Last week’s #AskLisaAdvice column offered some advice to an aunt who wanted to buy her nieces some gifts to support their Black identity—even though the girls’ parents were ambivalent. Since then, I’ve had a few requests for advice on choosing books for Multiracial kids. That, I decided, would be the subject of this week’s column.
To get started, I headed over to Watchung Booksellers, our town’s beloved independent bookstore, owned by Margot Sage-El—bookseller extraordinaire and mom to three grown Multiracial kids. She always has an eye out for books that serve our community, so I asked her for a handful of choices. Some of the books listed below have Multiracial or Multicultural characters; others just represent a diverse cast of skin tones, features and hair textures. Some deal with racial issues directly; others just shake off stereotypes and highlight Multiracial families.
Picture Books for young children, helpful with talking about difference and race.
B is for Brooklyn, by Selina Alko
Black is Brown is Tan, Arnold Adoff’s 1973 classic.
Princess Arabella Mixes Colors, part of a series by Mylo Freeman. Shatters the assumption that princesses aren’t dark-skinned with natural kinky hair.
Let’s Talk About Race, by Julius Lester, author of To Be a Slave and many others.
Speaking of Goodreads … some of my Goodreads pals recommended a few more titles:
Families are Different, by Nina Pellegrini
I Love You Like Crazycakes, by Rose A. Lewis, featuring a sweet, single-parent transracial adoptive family story.
I am Flippish! (Meaning Filipino and Irish) by Leslie V. Ryan
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, by Monica Brown
Here are a few books Margot recommended for middle grade readers:
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods.
Next, I want to congratulate three of my online, mom friends, all members of the Multiracial community, who have recently published children’s books with Multiracial protagonists.
- Multiracial Media’s own Mixedmama herself, Nicholette Thomas. Her book is:
Ibari’s Curls. Here’s the Blurb:
Ibari Lyn was born with a head full of curls. Her mommy had to learn how to take care of her hair and she is sharing some of that information with you. She also wants you to love your curly hair because it is part of what makes you special! This book is perfect for teaching your little one to love not only their hair (even if they don’t have curly hair) but to appreciate all their differences. Our unique qualities are what make us special and this big font, short story hopes to encourage self-love and acceptance. Teaches self-love, acceptance of differences, body autonomy, and curl-care. Perfect for any kid even if they don’t have curly hair!
- Henrietta Nwagwu-Rochford. Her book, Clever Caramel Creates Her Own World Cup Style, was nominated for the 2017 Readers Choice Awards for TCK Publishing. This is a Middle Grade (ages 7-13.) Here’s the Blurb:
Clever Carmel is a really smart mixed-race girl who lives in south London in England with her Nigerian mother and English father, two little sisters and one little brother. World Cup fever is everywhere – it’s even something she’s learning about at school. When her teacher asks the class to each do a little project about the country they plan to support in the World Cup, Carmel is over the moon as she is football crazy.
However, Carmel’s excitement soon turns into confusion as she’s not sure which country to choose. Which team should she support? England or Nigeria? What would her parents think? What shirt should she wear? With a twist of her magical afro bunches, can Clever Carmel find a way to solve her dilemma?
- Tam Luc. Her book is a cute and snappy bedtime read for little ones called There’s Somebody in My Room.
Full of zany, colorful illustrations, the book follows a boy’s wandering imagination as he’s supposed to be going to sleep. This one is not about identity per se, but the little protagonist is a biracial boy with a White mom and Brown Dad who make an appearance at the end.
This is just a starter list, of course. I left out several categories and reading levels (including YA—that’s for another post). I want to close by providing links to two very special Multiracial Literature websites for you all to peruse:
Hopefully these will flesh out my suggestions.
Happy Multiracial shopping to all!