Kids Books About Diversity
Most of the information here on The Educational Tourist website is about reading before visiting specific places, but this post is all about diversity that you can find anywhere – during your travels to far flung places or during local adventures to your grocery store, school, and church. Diversity is what the world is all about and helping children navigate that diversity in a positive way is a great way to set them up, and really to set us all up, for success!!
What is Diversity, anyway?
So what is diversity, really? How do we explain that to children? One of my favorite explanations is to use visuals. I like to show a field of one type of flower and comment on how pretty it is when all the flowers are the same.
But, if an insect doesn’t like this one type of flower, then they’ll be hungry. And this flower only blooms for a certain amount of time, what about the time it isn’t blooming? Then I show them a photo like this one:
In this photo everyone could find a flower they like, and a flower that blooms at a different time so there is always a beautiful flower to be enjoyed.
There is diversity in all parts of the world. Biodiversity in plants and animals helps the planet work properly. People are diverse, too. We all have different preferences for food, clothes, music, religion, and so forth. We speak different languages and have different ideas.
While we have lots of differences we are really more alike than different. We all want to live happily in peace with our friends and family. Everyone wants to feel safe and loved and have enough to eat.
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Reading About Diversity Before a Trip
Improve your trip AND your child’s intelligence:
We want children to remember, internalize, and make these experiences part of their core being! When a child learns something they add to their schema, or background knowledge, which will help them in their education until the end of time. Layering the learning by introducing information and then showing it to them on a vacation is the best way to internalize information. Use travel to get smarter and improve skills for the kids in the family!
A GREAT way to get the wheels turning and introduce information about your adventure destination AND improve your child’s intelligent and academic educational success is reading. Stories with familiar characters or beloved animals will pave the way for learning – really learning about the new culture they are going to experience. Read kids’ books set in London or listen with an audiobook. Check out my lists for other destinations, too like Italy, Paris, Hawaii, New York City, Caribbean, Greece, San Francisco, Italy, Colombia, Canada, and Spain.
Need more proof that reading is valuable? A study published in the Economic Journal shows that ‘boys with easy access to books tend to have higher incomes when they become adults than their counterparts who grow up with few or no books by their side’ and “Men who grew up in households filled with books earn 21 percent more..”. So, read before your trip! It will be fun AND will make your kiddo smarter and wealthier in the long run.
Read at bedtime and have sweet dreams about your upcoming trip! Or download to an IPAD or Kindle and read on the loooooooooooong flight over. These are perfect for any storytime before, during, and after a trip, too.
Capitalize on your child’s interest and incorporate those into your next adventure. Choosing a book on something they already like will help get them interested in your family’s adventure! There are literally a million to choose from, but don’t despair. I have spent hours and hours reading books, reading summaries, reading reviews, reading about authors, reading about all topics related to diversity SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
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Teacher’s Picks for Kids’ Books about Diversity
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman is a beautiful story about inclusion and diversity. In this story, all children are welcome and learn about each other’s cultures and lives while showing respect for each other. The repeated refrain, “All are welcome here.” is a calming mantra in the current divisive times of our nation. A must read to introduce the idea that we are all more alike than we are different. Though written for kindergarten through 3rd grade students, even the older children will appreciate the message and it is a good introduction to the school year or a unit or inclusion and diversity. Fabulous before a trip where you’ll meet and mingle with people different from your own family. Pages: 44, Lexile Measure: AD370l.
Pen pals from different lands learn that while they do have some differences, they really are very much the same. Great book for teaching kids to look for accepting the diversity of human similarities in others. We are so much more alike than we are different. Written for kids aged 4-7 years old, but can be enjoyed by all elementary school students. Pages: 40 Lexile level: AD460L
It’s OK to be different by Sharon Purtu is a favorite among teachers for reinforcing the idea that different is not just OK but part of what makes the world beautiful. Teaching diversity with books is a great way to get a conversation started. Written for kids aged kindergarten through 3rd grade but can easily be used up through elementary school. Pages: 28.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong is my personal favorite for teaching about diversity. The gorgeous book is about accepting yourself, even if you are ‘different’ and understanding how your ‘different’ beauty makes the world a better place Written for young elementary aged children, but as is usually the case, these pictures books lend themselves well to older children as well. I recommend it for kids up through elementary school. Pages: 48. Lexile measure: AD580L
Older kids really enjoy connecting with the author. I showed this interview with Lupita Nyong to my students. It helps them see that authors are real people and that even famous people can have struggles like you and me.
Good Morning America’s Anchors’ Favorite Book Picks of 2019 — Good Morning America
Outreach Magazine’s ‘Best Books of the Year’ Youth Category’ March 2020 — Outreach Magazine
Plugged In Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Family-Friendly Picture Books from 2019’ — Plugged In Magazine
Risen Magazine’s ‘8 Titles for Toddlers to Tweens During Quarantine’ — Risen Magazine
‘Notable Christian Children’s Books by Authors of Color’ July 2020 — ChristianBestsellerList.com (ECPA)
One Big Heart by Linsey Davis, an award winning new journalist, is a great way to start a conversation about how people have a lot in common. Diversity is a critical element of education now. Teaching children to look for commonalities instead of differences will help get us back to a kinder and more gentle world which is something we desperately need. Written for kids ages 4-8. Pages: 32
Acceptance is my Super Power by Alicia Ortega has such a lovely idea. Imagine if the world rewarded kindness and acceptance of our diversity! Written for elementary school aged kids this lovely book is a great conversation opener with older kids, too. Pages: 44 pages.
We ALL Belong by Nathalie and Alex Goss is a book that belongs in every classroom. Teachers love this sort of opener for the year or the semester to remind kids that we all belong – in the same world and in the same classroom. Diversity is beautiful. Great ideas for our troubled world. Written for kids aged up to 12 years old. Pages: 39.
Hair Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry is about a little girl who doesn’t enjoy her curls. As she looks around for someone who shares her curls she finds out we are all different and fabulous. Written for elementary school aged kids, this book will be loved by all. Pages: 32. Lexile Measure: 560L.
***This book has a sequel!
I Am Whole by Shola Oz is a book about a little girl’s journey to discovering that all the things together make her beautiful. We can all look at our unique and diverse backgrounds and enjoy how they make use unique and special. Great conversation opener for even the older kids. Written for elementary school aged kids. Pages: 24.
Chocolate Milk Por Favor by Maria Dismondy is a sweet book about a little boy who arrives in his new school not speaking the language. The teacher uses empathy to help her students communicate with the boy and celebrate the diversity in their classroom. Written for kids aged 4-11. Pages: 32. Lexile measure: 500L.
The Cloverleaf Books – Alike and Different is a series on diversity. Great books handle each part of life and all the many beautiful combinations it can have. Great discussion points. Use with any age up through elementary school.
Interested in Adding Children’s Books on Diversity to Your School Library?
Are you interested in adding these children’s books on diversity to your school library? Have you ever written a grant for such things? Me neither, but ‘Nothing Venture, Nothing Gained”, right? Now is the time!
Take a look at the grant for adding books to your library: Snapdragon Book Foundation. Follow the directions and give it a shot. Maybe you’ll get the grant to add these wonderful kids’ books on diversity to your school library.
If you are traveling with the kids, be sure to read about your destination before you go! You’ll layer the learning and get the wheels of imagination turning before you even arrive.