**The posts I write might contain affiliate links or be written in collaboration with businesses or brands. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.**
Candlewick Press is one of the fastest-growing children’s book publishers in the United States.
Established in 1991, they are a progressive and creative company, with a steadfast commitment to the best, which is due in part to their rare independence–being 100 percent employee-owned gives them the freedom to publish only the books they believe in. Their reputation for excellence in creating beautiful, high-quality children’s books is accomplished through a staff of dedicated, focused, and energetic individuals who enjoy an innovative, team-oriented work environment. Two decades and more than 2,000 awards and accolades later, they are as committed as ever to independent thinking and primed for a future that looks brighter than ever.
Candlewick has greatly expanded their list of extraordinary middle-grade and young adult titles, among them the National Book Award winner The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson and the Newbery Medal winners The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. Popular series such as Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, Emily Windsnap, and Clarice Bean keep younger readers laughing, while Chaos Walking, Klaatu Diskos, and Angel Burn provoke and challenge young adults.
Candlewick Books has also been a proud Medallion Level Sponsor for Multicultural Children’s Book Day since the event’s inception in 2012. Their reputation for publishing quality diverse books for kids is still going strong and here are just a few of their multicultural books for kids that are on my radar.
Candlewick Press Booklist for Young Readers
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Almost everything Callie’s family owns is spread out in their front yard—their furniture, their potted flowers, even Callie’s bike. They can’t stay in this house, so they’re moving to an apartment in the city. The new place is “small but nice,” Mom says, and most of their things won’t fit, so today they are having a yard sale. But it’s kind of hard to watch people buy your stuff, even if you understand why it has to happen. With sensitivity and grace, Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo portray an event at once familiar and difficult, making clear that a home isn’t about what you have, but whom you hold close.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Integral to the Freedom Summer of 1964, Ms. Hamer gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention that, despite President Johnson’s interference, aired on national TV news and spurred the nation to support the Freedom Democrats. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.
A 2016 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
A 2016 John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner
Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa”), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.
A 2016 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book
Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia
Just savor these bouquets of babies—cocoa-brown, cinnamon, peaches and cream. As they grow, their clever skin does too, enjoying hugs and tickles, protecting them inside and out, and making them one of a kind. Fran Manushkin’s rollicking text and Lauren Tobia’s delicious illustrations paint a breezy and irresistible picture of the human family—and how wonderful it is to be just who you are.
Jump Back Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby and illustrated by Sean Qualls
Did you know that Paul Laurence Dunbar originated such famous lines as “I know why the caged bird sings” and “We wear the mask that grins and lies”? From his childhood in poverty and his early promise as a poet to his immense fame and his untimely death, Dunbar’s story is one of triumph and tragedy. But his legacy remains in his much-beloved poetry—told in both Standard English and in dialect—which continues to delight and inspire readers today. More than two dozen of Dunbar’s poems are woven throughout this volume, illuminating the phases of his life and serving as examples of dialect, imagery, and tone. Narrating in a voice full of admiration and respect, Sally Derby introduces Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and poetry to readers young and old, aided by Sean Qualls’s striking black-and-white illustrations.
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Laura Cornell
Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.” This delightful edition for a new generation of young readers features fresh illustrations by Laura Cornell and an updated story by Lesléa Newman.
Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco by Judith Robbins Rose
Baby Goes to Market Author: Atinuke Illustrator: Angela Brooksbank
When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn’t notice. As Mama and Baby wend their way through the stalls, cheeky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, two pieces of coconut . . . until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy! Poor Baby, she thinks, he must be very hungry by now! Rhythmic language, visual humor, and a bounty of delectable food make this a tale that is sure to whet little appetites for story time.
Martin Luther King : The Peaceful Warrior,
Author: Ed Clayton Illustrator: Donald Bermudez
Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to helping people, first as a Baptist minister and scholar and later as the foremost leader in the African-American civil rights movement. An organizer of the Montgomery bus boycott and cofounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. As a result of his actions, the United States Congress passed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. This book’s powerful story and important message, originally published in 1964, remain as relevant today as they were more than fifty years ago. With a new foreword by the author’s widow, Xernona Clayton, the text has been reviewed and updated for a new generation and features striking new illustrations by Donald Bermudez.
Connect with Candlewick on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
Great suggestions! Baby Goes to Market is new to me. I am putting it on my list.
Carolyn M Wilhelm says
This is wonderful information. The book descriptions are excellent! So many children face problems and books can help them understand what is happening and what is really important in life. Sharing on social media!
Katie Logonauts says
Yes! Love Candlewick and their commitment to high-quality diverse books. Still meaning to get my hands on Look Both Ways. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing these with #readyourworld!
Mia Wenjen says
Candlewick Press is one of my very favorite publishing houses! Thanks so much for sharing their wonderful diversity books at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Linky!
Here Wee Read says
What a great list of books for little readers!