Reading books about diversity and inclusion helps kids learn more about the world around them.
Image: A young girl sits next to a large soft toy, reading a book.
Representation in books is important, not only for kids to see themselves, but for children to discover other cultures and learn about different experiences!
Reading books about diversity and inclusion provides an opportunity to teach our kids about kindness, compassion and empathy - and that diverse stories matter.
Here are 15 books that explore diverse representations to help you teach children about their world, and help them see the world through somebody else's eyes.
1. The Family Book by Todd Parr
Image: Book cover with a red background and a cartoon drawing of a family on a couch. Text reads: The Family Book. Todd Parr.
The Family Book by Todd Parr celebrates all the different varieties that families come in. The Family Book explores many different representations of families and assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.
2. Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright, Illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Image: Book cover with a yellow background and three windows with a cartoon child sitting in each window. Text reads: Maybe Days, a book for children in Foster Care.
Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright is a book about foster care. For many children in foster care, the answer to many questions is often ‘maybe’. Maybe Days addresses the questions, feelings, and concerns that children in care often face. The text provides basic information that children want and need to know, including the roles of various people in the foster care system, and whom to ask for help.
3. Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale and Alexandra Strick, Illustrated by Ros Asquith
Image: Book cover with an illustration of a boy wearing glasses and a red top and a gold medal standing in front of a crowd of people. Text reads: Max the champion.
Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale and Alexandra Strick, explores representations of disability through the story of Max, a child with a hearing aid who loves sport. The story follows Max’s school football match and weaves through his daydreams of winning the World Cup. The book shows children with and without disabilities enjoying different sports together, teaching children about inclusivity and diversity.
4. Noah Chases the Wind by Michelle Worthington
Image: Noah Chases the Wind book cover with an illustration of a boy looking up, surrounded by lines and leaves, which represent the wind.
Noah Chases the Wind is a magical adventure that celebrates the inquisitiveness of children. The story explores the story of Noah, a boy who knew he was different. He could see things that others couldn't, like the patterns in the dust that floated down on sunbeams. Noah sees, hears, feels, and thinks in ways that other people don't always understand, and he asks a lot of questions along the way.
Filled with rich, sweeping illustrations, this picture book celebrates the inquisitive nature of all children, including those on the Autism spectrum.
5. Boy by Phil Cummings, Illustrated by Shane DeVries
Image: Boy book cover with an illustration of a boy wearing a Viking hat, standing in front of trees with the word 'boy' written in the dirt in front of him.
Boy is a touching story about a deaf boy who turns into a village hero by solving a long-running battle between a king and a dragon. The book introduces the concept of sign language (referred to as ‘dancing hands’) and shows how the main character has a variety of tools he can use to solve conflict and connect with those around him.
6. Some Brains by Nelly Thomas, Illustrated by Cat MacInnes
Image: Some Brains book cover with a light green background and an illustration of a brain with five different young people on and around it.
Some Brains celebrates Neurodiversity, encouraging the reader to recognise and appreciate the individual strengths that make each brain unique.
The book explores the concept that neurodiversity (conditions like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and the like) is a normal, essential part of human biodiversity, highlighting that without it, we don't get people like Picasso, Einstein or Greta Thunberg!
The book is a celebration of neurodiversity, sharing the message that we are all different and it is okay for our brains to work in different ways.
7. Two Mates by Melanie Prewett, Illustrated by Prewett
Image: Two Mates book cover with white text and an illustration of two boys swimming.
Two Mates is a true story about the special mateship between two young boys who have grown up together in Broome. The story follows Jack, an Aboriginal boy, and Raf, a non-Indigenous boy who has spina bifida, taking the reader on a journey of their daily life growing up in Broome.
Through their story, Melanie Prewett shares the message that physical disability really is no barrier to true friendship.
8. Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, Illustrated by David Hardy
Image: Book cover. An illustration of an Aboriginal boy smiling with body paint on his face and torso.
Ceremony by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing is a joyful celebration of family and culture. The book is part of the 'Welcome to Our Country' series, which introduces First Nations history to children. Ceremony invites the reader to celebrate the rich traditions of dance, family, community and caring for Country from the world's oldest continuous culture.
9. This Book Thinks Ya Deadly! by Corey Tutt, Illustrated by Molly Hunt
Image: This Book Thinks Ya Deadly book cover with a black background and orange and blue text. Illustrations of different people are shown within some of the letters.
This book features the profiles of 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are doing deadly things across sport, art, activism, and science, through to politics, education, and literature.
The book celebrates the diversity and success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, showcasing their careers and sharing Corey Tutt’s personal stories of people who have done great things in their respective fields, including Professor Marcia Langton, Miranda Tapsell, Tony Armstrong, Dr Anita Heiss, Danzal Baker (Baker Boy), Adam Goodes and Blak Douglas.
10. Koorie Princess by Anita Heiss
Image: Koorie Princess book cover with a blue background, white text and an illustration of a girl in a pink dress.
Koorie Princess is an insightful and humorous story of a young girl’s determination to be who she wants to be. The story follows Teish, a sassy, soon-to-be 8-year-old. Teish believes, more than anything, that she is a Disney princess. Her older siblings, Karan, and Kim, like to remind her that she isn’t, but Teish is determined to believe that she can be whoever she wants to be.
Koorie Princess is an empowering story about being true to yourself that celebrates proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls.
11. Mommy, Mama and Me & Daddy, Papa and Me by Leslea Newman, Illustrated by Carol Thompson
Image: Two book covers. The first cover has an illustration of two women holding a child. Text reads: Mommy, Mama and Me. The second cover has an illustration of two men holding a child. Text reads: Daddy, Papa and Me.
Mommy, Mama and Me & Daddy, Papa and Me by Leslea Newman are books that explore representations of LGBTQIA+ parents. Each book follows a toddler spending the day with their parents, showing a loving family spending time together. Both books show that all kinds of love can create a family.
12. A House for Everyone by Jo Hirst, Illustrated by Naomi Bardoff
Image: Book cover with an illustration of monkey bars on a playground with children climbing on it. Text reads: A house for everyone by Jo Hirst.
A House for Everyone by Jo Hirst challenges gender stereotypes and explores different representations of gender. The book follows Tom and his friends as they pretend to build a house at lunchtime. Each one of them has a special job to do, and each one of them has a different way of expressing their gender identity. This book teaches children that it is OK to explore different expressions of self and that it is OK to be yourself.
13. My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart
Image: My Shadow is Purple book cover with a yellow background, the title in a white box and an illustration of a child with a purple shadow.
My Shadow is Purple is a heart-warming book about being true to yourself that challenges the concept that there are only two genders. The story explores representations of gender in a vibrant spectrum of colour, shining a light on diversity, respecting others and teaching children that it is ok to be yourself.
14. Break the Mould by Sinead Burke
Image: Break the Mould book cover with a yellow background, the title in red text and illustrations showcasing diverse representations of children.
Break the Mould is an empowering guide to help children grow comfortable in their own skin and understand the power of being different. Sinead Burke shares her own experiences to encourage young readers to believe in themselves, have pride in who they are and use their voice to make the world a fairer, more inclusive place.
15. Meet Me at the Intersection edited by Rebecca Lim and Ambelin Kwaymullina
Image: Meet Me at the Intersection book cover with an orange background and a design of lines and circles in pink, yellow, green and blue.
Meet Me at the Intersection is an anthology of short fiction, memoir and poetry by a diverse group of authors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people of colour, LGBTIQA+ and people with disability.
The anthology explores Australian life through each author’s unique, and seldom-heard, perspective, showcasing the experiences of marginalised groups through authentic “own voice” stories.
Through this collection of stories, the anthology challenges the dominant narrative of privilege and power, giving voice to the unique experiences of diverse communities.
The anthology includes contributions from Ellen van Neerven, Graham Akhurst, Kyle Lynch, Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Olivia Muscat, Mimi Lee, Jessica Walton, Kelly Gardiner, Rafeif Ismail, Yvette Walker, Amra Pajalic, Melanie Rodriga, Omar Sakr, Wendy Chen, Jordi Kerr, Rebecca Lim, Michelle Aung Thin and Alice Pung.
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