Four (Plus!) Books to Diversify Your Children’s Book Library

Four (Plus!) Books to Diversify Your Children’s Book Library
Apr 03, 2024

Wolf Trap Education Shines a Light on Native American Voices and Award-Winning Children’s Literature

From richly illustrated stories celebrating Mexican freedom fighters to whimsical tales of dragons, the children’s literature world is always introducing fresh titles designed to inspire, educate, and entertain.

Focusing on areas of importance as identified by early childhood education partners and current best practices, the professional development (PD) team at Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts evaluates dozens of these new books each year to find emerging authors and books with subject matters that can deepen learning in specific content areas. They share these books at literature events for Wolf Trap’s local teaching artists.

This fall, the team focused on selections from Native American and First Nations authors that reflect their lives in the United States and Canada. Find out what’s on the PD team’s “must read” list for 2024:

“Berry Song,” Michaela Goade (Preschool- 3rd Grade)

“Berry Song” is Michaela Goade’s first self-authored picture book. Goade tells the story of a girl and her grandmother, as they gather gifts from the land throughout the seasons. It is set in Goade’s family’s ancestral home in what is now Southeastern Alaska, and celebrates the powerful wisdom of our elders. Caldecott Honor Book.

“Finding My Dance,” Ria Thundercloud (Preschool- 3rd Grade)

First-time author and professional dancer Ria Thundercloud, of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Sandia Pueblo, describes how Native American dance traditions helped her connect with her family’s heritage, and shares her perspective about the importance of believing in yourself, and connecting with your community.

“My Heart Fills with Happiness,” Monique Gray-Smith with Illustrations from Julie Flett (Preschool)

A board book for the younger set, Monique Gray-Smith, an author of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent, asks,What fills your heart with happiness?” In doing so, Gray-Smith encourages children and adults to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring joy.

“We All Play,” Julie Flett (Preschool – 3rd Grade)

In “We All Play,” beloved author/illustrator Julie Flett (Cree-Métis) celebrates playtime and the connection between children and the natural world. The book includes a glossary of Cree words for wild animals and a pronunciation guide. Deepen your experience with Flett’s companion Teacher’s Guide (recommended K-3rd Grade).

Books to Diversify

Bonus! Round out your library with these noteworthy titles:

  • “A is for B,” Ellen Heck  

A creative and surprising alphabet book exploring languages from around the world.

  • “Big Dreams, Small Fish,” Paula Cohen

A book that celebrates everyone’s potential to create success.

  • “Everybody in the Red Brick Building,” Anne Wynter, Art by Oge Mora

 A lively rhythmic story of people and families living in the same small building.

  • “The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship,” Ibtihaj Muhammed

 A sequel to Muhammed’s book “The Proudest Blue.”

  • “Mama’s Home,” Shay Youngblood

Youngblood’s book shares the many special roles that adults play in a child’s life.

  • “Something Someday,” Amanda Gorman, Art by Christian Robinson

With words from a presidential inaugural poet and an illustrator, this story lifts up every child’s dreams and potential.

  • “Ten Blocks to the Big Wok,” Ying-Hwa Hu

A fully bilingual (English/Mandarin) counting book.

  • “Wonder Walkers,” Micha Archer (2002 Caldecott Honor)

A story full of questions and imagination.

Ultimately, the books Wolf Trap Teaching Artists use in the classroom are informed by their teaching partner’s curricular goals, but it’s always good practice to hit the “refresh” button on one’s children’s book library every once in a while. There are always new, exciting voices out there, just waiting to be heard.