Children's Reading List

Children's Books That Celebrate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Children's books are a beautiful way for everyone, young and old, to connect. They entertain of course, but also teach us new things, foster reflection, celebrate our differences, and we hope, inspire change.

On social media, HTEI will often publish children's literature reading lists to compliment heritage months, holidays, and events throughout the year. You can also find these lists right here. Each cover image below is linked directly to CamCat, the Camden County Library System's online catalog.

Check back often for updates, feel free to send us suggestions, and be sure to support your local public libraries and independent book stores. Happy reading!

National Native American Heritage Month, November 1-30

Fry Bread, A Native American Family Story

Written by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

"Fry bread is food," starts this heartwarming story about a popular dish in Native American culture. But readers quickly learn that it's so much more than that--fry bread is family, community, history, time spent together. Kids love thinking (and chatting!) about other foods that are a special part of their identity, and how food brings us together. A member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole nation, Maillard includes a history of fry bread in the backmatter, as well as a recipe.

My Heart Fills With Happiness

Written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

This beautiful, heartwarming board book is dedicated to "former Indian Residential School Students and their Families." In each sunny page, children share things that make their heart happy--holding a loved-one's hand, the grass on bare feet, singing and dancing. It's impossible to read this one without smiling and feeling happy yourself, and the preschool set will no doubt want to share all the things that make their hearts happy, too.

We Are Still Here: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know

Written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac

From the creators of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga comes a must read for, well, everyone! 12 Native American children portray the ongoing fight for Native American recognition and rights, each offering a resounding "We are still here!" This book provides a much-needed look at contemporary Native American life, an essential for school libraries.

Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past to Present

By Adrienne Keene

Collective biographies, like the Little Legends series or Rad American Women A to Z, make great read alouds, and this one is no exception! Notable Native People celebrates the contributions and stories of 50 Native Americans artists, athletes, scientists, and activists. Kids can learn about changemakers from the past, like Wilma Mankiller, and present, like NBA Star Kyrie Irving.

LGBTQIA+ History Month, October 1 to October 31

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride

By Michael Genhart, illustrated by Anne Passchier

A perfect intro to LGBTQIA+ history for the preschool set, this board book explains the meaning behind each color of the flag.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

By Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Young readers will learn about this history of the rainbow flag and activist and leader Harvey Milk in this moving, inspirational nonfiction picture book.

Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution

By Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

From the author of Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, Stonewall is yet another empowering, essential picture book for young readers, this one telling the history of the Stonewall Inn, the raid of June 28 1969, and the birth of the LGBTQ rights movement.

Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present

By Arabelle Sicardi, illustrated by Sarah Tanat-Jones

This collective biography is sure to inspire, with illustrated entries on 53 heroes from LGBTQ history, from ancient times to present day, including artists, musicians, athletes, writers, activists, and change makers.

Indigenous People's Day: October 11, 2021

We Are Water Protectors

By Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

This Caldecott winner is a gorgeously illustrated story about the Indigenous fight to stop/prevent water pollution. A young Anishinaabe girl calls on readers to help protect the water, and all living things, including "...those who cannot fight for themselves." An author's note at the end connects the story to the events at Standing Rock. and readers can sign the "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge" on the last page. Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Métis and a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians. Goade is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi Clan from Sitka, Alaska

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

By Traci Sorrell, illustrated by Frané Lessac

Another award winning book, one that School Library Journal calls "an informative and authentic introduction to a thriving ancestral and ceremonial way of life." We Are Grateful is a beautiful look at contemporary Cherokee culture and celebrations, with an emphasis on gratitude--for one another, for all living things, and for the world around us. Sorrell is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in Northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

National Hispanic American Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15

Dreamers

Written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Morales shares the story of her immigration to the US from Mexico in 1994, with her infant son in tow. At first, Morales found comfort in the public libraries of San Francisco, exploring the shelves of the children’s rooms for hours on end. Eventually, she would also find inspiration there, too--going on to become an award-winning illustrator and author. A Spanish language edition, Soñadores, is also available. Please check this gorgeous story out, or even better, borrow it from your local library!

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

When little Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela tells her Daddy that she has too many names, he explains the beautiful story behind each one, connecting her to her ancestors and helping her see just how special her name really is. Martinez-Neal, a Peruvian American author and illustrator, tells the story of her own name, too, in the back of this lovely book, which also won the Caldecott Honor in 2019.

Islandborn

By Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinoza

Lola’s classmates happily draw pictures of where their families are from, but she can’t remember anything about “the Island” (the Dominican Republic). Worried, she turns to family and friends, who help her learn that, even if she can’t remember it, the Island will always be a big part of her identity. This is the first picture book by Díaz, a Dominican American and Pulitzer prize winning author, and it’s illustrated by Espinoza, who was born in Colombia.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

By Anika A. Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar

Dreamers won the Pura Belpré Medal in 2019, and Islandborn won the Pura Belpré Honor in the same year. After reading these books, follow up with this one--a beautifully illustrated biography of Belpré! The first Puerto Rican Librarian in New York City, she is honored for her tremendous contributions to children’s literature and storytelling. (Be sure to check out the list of all past recipients of the Belpré Award, too!) Denise has Puerto Rican roots, herself, and Escobar lives in Colombia.