January 2, 2012

Children’s books featuring interracial families


Children’s literature featuring interracial families provide a much needed opportunity for biracial children to see themselves represented in books. It legitimizes their experience and shows them that they are important enough to be penned in prose.  The following books are gems that celebrate multiracial families.

black is brown is tan” by Arnold Adoff is a wonderful book with a dub poetry vibe to the text. It is lyrical in its description of the interracial family that in central to the tale, featuring a black mom, white dad and two biracial kids. The reader also meets the extended family and comes away from the book with a deep sense of a family who loves each other, knows how to laugh and have fun with each other.

Two Mrs. Gibsons” by Toyomi Igus is a charming tale of a little girl who is lovingly remembering two important women in her life share the same name. Little readers will get to know these characters and eventually realize the special relationship between the three of them.

Black, White, Just Right [BLACK WHITE JUST RIGHT -OS]” by Marguerite W. Davol features a mixed-race little girl who celebrates the wonderful inclusiveness of her life. Dad likes certain things and mom likes others.  She likes both the interests of her mom and dad and is already figuring out her own likes too.  For example, ‘Mom likes African masks; Dad goes for modern art; and she likes the Egyptian part of the museum.’   All in all, this book explores interests that are beyond the stereotype and is an excellent read for children and adults alike.

If you want a description of the biracial experience from a young boy’s perspective then look no further than “Trevor’s Story: A Book about a Biracial Boy (Meeting the Challenge)” by Bethany Kandel. It is a candid story told from the eyes of a 10 year old boy of what he does and does not like about being biracial. It would be a great starting point to talk to your children about what they like and don’t like about themselves (tall, short, red hair, glasses etc.). This book can be used as an opportunity to affirm to your child just how wonderful they are to you – just the way they are. 

Marina’s Muumuu / El muumuu de Marina”  by Evangelina Vigil-Pinon is a wonderful story of a multiracial girl with a fantastic imaginationShe has the capability to picture herself in Mexico, her grandfather’s homeland, or Hawaii, her grandmother’s homeland. She envisions the muumuu of her dreams (hot pink and lime green, sea blue, turquoise, and magenta), saves her money and finally finds the textile in a fabric shop. You will really enjoy the illustrations in this book.

Journey Home  by Lawrence McKay Jr. is the story of Mai, a 10 year old biracial girl who is anxious yet excited to accompany her mother to Vietnam to find her birth family who gave her up for adoption during the war. This is a fantastic story that discusses war, adoption and multiculturalism.

The Way We Do It in Japan”  by Geneva Cobb Iijima is another book with a biracial boy as the main characterGregory moves with his Japanese father and Caucasian mother from San Francisco to Japan and every time he remarks on the strangeness of things, his father says, "That’s the way we do it in Japan." This is a wonderful book that showcases cultural differences while also emphasizing social similarities.

Dumpling Soup” by Jama Kim Rattigan looks at New Year’s from 7 year old Marissa’s perspective. This book is a celebration of a multiracial family of Korean-Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian-Anglo descent living in Hawaii. The illustrations are enchanting and the story is a true tribute to what it means to live in a culturally and racially diverse family.

I Love Saturdays y domingos” by Alma Flor Ada is a book about a biracial girl’s weekends spent with her maternal and paternal grandparents. The Saturdays, she visits her European-American Grandma and Grandpa, and the Sundays – los domingos – she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, her Mexican-American grandparents are very special. Ultimately the reader learns that while the two sets of grandparents are different, they also have a lot in common, especially their love for their granddaughter.

We Wanted You” by Liz Rosenberg is a wonderful book about transracial adoption. The story begins with the son graduating and works backwards towards his eagerly anticipated arrival into his adoptive family. It is truly a touching and lovely story that celebrates the memories of a family.     



  1. Hi Epic Mom! I’m always on the look out for good reads for my son. Your list is very helpful. I’m sure I’ll enjoy them, too! 🙂

    I have a blog called Cure for Mondays where I write about my journeys in life: ones that physically take me out on the road, also spiritual, virtual, cosmic, and imagined travels where weather has no part to play. Hope you could drop by and follow 🙂

    I’m you newest follower.

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