Children’s Books about Skin Colour Your Children Will Love

Have you ever wanted to buy children’s books about skin colour to educate your kids about diversity and inclusion or even self-esteem?

As a parent of two young kids, I want my children to be friends with people of different ethnicities and skin colours.

Here are some reasons why reading about race and skin colour to your children is important:

#1 Appreciate diversity


This is how I’m teaching my kids about diversity and skin colour. #fyp #parenting #skincolour #diversity #brownskingirls #booksforkids

♬ original sound – Beyoncé (FP)

Growing up in a multiracial country in Malaysia, I was really fortunate to have friends of different races. I grew up in an area that was diverse. We still keep in touch every now and then.

But I know well enough that not many families are exposed to people of different ethnicities and nationalities which limits them from really learning and appreciating diversity.

A study shows that having a critical discourse and talking about race at a young age through shared book reading is a good start to getting young children to appreciate other kids who are racially different from them.

Although living with people of different races does help our children to appreciate diversity, educating our children about race through reading is still very important. They will get used to being around people who are different – and eventually, respect their differences.

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children's books about skin colour

# 2 Representation is important

Having someone who looks like you, especially someone with the same skin colour being represented in the media can help children to feel included.

In addition to my daughter having severe eczema, she also has brown skin. As a family, we all have brown skin. It is my son who may have slightly fairer skin than the rest of us because he is approaching 3 and is not as outdoorsy.

One day, my daughter made a comment and said, “My brother is so cute. He’s white. I’m brown.”

That comment made me stop dead in my tracks.

“Oh no, are we really going to talk about this at this age? I don’t think I’m ready,” I said to myself.

She was only 5 when she said that.

#3 Broadens the definition of beauty

Even though my family and I are mostly brown skinned, growing up, I know that the discussion of beauty always centred on having fair skin. This was a discussion outside of my immediate family members though.

My parents, on the other hand, always taught us that beauty is more than what meets the eye. They reminded us that at the end of the day, what makes someone beautiful is their heart and character. They taught this to us ever since we were young.

And I plan to inculcate this in my children by reading children’s books on skin colour with them.

Here is a review of some of the children’s books on skin colour that I’ve read to my kids:

children's books about skin colour

#1 Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Who wrote the book?

This book is written by Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan actress who won an academy award for 12 Years a Slave in 2013.

When I was searching for children’s books on skin colour, I was delighted to see that this book is in stores—because I’ve always been intrigued by her.

I bought this book from Book Depository and the wait was worth it!

What I liked most about this book is that the author doesn’t try to sugarcoat what being black in the black community feels like.

What is this book about?

It’s a story about two sisters and the difficulties that Sulwe experiences as a child just for being dark. This story will definitely resonate with others because we often get compared to the people whom we are close to—whether they are our sisters or good friends.

It was an interesting story because when you think of being brown or dark-skinned, you normally think about skin as dark vs fair. But even among people of darker skin tones, there are instances where the one has the darkest complexion gets ridiculed.

It’s definitely a must-read for young children because it teaches us about what true beauty is and the importance of self-acceptance.

#2 The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Who wrote the book?

My next favourite one is The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad.

What is this book about?

The story centres around two Muslim sisters.  Asiya, the older sister wears a blue hijab on her first day of school. Her younger sister, Faiza observes her challenges and how she handles them.

Despite the difficulties Asiya may sometime face, the story highlights how she is proud of wearing the hijab. This story helps to instill confidence in Muslim girls who want to wear the hijab.

The book might not be only about skin colour but it highlights on one’s “differentness” based on religious identity.

children's books about skin colour

#3 Skin Like Mine by Latashia M Perry

Who wrote the book?

The book Skin Like Mine is written by Latashia M Perry. She is the CEO of Kids Like Mine—a collection of books to enrich and empower children of colour.

This book is a cute book that emphasizes the different shades of brown.

What is this book about?

The author uses different foods to associate the different shades of brown like candy, ice cream, and brownies.

Children will definitely be attracted to read this book because it’s a fun book to read.

#4 Skin Again by Bell Hooks and Chris Raschka

Who wrote the book?

The book Skin Again was written by Bell Hooks. Her real name was Gloria Jean Watkins. She was an American author and social activist who was also a professor that taught ethnic studies.

What is this book about?

Chris Raschka talks about race and identity in a very heart-warming manner.

This book will be a great conversation starter for parents and young students who grapple with race and identity.

“The skin I’m in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story. If you want to know who I am, you have got to come inside and open your heart way wide.”

For people of different cultures, race does matter because it is how many people identify themselves. But people should not be judged based on their race alone. What really matters is their heart. This book emphasizes other important aspects apart from what is skin-deep.

#5 The Year We Learn to Fly

Who wrote the book?

This book was written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. In this book, they highlight each person’s willpower to overcome adversity with confidence. It teaches young readers about resilience.

What is this book about?

The story centres on a brother and sister and how they deal with mundanity.

One day, their grandmother reminded them how to overcome their boredom: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.” 

By using their imagination, they learn to deal with boredom.

Then, on a day full of quarrels, it’s time for a trip outside their minds again, and they are able to leave their anger behind. On days when both of them are in a spat, again, they use their imagination to deal with their anger. Their grandmother reminds them that this was how their ancestors dealt with their problems by using the strength of their minds.

#6 The Skin You Live In

Who wrote the book?

The Skin You Live In is written by Michael Tyler and illustrated by David Lee Csicsko.

What is this book about?

This book is written in simple language but humorous nonetheless! Using nursery rhymes, the author delivers a very important message to children about self-esteem, self-acceptance, and diversity.

The story does not just centre on brown or dark skin, but it celebrates all types and skin colours. A wonderful book to read for young children.

#7 Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

Who wrote the book?

The book “Eyes That Kiss in the Corners” is written by Jonna Ho and published in 2021.

This story showcases another perspective of beauty – one that is not often depicted in Western media. The author wanted to write a book that highlighted the beauty of East Asian heritage and culture

What is this book about?

The story centres around a Chinese Amer8can girl who notices that she looks different; her eyes are not the same as those around her.

She thinks about her mother’s and grandmother’s eyes; although they too, are different but they are kind. They are able to see the kindness in people’s hearts.

#8 Laxmi’s Mooch

Who wrote this book?

This book was written by Shelly Anand. She is a civil and human rights lawyer who helps immigrants and workers from marginalized societies.

What is the book about?

This book is a picture book about a young Indian American girl accepting her physical beauty and cultural heritage after being teased for the facial hair on her upper lip.

“Laxmi never paid much attention to the tiny hairs above her lip. But one day while playing farm animals at recess, her friends point out that her whiskers would make her the perfect cat. She starts to notice body hair all over–on her arms, legs, and even between her eyebrows.

With her parents’ help, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for heads, but that it grows everywhere, regardless of gender.”

#9 Daddy Why Am I Brown?

Who wrote this book?

This book is written by Dr Bedford Palmer and illustrated by Winda Mulyasari.

What is this book about?

The story Daddy, Why Am I Brown? is about Joy, a small girl who comes from a multicultural family.

Through the character Joy, young readers will learn how to describe skin colour including her own. She also explains where her family is from.

Parents and teachers can use this book to start a conversation on how children can learn to talk about their different shades of skin colour in a healthy manner while learning about culture and race.

That’s all I have for now! What other children’s books about inequality do you read to your kids? Recommend me some in the chatbox below!

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About Me

Sofiya Wan Mohd Nor

A full time mom, a freelance proofreader and a PhD student specializing in Educational Psychology.

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