28 Picture Book Picks by BIPOC Creators | We Are Kid Lit Collective

School Library Journal has proudly partnered with We Are Kid Lit Collective to share and promote the group's annual summer reading recommendations. Check out their 28 picture book selections. A PDF of the full list is also available for download.

School Library Journal has proudly partnered with We Are Kid Lit Collective to share and promote the group's annual summer reading recommendations.

This week, SLJ will publish individual posts featuring their recommendations for picture books, transitional books, middle grade, and young adult titles. A PDF of the full list is also available for download.

Check out their 28 picture book selections, including works by David Bowles, Lil Nas X, Donna Barba Higuera, and Eloise Greenfield.

The We Are Kid Lit Collective works to create materials and opportunities to recognize the humanity of Indigenous and People of Color (IPOC) in youth literature. Their work is premised upon the principles of social justice, equity, and inclusion and centers IPOC voices in children’s literature in order to identify, challenge and dismantle white supremacy and both internalized and systematic racism.  

Their intended audience includes educators, librarians, caregivers, and young people. They look for ways to improve the literacies of IPOC children, promote books written by and about IPOC, and encourage gatekeepers to bring a lens of critical literacy to their work.

Ancona, George; translated by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Mi escuela/My school. (Scholastic/Children’s Press, 2004). Bilingual. Spanish; English.
Part of the “Somos Latinos” book series, this title follows an ­elementary student during a typical day at school. Mi escuela/ My School features straightforward text (in English and ­Spanish) and photographs from George Ancona, who passed away in ­January 2021.

Bashi, Golbarg; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali. Counting Up the Olive Tree: A Palestine Number Book. (Dr. Bashi, 2019). English.
When a woodcutter is planning to cut the last olive tree, a team of soccer players one by one climb up the tree. An ­uplifting story of community and solidarity while counting children and depending on one another.

Burgos, Hilda Eunice; illustrated by Gaby D’Alessandro. The Cot in the Living Room. (Kokila, 2021). English.
A young girl is jealous of the children who stay at her ­Dominican American family’s apartment because they get to sleep on the cot in the living room. But when the girl finally gets her chance at the coveted spot, she finds that sleeping on the cot isn’t the amazing experience she believed it to be.

Bowles, David; illustrated by Erika Meza. My Two Border Towns. (Kokila, 2021). Bilingual. English; Spanish.
A boy and his father share a weekend ritual: driving across the Rio Grande to The Other Side (the Mexican town just across the border) to eat good food, visit friends, and check in with families camped out along the bridge, seeking asylum.

Clarke, Maxine Beneba. When We Say Black Lives Matter. (Candlewick, 2021). English.
Employing bold mixed media art and poetic text, Clarke depicts a Black couple explaining to their child the many reasons why Black Lives Matter.

Dawes, Kwame; illustrated by Tom Feelings; afterword by Jerry Pinkney. I Saw Your Face. (Dial Books, 2005). English.
Inspired by a conversation between both creators, Dawes’s lyrical prose and Feelings’s sketches and illustrations capture the myriad of faces and experiences within the Africa diasporas.

Flett, Julie; translated by the Cree Literacy Network. We All Play/ Kimêtawânaw. (Greystone Kids, 2021). Bilingual. English; Plains Cree (y-dialect).
An ideal book for very young readers, with appealing illustrations showing animals romping about in their respective habitats—and children playing just like the animals do.

Fritsch, Kelly & Anne McGuire; illustrated by Eduardo Trejos. We Move Together. (AK Press, 2021). English.
Disability justice, positivity, and inclusivity are at the center of this title. Simple text and bright illustrations appeal to children, while thorough back matter guides any adults who may have questions, or field questions from curious young readers.

Gonzalez, Maya Christina & Matthew SG. They, She, He: Easy As ABC. (Reflection Press, 2019). English.
Through this inclusive alphabet book, children learn about ­pronouns, what makes each one of us unique, and the joys of childhood.

Greenfield, Eloise; illustrated by Colin Bootman. Alaina and the Great Play. (Alazar Press, 2021). English.
Rambunctious kindergartner Alaina prepares for her speech at the end of the play at school, then embellishes a bit once on stage. Told with Greenfield’s characteristic humor and love for her young Black characters, this book was released shortly before her passing in August, 2021.

Higuera, Donna Barba; illustrated by Juliana Perdomo. El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! (Abrams, 2021). English.
Neither Ramón nor El Cucuy, the monster who lives in Ramón’s cactus pot, can sleep. Both are scared for different reasons, but each comforts the other in their own way.

Hooks, Bell; illustrated by Chris Raschka. Be Boy Buzz. (Disney/Jump at the Sun, 2002); (Little, Brown, 2016). English.
This bright and attractive title, released in board book format in 2016, delivers all the buzz on being a boy. bell hooks passed away in December, 2021.

Johnson, Angela; illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell. Mama Bird, Baby Birds. (Orchard Books, 1994). English.
Two siblings interact with a baby bird in their backyard, and learn the connection, care, and love between mothers and their babies.

Johnston, Aviaq; illustrated by Tim Mack. What’s My Superpower? (Inhabit Media, 2017). English.
Nalvana can identify the different superpowers her friends and family have, but she struggles to find her own superpowers…that were within her all along.

Lazo Gilmore, Dorina K.; illustrated by Kristi Valiant. Cora Cooks Pancit. (Shen’s Books/Lee & Low, 2009). English.
With her older siblings busy, Cora finally gets to be Mama’s assistant chef! After helping to cook her favorite Filipino dish, pancit, Cora wonders what the rest of her family will think.

Lil Nas X; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. C Is for Country. (Random House, 2021). English.
Howdy readers! African American country performer Lil’ Nas makes sure everyone knows how much fun we can all have out in the country.

Luby, Brittany; illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley; translated by Alvin Ted Corbiere & Alan Corbiere. Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This Is How I Know: A Book About the Seasons. (Groundwood, 2021). Bilingual (Anishinaabemowin; English)
An intergenerational story in which a child and her grandmother interact with nature and identify what makes each of the different seasons unique.

Mirchandani, Raakhee; illustrated by Holly Hatam. Hair Twins. (­Little, Brown, 2021). English.
A girl and her father share a special bond over hairstyles, hair love, and culture in loving and caring moments.

Moss, Thylias; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. I Want to Be. (Dial, 1993). English.
This whimsical poem, told from the point of view of an endlessly curious young African American girl, features illustrations from decorated author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who passed away in October, 2021.

Noor, Nabela; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali. Beautifully Me. (Simon & Schuster, 2021). English.
Zubi internalizes harmful messages about body image until she finally breaks down at a family dinner, leading to a discussion on the importance of self-love.

Phi, Bao; illustrated by Dion MBD. Hello, Mandarin Duck! (Capstone, 2021). English.
As neighbors head to the park for the May Day parade, a multicultural cast of children try to steer a lost mandarin duck to the pond, greeting one another along the way by saying “hello” in numerous variations and languages.

Smith, Cynthia Leitich; illustrated by Cornelius van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. Jingle Dancer. (HarperCollins, 2000) (Heartdrum, 2021). English.
A young Muscogee (Creek) girl longs to jingle dance at the next powwow, but worries she will not be able to find enough jingles for her dress. In 2021, a new paperback version featuring new cover typography, updated text, and ancillary materials, including an author’s note, was published in tandem with We Need Diverse Books.

Spillett-Sumner, Tasha; illustrated by Michaela Goade. I Sang You Down from the Stars. (Little, Brown, 2021). English.
As she awaits the arrival of her baby, a pregnant mother gathers some gifts from nature and others that are crafted through traditions to create a caring bundle for her little one.

Steptoe, John. Baby Says. (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988) (­HarperFestival, 2018). English.
Baby will do anything to get his long-suffering older brother’s attention! A board book version of this classic story of African American brotherly love was published in 2018.

Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia; illustrated with art by Regis and Kahran Bethencourt. The Me I Choose to Be. (Little, Brown, 2021). English.
Poetic text and bold photography combine in this empowering picture book about self-love and the endless possibilities of Black selfhood.

Thompkins-Bigelow, Jamilah; illustrated by Ebony Glenn. Mommy’s Khimar. (Salaam Reads, 2018). English.
A Black Muslim child plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, finding comfort in the familiar, in this cozy, sensory-rich picture book.

Tudor, Aslan. Young Native Activist: Growing Up in Native American Rights Movements. (Self-Published, 2019). English.
Through photographs and personal accounts, this book tells the story of a young Lipan Apache activist and his family’s involvement in the American Indian Movement.

Wang, Andrea; illustrated by Jason Chin. Watercress. (Holiday House/Neal Porter, 2021). English.
When her parents stop to pick fresh watercress by the side of the road, a young girl is initially embarrassed. But after hearing her mother’s story of her difficult childhood in China, the child has a deeper appreciation for her family.

2022 WE ARE KID LIT COLLECTIVE MEMBERS: Sam Bloom, Edith Campbell, Sujei Lugo Vázquez, and Lyn Miller-Lachmann.



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