The #ownvoices hashtag was created by author Corinne Duyvis to spotlight books about characters with marginalized identities created by authors who share the same marginalized identity (or identities). The character and creator may share a common disability, sexuality, gender identity, race, immigration status, or other identity. We hope these selections serve to educate and encourage a dialogue on topics of representation, as well as provide a starting point for readers seeking stories written from an “own voices” perspective.

Mommy’s Khimar by  Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. “A young African-American Muslim girl puts on a head scarf and not only feels closer to her mother, she also imagines herself as a queen, the sun, a superhero, and more.”  Author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is a Black Muslim woman like her characters in this beautiful story of family and faith.

Available formats: Book

The Adventures of Honey & Leon by Alan Cumming

Join a pair of dogs as they disguise themselves in this wild adventure. Honey and Leon undertake this mission to protect their dads on a trip to France.  Detailed artwork adds to the humor, and our dog dads reflect the authors’ own partnership in this pup-tastic tale.

Available formats:  Book

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

Author Traci Sorell is a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation. This story looks at the history and lives of the Cherokee people, specifically the “Trail of Tears, naming of children, and the importance of listening to elders at the Cherokee National Holiday.”

Available formats: Book, Ebook (Hoopla)

Islandborn by Junot Díaz

Lola is an Afro-Caribbean girl exploring her family’s and community’s memories of  the Island where her parents migrated from, after her teacher assigns a class project. Dominican-American author Junot Diaz captures his own experiences as an immigrant in this bright and vibrant picture book.

Available formats: Book

I am Jazz by Jessica Hearthel and Jazz Jennings

I am Jazz is “the story of a transgender child who traces her early awareness that she is a girl in spite of male anatomy and the acceptance she finds through a wise doctor who explains her natural transgender status.”  Jazz shares her own experience as a transgender youth in this touching picture book.

Available formats: Book

Just a Minute : A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

Mexican-American author Yuyi Morales revisits her heritage in this classic tale featuring Senor Calavera.  “When he arrives at Grandma Beetle’s door, ready to take her to the next life, but after helping her count, in English and Spanish, as she makes her birthday preparations, he changes his mind.”  Morales’ unique artistic style enhances this folktale with vibrant illustrations.

Available formats: Book

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe is on a magical journey that teaches her true beauty comes from within.  It explores colorism and self-esteem, as Sulwe comes to see herself as beautiful.  Sulwe is Kenyan, just like Kenyan-Mexican author and actress Lupita Nyong’o.    

Available formats: Book, Ebook (Overdrive Media on Demand)

Octopus Stew by  Eric Velasquez

When a family recipe for Octopus Stew gets out of hand, Ramsey must rescue his grandmother – or is he using his imagination to create a family adventure? The main character Ramsey shares author Eric Velasquez’s Afro-Puerto Rican roots.

Available formats: Book

Thanking the Moon : Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin

A Chinese American family works together to  “prepare a moonlit picnic with mooncakes, pomelos, cups of tea, and colorful lanterns.” Everyone sends thanks and a secret wish up to the moon. Author Grace Lin shares her heritage in this wonderful story.

Available formats: Book

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya

In this heartwarming story, a “five-year-old boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by South Asian women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.”  Trans author and artist Vivek Shraya shares her South Asian culture with the story’s main character.

Available formats: Ebook (Hoopla)

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

This book celebrates the joy of music, as a young brown girl and her mother feel the music of the city. She  feels the music through her body until she and the entire community are dancing to its beat. Author Connie Schofield-Morrison is African American just like the main character in this uplifting summer story.

Available formats: Book, Ebook (Overdrive Media on Demand)

Fry Bread : a Native American Family Story by Kevin Nobel Maillard

Author Kevin Nobel Maillard is a registered member of the  Seminole Nation. This book celebrates family ties and the history of fry bread for modern Native American families.

Available formats: Book

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Matthew A. Cherry is an African American artist, filmmaker, and writer. He has written this beautiful picture book that captures the heartwarming love between a dad and daughter.  Zuri, an African American girl, has her dad create an extra special hair style that celebrates her natural hair.

Available formats: Book

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore.

“Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs, like licking the spoon.  Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef.” Cora and her mother make Pancit, her favorite Filipino noodle dish.  Author Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore shares her Filipino heritage with her main character Cora.

Available formats: Book

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Alma is a little girl with six names. She asks her father about her name and hears the stories of all the family members she was named after. This beautiful story of self discovery is complemented by author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal’s graphite drawings. The author is Peruvian American, and shares her heritage with the main character, Alma.

Available formats: Book, Ebook (Overdrive Media on Demand), Audiobook (Hoopla)

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

This book ,”celebrates the magnificent feeling that comes from walking out of a barber shop with newly-cut hair.”  Author Derrick Barnes is African American like the main character in this picture book. The vibrant illustrations complement Barnes’ rhythmic text.

Available formats: Book, Ebook (CloudLibrary)

It Feels Good to be Yourself : A Book about Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn & Noah Grigni

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. This book introduces the concept of gender identity to the youngest reader. Illustrator Noah Grigni, who identifies as a nonbinary trans man, has collaborated with author Theresa Thorn to bring this informational book to readers.

Available formats: Book

Where’s Halmoni? by Julie J.Kim

Korean American author Julie J. Kim shares her background with the main characters in this graphic novel style picture book. A brother and sister go looking for their grandmother in a fantastical world filled with Korean folklore.

Available formats: Book

A Night Out with Mama by Quvenzhané Wallis

African American author Quvenzhane Wallis shares her experience in this fun picture book that celebrates family. Wallis shares the struggles and triumphs of  attending the Academy Awards, with the support of her loving family.

Available formats: Book

May We Have Enough to Share by Richard Van Camp

Author Richard Van Camp is a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Forth Smith, and has collaborated with   Indigenous photographers that are part of the collective blog Tea & Bannock, to create this heartwarming look at family and gratitude.  Filled with pictures of Indigenous families, this is a beautiful board book that can be enjoyed at any age.

Available formats: Book, Ebook (Hoopla)


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