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The Best Books on Empowerment, Diversity and Being a Decent Human Being for Kids

Little hands unwrapping a gift

If you’re looking to spread holiday cheer this season, while also raising awareness, a book can be the gift that keeps on giving. To help round out that special someone’s library (or even your own), here is our selection of books about diversity that help empower and raise awareness that it’s OK to be different. 

Hair Love

Cover of 'Hair Love'
by Matthew A. Cherry$24

About: A book for and about the ultimate Girl Dad, Hair Love explores and celebrates Zuri’s relationship with her natural hair; it kinks, it coils, it curls every which way. But the girl knows it’s beautiful. Her dad though still has a way to go when it comes to learning how to style it for an extra special occasion and he’s willing to do the work. This book is a feel-good celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere. 


Related: Blue Ivy Carter is bringing positive representation — narrates ‘Hair Love’ audiobook.


A is for Activist

Cover of 'A is for Activist'
by Innosanto Nagara $16

About: A more fun way to learn the ABCs than you might’ve been exposed to, help kids build an understanding of ways to take action and affect change; from environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ2S+ and more, help teach understanding of these complex issues, one letter at a time.


See also: 10 young Indigenous women leading the way for the next generation.


Malala’s Magic Pencil 

Cover of "Malala's Magic Pencil"
by Malala Yousafzai$18

About: A picture book authored by Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author, this story is inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s own childhood. As a child growing up in Pakistan, Yousafzai made a wish for a magic pencil to spread joy. As she grew older, she became more aware of local issues. The story is told in a way that allows younger audiences to understand the worldview that enabled Malala to hold on to hope, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. 



You may also like: 12 female leaders who give us hope.


Think Big, Little One

Cover of "Think Big, Little One"
by Vashti Harrison$13

About: This board book version of Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World is another work by New York Times-bestselling author Vashti Harrison, teaching “little dreamers to follow all their biggest ideas.” It features full-colour illustrations of trailblazing leaders such as architect Zaha Hadid, and environmental activist Wangari Maathai, among others.


Related: 10 women of colour making a big impact on TV.


Mommy, Mama, And Me

Cover of "Mommy, Mama, and Me"
by Leslea Newman$9

About: Rhythmic text and illustrations accompany what has been called “one of the only original books about gay parents.” This story has universal appeal and centres on the love shared in a family. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, anything is possible. 


You may also like: Celebrity coming out stories that will make you cry tears of pride.


I Am Enough

Cover of 'I Am Enough"
by Grace Byers$21


This No. 1 New York Times-bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book tackles a root issue many women grapple with: sense of self-worth. I Am Enough is a lyrical tribute to loving who you are, respecting others, and recognizing that we are all here for a purpose. 


Related: 8 ways to embrace your beauty, love your body and feel more confident


Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls

Cover of "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls"
by Elena Favilli$45


About: Another award winner, Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women works to undo the harmful messaging that little girls need to be compliant. The volume includes 100 bedtime stories about the lives of extraordinary women from both the past and present, illustrated by 60 different female artists, the world over. Told in a unique narrative style, each tale transforms a biography into a fairytale to pique curiosity.

See also: Genius career advice from the most powerful women in the world


Little Feminist

Cover of "Little Feminist" boxset
by Emily Kleinman and Lydia Ortiz $19

About: The Little Feminist Board Book Set includes four mini board books, showcasing pioneers, artists, leaders and activists — all real women who have helped shape history in a positive way.

Related: 10 stigmas women still face everyday.

The Day You Begin

Cover of "The Day You Begin"
by Jacqueline Woodson $22

About: This thoughtful, illustrated story delves into the idea that we can all feel like outsiders sometimes, giving a message of courage to persist and go forth, anyway. It is also a good reminder, that sometimes too, when we open up along this journey, others may reach out to meet us halfway too. This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!

Antiracist Baby 

Cover of "Antiracist Baby"
by Ibram X. Kendi$9

About:Antiracist Baby in board book form is a great early start to teaching antiracism. This bestseller comes from the award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist, empowering parents and children to fight racism both in society and in ourselves to help build a more equitable world. 

See also: 10 accidental microaggressions you might be making everyday.


Cover of "Sulwe"
by Lupita Nyong'o$24


Recipient of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Literary Work, Sulwe is authored by Academy Award-winner actor Lupita Nyong’o. Told through the eyes of Sulwe, whose skin is the colour of midnight, the moving story addresses notions of colorism, self-esteem and embracing your beauty from the inside out. 

Pink is for Boys

Cover of "Pink is For Boys"
by Robb Pearlman$23

About:This story encourages us to think beyond colour-coded binary gender associations and that pink is, in fact, for boys… and girls… and everyone! The book includes a diverse range of characters, inviting each to embrace what they love to do best, be it racing cars or loving unicorns. 


Related: Old school parenting advice that we need to stop telling our kids.

Trailblazers: The Black Pioneers Who Have Shaped Canada

Cover of "Trailblazers"
by Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore$20

About: This Canadian-focused volume explores Canada’s Black history through the under-told stories of more than 40 Black trailblazers and change-makers.  From Viola Desmond to Bernice Redmon, each has worked to overcome barriers and pave a more inclusive path for those who follow. 

Related: 10 facts that will shock you about racial injustice in Canada.

Last Stop on Market Street

Cover of "Last Stop on Market Street"
by Matt De La Peña $25

About: Another bestselling prize-winner on this list, Last Stop on Market Street touches on issues of economic inequality, but as told through the loving lens of a grandparent-grandchild relationship. While CJ wonders why his family doesn’t own a car or the latest gadgets his friends have, his grandma helps him see the joy in all that they do have. 

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias

Cover of "This is Your Brain on Stereotypes"
by Tanya Lloyd Kyi $18

About: By understanding what stereotypes are and how they work, we may be less likely to buy into them. Exploring the science behind them through an easy to understand way, readers gain insight on how our brains learn to sort and label information about our world from infancy.  But, this simplification also comes at a huge cost to our society explaining how we can work to overcome stereotypes to help create a more inclusive, fair society.  

Related: 10 common phrases you didn’t know were racist.

Suki’s Kimono 

Cover "Suki's Kimono"
by Chieri Uegaki$9


About: Embracing her obachan’s gift — a blue cotton kimono — Suki is excited to share memories from a special summer spent with her grandma. Told in a whimsical voice, Suki’s Kimono is about embracing your inner voice and marching to your own drumbeat. 

All products featured on are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

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