to add these two ebooks. Available on Google Books.

Fkrkrodps · 02/06/2021 21:37

Ellie’s Magic Wellies

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