As a mother and woman of color, I wholeheartedly take on the responsibility to educate my three-year-old daughter on diversity and her African American heritage. The black lives matter movement only confirmed for me more now than ever is a time to have a discussion about diversity and racism with her even though she is three-years-old. I initially delayed having the conversation because I thought that she wouldn't be able to fully understand what race and diversity mean in today's society. However, after doing more research online, I have found the most effective way to do this was through books and through my daily actions.
As you all may or may not know, a lot of what I have learned has been self-taught. It's the core principle for creating my online book club, DRM Scholars. I have always been a very resourceful person and able to find solutions to any of my life problems through reading and is what I have decided to use as my choice to educate my daughter on what is happening in our world today and how we can work together as a family to make a ripple of change we ultimate wish to see in the world.
The five books that stood out to me most were the ones that held a strong message of inclusion, equality, and also age-appropriate. Presenting a book written for an eight or nine-year-old will not be understood by a three-year-old, so I encourage you to do some research yourself if your child is not three to six years old, as these five books that I'm about to share with you are for those age range. If your child is much older, you may want to find books that will not only deliver the message in an easy to understand format, but also one that will have a lasting impact. You'll know it's had an impact when your child begins asking questions, usually, "Why?"
The first book that I highly recommend is Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. It is a story of two children who became pen pals through a school assignment. They wrote letters and shared pictures with each other about their family, community, food, and differences between their cultures. In the end, although everything looked different and maybe done a different way, it was still the same.
My daughter enjoyed this book and the illustrations were absolutely beautiful. The story wasn't too long or too short and kept her interest to keep reading all the way through. This one was both of our favorite so we rank this one a must buy.
Next is All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. In this story, your child will learn all about inclusion in the classroom.
Oftentimes, when we hear about inclusion and race, it's talked about at home, but I loved how the illustrators depict children from all races and ethnicity playing and learning together while at school. This is the perfect book to teach children what diversity and inclusion visually look like. Again, this one is also a very easy read and the illustrations kept my three-year-old engaged for the entire story. One of my favorite thing about this book is that while reading it there is a consistent phrased "All is welcome here" after each transitioning activity at school. This type of repetitive language drives the message even more and likely for her to remember long after she's read the book, and this is why it is our second go-to book on diversity and inclusion.
Our third book is titled, I Am Enough by Grace Byer. Like the other books, this one is also easy to read and the illustrations are minimal but equally effective with driving the key point of self-love.
This book teaches children to love who they are inside and out. It is a wonderful book to teach them about self-esteem and that they are worthy of being treated kindly. It also teaches them to show love towards others and also to not give up on themselves during difficult times. The book also acknowledges various differences between others, whether it is physical capabilities and the color of our skin. Grace beautifully wrote, "I know that we won't look the same: our skin, our eyes, our hair, our frame. But that does not dictate our worth; we both have places here on earth."
Our fourth book is Kamala and Maya's Big Idea by Meena Harris. This book is all about working together as a community in order to make a change.
This book has beautiful illustrations and a little bit more wordy than the previously mentioned, but I in my opinion still a wonderful selection for children in the three to six age range. The six-years-old would definitely appreciate this one. This story was inspired by true events from the author's life and makes it a special selection. This book is about two sisters who decided to work together with other children in their neighborhood to build a playground outside their building courtyard. They go from door to door in order to ask for support to build the playground and helped turn a lot of no's to maybe's and eventually, yes! This book not only teaches children about race and diversity, but it also teaches them how to work together in order to see the change in their community and reach that goal.
The last book on our top pick list is We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Kates. This one made it to number four on our list primarily because it doesn't have a lot of real human children as the other books above does.
Don't get me wrong, we love Sesame Street and all the furry monsters. But I personally found that all the monsters mixed in with the humans were a bit distracting and could be a bit overstimulating. A lot of colors and pictures cover each page. However, if you approach the book from that standpoint it does achieve the same goal of diversity because you'd have to look for the humans in the group of monsters, as is shown in the cover itself. If you look for differences you will find it. The message is still the same and teaches children about appreciating the differences in others even though they might look different from one another.
There you have it! Our top five books for children that does a wonderful job teaching children on diversity and inclusion. As I've mentioned before, these are wonderful and age-appropriate for children ages three to six-years-old. Have you read any of them with your children? If so, join the conversation. What did you like? What didn't you like? Which of the five most resonated with your child?