You may already know that we have a huge collection of books in our home library for the children. In addition to classic children’s books, Micah and Eli own quite a number of diverse books and this is why:
Now more than ever, it is up to us to teach our children the importance of tolerance and diversity at the outset.
You probably already know that your children watch everything you do, both good and bad. The worldview you present to them is going to stick with them well into adulthood.
Children develop ideas about race and bias from an early age and so it is never too early to teach and expose our children to the beautiful diversity that exists in their world.
A child who has never been exposed to someone who looks, talks, or prays differently than their family cannot be expected to immediately accept that person. I believe that children have the opportunity to see themselves in the books they read, to understand different cultures, people, and experiences that are not available in their everyday life. Books are powerful and are windows and mirrors – reflecting and expanding on every child’s own experiences.
This is why it is imperative for us, parents and caregivers to create a home (or school) library that reflects the diversity in the world and helps our children learn to respect and understand these differences.
Whether or not, the children we raise and teach are part of a marginalized group, understanding is a key component for developing empathy. Raising more empathetic and open-minded children is the goal and with books, we’re one step closer to achieving this.
Reading to your children about different cultures, races and even gender identities (as they get older) can open up their minds and hearts to others perceived as “different”.
I understand that sometimes these conversations are difficult to have with children, but captivating children's books make it much easier to start introducing diversity into your home.
These are 10 of my favourite diverse books for Micah and Eli (3 years and 8 months). As they get older, we will introduce more books to their collection. These books don’t specifically talk about race, gender, or religion; they are books that simply reflect the diversity in the world.
1)“The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss”
One of the reasons I liked to read Dr. Seuss’ stories to my children is that they have uplifting moral messages. In The Sneetches, the message is tolerance of those who are different from you.
2) “Global Babies, by The Global Fund For Children”
This is a wonderful book for younger babies and Eli loves it. This book features beautiful photographs of babies from across the globe. The text within this book is sparse but the message is clear- it celebrates the beauty of babies from different cultures. Babies love looking at faces of other children so this book is great for that whilst also introducing them to different cultures and people around the world.
3) “Whoever You Are, by Mem Fox”
Using rhymes and stylised illustrations, this book is a wonderful introduction to the beauty of a diverse world and is particularly appropriate for toddlers and pre-schoolers. The message is one that is repeated in a lot of books about diversity for children- we may be different on the outside, but on the inside we are all the same.
4) “Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers”
This book celebrates the diversity of babies all over the world and how babies might sleep, eat, play and live differently but are all loved equally. The varieties of facial expressions on all the babies are terrific. The illustrator does a great job of including people from different walks of life in her illustrations. I loved the contrast between the “older” parents and the younger ones- That made me giggle a bit.
5) “The Airport Book, by Lisa Brown”
Love this wonderful book by Lisa Brown. The story itself is simple- it follows a biracial family on their journey to the airport, activities at the airport and on the airplane. At the same time, we visually follow a range of characters throughout including the luggage journey. It’s even more exciting as the little girl's sock monkey has its own adventures. The main family has a dark-skinned father and a light-skinned mother with blond hair. At the airport, there are adults in wheelchairs, twins, women in headscarves, Sikhs, pregnant ladies, and more. In other words, what you'd actually see in an airport.
6) “All Fall Down, by Helen Oxenbury”
This delightful short board book is for younger babies and I really love the diversity represented in its illustrations
7) “The Family book, by Todd Parr”
I love this book – it is a great way to teach tolerance and it also fosters acceptance of the differences that exist in the world. The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families regardless of their differences. In this book, children and parents learn that families come in all shapes and sizes. Some families are large and some small. Some all look the same while some look different. Some families have adopted children and some families even have two moms or two dads. Regardless of how your family is made up, all families share the same things: they love each other, they like to hug each other, they like to celebrate together and sometimes they can be sad together.
8) “Jack and Jim by Kitty Crowther”
This book demonstrates that there are benefits to our differences and that each of us has unique and special qualities or skills. It also sets an example of real friendship in spite of what the crowd says and does.
9) “The Big Orange Splot by D Manus Pinkwater”
Let your dreams become your reality! Make waves! Be who you are, not who everyone thinks you are! Share your dreams and bring joy and a sense of freedom to all who come in contact with you! It shows children (as well as adults) that being yourself is the right thing to be. Creativity is sometimes stifled in this world and this book shows that it is a wonderful thing to be creative. This book not only helps the reader to grow as an individual but also helps to heighten their self-esteem.
10) He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands by Kadir Nelson
The illustrations by the award-winning artist, Kadir Nelson make this book truly exceptional. Kadir chose San Francisco as his setting and the illustrations feature a multi-ethnic family living in and engaging the world from the perspective of a child.
What is your favourite diverse book for your baby, toddler or young child? Please share x
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