12 Books With Black or Brown Characters That Promote Inclusivity and Cultural Responsiveness!

With everything going on in the world, we want to make sure that our children have the tools and exposure to the different cultures of the world. Many times children are not engaged in reading because they either don’t see characters they can relate to or they have been exposed to the same kinds of characters over and over again where it gets boring and you have lost interest in wanting to read more.

Below are 12 books that have diverse characters and stories that you can add to your child’s summer reading list or library.

Remember that differences only make us curious to learn something new. We need to see this in all aspects of our lives.


  1. Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons

The BookShop Description:

A 2020 Caldecott Honor Book

“On reunion morning, we rise before the sun. Daddy hums as he packs our car with suitcases and a cooler full of snacks. He says there’s nothing like going down home.”

Down home is Granny’s house. Down home is where Lil Alan and his parents and sister will join great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to family history. All the kids have to decide on what tribute to share, but what will Lil Alan do?

In this rich and moving celebration of history, culture, and ritual, Kelly Starling Lyons’ eloquent text explores the power of family traditions. Stunning illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor-winner Daniel Minter reveal the motion and connections in a large, multigenerational family.


2.Vera Vance Comics Star by Claudia Mills

The BookShop Description

Third grader Vera Vance has signed up for the comics camp after-school program, but her mother would much rather she focus on academics, athletics, music. . . anything but comics!Vera loves all things comic books, so she can’t wait for the comics after-school class to start–even though her mother wonders whether it’s educational enough. But Vera is determined to participate, and starts developing her own comic about Big Spoon and Little Spoon with the encouragement of her enthusiastic friend Nixie and instruction from teachers who are accomplished cartoonists themselves.As the weeks go by, the after-school teachers announce that for the final class, students will go on a field trip to a local comic-con–and they can even enter a page from their comics in a contest that will be judged there! Vera isn’t surprised when her mother says she can’t go. But maybe Big Spoon and Little Spoon can convince her mother to accept her passion.


3.Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

The BookShop Description:

Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.


4.King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code by Dori Hillestad Butler

The BookShop Description:

A lovable dog helps his human girl solve a mystery.
Kayla and Mason both got mysterious letters, written in code. What does Kayla know? –The same person left both letters. It’s someone she and Mason both know. The two letters are the same, except for the second word.What does King know? –Jillian left the letters. What do the letters say?


5.Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

The BookShop Description:

What do you do when an octopus captures Grandma? Put on your superhero cape and rescue her This clever picture book tells two stories in one, from award-winning Afro-Latino artist Eric Velasquez.The octopus Grandma is cooking has grown to titanic proportions. ” Tenga cuidado ” Ramsey shouts. “Be careful ” But it’s too late. The octopus traps Grandma Ramsey uses both art and intellect to free his beloved abuela. Then the story takes a surprising twist. And it can be read two ways. Open the fold-out pages to find Ramsey telling a story to his family. Keep the pages folded, and Ramsey’s octopus adventure is real. This beautifully illustrated picture book, drawn from the author’s childhood memories, celebrates creativity, heroism, family, grandmothers, grandsons, Puerto Rican food, Latinx culture and more. With an author’s note and the Velasquez family recipe for Octopus Stew A Bank Street Best Book of the Year


6.I am brown by Ashok Banker

The BookShop Description:

I am brown. I am beautiful. I am perfect. I designed this computer. I ran this race. I won this prize. I wrote this book. A joyful celebration of the skin you’re in–of being brown, of being amazing, of being you.


7. A boy like you by Frank Murphy

The BookShop Description:

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.


8.A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson

The BookShop Description:

Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews’s distinctive photo collage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.


9. Ana and Andrew : A Dog at The Museum

The BookShop Description:

Ana & Andrew are always on an adventure! They live in Washington, DC, with their parents, have family in Savannah, Georgia and Trinidad, and are always learning something exciting and new about African American history and culture! Translated by native Spanish speakers–and immersion school educators.


10. Rock n Roll Soul by Susan Verde

The BookShop Description:

With the school talent show coming up, a young music lover spends most of her time daydreaming about the perfect act. She notices the sounds around her, like the brrrrring of the school bell or the rappa-tappa-tap of rain on the windowpane. But the talent show is the place to reveal her own voice. Will she mix up some hip-hop beats? Will she command an orchestra of dozens, bringing the classics to life? Or, will she go electric, Jimi Hendrix style? Marching out on the talent show stage to the beat of her own drum, this sweet and sassy musician ultimately chooses to be herself and sing her own song loud and proud, “I’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll soul!”


11. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

The BookShop Description:

Ada Twist’s head is full of questions. Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie–stars of their own New York Times bestselling picture books Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer–Ada has always been endlessly curious. Even when her fact-finding missions and elaborate scientific experiments don’t go as planned, Ada learns the value of thinking her way through problems and continuing to stay curious.


12. Here and There by Tamara Ellis Smith

The BookShop Description:

After Ivan’s parents separate, he has trouble finding joy at either of their homes until he discovers that the birds and music that he loves may be found in both places.


Have you tried any of these books? Which books are you adding to your cart today? 

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