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When creating my picture book BEAUTIFUL, my editor encouraged me to write my definition of the word. I came up with this:
“True beauty is a confidence found in what you do and how you feel. When a girl is doing something kind or challenging or fun, her inner beauty overwhelms her exterior, no matter what she wears or how her hair looks. When a girl feels empowered or strong or smart, the same thing happens”.
Each of these books features female protagonists who demonstrate this true beauty. These characters—whether real or fictional—through their passion, intelligence, and kindness, make the world beautiful.
All of my selections are picture books. The stated age range is 4-8, but I subscribe to the idea that picture books are for all readers, young and young-at-heart.
Diversity Picture Books About True Beauty
1. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman – words by Michelle Edwards, art by G. Brian Karas.
Sophia takes action when she realizes her friend, neighborhood knitter, Mrs. Goldman, does not have a hat of her very own.
2. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville – words by Pat Zietlow Miller, art by Frank Morrison.
Alta, the quickest kid in Clarksville, dreams of being an Olympic star like her idol Wilma Rudolph, but her determination is tested when a new girl (with new sneakers) moves into town.
3. Normal Norman – words by Tara Lazar, art by S. Britt.
A young scientist tries to define normal with the help of a purple orangutan and discovers what makes us each special.
4. Ada Twist, Scientist – words by Andrea Beaty, art by David Roberts
Ada asks questions, conducts messy experiments, and in her quest to discover the source of a bad smell, she spreads her love of science with family and friends.
5. Maybe Something Beautiful – words by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, art by Rafael Lopez.
A true story about a young artist and a muralist, who inspire their neighbors to create something beautiful – the Urban Art Trail in San Diego.
6. Ada’s Violin – words by Susan Hood, art by Sally Wern Comport.
In this nonfiction story, Ada’s dream of creating music comes true when a music teacher creates instruments out of recycled trash.
7. The Water Princess – words by Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel, art by Peter H. Reynolds
Princess Gie Gie must travel with the other woman of her African kingdom to collect drinking water, but the princess dreams that one day they will have clean water of their own.
8. Beautiful – words by me (Stacy McAnulty), art by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
A diverse group of girls celebrate their talents, their abilities, and their interests, making the world a more beautiful place.
Stacy McAnulty is the author of bunches of books for children, including the picture books Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang; and Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. She also writes the chapter-book series Goldie Blox, based on the award-winning toys, and The Dino Files. Her debut middle grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, will publish in 2018. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC with her three kids, two dogs, and one husband. Find her online at her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
To find more diverse and multicultural books for children, please check out our Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents. We also have Pinterest board full of ideas:
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