Awhile ago I wrote a post on how I am building exposure for my children with regards to diversity. I did this by purposely buying and reading them books with either a person of color as the main character or the storyline being about diversity and inclusion. Those books were all of the board book variety since both of my boys were around that age group. Now my older son is starting to venture into the world of books that are for school aged children. So, I thought I would share our favorites and our most recent finds that highlight diversity!
Children’s Books that Highlight Diversity
1. The Day you Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is set on a little girl’s first day of school and shows her day in her classroom. She worries about possibly being the only one who may look like her in the classroom. The story unfolds with the author’s beautiful words urging children to look beyond feeling like outsiders and instead focus on sharing ourselves with others. It’s when we do this that we can connect with others and feel like a true part of something. My boys loved the bright, gorgeous illustrations, and the lyrical way Woodsen writes drew them in.
2. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
This is a beautiful book that follows a diverse group of school children through their day. The school day leads up to a celebration of the Lunar New Year, but what you really learn though the story is how everyone has a place, and that everyone matters. This book is wonderful because of the bright pictures and how you get to see so many diverse and wonderful characters. I also love the message to welcome all.
3. Be Kind by Pat Zeitlow Miller
How does one be kind? That is the main question of this story, and it asks in so many ways. The book follows children through their school day and the many ways that one can show kindness. From sharing and helping others, to standing up for what is right, the way that the author lays out the examples in simple language that children can understand and apply is amazing. The characters are also diverse and lovely to see. I have seen my own children take examples from this book and apply it to their interactions with their peers. It’s incredibly moving to witness.
4. Pink is for Boys by Bobb Pearlman
Not only does this book feature a diverse cast of characters, it also helps children to rethink the stereotypical gender expectations, and that it’s okay for anyone to like any color of the rainbow. I really appreciate that even though the title seems to be angled towards boys, it shows both sides of gender expectations. I appreciate books that let my boys know that it’s okay to play with dolls and kitchens if they want.
5. I am Enough by Grace Byers
This book is so beautiful and moving and I just adore it! I have read it to my boys, but I believe that this book has an even bigger impact on little girls, especially little girls of color. This book puts in the simplest of words that one needs to know that he or she matters, that he or she is enough. I love how the book encourages you to accept that you are wonderful just the way that you are.
6. I am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde
This book is supposed to be a simple meditation book for children to learn about empathy. The pictures features many diverse people. I also like that the book emphasizes that we can come back from mistakes and how big the power of simply apologizing (and meaning it) can be. I love how it urges children to connect with others and to see the differences in each other but also to celebrate that we are all human.
7. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
This book was written by a migrant woman who wanted to tell the story of her family’s coming to America and the rich experiences that they brought. The pictures are stunning and I love that it is such a timely story right now. This is a must read if you want to teach your children about immigration.
8.Most People by Michael
This book focuses on a pair of siblings, one of which is a child of color. It is all about the sights and experiences that they have on a day in their city. This book is to teach children to not just look for the dark and dangerous things in the world, but to also see the beauty and kindness that exists everyday. I really appreciated that the author purposefully chose stereotypical examples of something or someone that a child would normally be warned against, but instead shows that they are not always dangerous and could instead be a force for kindness. My sons really liked everything that they could see in the rich illustrations.
These are just a couple of our favorites, but there are so many more great books out there. I will say, however, that there still are not enough. The publishing world is slow to realize that these books need to be published for all children. They fail to realize that race in books should not be a niche thing. It’s important that all people of all races and circumstances are represented, regardless of perceived demand. It is my sincere hope that the next generation will have equal representation in literature for all ages.
Do you have any of these books?
What do you look for in a book selection for your children?
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