What a great topic! Yet, challenging. It is even scary or difficult initially, trying to figure out how to approach it, but indeed, necessary.
But why do we even need to teach or guide our children about diversity and inclusion?
We need to notice and understand that the world itself, and the people living in it are diverse! So many different lives outside our immediate surroundings. Our immediate lifestyles. Our close relatives and friends.
It is imperative the importance of antiracist and inclusive kids! It is never enough to think or talk about these issues even when they are not news material. Why wait?
The prevention for our kids from what is already around them, out there and still happening in their environments. Educate them in the best way we can on how to see our world, what really goes on in it, and how to change labels and judgments—embracing, above all, tolerance, respect, empathy.
In other words, the best possible way to race is “children with a noble heart.”
Fortunately, nowadays, there are ways and tools to help us through this path. Conferences, talks, classes, videos, you name it.
Books for instance, are a fantastic way to guide, educate, learn and teach them about this important topic.
Books that don’t just include a diversity of characters but also teach about inclusion too.
There are well-selected books on how to teach and reach both: diversity and inclusion to children.
A fantastic aid is the claimed collection of 50 Children’s books about Diversity and Inclusion that Celebrate our Differences.
With strict parameters to reach the target correctly, they have been chosen based on a range of age, picture books, avoiding metaphorical material, in favor of the ones with literal representation and that include both goals, inclusion, and diversity.
OUR FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR, WRITTEN BY A. E. ALI AND ILLUSTRATED BY RAHELE JOMEPOUR BELL.
This is great for school classrooms, to introduce a unit about different holiday celebrations.
It is about a new kid in the school (Musa) struggling with what he has in common with the rest of his classmates. The school year goes by, and they start to learn about each other’s favorite day of the year. They learn about each other, and this brings them together. The author even has a handy chart of all the holidays at the back of each page.
ALL ARE WELCOME, WRITTEN BY ALEXANDRA PENFOLD AND ILLUSTRATED BY SUZANNE KAUFMAN.
The perfect book for classrooms. A broad group of kids in a day of school from different cultures. They share their cultures through food (at lunchtime), also music and art, and their stories. There are also disabled kids represented as well as the family configurations variety. It shows how these differences become community strengths.
THE DAY YOU BEGIN, WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE WOODSON AND ILLUSTRATED BY RAFAEL LÓPEZ
This one is about how a girl named Angelina feels uncomfortable in her class because her excited classmates talk about exciting places and travel over the summer. Instead, she had to stay home, taking care of her sick sister and how she feels awkward and alone. But soon becomes evident that we all have times when we feel different, but sharing our stories and feelings can help connect. And to celebrate our differences is something to show. Not to hide.
BODIES ARE COOL, WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER FEDER.
This is a book with a flowing rhyming structure that shows all kinds of bodies. Fat bodies, bodies of all races and skin tones, disabled ones, and more, how to love them and respect them. Well-illustrated and full of rhythm.
LOVELY, WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY JESS HONG.
This book shows a huge diversity of people. They all are described as Lovely. With gender non-conforming people, different races, a person with prosthetic legs playing soccer, a person in a wheelchair, hairy legs wearing red high heels, etc.
Shows respect for each of them, how to approach and see the difference between us all but embrace what makes us unique.
INTERSECTION ALLIES: WE MAKE ROOM FOR ALL, WRITTEN BY CHELSEA JOHNSON, LATOYA COUNCIL, AND CAROLYN CHOI, ILLUSTRATED BY ASHLEY SEIL SMITH.
This book teaches how to embrace differences again and support others, all told in a rhyming style. Includes many types of diversity, a refuge character and genderfluid character.
LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, WRITTEN BY MATT DE LA PEÑA AND ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTIAN ROBINSON.
A classic picture book. CJ rides the bus with his grandmother after church. As he complains and comments about their community, questioning about not having an iPod, or to go through the dirty and ugly part of the town, she points out the beauty of the world around them. Always showing gratitude and recognition for what is essential and really matters at the end of the day.
A IS FOR ACTIVISTS AND COUNTING ON COMMUNITY, WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY INNOSANTO NAGARA.
As the author claims, it is never too late to teach kids about inclusion and diversity. His board books not only teach activism in an ABC format but it’s also populated because of the wide range of people being represented. This book offers a great way to introduce the idea of a diverse and close-knit community and being a good member.
THE NAME JAR, WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY YANGSOOK CHOI.
A girl has moved from Korea to America. Instead of introducing herself once in her new class, she says she will pick her American name soon. The classmates are intrigued and fill a jar with their suggestions. But a classmate finds out her name and what it means. The jar disappears after that. She finds out that she does not need to change her name for acceptance.
THE SANDWICH SWAP, WRITTEN BY HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH WITH KELLY DIPUCCHIO, ILLUSTRATED BY TRICIA TUSA.
This book is not only a great introduction to celebrating differences but is also based on Her Majesty Queen Rania’s own experience.
Two best friends that do everything together, but privately they think the others’ every day lunch is disgusting. The truth comes out and the entire cafeteria split on two teams. Hummus versus peanut butter, sandwich versus pita. They finally try each other’s lunch and discover both are good. Simple but a great conversation starter.
These are only ten out of a 50 children’s book collection on diversity and inclusion. Amazingly chosen for a great purpose.
These are the most important things we need to teach and guide our children through their lives or at least the time they would share with us.
Raising children with a noble heart, so they could become mature, compassionate, tolerant, and empathetic adults, hoping to make our environment a better place so we can reach the long-awaited better world!
Research and writing help by Susana Lopez.