Recommended Children’s Books Featuring BIPOC Protagonists

Reading allows us to travel to different landscapes and times to learn about the environment, history and culture, all without ever having to leave our homes—especially relevant now while we’re quarantining to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Encourage the children you teach to curl up with one of these riveting reads featuring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) protagonists to learn about the natural world. You’ll help to grow your students’ environmental literacy while at home and at school, while also exposing them to the infinite variety of experiences we have while engaging with nature.

 

 

Circle Unbroken book cover

1.) Circle Unbroken

Grades K-5
A young girl sits on her grandmother’s lap and learns how to sew a basket made of natural sweetgrass. The grandmother recounts that the history of this practice goes all the way back to the riverbanks of Africa, where tall reeds growing along the water were used for many things.

 

 

IslandBorn book cover2.) IslandBorn

Grades PreK-2
This book gracefully grapples with the challenges of immigration. The main character, a 6-year-old girl named Lola, moved to the United States with her family when she was so young that she has no memories of her homeland. The narrative follows Lola’s quest to investigate her mysterious nation.

 

 

Song of the Trees book cover3.) Song of the Trees

Grades 6-8
Song of the Trees
 is the first book in a series that detail the Logan Family saga. This 80-page short novel tracks the tough choices of the Logan family in rural Mississippi, as they make decisions about the things they own and care about, in the face of the Great Depression.

 

 

A Walk on the Tundra book cover4.) A Walk on the Tundra

Grades 3-5
Have you ever picked a flower because it tastes tangy and sweet? Have you learned how to prepare your grandmother’s most delicious meals? Do you know what kind of tea to make for a stomach ache? Ultimately, A Walk on the Tundra is a book about tradition.

 

 

Pablo's Tree book cover5.) Pablo’s Tree

Grades PreK-3
Each year on his birthday, a young Mexican-American boy looks forward to seeing how his grandfather decorated the tree planted the day the boy was adopted. Authored by Pat Mora, this book embraces new traditions and values, as well as exhibits familiar family relations that are warm and heartfelt.

 

 

Wishtree book cover6.) Wishtree

Grades 3-8
This book’s narrator is a “two hundred and sixteen rings old” oak tree named Red. Red is a community wishing tree—and every May 1, adults and children alike bring their wishes written on pieces of colorful paper or fabric to tie to Red’s branches—all in hopes they come true. After 216 years of living and growing, Red is very wise. Red has overheard many conversations from different families over multiple generations, and because of this Red has lots of stories to tell.

Jennifer Byerly

Jennifer Byerly

Jennifer Byerly is PLT's Communications and Marketing Coordinator. She focuses on digital communications and community-building; please feel free to email her and share your PLT story!