One of the many things I love about books is their ability to open doors and new worlds to readers. Children and adults can go to Hogwarts, visit the Hundred Acre Woods, or travel 80 days around the world from just pieces of paper. In addition, books provide knowledge and teach about other cultures and people different from us throughout the world. These types of novels hold wonderful opportunities for others to learn about diversity and see life from another perspective. Whether it is seeing life through a different race, culture, family structure or lifestyle, children feel important when they are able to view themselves as characters in a book. Our world is changing and more people are starting to fully embrace each other’s uniqueness. However, one way to make sure this continues to happen in our younger generations is by introducing them to a diverse collection of books early on. No matter their age, there is a book to help your child celebrate diversity. Looking for a place to start? Try reading selections from this suggested list.
Board Books for Babies and Toddlers –
- One Love by Cedella Marley
- Based on the Bob Marley song, One Love tells the story of a community coming together and filling the world with love.
- Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
- Bringing in the New Year introduces babies and toddlers to the Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year.
- Baby Faces by Amy Pixton
- In this cute board book, young children can see themselves through the different characters, their faces, and learn to understand the various moods we all experience.
Picture Books –
- I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
- There is power and a value of importance when a child is able to see themselves in the characters of books, movies, and other people outside of their environment. I Love My Hair does just that and encourages self-acceptance for African American children. The book’s plot is full of lessons that show children they can be proud of their hair, culture, and heritage.
- Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
- Elliot and Kailash are pen-pals and send letters back and forth from their homes in America and India. Through their correspondences, they discuss the similarities and differences in their daily lives. Children will quickly see how exciting it can be to share commonalities with someone on the other side of the world.
- The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
- A classic story of love, diversity, and acceptance of others, The Sneetches and Other Stories takes readers through the ups and downs of the star-bellied Sneetches and their star-less strangers, as they become friends.
Chapter Books and Middle Grade Novels –
- Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqui
- Whether it is celebrating her Pakistani-American traditions, eating naan, or referring to her father as Baba, there is nothing readers won’t love about Yasmin. Told in four short stories, author Saadia Faruqui envelops Yasmin’s Pakistani-American life with problem-solving challenges.
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Esperanza Rising has been around for several years and continues to inspire young readers. Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee from Mexico and start a new life as migrant farm workers in California. The pair face unique challenges that show them they are able to thrive and overcome anything life throws at them.
- Tight by Torrey Maldonado
- Sixth grader Bryan is being pulled in all directions. He lives in the projects and is always told “to be tough.” His parents are telling him opposite advice on how to handle situations – his mom encouraging him to be quiet, while his dad tells him to toughen up. In reality, all Bryan wants to do is go with the flow. Learn what happens to Bryan in Torrey Maldonado’s
- The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur
- Instead of a typical story, The Rose that Grew from Concrete is a collection of poems geared towards young children and teenagers, especially boys. Written as a teenager, Tupac’s poems inspire and challenge writers and musicians to be authentic, unique, and creative.
There are many more books that celebrate diversity and share valuable lessons to children of all ages. A simple acquaintance to a book with diverse characters at a young age will help make a difference and start to form a child’s beliefs on respect, acceptance, and loving each other.