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Gift Guide 2020: New BIPOC Picture Books

Last year we created an extensive Holiday Gift Guide based on six of our nine categories. This year some of our team members responded to a simple question --

What are two new books that you'd want to give to a child in your life?

-- with these titles (most are 2020, a few are "new" to the team member):

From Andrea Breau, former project coordinator, current Advisory Council member:

The Paper Kingdom

2020

by Helena Ku Rhee and Pascal Campion

"When the babysitter is unable to come, Daniel is woken out of bed and joins his parents as they head downtown for their jobs as nighttime office cleaners. But the story is about more than brooms, mops, and vacuums. Mama and Papa turn the deserted office building into a magnificent kingdom filled with paper. Then they weave a fantasy of dragons and kings to further engage their reluctant companion—and even encourage him to one day be the king of a paper kingdom." -- publisher

Any Child

From Sophi Aronson, volunteer coder/cataloguer:

V Is for Voting

2020

by Kate Farrell and Caitlin Kuhwald

"A vibrant, inspiring alphabet book that introduces the youngest of aspiring activists to the touchstones of civics. A is for active participation. B is for building a more equal nation. C is for citizens' rights and our duty... An engaging introduction to social justice and civil rights, V Is for Voting is the perfect gift for parents who want to start teaching their children the importance of voting and activism early. Perfect for fans of A Is for Activist and Woke Baby and just in time for primary season, V Is for Voting pairs Kate Farrell's playful rhyming text with Caitlin Kuhwald's bold art to make a gorgeous—and crucial—addition to every young reader's library." -- publisher" -- publisher

Informational

The Camping Trip

2020

by Jennifer K. Mann

"Ernestine has never been camping before, but she’s sure it will be lots of fun…won’t it? An endearing story about a girl’s first experience with the great outdoors. My aunt Jackie invited me to go camping with her and my cousin Samantha this weekend. I’ve never been camping before, but I know I will love it. Ernestine is beyond excited to go camping. She follows the packing list carefully (new sleeping bag! new flashlight! special trail mix made with Dad!) so she knows she is ready when the weekend arrives. But she quickly realizes that nothing could have prepared her for how hard it is to set up a tent, never mind fall asleep in it, or that swimming in a lake means that there will be fish — eep! Will Ernestine be able to enjoy the wilderness, or will it prove to be a bit too far out of her comfort zone? In an energetic illustrated story about a first sleepover under the stars, acclaimed author-illustrator Jennifer K. Mann reminds us that opening your mind to new experiences, no matter how challenging, can lead to great memories (and a newfound taste for s’mores)." -- publisher

Any Child

From Isabella David, research assistant:

Granddaddy’s turn

2015

by Michael S. Bandy, Eric Stein and James Ransome

"Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn't a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what's coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening--and sure enough, everyone is lined up at town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn't be more proud. But can Michael be patient when justice just can't come soon enough?" --|cProvided by publisher

Biography Cross Group Oppression & Resilience

From Yueh Qi Chuah, research assistant:

The Thing About Bees

2019

by Shabazz Larkin

"'Sometimes bees can be a bit rude. They fly in your face and prance on your food.' And yet… without bees, we might not have strawberries for shortcakes or avocados for tacos! Shabazz Larkin’s The Thing About Bees is a Norman Rockwell-inspired Sunday in the park, a love poem from a father to his two sons, and a tribute to the bees that pollinate the foods we love to eat. Children are introduced to different kinds of bees, “how not to get stung,” and how the things we fear are often things we don’t fully understand. Shabazz Larkin made his picture book illustration debut with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, followed by his author/illustrator debut with A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food, both named American Library Association Notable Children’s Books. He is a multi-disciplinary artist and an advertising creative director. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons." -- publisher

Any Child

Coming Soon:

My Day with Gong Gong

by Sennah Yee and Elaine Chen 

May isn't having fun on her trip through Chinatown with her grandfather. Gong Gong doesn't speak much English, and May can't understand Chinese. She's hungry, and bored with Gong Gong's errands. Plus, it seems like Gong Gong's friends are making fun of her! But just when May can't take any more, Gong Gong surprises her with a gift that reveals he's been paying more attention than she thought.

From Kat Wyly, graduate school intern:

Coming Soon:

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation's oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author. In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who--with perseverance and dedication--proved that you're never too old to learn.

From Halie Kern, graduate school intern:

Coming Soon:

Ohana Means Family

by Ilima Loomis and Kenard Pak 

Join the family, or ohana, as they farm taro for poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration with a poetic text in the style of The House That Jack Built. This is the land that's never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana's luau. Acclaimed illustrator and animator Kenard Pak's light-filled, dramatic illustrations pair exquisitely with Ilima Loomis' text to celebrate Hawaiian land and culture. The backmatter includes a glossary of Hawaiian terms used, as well as an author's note.

From Krista Aronson, Director of the Diverse BookFinder:

Coming Soon:

Your Name is a Song

by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Luisa Uribe

Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl's mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.

And from me, Anne Sibley O'Brien, co-founder of the Diverse BookFinder, two titles I look forward to gifting to -- and reading with -- my grandson Taemin, 6:

Coming Soon:

Lift

by Minh Lê and  Dan Santat 

Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building, but when it's time to share the fun with a new member of the family, she's pretty put out. That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when she's forced to choose between going at it alone or letting her little brother tag along, Iris finds that sharing a discovery with the people you love can be the most wonderful experience of all.

Coming Soon:

Where Are You From?

by Yamile Saied Méndez and  Jaime Kim 

When a girl is asked where she's from--where she's really from--none of her answers seems to be the right one. Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn't give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one. Where am I from? You're from hurricanes and dark storms, and a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep.... With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds and of all colors--especially anyone who ever felt that they don't belong.

Purchasing and sharing books featuring BIPOC -- and especially by BIPOC creators, as many of these titles are -- is one of the most important ways to support the goal of all our children being able to see themselves in books.

Or in the words of poet and author Lucille Clifton,

The literature of America should reflect the children of America."

Lucille Clifton
Many of the cover images on this site are from Google Books.
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