Multicultural Picture Books

Mallory Galbreath, Peiyi Xu, Jessica Bauerle, Lisa Holthaus

Why picture books?

  • Picture books that depict a variety of ethnic, racial, and cultural groups help young children develop an understanding of others and learn about diverse backgrounds.
  • Multicultural children's literature can serve as a mirror for children into their own lives and as a window through which to learn about others lives.
  • Teachers need to pick books that reflect these two goals for ALL of their students.

How to pick an AWESOME multicultural picture book!

When choosing multicultural literature make sure to look for the following criteria:
  • Portray cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters in terms of the following: physical characteristics, intellectual abilities, leadership and cooperative dimensions, social and economic status.
  • Be rich in cultural details
  • Honor and celebrate diversity as well as common bonds in humanity.
  • Provide in-depth treatment of cultural issues.
  • Include characters with a cultural group or two or more cultural groups who interact substantially and authentically.
  • Include a member of a "minority" group for a purpose other than filling a "quota."
  • Invite reflection, critical analysis, and response.
  • Demonstrate unique language and style.
  • Meet generally accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which it is written.
  • Have an appealing format and be of endearing quality.

You must also take in to account the character, setting, themes and languages represented. The more authentic the better!

* taken from Dr. Levin's EDEL 411 course pack.

Watch out for. . .

  • Be careful to not choose books solely because they are from non-European descent. Just because a minority is represented, does not mean the book is quality literature.
  • A single book about a cultural group may not adequately portray a group's experience. The perspective of an individual author affects the view he or she presents of a culture.

Types of Multicultural Picture Books

There are many types or genres of multicultural picture books that you can utilize in your classroom. Here a few of our favorites and their uses.
  • Wordless picture books: Used for English language learners and in the general classroom to increase comprehension. Students can make up their own dialogue to the pictures in the book.
  • Dual Language picture books: These books are also great for English language learners. They especially increase vocabulary and context clues.
  • Culturally specific picture books: This type of book references a specific tradition or cultural aspect. They are wonderful for creating a class community and teaching students about similarities and differences.
  • "Togetherness" picture books: This genre discusses the world community and how we can come together while respecting our differences. These books can be the basis of a unit, or easily supplement year-long discussion on classroom community.

Multicultural Picture Books and Technology

In today's classroom technology has opened doors to multicultural picture books like never before. Here are a few examples of how you can use technology with your picture books.
  • YouTube: YouTube has hundreds of webisodes that feature some of today's award winning multicultural content. There are also numerous examples of authors reading their literature. Students can see the author reading their favorite book first hand!
  • Smore: This very web host is a wonderful way to have students create projects based on their favorite multicultural picture books.
  • Video: Having students act out multicultural literature is a great way to have them connect with the content. You can also have the students create their own dialogue based on the story you read. Videotape the scene and let them watch themselves in action, experiencing diversity in action!
  • Pinterest: This social media outlet is a huge resource for lesson ideas and multicultural book projects.

YouTube Multicultural Picture Book Examples

Skippyjon Jones webisode
The Sandwich Swap(English)
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Multicultural Book Lists

The following are curated multicultural picture book lists from around the web. Some also include advice on integrating diverse picture books into your classroom.

Our Favorites

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