One little step toward change: Ensuring your child's library represents the beautiful diversity of humanity
Diversifying your child’s library is extremely important if you’re going to teach him/her what it means to be human. Here is a list of my favourite French children’s books that highlight inclusivity and diversity, and overall kindness toward themselves as individuals as well as all other living beings. Some links are affiliate links and all affiliate funding goes towards the purchase of French children’s books for use within our community.
This blog post is a “living resource” ; I will continue to add to it as I come across more incredible books. Feel free to send suggestions my way!
French Children’s Books on Diversity / Inclusivity:
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes ― and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind? From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference ― or at least help a friend. With gentle text from the award-winning author Kate Milner and irresistible art from Jen Hill, La gentillesse, c'est...is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
There's a new board book edition- this is a great option for parents of infants! Mama and baby are at the market together and they're counting the items as they go. "6 bananes, 5 oranges, 4 biscuits, 3 épis de maïs, 2 morceaux de noix de coco…" They're filling up Mama's basket. There's humour, there's rhyming, and big beautiful photos, this charming story is a must-have in your infants library! This book is available for pre-order!
Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable. . . Every girl is BEAUTIFUL. Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong! Les jolies filles breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential. Original title: Beautiful
This book is all about deconstructing stereotypes and allowing children to be who they are without trying to "fit in". Une fille qui pète ou qui parle fort, c’est possible ? Et un garçon qui pleure, qui fait la cuisine ou qui danse ? Bien sûr ! Dans «Tu peux», Elise Gravel s’attarde à déconstruire de façon ludique les stéréotypes de genre afin de permettre aux enfants d’être tout ce qu’ils désirent être, sauf méchants et impolis, évidemment !
Laura Nsafou is the French Author teaching black girls to love their natural hair
her children's book, "Like A Million Black Butterflies," addresses race and bullying—rare topics you don't read often in French literature. Laura’s goal was to write a book about bullying and race that would bring a "more accurate representation of a black girl dealing with her hair and facing others." See this article for more details on the author and her story:
Be curious...Be adventurous...Be brave...BE YOU!
Discover a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, from the beloved creator of The Dot, Happy Dreamer, and New York Times bestseller, The Word Collector. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to "be your own work of art." To be patient, persistent, and true. Because there is one, and only one, YOU. In the tradition of books like Oh, the Places You'll Go! and I Wish You More comes a wholly original, inspirational celebration of individuality as only Peter H. Reynolds can create!
What’s a refugee? Why do they need to leave their country? What are they doing here now? In simple and clear terms, Elise Gravel explains what it means to be a refugee. She highlights the fact that all people are, before anything, human like each one of us.
A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, Je suis humain shows that it's okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying "I'm sorry." At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family millions strong. Original title: I Am Human: A Book of Empathy
When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt, this book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves.Original title: I Am Human: A Book of Empathy
When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her dad what she can do to make the world a better place. "Come with me," he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her Mom what she can do―her mother says, "Come with me," and together they set out to do their grocery shopping, because one person doesn't represent an entire race or the people of a land.
After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own―walk the dog…and her parents let her go. "Come with me," the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world. In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty. Original title: Come With Me
On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her ― from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie. Original title: I Got the Rythm
Leon the chameleon has a problem. When the other little chameleons turn green, yellow or blue --- he turns red, purple or orange! Leon doesn't turn the opposite colour on purpose. He just can't help it. Being different makes Leon feel lonely. One day, the little chameleons go exploring and lose their way. As the parents anxiously search for their little ones, they suddenly spot a speck of colour far off in the distance. It's Leon! And thanks to his brilliant hue, the little chameleons are rescued. This time, being different makes Leon feel proud! Leon the Chameleon is a charming story that also explores the basic elements of colour. At the end of the book, a colour wheel displays primary colours and their complementary hues.
This stunning photo-based picture book for younger readers takes a look at the thousands of children around the world who have been forced to flee war, terror, hunger, sickness, and natural disasters-young refugees on the move with very little left except questions. It's hard to imagine, but the images here will help unaffected children understand not only what this must feel like, but also how very lucky they are. The final message is that children, even with uncertain futures, are resilient and can face uncertainty with optimism. Gripping images are from the The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her ― and her hair ― happy. Tender and empowering, Nos boucles au naturel is an ode to loving your natural hair ― and a celebration of fathers and daughters everywhere. Original title: Hair Love
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.
When a man's granddaughter asks him how to say 'grandfather' in Cree, it unleashes a river of emotion when he admits that he doesn't know his language anymore. Seeing her grandfather upset, she helps him find his words again. This sensitive, beautifully illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie's kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own. Inspired by the childhood of Burkina Faso-born model Georgie Badiel, The Water Princess brings together the exceptional talents of Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds in this stunning picture book. Original title:The Water Princess
High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves--inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here's a little girl who knows what really matters. At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont's joyous rhyming text and David Catrow's wild illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful--and straight from the heart. Original title: I Like Myself!
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms no matter their race, religion, or background. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids, regardless of who they are or where they come from.