In order to create a world that is all-inclusive and supportive of every human body, it is imperative that children be taught self-awareness and respect for one another. Books are proven time and time again to be a great resource for teaching a child just about anything. Some top choices for a bookshelf that promotes a healthy attitude towards diversity, and multiculturalism can be found below.
1. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
The Name Jar is a 40 page paperback novel about a girl who is new to America from Korea. Fearing that no one can say her name, she decides to remain nameless for a week and spends time practicing out common names. Meanwhile another girl from her class travels to her neighborhood and finds out her beautiful Korean name, Unhei. At the end of the week, it’s time to pick a name and the class convinces Unhei to use her real name. The Name Jar is an excellent story to promote inclusion, especially in the classroom.
2. Shooting Kabul by N.H Senzai
A tale of a boy who loses his sister in Afghanistan while trying to leave the country illegally. After settling in the states he enters a photography contest where the grand prize may give him a chance to find his sister. This story is great for older middle school children and even high school students. It’s a great example of immigration, and a completely different way of life. Not only does it teach diversity, but also develops empathy. All around, Shooting Kabul is a fantastic read.
3. When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Buron
Diversity is an umbrella that covers all people. This particular story is about a child with anxiety. It concentrates on creating self-calming strategies, and helps to open up dialogue surrounding mental illness. Knowing that it’s okay to have feelings of anxiety and stress is hugely important in the development of youth. When My Worries Get Too Big has a place on every family’s bookshelf.
4. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen
Thanksgiving is almost here and Molly is brand new to American traditions. Her class is asked to make their own Pilgrims, and Molly’s mother helps to create a doll. The only problem is that the Russian Refugee inspired doll her mom creates is not like the others in the class. At first Molly is embarrassed about her doll and its unique heritage, but eventually it helps her to understand, and enjoy her differences. Molly’s Pilgrim is a great example of discovering who you are, and not being afraid to share your differences.
5. Nothando’s Journey by Jill Apperson Manly
Published in January of this year (2016), Nothando’s Journey is a story of Festival in South Africa known as the Reed Festival. Over the course of the book, the narrator, a young girl, discovers herself. She learns to be grateful for who she is. Self-acceptance is the first step in acknowledging cultural variances. Learning to accept who you are is a very important lesson for all young readers.
6. My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson
This is a story of friendship. Isabelle has Down Syndrome and her friend, Charlie, doesn’t. They have many things in common, which shows proof that friendship has no rules. My Friend Isabelle is an excellent book for starting a discussion among children about special needs, and about our differences and similarities. It is also a great example of friendship for every child to experience.
7. Goblinheart by Brett Axel
Cleverly using goblin and fairy instead of boy and girl, Axel created a fabulous book about transgender inclusion. The tale is about a young fairy who decides it wants to be a goblin instead. In Goblinheart, the tribe eventually accepts Julep as a goblin and supports the physical transition Julep must make to become a goblin. This story is a heartwarming reminder that it doesn’t matter what anatomy you were born with, it is what is in your heart that counts.
Teaching our children that everyone is equally important and unique is as sensible as teaching them how to brush their teeth. These stories featuring different abilities, different cultures, and acceptance regardless of anatomy, are a well rounded collection to help keep multiculturalism and diversity mainstream.
*A staggering fact: In 2015, a mere 16% of children’s books featured a child of color. Even though we’ve come a long way, there is still a huge lack of multicultural children’s books.
What’s your diversely rich book?
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Featured image via Grays Harbor College