If you are the parent of a child learning to reader, you know it is challenging to steer your kids away from the Barbie and Batman easy readers toward shelves full of quality, diverse easy readers.
Previously, I tackled the issue of easy readers that are actually easy, and easy readers that won’t make you want to poke your eyes out. I’m sorry to say, those lists lacked books with diverse characters. I’m hoping this list of diverse easy reader books filled with a cast of multicultural characters will help fill that gap. After all, from the very beginning of learning to read we want our kids to see the world reflected back at them from the pages of their books.
I was a bit concerned at first that this would be a difficult task, and in some ways it was, but I was pleased to be about to make at least this one small list of great multicultural easy readers which actually appear to be on-level and are not those hard-to-read books masquerading as easy readers! I’ve also included nonfiction readers for your little fact-lovers. As always, I’d love to know what you think! (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Don’t Throw it to Mo by David A Adler won the 2016 ALA 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. So far there are two Mo Jackson books and I suspect there are more on the way. I read Get a Hit Mo! and both my son and I found it charming. Mo loves sports but he’s not necessarily the most talented kid on the team. It doesn’t matter, though. His perseverance pulls him through. Both boys and girls will see themselves in Mo, even if their passions lie in a non-sporty direction.
Confetti Kids series by Paula Yoo. Publishing house Lee and Low specializes in multicultural titles. I didn’t realize they had a series of diverse easy readers until they sent me a selection of books to look over. In Lily’s New Home, Lily makes friends in her new neighborhood and in Want to Play? a group of diverse kids (including Pablo, who “reads books in both English and Spanish”) head out to the park.
The Ling and Ting series by Grace Lin is one of my all time favorite easy readers series. You can not go wrong with these winsome twins and their wholesome adventures. Plus, long-time followers of my book lists (virtual hug!) know how much I adore anything written by Grace Lin.
Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss. My boys and I have long loved this book. My older son read it when it first came out and then he couldn’t resist reading it again, when I checked it out for his brother several years later.I think the reason they loved it so much is that they lived vicariously through Luke’s solo tour of NYC as he runs of in pursuit of a pigeon!
Katie Fry: Private Eye by Katherine Cox. I confess to having a weakness for books about kid detectives and Katie is a delightful companion for your beginning reader.
My Robot by Eve Bunting. Cecil the robot is good a lots of things. But he is best at being a friend. A perfect easy reader for kids who like robots.
Sam and Charlie series by Leslie Kimmelman. This easy reader isn’t labelled with a level, but my non-expert opinion puts it on par with most books that are labelled “3” or “4”. There are five stories about Jewish kids getting to know what it means to be a good friend. Jewish values are a theme in the stories, but they are certainly universal values as well. The other books in the series also explore Jewish holidays.
Bradford Street Buddies by Jerdine Nolan. A diverse group of kids have fun in there backyards, hanging out and having campouts. From what I can tell, there are currently two Bradford Street Buddies easy readers. I hope they publish more.
Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr. Kids who enjoy history will like having targeted diverse early readers. This one is set in Gold Rush era California and the themes make it perfect for late readers will may prefer books beyond simple friendship stories, but which are still simple enough for them to read.
The Pizza that We Made by Joan Holub. How can you not love a book which encourages your kids to get into the kitchen and make pizza?
A Bear for Miguel by Elaine Marie Alphin. In El Salvador, Maria and her father head out to the busy outdoor market where they trade some of their possessions for food. Maria must decide if she also wants to trade her toy bear. There are some Spanish words (glossary included). You may be thinking this is an odd topic for the normally theme-benign easy reader genre, but it is age appropriate and 1st or 2nd graders are compassionate kids who will sympathize with Maria’s dilemma.
Juan Bobo: Four Tales from Puerto Rico by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. My youngest son adores trickster tales and we first read about Juan Bobo for my list of Latin American folktales. Four stories about the mischievous will bring a laugh to your child’s reading experience.
Freckleface Strawberry: Backpacks by Julianne Moore. The book cover certainly doesn’t indicate that this might be a diverse early reader. Freckleface’s friend, Windy Pants Patrick, with whom she shares some backpack antics, has two moms. This fact is not a big deal in the story, it’s just there.
Pumpkin Day! by Candace Ransom is a very simple easy reader about a fun day at the pumpkin patch. Perfect for learning to read in the fall.
Flop to the Top! by Eleanor Davis. My son found this TOON book to be hilarious. Wanda wants to be a superstar, but when everyone is interested in her dog instead of her, hijinks ensue.
Nonfiction Diverse Easy Readers
National Geographic Readers: George Washington Carver by Kitson Jazynka. The National Geographic Readers is a great series for nonfiction fans. I’ve chosen to feature this Carver biography for the simple fact that it was the most recent one I read, but there are many other great books in the series, including diverse easy readers about Sonia Sotomayor, Barack Obama, Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, and more.
Tomás Rivera by Jane Medina. Early readers will learn about Mexican-American Tomás Rivera who grew up to be an influential writer and educator. In this short tale from his childhood, Tomás’s grandfather tells him stories, takes him to the library and inspires him to start writing.
Sacajawea by Joyce Milton. A level 4 reader, this is another book that is great for later readers who want to read nonfiction. Since it is an easy reader, it doesn’t have a lot of in-depth information about the Shoshone guide but will inspire kids to learn more.
More awesome easy readers:
- Easy readers that are actually easy
- Great easy reader books for kids
- Classic easy reader books for kids
- Summer easy reader book list
- Need more books? The index of all my book lists (there are more than 200 to choose from!) is right here.