A Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids


In children’s books, it can be easier to find talking pandas than characters of color. Only six percent of children’s books published in 2012 featured diverse characters. Here’s a list to better reflect the U.S. today. (NPR)

Use our resources to get even more suggestions for fun summer reading.

Illustration by Mary Crooks, National Geographic
Illustration by Mary Crooks, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas


  • The NPR booklist is a great way to appreciate new cultures or gain a greater understanding of your own. How else might you engage with cultural diversity?
    • Food is a fantastic way to get to know the cultural traditions of a region. Check out our activity “Culture and Food and Ritual, Oh My!” to get a sense of how food helps defines the diverse cultures of the Middle East.
    • Music is a fun way to learn about a culture. Check out our video profile of dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham, who incorporates the diverse cultures of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into his delightful, dazzling work.
    • Movies! Television and film are entertaining and interesting ways to engage with a culture around the world or around the block. Check out these generally kid-friendly, culturally diverse suggestions:
      • Like Frozen? Lilo & Stitch is another tale of sisterly solidarity, this one set on the sunny shores of Hawaii.
      • Like Fantasia? Try the wonderfully silly Italian version, Allegro Non Troppo.
      • Looking for slightly more adventurous, still gorgeous animation? Anything by Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki is a good bet. His last film, The Wind Rises, might still be in a theater near you.
      • Need a break from animation? Try the breathtaking, stop-motion version of the Russian classic Peter and the Wolf.
      • Want even more strangely beautiful images? Try the shadow puppets of The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
      • Like the ’70s flashbacks in X-Men: Days of Future Past? Try The Inkwell, a great family-reunion movie.
      • Like Godzilla? The Korean monster movie The Host is funnier, scarier, and sadder.
      • Like the Avengers defending the Earth from aliens? Try Attack the Block, where an odd assortment of Londoners defend their territory against fantastically rendered aliens.
      • Like romantic weepies like The Fault in Our Stars? Sing your way through the Bollywood blockbuster Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
      • Like the malleable metaphors of the X-Men? Try District 9, a smart, exciting metaphor for apartheid and after.
      • Like the martial arts in 300: Rise of an Empire? Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is faster, furious-er, and more spectacular for being entirely human.
      • Like Maleficient? Try Blancanieves, another fairy-tale retelling in which a severely beautiful queen banishes her stepdaughter to a life of . . . bullfighting. With heroic dwarfs. And no happily ever after.

3 thoughts on “A Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids

Leave a Reply