It's important to me that the books I read my children reflect the diverse world around them. Even when my kids were babies and toddlers and chewing on board books I wanted them not only to see their own faces peering at them from the pages, but the faces of their friends and neighbors.
These multicultural books for babies and toddlers are perfect for the very youngest listeners and lap-sitters. Most (but not all) are available as board books so they can tolerate a lot of abuse from teething babies!
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Making Faces, photographs by Molly Magnusson
Making faces is another great board book with photographs to draw in your little one. The text and photographs of diverse facial expressions teach five different emotions–happy, sad, surprised, silly and angry. The text prompts grown-ups to interact with their child and the book includes a mirror so babies, toddlers and preschoolers can see their own faces.
Global Babies/Bebes del mundo from The Global Fund for Children
Babies LOVE to stare at other baby faces! Now they (and you!) can look at adorable faces from around the world while hearing simple, sweet and loving text.
May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp (Tłı̨chǫ Dene)
This adorable board book may be intended for babies and toddlers, but the sentiment rings true for all ages. Photographs of happy children and their caregivers grace the pages next to words meant to inspire readers to invite abundance into their lives, not for its own sake, but as a way to share with others.
MORE: Favorite toddler books
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora.
This is a darling, playful book about a toddler playing every young chid's favorite game. Each page starts, "Peekaboo I see..." with a visual clue that leads to the subject, be it mommy, daddy, grandma, etc. The overall tone of the book is cheerful and the colors and illustrations are gorgeous, capturing the charming spirit of classic toddler play.
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
This is one of my absolute favorite board books. I loved reading it to both my boys at night time and I can still recite it from memory. I even included it in my list of toddler books I'll miss reading. A young girl counts items in her room as she gets ready for bed. "10 small toes all soft and warm. 9 soft friends in a quiet room," all the way down to "1 big girl all ready for bed." Also available in Spanish.
How We Eat (series) by Shuli de la Fuente-Lau
Entertaining photographs of an inclusive population (cultures and abilities) and the many ways people eat.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade
I have this title on so many book lists! After a mom puts her baby to sleep in a hammock she has to hush the sounds around her. Author Minfong Ho writes each animal's onomatopoetic sound and I like that they are unusual to English speakers. For example, the lizard says "tuk-ghaa", the pig says, "uut-uut." The gentle, rhythmic text creates such a lovely lullaby.
MORE: Favorite bedtime books
Little You by Richard Van Camp (Tłı̨chǫ Dene), illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree/Métis)
I absolutely love this adorable board book. Little You is a tender, rhyming love story from mom and dad to their baby. Illustrator Julie Flett uses autumnal colors to depict the family as the baby grows. Simply marvelous.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Meyers' book celebrates the diversity of babies all over the world and how babies might sleep, eat, play and live differently but are all loved equally. The variety of facial expressions on all the babies are terrific. Frazee does a great job of including people from all different walks of life in her illustrations. I loved the contrast between the "older" parents and the younger ones. That made me giggle a bit.
Whose Toes are Those? (series) by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This book is perfect for a lap sitter. Short, sweet rhymes will encourage parents and babies to interact and giggle with each other. A fun take on "this little piggy."
Toesy Toes by Sarah Tsiang
Can we all agree that baby toes are irresistible? Photographs of diverse babies and their toes in everyday settings will delight your little one. Tsiang uses rhyming couplets that beg to be read aloud again and again.
Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games by Lulu Delacre
This is a good bilingual book, even for parents with no Spanish language experience. Short songs and interactive games (think: Pat-a-cake, and "To Market, to Market") will encourage caregivers to spend special one on one time with their children.
MORE: Bilingual Books for Kids
"More More More," Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Williams' book is composed of three vignettes, each showing a grown up (daddy, grandma, mommy) playing with a baby. The three families are diverse: a white child, a bi-racial child and an Asian-American–all equally loved, all equally playful. At the end of each vignette the babies are tucked into bed by their loving grownup.
Smile! (series) Roberta Grobel Intrater
The Baby Faces board book series is perfect to share with lap sitting babies. Babies love to look at photographs of other babies. We had the Eat! book, which my younger son became quite obsessed with for a time. The books are very short, only about 5 sturdy pages.
The Family Book by Todd Parr
Todd Parr's illustrations are instantly recognizable. I've always loved how the people are unusual colors like blue or orange. This book celebrates all the different kinds of families, different ethnicities, different make-ups like single or same-sex parents, adopted or step-families and so forth. The message of the book is loud and clear: all families are unique, special and valuable. Also available in a bilingual edition.