Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Books for Kids

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It’s vital for all children to see themselves fully represented in literature.

Unfortunately, many children may not have this experience or may have only seen stereotypical depictions of people like them.

As in many other areas, White people have dominated the publishing industry. So it’s important that we place Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) authors front and center to give them the recognition they deserve.

Own Voices titles feature a BIPOC character written by an author of that same background. Own Voice authors are the best source for conveying an authentic message and experience through their own literature.

Sharing titles created by Own Voice authors is necessary to eliminate the effects of the stereotypes and biases that permeate our world. Authentic representation in literature transforms thinking, improves self-esteem for young people of color and helps White readers understand those who may look different from them.

This list contains as many Own Voice authors as possible. It was created by the Race, Reading and You Group of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. For more suggestions, ask a Librarian.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy is determined to make a perfect dumpling like her parents and grandmother do, but hers are always too empty, too full, or not pinched together properly.

Black Is a Rainbow Color

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

Ho’onani : Hula Warrior

Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is – and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her.

I Am Not a Number

When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise. When she goes home for summer holidays, her parents decide never to send her away again, but where will she hide and what will happen when her parents disobey the law?

I Can Write the World

Eight-year-old Ava Murray lives in a Bronx neighborhood filled with music, art, and people from all over the world–which is not the Bronx she sees in the news. When her mother explains that the power of stories lies in the hands of those who write them, Ava decides to become a journalist and show the world as she sees it.

Islandborn

Lola was just a baby when her family left the Island, so when she has to draw it for a school assignment, she asks her family, friends, and neighbors about their memories of her homeland … and in the process, comes up with a new way of understanding her own heritage. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Meet Yasmin!

Pakistani American second-grader Yasmin learns to cope with the small problems of school and home, while gaining confidence in her own skills and creative abilities.

The Roots of Rap : 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop

Presents the history of hip-hop including, how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, to the culture of graffiti art and breakdancing that formed around the art form.

Sulwe

When five-year-old Sulwe’s classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Under My Hijab

As a young girl observes that each of six women in her life wears her hijab and hair in a different way, she considers how to express her own style one day.

Yes! We Are Latinos

A collection of stories about young Latino’s immigrant experiences in the United States. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Young Water Protectors : A Story about Standing Rock

8-year-old Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned — and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. Learn about what exactly happened there, and why.