It is so important to teach our kids about diversity and inclusion starting from a young age, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
As kids enter school, it’s only natural for kids to notice and be curious about the differences in cultures, backgrounds, abilities, and languages. And as adults, it’s up to us to frame these diversities as a strength and be role-models for acceptance.
Here are 3 tips that we recommend to teach your kids about the importance of diversity and inclusion:
Tip 1: Teach children it’s okay to ask questions
Let kids know that it’s okay to be curious and ask questions keeping sensitivity in mind. This is a great way for children to learn about differences.
Tip 2: Have open conversations about stereotypes and biases
Biased view points tend to take hold at a young age, so it’s important to support you little one’s compassion and understanding by tackling stereotypes and biases.
This can be done by positively talking about the similarities and differences between people and how these are strengths; and also teaching that sometimes people can be treated unfairly because of the way they look, their gender or cultural beliefs.
Tip 3: Express positive interest in diverse cultures
Setting an example of showing general interest and enthusiasm when children or friends share something about themselves, their values or culture is a fantastic way to set a positive example for your kids.
There are also fantastic books that you can read to your kids, or your kids can read themselves. Here are 12 children’s books about diversity and inclusion:
“Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family-millions strong.”
“A celebration of diversity – in all its shapes and sizes! Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly – we are all LOVELY! Colorful, bold illustrations and simple text. This is a great book to build classroom community!–Reading Power Gear”
“The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she?
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name?
Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week.
Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from.
But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning.
On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it–Yoon-Hey.”
“Lily and Salma are best friends. They like doing all the same things, and they always eat lunch together. Lily eats peanut butter and Salma eats hummus-but what’s that between friends? It turns out, a lot. Before they know it, a food fight breaks out. Can Lily and Salma put aside their differences? Or will a sandwich come between them?
The smallest things can pull us apart-until we learn that friendship is far more powerful than difference. In a glorious three-page gatefold at the end of the book, Salma, Lily, and all their classmates come together in the true spirit of tolerance and acceptance.”
“When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.”
“A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book winner! This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation.
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.”
“An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!
Sofia Valdez, a community leader who stands up for what she believes in!
Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so.
Sofia (aka Sofi) misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea-the town can turn the slimy mess into a park!
She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall-only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.”
A New York Times bestseller!
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
“Follow one day in the real lives of seven kids from around the world-Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia!
In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope.
While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days-and this one world we all share-unites them.
This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.”
Books for older kids
“Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough.
Wait, what? Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her.
After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking.
She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.”
“Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind–school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!
Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.”
“We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.”
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