We often like to think about race as a clear-cut categorization. But in our increasingly diverse world, that is not the case for more and more families and children. Yet even though more than ten percent of children in the United States are multiracial, their representation in literature lags far behind.
Every child deserves to feel represented and seen in the books they read, so we have Cardinal Rule Press have put together our top four picture books featuring bi- and multiracial characters and families.
Books Starring Multiracial Characters
YOU WERE THE FIRST BY PATRCIA MACLACHLAN (AUTHOR), STEPHANIE GRASEGIN (ILLUSTRATOR)
You will always be the first...
A touching tribute to a baby's early milestones—those unforgettable moments that will always be cherished. From first smiles to first cuddles and even to that first kiss, here's a loving ode to every child's—and parent's—momentous "firsts."
Featuring a multiracial family, this sweet story is the perfect calming bedtime read to remind children that no matter what, they will always be first in your heart.
PEYTON PICKS THE PERFECT PIE BY JACK BISHOP (AUTHOR), MICHELLE MEE NUTTER (ILLUSTRATOR)
Peyton is particular. But she's not picky. Grownups use that word a lot. Picky. Picky. Picky. It's never a good thing. And it's not fair. Peyton likes dogs and cats, scooters and bikes, pools and beaches. And Peyton likes to try new things. She recently mastered long division in math class and loves to practice the saxophone—as long as her adorable dog Mila doesn't howl! But Peyton is particular when it comes to food. Peyton doesn't like it when two foods touch on her plate. Peyton doesn't like green foods. Or orange foods. Or red foods. Peyton doesn't like foods that are gooey or gummy, sticky or slimy, frosted or flaky. And Peyton most definitely doesn't like chunky or lumpy foods.
Thanksgiving is our most universal holiday, beloved by adults and children. But Thanksgiving can also be a challenge for young eaters who struggle with new tastes and new experiences. Peyton is the hero of this food lover's tale and she is determined to confront her fear of new foods by finding a Thanksgiving pie she truly likes, even if it's flaky, lumpy, or chunky.
Books About Being Multiracial
HONEYSMOKE: A STORY OF FINDING YOUR COLOR BY MONIQUE FIELDS (AUTHOR), YESENIA MOISES (ILLUSTRATOR)
A young biracial girl looks around her world for her color. She finally chooses her own, and creates a new word for herself―honeysmoke.
Simone wants a color.
She asks Mama, “Am I black or white?”
“Boo,” Mama says, just like mamas do, “a color is just a word.”
She asks Daddy, “Am I black or white?”
“Well,” Daddy says, just like daddies do, “you’re a little bit of both.”
For multiracial children, and all children everywhere, this picture book offers a universal message that empowers young people to create their own self-identity.
Simone knows her color―she is honeysmoke.
MARISOL MCDONALD DOESN’T MATCH BY MONICA BROWN (AUTHOR), SARA PALACIOS (ILLUSTRATOR)
My name is Marisol McDonald, and I don’t match. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.
Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don’t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity during recess—she’ll just be a soccer-playing pirate princess, thank you very much. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.
Unfortunately, they don’t always make sense to everyone else. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just be one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her.
A mestiza Peruvian American of European, Jewish, and Amerindian heritage, renowned author Monica Brown wrote this lively story to bring her own experience of being mismatched to life. Her buoyant prose is perfectly matched by Sara Palacios’ engaging acrylic illustrations.
If you love these books as much as we do, tag us on Instagram @cardinalrulepress and show us how your family is #caughtreading!
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Martina Rethman is an editorial intern with Cardinal Rule Press. She is currently a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.