Please welcome author Stephanie Campisi who presents eight diverse picture books about belonging and friendship.
The below list of picture books touches on themes of belonging, friendship, identity, and sense of self–all topics explored in my debut picture book The Ugly Dumpling.
Diversity Picture Books About Belonging and Friendship
The Empty Pot by Demi
A gentle, quiet picture book about a young boy who attempts – and fails – to grow beautiful flowers from the seeds given to him by the Emperor, and is rewarded for his honesty. It’s a story about strength and truth, and it’s exquisitely illustrated in minute detail. [picture book, ages 4-7]
We Are One by Pram by Param Patel & Pinky Mukhi
Mintu is having a playdate with some friends from school. His mother is preparing snacks for the kids when Mintu asks her to please not speak in their native language and not serve them dinner. He feels awkward about his differences from his other playmates. Chirpy and Curio join the party and each has a diverse interest. One of them likes space, the other wants to study animals, and Mintu wants to play a game. He learns that everybody can be very different, yet have satisfying friendships. Cute book about celebrating all of our diversities.
What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
After Mintu invites his friends over for dinner, he decides he might have made a mistake. He thinks he’s too different from his friends and that they won’t like the same food as his family. Will his mom and friends be able to change his mind?
Sure to instill pride in children for their own food, language, and culture, We Are One is an inspiring and fun-to-read story that will lead to a meaningful dialogue with children of all ages. – (Picture book)
Dusk by Uri Shulevitz
Rich and stylized, this picture book follows a boy and his grandfather as they stroll through a city as the sunsets. As the city’s lights come on, it’s lit with the lights of many holiday traditions. But seen through the eyes of a child, these traditions don’t go commented upon – they just are. [picture book, ages 4-8]
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Vivid and cheerful, this picture book follows CJ and his Nana as they travel through town on the bus. Throughout, CJ asks questions about how and where they live – while his nana helps him see the beauty of the city and people around him. [picture book, ages 3-5]
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Rhythmic and folkloric in feel, this picture book follows a young boy eaten by a snake – and comes up with an ingenious plan for saving himself. It’s glorious as a read-aloud and makes me homesick for the eucalyptus trees of my homeland. [picture book, ages 4-8]
Hedgehog in the Fog by Yuri Norstein, illustrated by Francesca Yarbusova
A picture book adaptation of Russian animator and director Yuri Norstein’s absolutely remarkable animated short film exploring the lengths we’ll go to for our friends. It’s exquisite on every level – please do watch the film as well. [picture book, ages 4-8]
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Luminously illustrated and warmly and humorously written, Thunder Boy Jr. explores personal and cultural identity as a Native American boy who is named after his dad seeks a name of his own. [picture book, ages 2-5]
The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi, illustrated by Shahar Kober
A misplaced dumpling makes an unusual friend, and together the two outsiders support each other – showing that being different can be beautiful after all. [picture book, ages 2-8]
Stephanie Campisi is an Australian-born, Washington-based author who writes twisty odysseys involving strange characters and stranger plots. The Ugly Dumpling is her picture book debut.
To find more diverse and multicultural books for children, please check out our Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents. We also have a Pinterest board full of ideas: