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Diverse Books For All Ages

Books That Celebrate Every Story, Every Voice, Every Child

Exploring Culture: Children's Books That Celebrate Caribbean Culture and History

Updated: Aug 28, 2023


The Caribbean, with its rich tapestry of traditions, languages, and histories, has long captivated the hearts and imaginations of people around the globe. Now, through the pages of these captivating children's books, young readers can embark on adventures that not only entertain but also celebrate the beauty and diversity of the Caribbean islands.

The diverse picture books listed here dive into tales of courage, friendship, and self-discovery. From rhythmic storytelling that echoes the beats of calypso music to vivid illustrations that bring the lush landscapes to life, these books offer a window into a world bursting with color, rhythm, and flavor.


Let's set sail on this literary voyage, immersing ourselves in the rich tapestry of Caribbean culture that these books so beautifully portray.


For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions along with each book.

Coupled with Sayada Ramdial's bright and colorful artwork, Julie and the Mango Tree by Sadé Smith will have readers of all ages giggling--and craving a mango of their own! Julie loves all kinds of fruit, but mangoes are her absolute favorite. One sticky summer afternoon, Julie goes to the big mango tree in her yard to ask for a snack.


But no matter how nicely she asks or how patient she tries to be, the tree just won't drop a single sweet, juicy mango! Will Julie ever be able to convince the tree to let her have just a taste of her favorite treat?



Accompanied by Ken Daley's vibrant, sun-soaked artwork, Sadé Smith's debut picture book Granny's Kitchen is the perfect readaloud for budding chefs everywhere. Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her "Gyal, you betta can cook!" and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking.


As Shelly-Ann tries each recipe, everything goes wrong. But when Granny is too tired to cook one morning, Shelly-Ann will have to find the courage to try one more time and prepare the perfect Jamaican breakfast.



With the English and Spanish text side by side on the page, this bilingual edition of the vibrant picture book celebrating the strength of community and the versatility of plátanos is ideal for bilingual readers as well as Spanish speakers learning English and vice versa.


Paletero Man meets Fry Bread in this vibrant and cheerful ode to plátanos, the star of Dominican cuisine, written by award-winning poet Lissette Norman, illustrated by Sara Palacios, and translated by Kianny N. Antigua.


Platanos are Yesenia's favorite food. They can be sweet and sugary, or salty and savory. And they're a part of almost every meal her Dominican family makes.

Stop by her apartment and find out why platanos go with everything--especially love! Perfect for reading aloud and shared story time!



This heartfelt story of resilience follows two siblings as they work to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Maria destroys their home in Puerto Rico.


Before an intense hurricane hits their home in Puerto Rico, Antonio told his sister vibrant stories each night. During the storm, they huddled with their parents in a closet and hear the storm blow the roof right off their home. After the storm, their family uses a temporary blue tarp for a roof, and Antonio stops speaking.


Gradually the siblings imagine their blue roof playfully--as the ocean above them or a parachute helping them fall from the sky. As the narrator helps her little brother feel safe once more--and after the family and community build a new roof--the little boy begins to speak again.



A joyful picture book from acclaimed author Margarita Engle about a young girl and her community celebrating the arrival of the water man who visits weekly to distribute water to the village.


Water days are busy days,

grateful, laughing,

thirsty days.


A small village no longer has a water supply of its own, but one young girl and her neighbors get by with the help of the water man. When he comes to town, water flows like hope for the whole familia, and everyone rejoices.



Join the celebration in the kitchen as a family makes their traditional New Year's soup -- and shares the story of how Haitian independence came to be.


The shake-shake of maracas vibrates down to my toes.

Ti Gran's feet tap-tap to the rhythm.


Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup -- Freedom Soup -- just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle's family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle's family is from.


In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara's lush illustrations bring to life both Belle's story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles's lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.



A delicious picture book about the ways plantains shape Latinx culture, community, and family, told through a young girl's experiences in the kitchen with her abuela.


Abuela says, "plátanos are love."

I thought they were food.

But Abuela says they feed us in more ways than one.


With every pop of the tostones, mash of the mangú, and sizzle of the maduros, a little girl learns that plátanos are her history, they are her culture, and--most importantly--they are love.



A joyful, empowering story of a boy made royal by his mother's hand-stitched clothes, inspired by the author's childhood in St. Lucia, and with art by a #1 NYT bestselling artist with St. Lucian roots.


What makes a patchwork prince? A prince must be ready for adventure--ready for the night, ready to pluck the brightest, most beautiful fabrics from the scrap heap, ready to run when danger comes. With the treasures he and his mother collect, she will make him clothes fit for royalty: No flashy jewels, no crown, but a cut and drape that hug his Black shoulders just right. And in his new clothes, with chin held high, he will know he is a prince.


Together with Kitt Thomas's beautiful, exuberant artwork, acclaimed author Baptiste Paul brings readers a celebratory story about confidence and self-worth, and the enduring love between a mother and son.



New York Times bestselling author Tracey Baptiste and acclaimed illustrator Amber Ren take readers on a fun, creepy, storytime-ready romp through a forest filled with creatures from Caribbean folklore.


I'm looking for a jumbie, I'm going to find a scary one.

But Mama says jumbies exist only in stories. So Naya sets out on a nighttime adventure to find out for herself.

No such thing, say the friends she makes along the way.

But Naya is sure that jumbies are real. Some have big mouths. Or thick fur. Or glowing skin. Or sharp teeth. Kind of like her new friends....

Looking for a Jumbie is a gentle, bouncy, and creepily fun read-aloud inspired by traditional Caribbean tales.



The sights, sounds and tastes of vibrant Saint Lucia come to life in this cumulative tale of a girl's journey to Carnival. When a series of unexpected delays disrupts her journey to the big parade, Melba must adjust both her expectations and her route to the festivities. Who will she meet and what will she learn along the way?



Looking for more great read aloud ideas? Visit these fabulous book lists:

 

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