Fall Picture Book Recommendations

Light pink box with words: Hello fall books September in multicolor mix font letters

A few days ago, I laced up my Allbird shoes, put on my headphones, and happened to open Twitter which featured a live Twitter space with an author talking about why diversity in books is important. I wasn’t planning to listen in but did and it was interesting. It reminded me to write this part two of last week’s blog post featuring diverse books.

One of the ideas Winsome Bingham, author of the children’s book Soul Food Sunday talked about was cultivating her bookshelf. She intentionally seeks out books and authors to ensure her bookshelf and reading are balanced. As she talked about how she works to fill her bookshelf I could imagine a bright and colorful bookshelf with constantly rotating books on it.

That leads me to share more titles with you, including a few categories I saved for this week. I hope you’ll be like Winsome Bingham and work to intentionally curate your reading, book gifting, and bookshelves.

Picture Books

I LOVE picture books. A good picture book can capture you in five-ten minutes, a commitment without being a long commitment. A good picture book gives you art and opens up new worldviews. Here are a few of my new discoveries. The links in there are affiliate links to Bookshop.org, all profits generated are used to buying books to donate to schools with majority POC student bodies.

Berry Song – It is the end of berry season in many places and this book is perfect for capturing why berries are a deep part of Native and Indigenous life.

Whenever I think about berries, my friend James pops into my head. He’s Ojibwe and would bring strawberries to the office to share. He explained that in Ojibwe they are referred to as heart berries. Knowing this cultural connection and reading Berry Song gave me a deeper appreciation for berries and their cultural importance.

Kapaemahu is a top shelf book, or bottom so kids can reach it and devour it. Earlier this summer I took a trip home to Hawaii and visited the Bishop Museum which had an exhibit connected to the story of the history and past of Mahu and several large stones/boulders that captured the dual spirits of male and females. This book elaborates on the tale and legend. What makes it even better is it is written in Ni’ihau Hawaiian, a dialect of Hawaiian that has been spoken continually, which is remarkable since Hawaiian language was decimated due to colonization and white supremacy in the islands. I borrowed an e-book version from the library and it had an audio reading of the Hawaiian text which made it great to listen to. Here is a link to the PBS YouTube short movie/vid, so worth watching and listening to in Hawaiian.

Three Pockets Full: A Story of Love, Family, and Tradition is a good book for families that want to talk about family change. In the book Beto doesn’t want to wear his guayabera to the wedding. His mother gently coaxes him into a conversation about upcoming family changes. I really liked having this diverse title that brings in Mexican traditions. As I heard on the Twitter chat I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of back to school books – we need them all. We need this story about how families change and representing Mexican American culture too.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. This isn’t a new book, but I was reminded of the importance of including books about disabilities during an author talk this afternoon. Justice Sotomayor’s book was featured on a book list for children’s books about disabilities and it reminded me of this gem of a book.

I’m often skeptical about football-authored picture books (showing a bias), but I Color Myself Different by Colin Kapernick fills an important niche. In his picture book, he shares his experience of being trans-racially adopted.  

This is an older book that popped up on my LibraryThing recommended book list. I tracked down a copy at the library (it comes with a CD). No Mirrors at Nana’s House shares a story about how a girl discovers her own Black beauty with the help of her grandmother. Intergenerational stories are so wonderful.

I’m making a general assumption many of you reading this are adults. I hope you’ll still pick up some or all of these picture books and read them. Picture books will expose you to art and new stories. The time commitment to read them is short, so invest in a few picture books, then share it with someone else maybe a child or another adult.

Why I wrote this: I love picture books and want to share diverse titles with others. When we read diverse books, we’re also investing in authors-, illustrators-, and stories of color.

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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.