All the World's a Classroom

My Favorite Children’s Books That Celebrate Differences

My Favorite Children’s Books That Celebrate Differences

This post is part of the Favorite Children’s Books series. See all the posts in the series here.


For the fifth installment of my favorite children’s books, I’m focusing on children’s books that celebrate differences. With the ongoing racial reckoning in the United States that finds its echoes globally, it behooves parents to be acutely intentional with the way we teach our children about humanity and the various colors and cultures we embody. Even young children can embrace negative racial stereotypes that we consciously or subconsciously hold. So while we fight any racist idea or thought within ourselves, we need to also impart better values in our children.


One of the best ways to raise antiracist kids is by diversifying their reading selections. For example, pick up books by diverse authors, books that have diverse characters and graphics, stories that tell counter-cultural stereotypes. Have books that have diverse heroes–characters that center the story line that come in different colors and from different cultures. Also, read books with characters that your kids can see themselves in, not just as token characters, but as characters that truly represent who they are and how they do life.


We need to do better. I need to do better. And better is never inevitable; it always takes effort and work. Let’s do this together!


For an adult version of antiracist books, see this Reading Guide to Antiracist Books.

I think this is my new all-time favorite book. The Day You Begin is poetic, beautifully illustrated, and most importantly, teaching the very important lesson to open up and share the gift of who you are with the world. My younger self could really use this lesson, as well as my present self.

Amazon | Bookshop

Written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has grown up with diabetes, this book tells the stories of kids with different abilities, with their challenges, and with their particular gifts of going through the world.

Amazon | Bookshop


One Big Heart is written from a Christian worldview. This fun book celebrates differences and the commonality in all of us–one big heart.

Amazon | Bookshop

Be Kind is an inner reflection of a child on What does kindness look like? And on the power of that kindness to each recipient.

Amazon | Bookshop

For any child who may think that they don’t matter, You Matter!

Amazon | Bookshop

What are your favorite children’s books that celebrate differences? 

Children's Books That Celebrate Differences

To support independent bookstores, shop these books from my list.


*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

* links on this page are also affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you purchase from these links, which also help independent bookstores across the country.

Best Books of 2020: Part 1

Best Books of 2020: Part 1

This is my first installment of the best books of 2020. If you’re curious about all the books I’ve read in 2020, see this page.

1. How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Also featured in my Reading Guide to Antiracist Books. A must-read for this moment that we inhabit. Kendi’s parsing of definitions and overlapping concepts brings so much clarity to the complex spheres that race touches. 

I love investigative journalism stories. This book is the riveting behind-the-scenes account of Kantor and Twohey’s reporting on sexual harassment and abuse by Harvey Weinstein. 

Also an unbelievable story behind Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein. Incredible reporting that also revealed systems that protect the rich and powerful.

If you want to take a break from current issues and read an entertaining science book that evokes wonder, this is the book for it. This book is highly readable and informative, unveiling the hidden, scientific magic of everyday items like your utensils, chocolate, and more. It reminds me Hope Jahren’s quote in Lab Girl, “Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.”

Nate Silver, the man behind, outlines fundamental principles on how we should relate to data. It is incredibly insightful, providing lasting lessons as we go deeper into the age of big data. The book is first published in 2012, but its insights become even more relevant now. (It even has a chapter on epidemic and data).

Insightful reflections from a variety of individuals on how the Christian faith can engage culture, more specifically a divided culture.


Often science and faith are pitted against each other. But that is not the only conversation that takes place. The other framing of the relationship between science and faith, one that I connect with more, is the one Tippett presents in this book: the connection between science and spirituality. 

Favorite Books Lists

2021: Best Books of 2021 Part 1, Best Books of 2021 Part 2.

2020: Best Books of 2020 Part 1, Best Books of 2020 Part 2.

2019: Best Books of 2019 Part 1, Best Books of 2019 Part 2.

2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.

2017Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.

2016Best Books of 2016 Part 1Best Books of 2016 Part 2.

2015Best Books of 2015 Part 1Best Books of 2015 Part 2.


*Amazon Product and Bookshop links on this blog are affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!


A Reading Guide to Antiracist Books

A Reading Guide to Antiracist Books

This reading guide will continue to evolve as I read more on antiracism. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.

Coming to America is akin to walking into a conversation that’s been going on for centuries. One of the conversations—the most fraught one—is between Black and White America, if you can even call it a “conversation.” As someone who came here from the other side of the world, it has taken me years to catch up to this conversation on race, to educate myself on the terminologies, shortcuts, prominent voices and references used in the discourse, and I’m still awakening each day.


And now we’ve come to this moment. A country in deep unrest, a culmination of years of deep hurt due to injustice. To many, it’s the logical progression from previous outcries, repeatedly dismissed. To others, it’s a wake-up call to be more outspoken, to decry injustice, discard silence and passivity and be a real ally to the Black community. To yet others, it’s a call to finally listen and educate themselves to be less ignorant about race.


Much has been said to support, affirm, and stand with the Black community, and this must keep coming. Words have power, and these words matter a great deal. Here, I add my voice to stand with my Black brothers and sisters, and hope to make a small dent in the work of bridge-building.


I’d like to humbly offer this page as a resource to all of us who care to be more awakened on the subject of race.


A Reading Guide to Antiracist Books

Here is a list of books that have edified me over the years on Black lives in America, and on race in general. It covers many, many aspects that Blacks have been disadvantaged throughout American history, from criminal justice, housing, voting rights, and others.


If you’re someone who is starting or in the midst of a learning journey to listen and understand how race, though a human construct, impacts greatly how we move through the world, I hope this reading guide can help you navigate the multitudinous sectors that race touches.


If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, that feeling is appropriate. Racism has 400 years-worth of history on this land, and it cannot be simplified. Just take the first steps, delve into topics that call you, and go from there.


This list will continue to evolve, as I continue to learn and educate myself. I invite you to come along on this education journey. It’s urgent and no longer optional.


And if you have suggestions on more books to add, please send the title and topics covered to me via the comments section or social media. I welcome them wholeheartedly.


Finally, to my dear Black brothers and sisters, I may not understand completely what you have to face each day, but for whatever it’s worth, I stand beside you. I grieve with you. I hear you. And I will add my voice to the fight for justice.


To my non-Black brothers and sisters, I plead with you to take time to listen, grieve, and be provoked to uncover personal and communal blindspots. Just hold that impulse to tell the Black community what to feel and how to express their pain and anger for a few moments and try to understand first.


Reading is good. And it’s an important beginning to this moment we’re living in. But it must not end in itself. I hope these books do something to our hearts, and henceforth, our private and public lives.


Primers on How to Approach Conversations on Race

Topics: racism, antiracism

Helpful definitions on what all these terms mean. Must-read.

Topics: race conversation

A guide on how to have conversations on race. Explains why some phrases and words may be hurtful to others.

If you want to learn more about the criminal justice system

Topics: criminal justice, wrongful conviction, wrongful imprisonment, death penalty, redemption.

My previous posts on this book: here, here, and here.

The movie based on this book was released in 2019, and they’re making it free for rent for the month of June 2020 across streaming platforms. See


Favorite quote: 

I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.


Topics: criminal justice, mass incarceration

Toward the end of the book, Michelle Alexander has a section that describes the problem with colorblindness, and provides a better alternative–color consciousness. If you ever heard people say, or said it yourself, “I don’t see color,” this section is a good explanation on why that’s problematic. I’m including a short excerpt below. 

Favorite quotes:

Saying that one does not care about race is offered as an exculpatory virtue, when in fact it can be a form of cruelty.

Seeing race is not the problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem. The fact that the meaning of race may evolve over time or lose much of its significance is hardly a reason to be struck blind. We should hope not for a colorblind society but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love. That was King’s dream–a society that is capable of seeing each of us, as we are, with love. That is a goal worth fighting for.

Topics: criminal justice, wrongful conviction, wrongful imprisonment

This book is a memoir by Anthony Ray Hinton, a man who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Bryan Stevenson (of Book #3) was his lawyer who helped exonerate him. It’s dark story of injustice, but also an incredible story of resilience, hope, and faith.

Topics: criminal justice

This book sheds light on the nuanced history of how the attitude toward tough-on-crime measures has evolved within the Black community. Really important contribution to the complex conversation. 


If you want to learn about Christian churches and racism

Topics: American Christians, American Church

Historically, Christians in America are all across the spectrum with regards to race. But, as everything else, it’s always better to face the truth of history rather than denying it. 

If you want to learn about the Black experience and what it means to move through the world in a Black body

Topics: Black experience

Must-read. And it’s free on Kindle.

Favorite quote:

One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

Topics: Black experience

Favorite quote:

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.


Topics: Black experience, Black body

Favorite quote:

Think of all the love poured into him. Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters…Think of checks written for family photos. Think of credit cards charged for vacations. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams…injected into that vessel of flesh and bone.
And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth.

Topics: Black experience

Contains Coates’ essays over the past decade. Includes the illuminating The Case for Reparations.

Topics: Black experience, coming of age


If you want to learn about the Civil Rights Movement

Topics: Civil Rights Movement, nonviolence

Refreshingly calm, full of wisdom, and enlightening. Lewis is someone who has fought for civil rights for decades, has been beaten, jailed, and threatened multiple times, and has continued to serve the public to this day. So the import of his words and counsel is deeply felt in this book. I picked this book up after listening to his interview with Krista Tippett on the spiritual aspect of the Civil Rights Movement. I did not realize how deep it was. The philosophy of nonviolence and their commitment to it is more than just a means to make social change. They were going for changes in the spiritual nature of society at the time.

If you want to learn about voting rights

Topics: voting rights, civil rights

Covers the history of the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and traces its continued struggle all the way to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down its key provisions fifty years later.

If you want to learn about discriminatory housing laws

Topics: housing laws

(on my to-read list)

Think about where you live. Wherever it is, you are part of the housing system. And housing impacts everything else. Check out this podcast episode from Code Switch.

If you want to learn about the human race’s struggle with racism throughout history

Topics: Holocaust, human evil, human resilience

A classic account of the nobility, resilience, and evilness of humanity.

Topics: Apartheid, South Africa

Trevor Noah, a comedian from South Africa, is a brilliant storyteller. Noah was born during apartheid, and grew up in the complex post-apartheid South Africa. His life stories are out of this world. If you can, I would recommend listening to the audiobook version, which he narrates himself.

Blog posts inspired by the book:

Trevor Noah’s Insights on the Power of Language

Home in Language: Why Speaking in Your Mother Tongue is So Refreshing

If you want to learn about the Great Migration

If you want to read an encouraging story of how a white supremacist came to denounce his beliefs

Topics: white nationalism

This is a fantastic book of an incredible story written by the Pulitzer Prize writer Eli Saslow. Derek Black grew up in the middle of white nationalism. His family was, and still is, at the head of the movement. Yet when Derek went to college, things began to change until he finally left the movement and is now actively fighting against it. This book tells the dramatic story of his evolution through interactions he had with college friends, a few of whom invited him to Shabbat dinners, and continued to do so even after they knew who he was. The story is presented with empathy toward everyone involved and contains so many lessons for us today. 

Other Topics 

Topics: culture, cultural differences, Asian experience

One of the fundamental issues in the conversation on race, as I see it, is the inability to see that there are simply multiple ways of seeing the world. It’s kind of baffling, but it seems like some people don’t even realize that there are such things as cultural differences.

I include this book as one example of how understanding cultural differences can illuminate our conversations on race. Simply having one contrast to your own worldview is very edifying. Of course, there are many more examples out there.

A few years back I wrote a series of posts on the difference between Eastern and Western ways of seeing the world. See them here.


Topics: transracial adoption, Asian experience

A lovely memoir on family, identity, and belonging. As a baby, Nicole Chung was adopted and raised by a white family. She grew up well loved, but also with a sense of not completely belonging or understood. She searched, and found, her birth (Korean) family as an adult, and in the process, explored the complexities of being a transracial adoptee and the different shades that “family” can mean.


Topics: Native American experience

This book tells the chilling story of the insidious conspiracy to murder members of the Osage Nation in order to gain their wealth. The historical backdrop of the story is the apportioning of land to Native Americans across this country. In the early 1900s, it so happened that oil was discovered in the land owned by the Osage Nation, sending its members to unprecedented wealth and opulence. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed, many through poisoning. There were concerted efforts to rob the Osage of their power and money through legal, financial, or even familial measures. 


If the nonfiction reads can illuminate you on the societal issues and policies, fiction can give you glimpses of the human psyche. Here are my personal selections of fiction that help heighten our empathy.

On My To-Read List

As mentioned above, I will continue to update this page. Feel free to bookmark and come back for more books later. Also, send me your recommendations and the topics they cover. As you can see, I need to read up on the LatinX experience, so suggestions on this will be greatly appreciated!  

To support independent bookstores, shop these books from my list.


*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

* links on this page are also affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you purchase from these links, which also help independent bookstores across the country.

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