Faith Ringgold’s Books: Beauty and Historical Importance

Faith Ringgold collageFaith Ringgold has written and illustrated many important books. Some have won the Coretta Scott King award for illustration and one was named a Caldecott Honor book. They tackle a variety of important historical and cultural themes. Hers is a powerful and courageous voice.

Her website reports that she has won “more than 75 awards including 22 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degrees. 


Tar BeachHer stunning work is unique and distinctive, full of brilliant color. Many contain quilt-like motifs which underscore the sense of diverse fragments coming together to create something of beauty and value that exceeds the individual elements.

Several of Faith Ringgold’s books explore important themes and events from African-American history. They contribute a vital window into these events and are important to all readers.

I first read Tar Beach, with my own children decades ago. Captivated by the art, they enjoyed the story and absorbed an appreciation for the world which it depicted and was so unlike their own. The inspired text invites children to dream and to fly into the world of dreams where anything is possible. It also shows that wealth derives not only in terms of money or things.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a  chance to discuss what a family values as important and valuable. Although not wealthy in terms of material goods, the Cassie and Be Be have the most important asset: a family who loves them. This can be used to jumpstart an age-appropriate conversation about why an adoption plan was made for a child.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's HouseDinner at Aunt Connie’s House, shows an annual family gathering where Aunt Connie reveals her most recent paintings. While exploring their aunt’s large home, two children happen upon the trove of paintings. Each depicts a famous African-American figure. The children discover that the paintings can speak to them. Each painting reveals a personal story of courage and historic barrier breaking.

As a secondary theme, readers learn that Aunt Connie’s red-haired, green-eyed son was adopted. Connie challenges his “right” to feel pride in these African-American figures. This can easily lead to conversations that remind us that all Americans should be proud of the achievements of the people in the paintings. Fundamentally, regardless of their specific ethnicity or race, the history of each and every American contributes a “patch” to the “quilt” that is America’s story. This book can also open conversations about race and racism.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story focuses on Aunt Connie’s art it offers a chance to discuss family talents. Some may trend through generations and be prized. This can put pressure on adopted children to “take on” this talent in preference to following their own natural abilities. Families can affirm that every family member’s unique talents are valuable.

Aunt Harriet's Underground RailroadIn  Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the SkyCassie (a child featured in several of Faith Ringgold’s books,) travels the Underground Railroad and experiences the trials, terrors and privations of that long, dangerous route to freedom. In another repeating theme of Ringgold’s books, Cassie’s brother Be Be travels a mythical reincarnation of the Underground Railroad Freedom Train.

Separated from each other,  each child chooses the quest for freedom over security and remaining enslaved. The children eventually reunite. Each now possesses a realization that “Freedom is more important than just staying together.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story touches on some difficult parts of American history it lends itself to discussions about the events and politics of all countries. Thus, it can open a conversation about the conditions in an international adoptee’s birth land some of which may have influenced why a child was adopted.



One of Ringgold’s skills is her ability to place the reader in the heart of the historical experience. In  If a Bus Could Talk

Faith Ringgold places young Marcie on a metaphorical bus with Rosa Parks and other historical figures. Each shares their stories in a way that feels present and real. Readers will learn about some of the uglier parts of history: discrimination, slavery, segregation, the role of the Ku Klux Klan, etc.

Ringgold achieves this in a way that feels authentic, touches the reader and is still appropriate for children. This is important American history which we must not sanitize or sweep under the rug. Children need this information  so they can learn the lessons of history. In the absence of this education, we will be doomed to repeat the mistakes and cruelties of the past.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Standing up for one’s values is not easy but this book reminds us of the important of doing so. It can have particular adoption-related resonance because adoptees must learn how to handle the inevitable onslaught of curious as well as nosy, intrusive and insulting questions regarding their adoptions.

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, October 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup features super-talented author-illustrated Kadir Nelson. Miss T’s Book Room shares a brief biography of Nelson and his long-list of awards and amazing picture books. If you are not yet familiar with his work, you are in for a treat!

My #DiverseKitLit Shout-Out

Mark your calendars for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Jan. 27, 2017! Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an all-day (really, more like all-month) celebration of diverse books. Opportunities are currently available for teachers and bloggers to receive a free diverse book to review as part of the event. Interested parents can also win books through various giveaways. This is another great way to bring attention to diverse books, and I hope you’ll consider joining in!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Vanilla & Chocolate-A Bilingual Book Looks at Racism

Vanilla&Chocolate.51RjBCxYlML._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_Increasingly, adoptive families have come to understand the importance of talking about race, of awakening ourselves to the subtleties of white privilege, microagressions and how color blindness is a misguided solution to racism.  Chocolate & Vanillaillustrated  by Estella Mejia and written by Maritza Mejia, explores racism for readers ages 5-8. A teacher, Mrs. M, notices that Vanilla and Chocolate, two former friends no longer play with each other. She learns this is because Vanilla’s parents did not approve of their son’s interracial friendship.

To combat this problem the teacher organizes, “Black and White Day,” a special parent-child activity day at the park. Families bring traditional foods which they share. Watching their children play peacefully together, hearts and minds open. They come to understand that a friend is a friend whether they are the same race or not.

Because Mejia’s simple story unfolds in both English and Spanish, it also serves double duty as a way to assist readers of either language improve their non-native vocabulary. Four stars

Maritza 91m+DIWpqtL._UX250_Grandma's Treasure.51gVem2naBL._UY250_Maritza Martinez Mejia a bilingual substitute teacher born in Colombia lives in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers. For her active participation and service to the community, she is the recipient of the “Crystal Apple Award 2006.”

Maritza published her memoir “Hazel Eyes” (2010), “Vanilla and Chocolate” (2012), “Grandma’s Treasure” (2014), and “Poems, Thoughts and More” (2015). She won the FAU Treasure Coast Poetry Contest Spring 2010 and Virtue Christian Book Awards for Best Poetry 2015. Both Bilingual Children Books received a FIVE Stars Seal Review by Reader’s Favorite.




 Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts. View them here.


The Mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is: to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors!

Platinum: Wisdom Tales PressStory Quest Books, Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Press

Silver: Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books, Capstone Young Readers New York Media Works,LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books,

Goosebottom Books, Author Gleeson Rebello, Shout Mouse Press,

Author Mahvash Shahegh, China Institute.orgLive Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-hosts and you can view them here.
Teachers, we invite you to spread the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so; get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms. You can help by tweeting the below info:
Teachers! Earn a FREE Multicultural.MCBD.2#Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom!
#teachers, #books #teacherlife

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free #Diversity MCBD.Diversitybook! #teachers, #books

Classroom Reading Challenge:Help spread the word on our  Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

MCCBD 2016 Classroom Reading Challenge!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge-

Get a FREE Diversity Book for Your Classroom Library!

MCCBD Classroom Reading Challenge

Teachers! We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! Here’s how to get a free book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th. You can also win a Skype author visit with a children’s book author! We will draw a winner from the teachers who signed up. This year the Skype author visit is with (to be announced).

LATEST EXCITING UPDATE! Junior Library Guild has agreed to sponsor this portion of the MCCBD 2016 event and donate up to 200 books for classrooms and teachers!

Junior Library Guild

The Classroom Reading Challenge is a new project for us but it is a way for teachers to sign up, read up to four multicultural books in their classroom and earn a free multicultural book from us. Having Junior Library Guild on board assures that the free book classrooms earn from MCCBD is a pre-screened, library-quality book that maps to Common Core. This is a HUGE and exciting benefit for this project.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Diversity Classroom Reading Challenge for Teachers

Step 1: TEACHERS sign up your classroom here.

Step 2:Read books! (Diversity picture book list for 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade tied to Core Curriculum.) No quota. No catch. Just read :)

We will send you a diverse title FOR FREE!!

Want to win more diversity books?

Get your students involved in our reading competition! Have your students submit the books they read during the month of January.

We will hold raffles of book packages for everyone who submits. PLUS we will award book packages to the top 10 classrooms. Click HERE for a printable PDF of the above information

Teacher Sign Up is below:

Thank you so much for your support!


For questions or concerns, email MCCBD Project Manager, Becky Flansburg at

2016 Author Sponsors

Introducing our Author Sponsors for MCCBD 2016!

Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos Daryl OConnell, Zetta Elliot,Effie Hill,Firoozeh Dumas ,DuEwa Frazier, Ben Woodard,Susan Ross, Sandra L. Richards, Dania Santana, Author Kala Sambasivan, Elizabeth Atkinson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers, Scavenger Hunt Adventures, Year of the Cat Books,Sarah J. Stevenson,Gayle H. SwiftPatrick Hill, Bruce Hale,