Diverse Summer Reading List For Kids

This is the second year the Princess Fairy is participating in our local library’s summer reading program. She loves books and at three months shy of four years old she’s already reading small words like and “it” and “bit” (Dr. Seuss fans – I couldn’t help myself there :-). So this summer my goal is to encourage her reading and build up her confidence all while having fun. Having fun is our number one priority because I don’t want her to develop an adverse relationship with books. My goal is to foster a love for reading, learning, to encourage her imagination and most importantly prepare her for Pre-K this fall. That said, I always allow her to choose some of her books so we are reading books that she’s excited about and interested in. The library program requires her to read two books per week but we are overachievers so we read more. Plus, she usually picks out a book that she can’t get enough of and we end up reading it over and over again. As a mother of color, I also try to find books with characters she can relate to and stories that can teach her about different cultures. This isn’t always easy (actually it’s frustrating) and may be the reason why a lot of our kids don’t enjoy reading as much as they should. This month’s issue of Essence magazine reported that many of the kids in our community don’t read ANY books during the summer and as result regress academically over the summer months. I want to encourage reading in our families and I know that besides being super busy, a lot of moms have hard time finding books that their children genuinely enjoy.  So I’ve done the ground work for you, here is a diverse summer reading list of awesome books that you can find at your local library or purchase on Amazon for a summer filled with reading:


Caribbean Cinderella

Cendrillon : A Caribbean Cinderella

Somehow, I only recently found this book at the library and fell in love with the story when we borrowed it. Where was this book when I was growing up? I was only introduced to Disney’s Cinderella as a child but Cendrillon is the Caribbean version of the classic Cinderella story. It’s basically the same story but better Cendrillon lives on a French Caribbean island. We love this story at our house and reading it reminded me of “back home”. The illustrations were also beautiful and really brought the story to life especially for my young daughter. I think this story is perfect for children 3 – 7 (Maybe older but I’m not sure how advanced 8 year old kids are these days). If you’re of West Indian descent it’s a wonderful addition to your home library or great gift for a little girl.

One Love

I’ve posted our family’s love for this book by Cedella Marley (Bob Marley’s daughter) on my Instagram before. This book sends a really happy and friendly message and celebrates unity. Everyone gets together to celebrate in the streets regardless of their backgrounds. It really brings out the message of the iconic reggae song and it’s a book that kids of every ethnicity can enjoy.

Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (A Feeling Good Book)

When my daughter was attending daycare, one day I went to pick her up and she insisted that I read her this book. The illustrations and the message was so warm that I had to find it on Amazon. I like to refer to it as chicken soup for the little brown kids soul because it really makes them feel good about themselves. Although we live in New York City, my daughter is sometimes the only brown girl at her activities or on the playground so it’s important for me to reinforce her beauty, uniqueness and build her self-confidence.

The Elephant and Piggie Series
The Princess Fairy absolutely loves all of the Elephant & Piggie books and she’s memorized almost all of them. As a mom, I appreciate how well these books engage children. I enjoy reading them in different voices and the different color bubbles for Elephant and Piggie teaches my daughter when to change up her voice as she mimics me. These books are hilarious, fun and easy for young readers. Her favorite Elephant and Piggie book is “We Are in a Book! ” but this summer she’ll read Should I Share My Ice Cream? and My New Friend Is So Fun! from the series for the first time. We’re all anticipating exploring more of Elephant and Piggie and even my baby boy cracks up while I’m reading them

Pete the Cat
Another favorite in our home, Pete is an easy going cat who is pretty philosophical as far as I’m concerned. I hate to publicly admit this but I have moments when I ask myself “What will Pete the Cat do?” Just like Elephant and Piggie, we’ve read most of Pete the Cat books so this summer we’ll focus on Pete the Cat: I Love My White ShoesPete the Cat: Too Cool for School and Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch  which are written for emerging readers.

{Edited to add} All of the music from Pete the Cat books is available online free.

Amelia’s Show-and-Tell Fiesta

Since my daughter and I visit the library regularly, I’ve gotten to know the Children’s Room librarian really well. One of the books she reserved for me when I complained about the lack of diverse books was Amelia Show and Tell Fiesta. So far, we’ve read this book once and I fell in love with it. Although, Amelia is Latina she’s a character that children of island descent or first generation Americans will feel connected to. She wears her carnival costume to her class show and tell but feels embarrassed when she realizes none of the other kids were dressed in costume. This is until her teacher asks about her costume and she starts to dance and show it off which her peers enjoys. The book teaches valuable life lessons and is in both English and Spanish. I think all kids from Caribbean descent will find this book interesting and understand Amelia’s background, fears and culture.

Perfectly Percy

My daughter loves to learn about different animals and of course at her age she also wants to know about their family. This adorable book is about a porcupine who loves balloons but of course his pines always pops them. That doesn’t stop him because Percy’s a very determined little porcupine. He explores a few creative ways to solve this problem and even enlists his family for help. This simple book is powerful and teaches kids the importance of determination and creativity. Whenever we read this book, the Princess Fairy would ask about the awesome illustrations “What’s his mommy doing?” “Porcupine eats cereal?” etc. questions that lead us to explore more about porcupines on the internet together.

The Giving Tree

Last month, my daughter’s grand-aunt gifted her this book and it’s currently on heavy rotation. I’m sure you’re probably familiar with this story but just in case you’re not, it’s about a tree that loves a boy unconditionally throughout his life. She gives everything to him until she has nothing else to share. It’s a powerful lesson about love and can teach children the importance of not only loving, but being compassionate, giving and not exploiting.

Lastly, I’ve written a personal book for her based on her personality, it’s called The Adventures of the Princess Fairy. As I mentioned earlier, the lack of diverse children books is really heartbreaking but I had to stop complaining and act. I wanted her to have a book with a family like hers and a similar lifestyle. More importantly, there are tons of lessons and messages that I want to share with her that I can deliver more effectively through creative writing.

So these are the books on my daughter’s summer reading list.

What are your kids reading this summer?

Any good diverse books you’ll like to recommend to the Rattles and Heels family?

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