Lisely Laboy is the project manager at Diverse BookFinder. Lisely holds a master's degree in Information and Library Sciences from Florida State University and undergraduate degrees from the University of Florida in Sociology and Women’s Studies. She has 10 years of public library experience, including time as a programming librarian for children and teens.
So many of us turn to diverse books when we're teaching about new cultures, and when we're celebrating cultural heritage months. But it is just as important to use diverse books when we're teaching and learning about...well, just about anything!
Using picture books that feature BIPOC characters allows BIPOC children to see themselves reflected on the page. It also allows non-BIPOC children to see the beautiful diversity of our world, and to build empathy for others. These important lessons should be emphasized and supported the whole year round.
Here at Diverse BookFinder, we know that this time of year is busy for parents and public librarians. Children are out of school (or will be soon) and public libraries are getting ready for Summer Reading! With months of programs to plan for keeping the children busy, we know things can be overwhelming. So this year, we'd thought we'd offer some help.
We dug through our collection to find some great diverse picture books that you can use all summer long! We've matched most of our recommendations to the theme for the 2022 Collaborative Summer Reading Program; "Oceans of Possibilities" but, we've got a great selection of general summer titles too so make sure to scroll down to the end of the page to take a look at those.
Fun at the Beach - All About Sharing A Day of Fun in the Sun
"From New York Times best-selling author Beth Ferry and Caldecott Honor winner Juana Martinez-Neal comes a sweet-and-salty friendship story perfect for pirate-lovers learning new ways to communicate while at a distance. This hilarious picture book will keep emerging readers laughing, and the message-related mishaps in the story create an opportunity for spelling and sounding out new words while learning from home! Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene. One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY and take their ruckus with them. When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?" -- publisher
"A meaningful and fun summer book that promotes individuality and being true to yourself even under pressure! In this story about being true to oneself, a boy searches for the secret to executing the perfect cannonball into the water with training from Nan, an expert and former champion. By listening to his own voice, he finds his unique style and pulls off a wonderful, acrobatic, truly awe-inspiring cannonball." -- publisher
"And these are the things we find by the sea My mommy, my mama, my brother, and me. With this gentle refrain, the debut picture book from celebrated author and playwright Natalie Meisner (Double Pregnant) reflects on her own two-mom, two-son family's early days growing up in Lockeport, Nova Scotia. Living by the sea offers myriad charms for the two young brothers in this poetic ode to beachcombing. When the fog disappears, the path to the beach beckons, with all the treasures it leaves behind: lobster traps, buoys, fused glass, urchins, a note in a bottle. But best of all is all the neighbours they meet along the way. An unforgettable instant classic for families of all shapes and sizes. Featuring glorious watercolours by Mathilde Cinq-Mars, which capture the warmth and magic of time spent with family by the sea." -- publisher
A wordless picture book that shows a little girl's first experiences at the beach, as she goes from being afraid of the roaring waves to playing on the shore while gulls soar overhead.
True Treasures from the Sea - Stories of all the Real Wonders the Ocean Provides
When Nanami's Gram from Maine visits Japan, Nanami's Japanese grandmother, Baachan, takes them to the seashore to gather wakame seaweed. Includes several recipes for wakame
"A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world. Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea—generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts. Tina Cho’s The Ocean Calls, with luminous illustrations by muralist Jess X. Snow, is a classic in the making." -- publisher
"There’s lots of fun to be had up on the pier—the Ferris wheel, the rollercoaster, Skee-Ball and Whac-A-Mole, cotton candy, copper coins, the carousel. But it’s down under the pier, at low tide, where the real magic can be found. The best part? It’s free. Nell Beckerman’s poetic text and deep love of the intertidal zone, and Rachell Sumpter’s dreamy, “endless summer” art make this the perfect beach book." -- publisher
"A stunning story about a girl who notices all the treasures around her. From award-winning author-illustrator Elly MacKay comes a story exploring the little treasures we find in everyday places. When a young treasure hunter goes to the beach for a day of playing in the surf, she dives deep under the waves to find treasures of all kinds. Some treasures have stories to tell and others are too precious to keep. It seems treasure is everywhere, but nothing could make her feel more like a queen than a perfect day at the beach with her grandfather and furry best friend." -- publisher
Biographies - Real People Whose Connection to the Ocean Made a Real Difference
"A brief biography of Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, five-time Olympic swimming champion from the early 1900s who is also considered worldwide as the 'father of modern surfing'"-- Provided by publisher
A biography of the scientist known as the "Shark Lady," reveals how she turned a childhood passion into her life's work, devoting herself to studying sharks and educating the public on the graceful, clever sea creatures
Presents the life and accomplishments of the African American scientist, whose keen observations of sea creatures revealed new insights about egg cells and the origins of life.
"This heartfelt picture book biography illustrated by the Caldecott Honoree Ekua Holmes, tells the story of MaVynee Betsch, an African American opera singer turned environmentalist and the legacy she preserved. MaVynee loved going to the beach. But in the days of Jim Crow, she couldn’t just go to any beach—most of the beaches in Jacksonville were for whites only. Knowing something must be done, her grandfather bought a beach that African American families could enjoy without being reminded they were second class citizens; he called it American Beach. Artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Charles vacationed on its sunny shores. It’s here that MaVynee was first inspired to sing, propelling her to later become a widely acclaimed opera singer who routinely performed on an international stage. But her first love would always be American Beach. After the Civil Rights Act desegregated public places, there was no longer a need for a place like American Beach and it slowly fell into disrepair. MaVynee remembered the importance of American Beach to her family and so many others, so determined to preserve this integral piece of American history, she began her second act as an activist and conservationist, ultimately saving the place that had always felt most like home" -- publisher
Save Our Seas & Our Sea Creatures - Environmental Activism Around our Oceans
"On a visit to Nunavut, Akuluk learns about Arctic animals and the importance of the environment we all share. Akuluk is visiting her family in Nunavut and can’t wait to get out on her uncle’s boat for a ride into the powerful Arctic Ocean. Surrounded by her family, and with her trusty toy polar bear beside her, Akuluk experiences the beautiful sights, sounds, and animals that abound in the ocean and along the shore during the short Arctic summer—from a mother polar bear and her cubs to a family of belugas and tiny Arctic fox kits. As they encounter each animal, Akuluk’s aunt and uncles share with her how each species cares for its young, and how they protect their babies from the other animals who share their ecosystem. This beautiful story of family connection and respect for the natural world teaches young readers how close humans are to our animal counterparts and that caring for the environment in which we live is one of our most important responsibilities." -- publisher
A bilingual story, inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family was one of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galapagos islands. Valentina makes a promise to protect the islands and her animal friends.--Provided by publisher
"A heartwarming sea otter rescue story. Washed ashore alone, a tiny sea otter pup needs help! Soon, a rescuer is there, to take her in and keep her warm and fed. The pup faces challenges in her new life without her sea otter family. But with the love and care of her rescuer, she flourishes in her new home. Inspired by a true story, this is a heartwarming and hopeful tale about family and love." --Amazon
"Summary Plucky science-lover Rocket returns in another inspiring picture book about getting a community to notice the world around them, and, in this book, to CLEAN UP! their shoreline. Rocket, is off to the islands to visit her grandparents. Her family loves nothing better than to beach comb and surf together…but the beach is clogged with trash! When she finds a turtle tangled in a net, Rocket decides that something must be done! Like a mini Greta Thunberg, our young activist’s enthusiasm brings everyone together…to clean up the beach and prevent plastics from spoiling nature. Perfect for fans of Rocket Says Look Up! and Ada Twist, Scientist, this book is for any youngster concerned about our environment. Rocket Says Clean Up! will inspire readers of all ages to dream big and tackle problems head-on." --publisher
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption -- a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade. Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all. When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource. - Publisher
Fantastically Diverse Sea Tales - They Might Not Be True...But They're Perfect for Story Time
Five young mermaids start out together on an adventure but, one by one, find a reason to stay in a different sea in this illustrated, rhyming, count-down book. Includes information about mermaids, oceans, and sea creatures
"Chirri and Chirra bike through the sea and discover all sorts of personalities and treats along the way"--
"Bea lives by the beach, but she doesn’t like sand one little bit! One day, her mother persuades her to visit the beach, where she meets a sand sculpture of a lion who is afraid of water. A funny and tender book about the mutual support of friendship, the acceptance of loss, and the resilience needed to accept change." -- publisher
"New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio teams up with illustrator Raissa Figueroa for a delightfully humorous picture book starring a mischievous black mermaid, her sea creature friends, and their surprising finds during their quest for treasure. Meet Oona. The big sea’s littlest mischief maker. She and her best friend, Otto, love to search for treasure . . . but often find trouble instead. Messy trouble. Tricky trouble. Even shark-related trouble. That’s never stopped them before, though! After all, no proper treasure hunt is without some adventure. But when the grandest treasure yet is stuck in a deep, dark rift, Oona’s not sure if she can dive right in. What might be waiting for her in those unknown waters? With gorgeous underwater scenes from rising new talent Raissa Figueroa and humor and heart abounding in New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio’s text, this little mermaid’s tale is a celebration of friendship, creativity, and bravery in the face of the unknown." -- publisher
Summer Days & Nights - Diverse Tales to Beat the Heat
A brief rain shower does not dampen a Latino family's enjoyment of their town's parade and summer celebration, which includes street food, bands, a corn princess, and fireworks. Spanish words, interspersed in the rhyming text, are defined in a glossary.
Sights and sounds of a summer twilight mingle with recollections of a lovely day at the beach as a household settles in for the night.
"This sweet and gentle picture book celebrates summer in Japan, as one little girl shares her love for bugs with her cousin who is visiting from America. Two young cousins who are separated by language, continent and culture meet for the first time when Jill’s family travels from America to Japan to stay with Natsumi’s family during the summer holidays. Natsumi’s nervousness about meeting her cousin from across the sea quickly disappears when she discovers that her cousin is a lot like her: they both love summertime’s hot sandy beaches, cool refreshing watermelon, festivals and fireworks. Then Jill asks Natsumi about the strange buzzing sound that comes from the nearby trees, and Natsumi is nervous once again. What if Jill is frightened of Natsumi’s cherished cicadas, the insects that sing the music of summertime? This is a tender, evocative story that celebrates the special pleasures of summertime and of reunions with faraway family and friends." -- publisher
"From those first barefoot days, wobble-dy walking over rocks and pebbles, to wandering-wild while searching for sea glass and, finally, huddled-up cozy at a late-summer bonfire, these summer feet flutter kick, somersault, hide-and-seek, and dance in the rain, soaking up all the season has to offer. With Sheree Fitch's classic lip-slippery, lyrical rhymes and Carolyn Fisher's bright and colourful illustrations, Summer Feet will be an instant summertime favourite. Canada's Dr. Seuss, Sheree Fitch, is back with a brand-new tongue-twisting picture book that celebrates all things summer. From those first barefoot days, wobble-dy walking over rocks and pebbles, to wandering-wild while searching for sea glass and, finally, huddled-up cozy at a late-summer bonfire, these summer feet flutter kick, somersault, hide-and-seek, and dance in the rain, soaking up all the season has to offer." -- publisher
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