Girls of Color in Picture Books

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girls of color

Five Picture Books Featuring Girls of Color

As a mom of biracial children, it has always been important for me to attempt to find books with characters who look like my children, or, at the very least, aren’t all white characters. Many of the classic books I grew up with and love do not fit those criteria, but we’ve curated a small grouping of books we’d like to share. Since I have two daughters, I’ve focused this post on our very favorite books featuring girls of color.

Monster Trouble

Monster Trouble, written by Lane Fredrickson with illustrations by Michael Roberston, features a Black girl named Winifred who is losing sleep over the monsters who visit her room at night. She’s not scared of them, but they keep coming in and making too much noise. She does her research and reading and finds a way to keep the monsters at bay. This book is a fun, rhyming story with a lot of silly parts, and my girls absolutely love it.

Billy and the Dragon

This book features Billy, a girl of color who bravely saves her furry friend, Fatcat, from a dragon who has snatched him. Nadia Shireen both wrote and illustrated the book. It’s a fun story where Billy and her bunch of furry friends don’t succeed the first time and have to find a few new ways to make the rescue happen. It ends at a big party with fireworks, which is always exciting to talk about.

Always Anjali

In this book, an Indian girl gets made fun of for having a weird name. Her seventh birthday is ruined when she can’t find a custom nameplate for her new bike. A boy from school is laughing at her and getting a group of other bullies to make her feel bad. She ends up at home crying, shouting that she’d like to change her name to something more American sounding. Her parents tell her about the important meaning of her name. By the end of the book, this girl of color is inspiring the other kids to make custom art featuring their own names and shuts down her bully. This is a great book for any kid going through this kind of thing because of their “weird” name. Sheetal Sheth wrote the book, and it’s illustrated by Jessica Blank.

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family 

Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S.K. Ali, wrote this book about starting to wear a hijab for the first time. It’s written from the perspective of the younger sister, Faizah, who is in awe of the beauty of her sister, Asiya’s, blue hijab. These two girls of color live in the modern world with their light-up shoes and multiethnic classmates. Faizah adores the beautiful hijab, even though some people are making fun of Asiya for wearing it. It’s a sweet story with beautiful illustrations by Hatem Aly about family, sisterhood, and loving your differences.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

This is one of our absolute favorites. This girl of color is inspired to become a community activist after her Abuelo falls and breaks his ankle at a landfill. She wants to turn it into a park where people can safely play and enjoy themselves. She is told, “NO!” by one person after another. She goes from government office to government office and can’t get the job done…until she challenges them with the big question, “Why?” With a few friends, teachers, and community leaders on her side, Sofia gets the job done. This book is another fun, rhyming story, and I love to read it at a quick pace to make it a lot of fun.

Sofia is one of a few classmates in second grade who is featured in this book by Andrea Beaty, who wrote a few other books in the series – all of which I’d recommend. David Roberts does the illustrations for the books which look almost like paper doll cutouts and are very fun. 

Representation Matters

Representation in literature is important to us in our household. We want to have conversations in our home, a safe space, about what it means to have an Abuelo or to wear a hijab so that when we see people who don’t look like us out and about, we have a point of reference. Seeing characters first allows kids to ask questions at home, instead of pointing, staring, and asking questions in front of other kinds of people. 

What picture books are your favorites? Which ones are we missing? Let me know in the comments!

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