With so many drastic changes taking place in the world as of late, it can be hard not to think of what has transpired as catastrophic. But if we take a moment to look past the challenges and obstacles, we will see that this moment in history has shined a light on various aspects of our everyday existence where more work needs to be done.

One of these is the awareness that marginalized voices– those people who are LGBT+, women, people of color, those with disabilities, and many more whose voices have either been silenced or talked over, deserve to be listened to and understood just like everyone else. Even the word marginalized has seen scrutiny in recent years as a misrepresentation of those who it represents. Though it seems to be used in order to describe the collective voice rather than just an individual category, as seen in this article.

The area that has seen an explosion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in recent years, is in literature- namely children’s books. The diversity movement in books is not a secret nor is it anything new. If you ever visited a mainstream bookstore, you will see that more diverse books have hit the shelves but that wasn’t without struggle.

There are still thousands of books that have not made it into traditional publishing. Thus, those writers and authors have needed to resort to self-publishing. Though many have preferred this route anyways due to the creative and financial freedom it can provide. But don’t let this fool you. Those who self-publish have to work just as hard or even harder than those who land a literary agent or publisher. Why is this? Well because the weight of responsibility a business partner can help you take on, is now your full responsibility. Regardless, either path will call for marketing efforts on behalf of the author.

Luckily with the, We Need Diverse Books campaign that was launched in 2014, there has been a positive movement forward with growth in almost all areas of the publishing industry according to a recent article in Bustle.

To provide a sense of familiarity and relatability, every child must have the opportunity to see themselves or others they know in the stories they are reading.

So with that being said, to help amplify the voices of diverse authors I have curated a list of children’s books from the author community group I am part of on Facebook (Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing, and Selling). As a chronically ill writer, this topic not only hits home but is also important to me that future generations understand that those living with a chronic illness, disability, or both are just like others out there who may not be living with or despite these health conditions.

Feel free to share all or whatever book on this list calls to you with the kids and adults in your life! Most of these are self-published but you will find some titles that are also traditionally published in my YouTube recommendation video.

To view more picture books and young adult novels check out my recommended list on my YouTube channel below.

 

My Travel and Activity Journal: An Interactive Social Story For Kids

This book is a travel and activity journal. It’s aimed at children with additional needs. It’s made like a social story breadcrumbing their way through a family holiday (vacation).

What Should I Do Today?

Join 6 cute kids with beautiful curly hair in a colorful, fun story as they deal with the biggest daily hurdle for any toddler: What should I do today?

It is a fun and engaging read in rhyme that features simple wording, bright colors, and diverse characters. Parents will appreciate the underlying theme that encourages young children to engage in a variety of enriching, developmental activities.

Both of these books are about a Chinese American boy and include a little Chinese and Chinese culture in the stories. The first is a picture book: BMJZ and the second is a chapter book.
The Christmas Tree Wish

The Christmas Tree Wish, whose theme is that it’s okay to be different. A young Christmas tree is waiting to be chosen on Christmas Eve and worries that no one will want him as he has broken branches – the other trees around him reassure him by showing him their lumps and bumps and telling him that we’re all different but that doesn’t make any of any less loved. Needless to say, all ends well.

The Tell-Me Tree

Gently invites children to share how they’re feeling – whether happy, sad, or somewhere in between – through talking, writing, or drawing, with friends, family, or trusted grown-ups. It comes with free downloadable resources for both children and parents and promotes discussion about emotions and feelings in a positive and natural way.

Weske and Company are creative inclusive health education books and has recently come out with these two titles that can be found on their Etsy store site here

It’s Great To Be Loved!

This book features children of many backgrounds, interests, and abilities because we believe it’s important that a child sees themselves when they read a book. This book is a reminder that many people can love us. We don’t have to be perfect. We can lose our shoes, ask lots of questions, or just be really sad and we can still be loved. The most important thing to know is that it’s GREAT to be LOVED!

This book is appropriate for children (and adults) of all ages and is the second book of the “It’s GREAT to be” series.

 

It’s Great To Be You!

We wrote this book about children of many backgrounds, interests, and abilities. We need children to know that they are all important and valued. Everyone deserves respect, understanding, and kindness. This book is a reminder that it is okay to play alone or with friends. It is okay to cry or to be sad. It is okay to do anything or be anything that you want to be. The most important thing is that you are yourself because… it is GREAT to be YOU!

My Sister’s Super Skills: Introducing Kid-Friendly Social and Emotional Skills

My Sister’s Super Skills help children manage mental health challenges.

David is having a rough day…but his emotions are no match for his older sister Lily, who swoops in to save the day with some super skills! When Lily observes her brother feeling frustrated, sad, and irritable, she quickly shows him some helpful tips and tricks to help him feel better. And though David might not feel like jumping up and down for joy at that very minute, he soon learns that an improved mood is just a few actions away. Will Lily’s super skills be enough to save the day?

 

B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings

From the letter A to the letter Z, B is for Breathe celebrates the many ways children can express their feelings and develop coping skills at an early age. Fun, cute, and exciting illustrations, this colorful book teaches kids simple ways to cope with fussy and frustrating emotions. This book will inspire kids to discuss their feelings, show positive behaviors, and practice calm down strategies.

SuperDan and Food Allergies

A fun story illustration that includes: (5) disposable and (1) silicone 21cm red wristband, 14 food allergy charms, allergy plan, poster, and food allergy stickers with medication bag. An engaging children’s story that also includes a poster with interactive allergy stickers, an emergency care plan, medication bag, and disposable and allergy wristbands to help children, parents, and educators learn about food allergies. Read how SuperDan navigates through his multiple food allergies and how to manage his allergic reactions.

Hi, I’m Me

In this heart-warming tale about a mother and daughter, first-time author Kelly Vurinaris captures the beauty in human differences. She takes the reader through everyday experiences in the life of Chloe, a little girl with facial differences. Since she’s been going out into the world, Chloe notices people staring at her. To connect with others and break down initial barriers, she quickly discovers that she just needs to introduce herself. With one simple phrase, she is creating inclusivity and changing the world, one face at a time. With her mom’s guidance, Chloe learns that although she may look different, all differences are beautiful. This is a book that builds confidence in our children without them understanding what confidence is. It helps kids identify that being different is okay and that we are all people. It is the perfect story for parents or teachers who want to teach children about inclusivity, and how everyone has equal value no matter how they look.

Bindiya in India

This book features a South Asian character and is about a young girl’s first trip to India to meet her extended family and celebrate an Indian wedding. It is bilingual in Hindi and English.

The Fairy and the Butterfly

This book is about a fairy with no wings and no magical talent. Lonely and afraid this fairy copes with her feelings of being different by eating tasty food that isn’t good for her. One day she meets an uncanny and annoyingly happy caterpillar that unexpectedly shows her the world from a completely new perspective.

 

Chase The Brave

Type 1 diabetes can be scary and a lot to manage at any age. But as a young child just diagnosed or one who has been fighting strong for a while having a character to relate to who is just like them is a reassuring comfort. We get to follow Chase who just turned 6 yrs. old and his family as he shows us how they take care of his type 1 diabetes. We see Chase conquer fear with bravery and a family who loves him very much. Chase shows us what he carries in his bag and all the stuff he needs to take care of his diabetes.

Taíno Tales: The Secret of the Hummingbird 

Alida lives in paradise, so what could go wrong? When she meets a boy from the opposing tribe, their friendship quickly blossoms into something more.

…What will happen if someone discovers their forbidden love?

With all the magic of a Disney fairytale, the Secret of the Hummingbird is sure to capture the hearts of children and adults alike. You won’t just enjoy the story, you will feel like a part of it.

Created by an elementary teacher to educate and inspire, children will love learning about the Taíno culture through the retelling of their indigenous folklore, bringing an ancient cultureー and a young loveーto colorful life.

Grace From Space

A planet with vanishing dreams. A girl dedicated to their safe return. One young heroine must trust her voice to save Earth’s future.

Eleven-year-old Grace spends every young moment protecting the hopes and wishes of Earth Kids. When each plan to return their dreams comes up crickets, the preteen has no choice but to call an emergency session of the mighty Galactic Council. With time running out, Grace’s BFF Conor unleashes a brilliant and daring new plan with a heart-stopping catch…

When the council agrees to the plan, the fiery redhead realizes she’ll have to face her greatest fear: speaking in public. Saving Earth kids’ dreams has rapidly turned into Grace’s worst nightmare. Will Grace discover her voice in time before hopelessness blankets the Earth?

The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree 

This early childhood book is written from a mother’s point of view with the purpose of helping hard of hearing or deaf children and their families at the critical mainstream stage.
There is an emphasis through the different components in the book for a broader understanding of hearing loss such as how classroom tactics and facilitation of communication at the educational level help.

When young children get exposed to differences in others, they learn tolerance, empathy, and create new ways of learning.

For the educators, they will have in their hands a tool to start conversations with their students about hearing loss.

 

How Our Skin Sparkles: A Growth Mindset Children’s Book for Global Citizens About Acceptance

Read this story of Aarav who comes home one day wondering why he looks different. See how science, culture, and concept enable this child to be raised on the borders of multiple cultures to see himself and those around him in a new light.

I’m Just Bad At Math!

Lucy thinks her brain is broken because she’s always been “bad” at math.
And when her teacher gives the class a dreaded timed math test, her brain freezes up!

Can a promise and a scruffy chihuahua named Nacho help Lucy change her mindset?

This story helps children realize that people aren’t “good” or “bad” at math, and it helps them learn to change their mindset by viewing things from a new perspective.

Super Science Squad 

From Book 1: Join the Super Science Squad on their most recent mission. Brinkley, Bella, and Mason travel to magical worlds ready to help others with their fantastic science skills. Our young scientists are headed to Dragonia. Here they find a fire breathing dragon that needs their help! Join the adventure to see how they use their Super Science Skills to save the land of Dragonia.

Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped: A Food Allergy and Intolerance Story 

He was a superhero with a furry sidekick.  She was a secret mad scientist in the kitchen. But he was sick… and she was stumped. Can they work together to find out what is stealing his superpowers, and restore his boundless energy once again?

Meet Aidan the Wonder Kid and his Super Smart Detective Mom. When food allergies strike, they bond together to fight back. But can they win?

Kids will cheer for Aidan, and parents and teachers everywhere will love the message (and option to get free Common Core lesson plans!). Two kids in every classroom have a food allergy, and this book brings fun to the challenge of feeding everybody just right.

Oy, Elephants! Good Neighbors Come in All Sizes

This book is about a pair of retired circus elephants that move to a Florida (human) retirement community. All the neighbors are up in arms about elephants moving into the neighborhood. It is a fun and silly story in any way but explores and has lots of opportunities to discuss prejudice, racism, diversity, and inclusion in a non-threatening way that children can understand.

Being Different Rocks

Mickie-D was born with a visible disability. His story is a message of love and acceptance.

RAD GIRL Revolution: The Children’s Book for Little Girls With Big Dreams!

Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation!

Seeing really is believing – welcome to the RAD Girl Revolution! Are you worried about what your daughter pictures, when she thinks about her future?

In her daily life, does she look at books that …

INSPIRE

EMPOWER and

SHOW HER that little girls with big dreams are the women of the future?

Now is the time!

RAD Girl Revolution features girls representing over 30 ethnic backgrounds and includes girls with special needs such as Down syndrome, hearing impairment, and Type 1 Diabetes.

Photos of real girls drive home the inspirational message of the book because seeing really is believing!

I’m Basically a Unicorn

This book features lots of things that make kids feel a bit different, whether it’s genetic traits, illnesses, or abilities. It features cancer, diabetes, vitiligo, autism, blindness, missing limb, wheelchair, and things like height difference, hair & eye color, & even how twins might look alike but are so very different. It compares them to be unique, special, and rare like a unicorn.

Where am I from? 

This book aims to promote diversity, acceptance, and a sense of belonging for kids who are wondering where do they come from.

A Little Something For You

These books are about minority voices focusing on the African diaspora.

Learn more here

 

My Name is Nanie!

The author’s autistic daughter’s husky/wolf stories cover issues of acceptance, belonging, loyalty, and overcoming obstacles, as seen through the eyes of the animals. These are underlying themes that are being used by a school in Bath to discuss celebrating our differences.

 

The Adventures of Sabrina Michaela: Me and My Big Sis

When Sabrina was young she would ask why she was brown and her big sister Melanie was tan? This book reinforces the idea that God created them equally as little girls and sisters. It focuses on the similarities and sends a positive message by using descriptive words along with full-color illustrations to show how their bodies work the same way and they can do the same things.

The Hospital Bedtime Story 

  • Instant comfort for a hospitalized child
  • Dedicated to children & families who’ve been admitted to the hospital, to Child Life Specialists, and to Pediatric Health Care workers
  • This book provides realistic, but friendly explanations of what a child can expect to see, hear, feel, taste, or do while hospitalized. It allows the reader to relate, or to better understand the who-is-who or what-is-what in simple (and rhyming!) terms. Being ill or injured causes uncertainty for the whole family; it’s a stressful time, but bedtime in this unfamiliar environment doesn’t have to be. The Hospital Bedtime Story is comforting and light-hearted and intended to provide a bit of normalcy. The main character- Riley, processes the new information while maintaining a courageous and positive outlook. Children as young as 3-4 years can benefit from viewing another child in a situation very similar to their own.
  • Parents & caregivers: Sometimes, it’s hard to find the words, especially in an unexpected circumstance- here are the words!

 

Will Jax be Home for Thanksgiving?

All profits support pediatric brain tumor research. 

Any family that has a sick child will recognize the uncertainty and anxiety that Lyla expresses. With this story, Samarrah hopes to help children and their parents through challenging times, emphasizing the importance of love and hope.

 

Just Figure Out A Way

Coralyn Weeks is 8 years old and lives in Tucson, AZ. Coralyn has a younger brother named Rickson, and although she is still young she has always noticed the way the world views her brother and others with differences. She was inspired to share with the world that you can always figure out a way. We all have gifts to share and just because someone is different doesn’t mean they don’t have value.

Pete Comes to America

In 1910, six-year-old Panagiotis (Pete) embarks on an adventurous journey with his family as they make America their new home.  The powerful emotions, hopes, and dreams of this young boy are delightfully brought to life with classic illustrations of the era.

Join Pete during his early years in America. Learn about Pete’s love for both Greece and his new home, as he embraces his heritage and lives his American dream.

I Am Different, Just Like You!

A percentage of sales is given to organizations that support the Down Syndrome community.

I Am Different, Just Like You! is a creative non-fiction children’s book that uses fun illustrations and real photos to explain what Down syndrome is and the remarkable things that people with Down syndrome are capable of doing. It showcases a little girl named Adella who, just like other little girls, loves to run, play, sing, and dance. But there are also things that make Adella different. One difference is that she has Down syndrome. As she explains what Down syndrome is, readers will find that there are things that make them different too, just like Adella.

Aiden McGee Gets a Case of “The Actuallys”

Does your brilliant child correct you before you’ve even had your coffee?

Aiden has a case of “The Actuallys,” and just can’t help but correct others on the most trivial of facts. Is it a turtle or a tortoise? Is a tomato a fruit?  With every misspoken word, Aiden just has to interject, and often it embarrasses the people around him. One day, someone gives him a piece of advice that could change everything. Come find out how to cure “The Actuallys”

Parents, Gifted Teachers, Social Skill Mentors,  Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists,  Counselors, and School Counselors will all enjoy exploring the topic of kindness, manners, and intelligence with their child.

Hannah’s Down Syndrome Superpowers

Hannah, a superhero princess, explains her Down Syndrome Superpowers, how they affect her, and how she’s more like other kids than different.

This book is a TOOL written by a mom/pediatric physical therapist to help kids, family, friends, and caregivers understand Down Syndrome.

Nathan’s Autism Superpowers

The superhero of this book, Nathan, explains his Autism Spectrum superpowers, how they affect him, and ways his friends can help out when his superpowers spiral out of control.

This book is a TOOL written by a mom/pediatric physical therapist to help kids, family, friends, and caregivers understand the Autism Spectrum and some of the struggles and superpowers associated with it.

Xander’s Ceberal Superpowers

Xander explains about cerebral palsy, what causes it, the 4 types, and how it affects him and his friends who also have cerebral palsy. He also shows how he is an important member of his family and how what HE can do MATTERS. 

This book is a TOOL written by a mom/pediatric physical therapist to open discussions about cerebral palsy and inclusion. It demonstrates how to be an advocate for your friends with cerebral palsy and how they are important and have so much value. It is best for older elementary school kids or a book to read aloud to younger ones and could even be read in sections.

Effie is the founder of the blog Rising Above rheumatoid arthritis, an award-winning patient advocate and activist, and freelance health writer currently working on her debut children’s picture book (and more!)

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