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Multicultural Books that have Tugged at my Heart Strings (the 2018 Version)

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I have so much fun pulling together my favorite multicultural kids’ books that I encounter during the long hours (and tons of fun) that it takes to prepare for the annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day online event. The first year I made my “Multicultural Books That Have Tugged At My Heart Strings” list was 2016. The only criteria for making my personal list is that these books were standouts to ME. They capture my heart and piqued my interest in some way-shape-or-form.

FYI-these are just MY standouts-these the books that made me smile, caught my fancy or made be awestruck with envy. Your standouts might different, but these are mine.

Multicultural Books That Have Tugged At My Heart Strings-the 2018 Version!

Dream a Rainbow

Dream A Rainbow is Carlotta Penn’s first children’s book aimed to inspire children to dream big and discover the world around them. The story features a young girl named Hana, who dreams of where a rainbow might take her on a stormy morning. The vibrantly-colored illustrations feature friends and animals that Hana meets on her adventure in Ethiopia. After experiencing two miscarriages, Carlotta started singing the words of a song she wrote a decade before when she learned she was pregnant for a third time. The song was called Rainbows, and detailed the magic and beauty of falling in love. When her daughter, Jember Dove, was born in 2016, Penn knew the song could be transformed into a children’s book dedicated to babies born after miscarriages.

My eyes absolutely LEAKED when I read this book because I completely get it. Completely. A wonderful book that every mom needs to add to the home bookshelf.

The Little Doctor / El doctorcito

diverse picture books

Inspired by his own experiences as a young boy helping his El Salvadorian grandmother navigate the US health-care system, Dr. Juan J. Guerra’s insightful, bilingual account highlights the need for culturally sensitive medical practitioners, in The Little Doctor: El doctorcito. Notes of despair and hope shine through in the strikingly animated artwork from Victoria Castillo.

Salvador raced home from school to share exciting news with his abuela: he made an A+ on his science test! But at home, he learns that his grandmother needs his help. She is going to the doctor and wants her grandson to interpret for her. Abuela is nervous because she has never been to a doctor in the United States. In El Salvador, she either saw a curandera or drank te de manzanilla when she felt sick. When he learns that none of the physicians speak Spanish, the boy realizes that he is completely responsible for making sure the doctor understands his grandmother and that she understands his instructions! But in spite of his help, the visit does not go well. The doctor rushes in and out. He doesn’t listen to Abuela. And he tells Salvador that she should not eat so much Mexican food! Abuela is so upset that she threatens not to take the medication the doctor prescribes! What can Salvador do to help her?

I loved this book immediately because its not only a good book, I love Dr. Juan’s back story. And he’s a very cool guy 🙂 Great book for bilingual families.

Hello Goodbye Dog

I absolutely get GIDDY when new titles come into my radar. Maria Gianferrari’s Hello Goodbye Dog  is a sweet story about a dedicated doggie who is determined to follow his Human, Zara everywhere, especially to school.

books about therapy dogs

For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with her favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home. But Moose can’t be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.

As with everything in life, these two inseparable buddies find the work-around and Moose enjoys his new career as Zara’s therapy dog.

Asian Kites for Kids 

As a kid, I love kites. Kites were super simple “back in the day.” String, a simple wooden spindle and a cheesy paper kits (that you could draw your own images on!) with a floppy tail. But I loved it and open fields for kite flying were abundant.

When this book from Tuttle Publishing crossed my desk it brought back great memories. Asian Kites for Kids features kite building projects that are beautiful and functional—ideal for teachers, camp counselors, parents, and budding young kite makers themselves.

Kids will learn how to make colorful kites while exploring Asian culture and history with this easy-to-follow craft book for kids. Fun to build and exciting to fly, kites are a universal expression of joy and wonder for enthusiasts of all ages. Asian Kites for Kids features kite building projects that are beautiful and functional—ideal for teachers, camp counselors, parents, and budding young kite makers themselves.

Brave by Stacy McAnulty:

Brave by Stacy McAnulty

Like superheroes, brave kids can save the world, just by being brave. An empowering picture book for all kids that demonstrates to children that they can be real-life superheroes and that all kids have what it takes to be brave. Kids are brave every day. When they are told they are too little, but accomplish something big. When they check for monsters under the bed, just in case. When they face something uncertain, whether a thunderstorm or a hospital visit. When they stand up for what’s right, even when it means facing consequences. (click the book title to view details on Amazon)

The Cloud Artist by Sherri Maret

This book is a solid stand-out for me this year. The Cloud Artist is a story of a young Choctaw girl who is given the gift of painting with the clouds. The story itself is one of those generational wonders which author Sherri Maret dreamed of as a young girl with a Choctaw heritage. A must read aloud (in English or Choctaw) for parents and children. I believe this is Sherri’s first book and if this a hint as to what is yet to come, I can’t wait to see future books from her!

Five Nations: Flora, Fabric and Fauna by Dani Dixon

Adult coloring? Did someone say “coloring book????” I love Dani’s innovative idea of a multicultural coloring book for both adults and kids. The 90-page coloring book “Five Nations: Flora, Fabric and Fauna” is filled with native flowers, mandalas, and indigenous animals to color, plus the Princess Ambassador from each Nation! The first novel in the series, “Five Nations: Peace Day” will debut in January 2018.

The Story of The Kindness Elves by Anna Ranson and Benjamin Byne

The Kindness Elves

The Kindness Elves movement can onto my radar a year or so ago and I love this whole project.  Designed to educate kids on Kindness, there are dolls and toys and I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book The Story of the Kindness Elves to review. The book explains how they first came to meet children and work together on acts of kindness as a team.

“In the clouds not too far above your home, live the teeny tiny Kindness Elves who spend their days making special kindness potions.  One day they discover they need the help of some very special children on a very important kindness mission!”

As you may know, Kindness is a HUGE hot button and topic these days and it should be. Multicultural Children’s Book Day has had tremendous success with their free Classroom Kindness Kit for Teachers that is filled with kindness-themed booklists and activities.  The Story of the Kindness Elves would be another perfect addition to this project because it introduces children to the joy that showing daily acts of kindness can bring, in whimsical and magical ways.  The book is a wonderful introduction to the Kindness Elves dolls and Accessories Kit as well and every page of the book is beautifully illustrated with hand-painted watercolors. So stunning! To learn more about The Kindness Elves Project, go here.

The Lizard and The Sun {La Lagartija y el Sol} by Alma Flor Ada

author Alma Flor Ada

I adore folktales. It doesn’t matter what culture, they just fasinate me. The Lizard and The Sun caught my eye for two reasons; I love anything by Alma Flor Ada and I also love lizards. Yes it’s weird…but I like reptiles. I have four as pets…but I digress. Folktales also have amazing lessons and this book is no different.

A long, long time ago in ancient Mexico, the sun disappeared. Everything was dark, and the people were afraid. The animals decided to search for the sun through the fields and forests, rivers and lakes. But the sun was nowhere to be found. At last the animals stopped looking – all except the lizard. This is the story of a brave little lizard who would not give up until she had brought back light and warmth to everyone.

I love this book so.hard. 🙂

When God Made You by Jane G. Meyer

When God Made You

“What beautiful things was God thinking when He made you?”

When God Made You is another one of those books that makes me catch my breath in awe and maybe even make my eyes leak a little.

When God made Mateo, He gathered a speck of stone, a mite of mud, and a whit of wood. God cupped them in His holy hands and flung them into space until the stars had glazed them smooth. He coated them with silver layer of diligence and honesty, ten happily, God handed the stone, mud and wood to the young child saying, “Mateo, BUILD.”

The Wooden Camel by Wanuri Kahiu and Lantana Press

“Your dreams are enough” advises the Sky God, Akuj. This story of love and hope centers around the inspiring Turkana people of NE Kenya.

Etabo dreams of being a camel racer. One day he might even beat his older brother when they race. But with the price of water rising, Etabo’s father must sell the camels, and his siblings must find work. What will Etabo do now? From acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and Italian illustrator Manuela Adreani, this story is told with gentleness and humor, it is a universal story about keeping one’s dreams alive.

The Underground Railroad: Navigate the Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Judy Dodge Cummings

I really admire how the author has taken a tough topic and approached it from a educators’ standpoint. This well-written and researched book comes complete with detailed timelines, facts and 20 different Underground Railroad related projects. Judy also gets extra coolness points for living in Minnesota (like me) for a while.

In The Underground Railroad: Navigate the Journey from Slavery to Freedom, readers ages 9 to 12 examine how slavery developed in the United States and what motivated abolitionists to work for its destruction. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses operated by conductors and station masters, both black and white. Readers follow true stories of enslaved people who braved patrols, the wilderness, hunger, and their own fear in a quest for freedom.

I know this list just scratches the surface on the books I have yet to discover during Multicultural Children’s Book Day, but it’s a good start! Please take a minute to click the images and read more about these wonderful diverse books for kids. I hope you enjoyed reading about the 2018 Version of Multicultural Books That Have Tugged At My Heart Strings as much as I did putting this list together.

Read on!

Multicultural Books That Have Tugged At My Heart Strings


1 thought on “Multicultural Books that have Tugged at my Heart Strings (the 2018 Version)

  1. This is such a great collection of books Becky! Thank you so much for sharing at the Multicultural Children’s Day linky!

    I hope you can join us tonight for our Twitter Party from 9-10pm EST using hashtag: #ReadYourWorld. We will be giving away hundreds of diverse children’s books in the form of 13 book bundles.

    We will give out one every six minutes. The questions and prizes are posted here: https://www.pragmaticmom.com/2018/01/readyourworld-twitter-party-11-book-bundle-giveaway/

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