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International Picture Books

Continuing my series of book lists to help parents find multicultural children’s books, the following is a list of picture books set outside the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom.  All of these books have human protagonists; while animal stories from around the world can be interesting, they do not address the fundamental problem of the lack of diversity in children’s publishing.

Picture books range widely from stories you can read to your baby to long tales for early elementary students. I have broken the list down by age group.

Ages 1-3

  • Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (Africa, Inter-racial family)
  • Splash Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia (Africa, Inter-racial family)
  • Sleep Well Siba and Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl (Uganda)

Ages 4-6

  • Jamela’s Dress by Nicky Daly (South African)
  • My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Tanzania)
  • Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade (Thailand)
  • Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho, Illustrated by Holly Meade (Thailand)
  • My Father’s Shop by Satomi Ichikawa (Morocco)
  • Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Alix Delinois (Haiti)
  • Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby by Patricia Maclachlan, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Tanzania)
  • Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi (Mauritania)


  • Brothers in Hope by Mary Williams, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Sudan)

You may also be interested in my list of picture books with protagonists of color where the setting is not explicit or is within the US, Canada, and the UK; my list of picture books with diverse casts, or my other book lists for different age groups.


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