Books for and about young kids of color!

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

As parents of kids of color, it can be hard to find the right children's books. We want titles that will help our young ones sees themselves in a positive light, challenge them to learn about other cultures, develop empathy and curiosity, and of course, engage and entertain!

Here are a few of Thinking In Full Color's favorites for Elementary School kids (ages 12 and under, skewing younger), all recommended by parents and educators. Each of these books can be the perfect gift or classroom companion. Or, check to see if they're at your local library!

Watch our blog for more recommendations for older kids and teens, too!

Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines (coloring book)

grade level: pictures all ages, text grades 3 to 6

text: Summer Dawn Reyes

art: Nerissa Tutiven, Vanessa Velez, Hiyasmine "Queen" Gaskins, Emily Mun and Nala Wu

Growing up, we all have heroes -- from cartoon characters that remind us of us, to famous people who've overcome the same challenges we face. But finding these heroes isn't easy for everyone, especially young girls of color.

That's why we made Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines, a coloring book featuring groundbreaking women of color. We want to tell a dozen stories and inspire hundreds of girls. By giving young women of color positive role models who look like them, we help them visualize a world where they become heroes, too.

Our pages pay tribute to Maya Angelou, Pura Belpré, Angela Davis, Katherine Johnson, Rita Moreno, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mithali Raj, Naoko Takeuchi, Kara Walker, Anna May Wong, Holly Woodlawn and Malala Yousafzai! If you grab our book online, you'll also get Crayola's multicultural crayons -- which feature real skin tones!

Not Quite Narwhal

grade level: P to 3

text and art: Jessie Sima

This heartwarming and adorable debut picture book tells the story of a young unicorn who was born under the sea to a family of narwhals -- a "fish out of water" feeling that many children of color may relate to, especially if they are adopted or raised in an area where there are few kids who look like them.

Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns. The revelation leaves him torn: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? But perhaps, if Kelp is clever, he may find a way to have the best of both worlds.

Julián is a Mermaid

grade level: P to 3

text, art: Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

I Am Enough

grade level: P to 3

text: Grace Byers

art: Keturah A. Bobo