Did you know that at age 2 children are able to recognize gender and racial differences? And did you also know that at age 3 they can develop a sense of uneasiness around people that are different from themselves? Amazing, huh?!?!
Reading stories is an incredible way to help kids explore just about everything, including about the human race. By exposing kids to different religions, disabilities, languages, races and traditions their predisposition of what is “normal” is significantly expanded. We help to create a more accurate portrayal of the beauty and complexity of the diverse world when we teach it through literacy!
Here is a list of noteworthy books that tackle the topics of inclusion and diversity. Hopefully sharing these stories will help our kids to grow up and become wonderful, caring, compassionate stewards of this colorful and wonderful world!
Books on Inclusion and Diversity
1. “Suki’s Kimono” – Chieri Uegaki
The highlight of Suki’s whole summer break was when her grandmother took her to the Japanese festival and taught her all about her heritage. While at the festival, Suki was given her very own kimono and wooden clogs. It is no surprise that on her first day back to school she can not wait to share her new outfit and experience with her classmates! This is a wonderful tale of being proud of where you came from. Suki’s experience of kids questioning her uniqueness at school is something all children can relate to.
2. “Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?” – Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Do princesses climb trees? Do they like to walk through the rain, play in the sand and dirt? This book innocently introduces the child to her real self, and makes it OK to be just that!
3. “My Brother Charlie” – Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
This is a heartfelt story about what it’s like growing up with a brother with autism. Charlie’s sister points out that some things are harder for her brother than they are for most kids. Making friends or showing his true feelings can be difficult. “For everything that is difficult for Charlie there are many things that he’s good at!”
4. “The BugyBops: Friends for All Time” – Amy Recob
The BugyBops’ are the best of friends. They are kind and caring, and always helping their food allergic peers stay safe, happy, and healthy. The BugyBops show how a few simple steps can help prevent a serious allergic reaction to food. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, soy, eggs, and wheat are among the allergens discussed in this book. The BugyBops introduce important concepts related to cross-contamination, Epipens, and the physical signs of an allergic reaction. Young readers will love this fun and light-hearted book as an introduction to food allergies! This read is great for siblings, friends, and classmates of children with food allergies.
5. “We’re Different, We’re the Same” – Bobbi Jane Kates
We are taking it back to the classics with this one! Published in 1992, Sesame Streets’ “We’re Different, We’re the Same” is about the physical differences and similarities of people. This book is perfect to read aloud to your 2 or 3 year old as they are noticing these differences on their own.
6. “Whoever You Are” – Mem Fox
This Australian author’s joyful picture book is a celebration of the world’s diverse cultures. Leslie Straub’s colorful, folk art style paintings depict children from all corners of the globe. All of the beautifully oil painted illustrations reflect Fox’s message that “No matter where we come from, within our hearts; our joy, pain and love is the same, both our similarities and differences.”