Often asked: What Are The Major Categories Of Multicultural Books?

Our Categories

Each book in our collection is tagged with at least one category that captures the dominant messages conveyed by current children’s picture books featuring Black and Indigenous Peoples and People of Color (IPOC). Anyone can use our book categories to consider how BIPOC are represented in a story.

Any Child

Books in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, immigration/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories are not central to the plot; these elements may be present, but they are not essential to the plot.

Beautiful Life: A Focus on Identity 

We’ve selected books in which race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, culture, immigration/migration, and/or religious, sacred, or origin stories are central to the plot, focusing on the various expressions of human experience and relying on these elements to drive the plot.


Books about the life of a specific person or group of people from a historical or contemporary perspective are classified as narrative nonfiction.

Cross-Group: Relationships Across Difference

Books depicting positive, negative, or resolving interactions between main or secondary characters across racial or cultural differences are included, including but not limited to those depicting peer group and cross-generational friendships. The interactions depicted may be positive, negative, or resolving.


Religious, foundational, or origin stories, as well as indigenous traditional or sacred stories, are not included in books that transmit a people’s values, knowledge, traditions, practices, or rituals.

Incidental: Ensemble or Background Characters

Books with a racially diverse cast of secondary characters, or books with a white or animal main character(s) and BIPOC characters as secondary or background characters.

Informational: Factual Content 

Although BIPOC are represented in the books, race and culture are not always central to the content.

Oppression & Resilience

Books about African, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American people who experience and/or resist enslavement, internment, imprisonment, or violent conflict; persecution in or forced displacement from their homelands; or barriers to basic freedoms such as land, food, housing, education, and health.

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Race/Culture Concepts: Examining Difference and Commonalities

Click here to see examples from our collection of books that explore and/or compare specific aspects of human difference. Want a printable color poster of these book categories? Sign up for our newsletter by clicking here to see our book-of-the-month list.

Why do these categories matter?

We ask, “In the world of books currently featuring BIPOC, which racial/cultural groups are represented and how?” Are there patterns in these representations? If so, what are the messages they send about BipOC?”

How did we come up with our book categories?

To re-examine existing scholarship, we used a method known as “grounded theory,” in which categories were redefined, fine-tuned, and added as needed to ensure they were grounded in the books themselves.

How do we tag the characters in a book?

Check out our Collection Analysis Tool, which is designed to help public and school librarians “audit” their picture book collections based on the characters’: Race/Culture Ethnicity. Tribal Affiliation/Homelands. Gender Im/migration status.

What is considered a multicultural book?

Multicultural literature, broadly defined, is literature about people who are considered outside of society’s mainstream and have been marginalized in some way; this definition would include people from a variety of cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds.

What is an example of a multicultural book?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan), Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Igbo people of Nigeria), and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garca Mu00e1rquez (Colombia) are three examples of multicultural literature.

What is multicultural literature books?

Literature about the sociocultural experiences of underrepresented groups, including those who fall outside the “mainstream” of categories like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and language.

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What are multicultural groups?

Cross-cultural refers to the comparison of different cultures in a society that contains several cultural or ethnic groups. For example, in a multicultural neighborhood, people may frequent ethnic grocery stores and restaurants without really interacting with their neighbors from other countries.

When selecting multicultural books you should?

Beyond Good Intentions: Multicultural Literature Selection

  1. Stereotypes. Avoid reinforcing stereotypes in your books.
  2. Setting. Books should include accurate settings.
  3. Language.
  4. Epithets.
  5. Illustrations.
  6. Author’s Perspective.
  7. Appealing Stories.

What makes a book diverse?

According to Malinda Lo, “books by and about people of color, LGBT people, and/or disabled people” means “non-white main and/or secondary characters; LGBT main and/or secondary characters; disabled main and/or secondary characters.” In our 2015 infographic, we unpacked that to: “non-white main and/or secondary characters; LGBT main and/or secondary characters; disabled main and/or secondary characters.”

Why are multicultural books important?

Multicultural literature can be used to open students’ minds, promoting an understanding of diversity in the classroom as well as respect for people from other cultures.

How is multiculturalism defined?

Multiculturalism is the belief that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special recognition of their differences within a dominant political culture; most modern democracies are made up of people with a wide range of cultural perspectives, practices, and contributions.

What is the difference between storytelling and read aloud?

Reading aloud involves spoken language as well as the presence of a printed text, implying that both oral and written language are modeled simultaneously during story reading. Storytelling, on the other hand, does not require the presence of a printed text.

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Why is it important to have diverse books in your classroom?

We all need mirrors and windows in the books we read, and having a diverse collection can help all students find titles that they can read and connect with on some level while affirming their own cultural identities and hopefully developing important positive insights about others.

What is the difference between multicultural literature and culturally diverse literature?

Multiculturalism focuses on being inclusive, understanding, respecting, and acknowledging unequal power in society. Diversity is defined as differences between people. Multiculturalism is more complex than simply noticing the diversity or differences that exist in society.

What is the importance of multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism allows people to express themselves consciously and without relying on the approval of other cultures; in this sense, multiculturalism is a cultural wealth for living together; additionally, people of different cultures living together necessitate finding a way to communicate across cultures.

What are examples of multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism is the practice of giving equal attention to people from various backgrounds in a given setting; an honors classroom with students from various countries and speaking different languages is an example of multiculturalism.

How many different cultures are there?

Price’s Atlas of Ethnographic Societies [11] lists 3814 distinct cultures described by anthropologists, which is a significant undercount.

What is the most multicultural country in the world?

Many of us have always known that Australia is a successful multicultural nation, but now we can brag that we are the world’s most ethnically diverse country.

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