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Picture Books with Diverse Characters for Elementary Teachers

If you’re looking for picture books with diverse characters, then you found the right place! This post shares popular picture books displaying diversity that elementary teachers often use as read alouds. All of the picture books on this list lend themselves to this topic really well. Take a peek below to learn more about these picture books with diverse characters!

5 Picture Books with Diverse Characters

Below is a list of some of our favorite picture books with diverse characters. Check them out below!

1. Sulwe by Eileen Spinelli

In Sulwe by Eileen Spinelli, Sulwe had skin that was as dark as night. She didn’t look like her family, they all had lighter skin and Sulwe wished she looked like them. At school, Sulwe didn’t have any friends like her sister did. Everyone gave her sister nice nicknames like “Beauty” or “Sunshine” while they called Sulwe mean names like “Darky” and “Night.” 

Sulwe wanted lighter skin so much she tried erasing it, putting on makeup, and eating light colored foods. Nothing she tried worked. When Sulwe told her mother about her problem, her mother told her that she was beautiful. She explained that it is not enough for someone else to think you’re beautiful, you must think it about yourself. 

One night Sulwe had a dream where she learned about Night and Day who lived long ago. Like Sulwe and her sister, people did not like Night but they loved Day. Feeling sad, Night decided to leave earth. Eventually, the people missed Night so her sister went to find her. Night learned that there is beauty in darkness and the world needs both. 

After hearing the story of Night and Day, Sulwe finally started to feel beautiful herself. She knew she had brightness inside of her and learned to love herself inside and out.

Check out these Sulwe Activities and Lessons to help you plan and deliver highly engaging interactive read aloud lessons!

Sulwe book cover
Sulwe book and activity

2. Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan is told from the perspective of a young girl. Readers are introduced to many of the important women in the girl’s life: her grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, cousin and troop leader. Each of these women wear a hijab and style it their own unique way when they are out and about. When they are at home, we learn what their hair is like under the hijab and what they like to do. 

At the end of the story, the girl shares how all of the women in the story inspire her to wear a hijab just like them, or her own unique way. This book will teach students about individuality and give students an understanding of what it is like to wear a hijab.

Check out these Under My Hijab Activities and Lesson Plans to help you plan and deliver highly engaging interactive read aloud lessons!

Under My Hijab book cover
Under My Hijab activity

3. Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

In Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, the narrator of this story has eyes that kiss at the corners. They are the color of warm tea and crinkle into crescent moons. Her eyes are different than eyes that are big and blue like a lagoon with long eyelashes. Instead, her eyes are just like her mother’s and sparkle like the stars. Her Amah has eyes just like that too. They tell stories and can see into the narrator’s heart. The narrator’s little sister, Mei-Mei has eyes just like her. Her sister’s eyes look up to her and make her feel like she can fly. She is proud of her eyes. They are just like her family’s eyes and they are beautiful.

Check out these Eyes That Kiss in the Corners Activities and Lesson Plans to help you plan and deliver highly engaging interactive read aloud lessons!

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners book cover
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners book and activity

4. Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand

In Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand, Laxmi never gave much thought to the hair above her lip. That is, until when pretend playing with her friends, they said she should be a cat. Laxmi wanted to be a chicken, not a cat, but her friends said she had the whiskers for it. She ran home and asked her parents for answers.

This story highlights empathy, kindness, and the all-important discussion around different different cultural aspects. Join Laxmi as she learns how all people are different, and that having hair is normal!

Check out these Laxmi’s Mooch Activities and Lesson Plans to help you plan and deliver highly engaging interactive read aloud lessons!

Laxmi's Mooch book cover
Laxmi's Mooch book and activity

5. Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor

In Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, Zubi was getting ready for her first day of school! She put on her bangles and went to see her parents. As her mom was fastening her sari, Zubi heard that her tummy was too big. When they sat down for breakfast, Zubi heard her sister say that she was on a diet for a school dance. This pattern continued throughout her day, making her wonder if she had to go on a diet to be beautiful.

Check out these Beautifully Me Activities and Lesson Plans to help you plan and deliver highly engaging interactive read aloud lessons!

Beautifully Me book cover
Beautifully Me book and activity

Grab the Free Reading Resources!

In closing, we hope you found this list of picture books with diverse characters helpful! They are part of our Starts With a Story collection. If you want to get more book ideas to read aloud to your elementary students, then grab this reading freebie. It includes read aloud books lists, reading logs, and reading challenges for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom teachers. It will have you covered for the entire school year, as well as the summer months! Grab this free elementary reading packet now!

printable monthly reading logs

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