15 Children’s Books for Summer Reading Written by Authors of Color
School is out for the majority of children, temperatures are rising, and summer mode is in full activation. While fun outdoor activities such as water parks, theme parks, and picnics are fantastic to do with your children on their summer break, summer reading can be equally as fun. Whether your child is on a white sandy beach, relaxing by a crystal blue pool, or at the park, they can grab a book to take with them.
It was imperative that we included enriching and enlightening publications that welcome and embrace children of all backgrounds. Children who see diverse characters in a story, who look like them, and are reflected on each page, allow kids to realize their own potential and possibilities. Additionally, diversifying our bookshelves to include all colors, races, and cultures assists children in being empathetic and compassionate toward others.
Lastly, Kids on the Yard, stated, “Summer reading is essential for your child’s success because it improves emotional intelligence, exercises the brain, broadens their perspectives, builds vocabulary, improves memory, enhances knowledge, facilitates better writing, and improves concentration.”
With these positives in mind, let’s celebrate the end of the school year with these great summer reading selections! Each story resonates with the current times, speaks to the children of the future, and gives our youth an opportunity to see themselves reflected in books.
These 15 glorious books are kid-approved! Are you ready to start browsing?
Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem
This incredible book was written by presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and most importantly, in themselves.
Leila in Saffron
A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner. With each visit, she finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her.
Tomatoes for Neela
Bestselling author and host of Bravo’s Top Chef and Hulu’s Taste the Nation, Padma Lakshmi takes young readers on an intergenerational journey full of delicious flavors and fun food facts that celebrates a family’s treasured recipes. Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator, Juana Martinez-Neal, brings this circle of women to life with vivid detail and warmth. Tomatoes for Neela lovingly affirms how we can connect to other cultures, as well as to our own, through food.
In The Bench, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between father and son. This story reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.
Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood
Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating, and collaboration.
P Is for Poppadoms!: An Indian Alphabet Book
From C for chai to Y for yoga, this fresh alphabet book takes young readers on a spirited journey to discover the people, places, lifestyles, and languages of India.
Mae Among the Stars
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
Inspired by a true story from the childhood of Vice President Kamala Harris. This is the uplifting tale of how the author’s aunt and mother first learned to persevere in the face of disappointment. Together, they turned a dream into reality. This story shows children’s ability to make a difference and of a community coming together to transform their neighborhood.
From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author, Misty Copeland, comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia–a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life.
On an island at the edge of a wide, wild sea, a girl and her grandmother gather gifts from the earth. Salmon from the stream, herring eggs from the ocean, and in the forest, a world of berries.
This lovingly-illustrated picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrants bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this story is both topical and timeless.
Our Double Fifth Celebration: Dragon Boat Festival, Children’s Day and Dano
On the fifth day of the fifth month, there is so much to celebrate! Boats race to the beat of the drums in the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. Japanese carp flags wave in the wind for National Children’s Day. And women soar on the swings during Dano in Korea. In this third book in the Asian Holidays series, children will learn about the different foods, festivals, and family customs that make the Double Fifth celebration special.
In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in new ways. They will see how everyone is connected and understand everyone matters.
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.
NBA champion and superstar LeBron James pens a slam-dunk picture book inspired by his foundation’s I PROMISE program that motivates children everywhere to always #StriveForGreatness.