Reading diverse books for children helps little ones become more accepting, more compassionate, and less inclined to feel uncomfortable when they encounter people or situations they perceive as being different.
One of my favorite t-shirts is adorned with a phrase I love:
ALL KIND. BE KIND.
The second I saw it in the store, I couldn’t help but find my size and take it to the register. I remember thinking how perfect that motto was, and how I wished life could be so easy.
Diverse books for children and the power of “all kind, be kind.”
When my oldest son began to read, he studied my shirt one day and read the words aloud.
“All kind, be kind. What’s that?” he asked.
I told him it simply meant to be kind to everyone, whether they were just like us or entirely different.
“Obviously, mom,” he said with a roll of his eyes. And then he ran to the patio to shoot hoops. I loved his response, but then immediately wished that being kind to everyone was such an obvious notion to all. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case. And that means it’s up to us — parents and educators — to teach our children to celebrate our differences, rather than fear them.
And there’s a really simple way to do this. Read.
Why read diverse books for children?
Children are born with inherently pure hearts. Hate and fear are learned behaviors. We can combat the intolerance they may witness around them by intentionally bringing diverse books for children into our homes.
When we read with intention and ensure that children see all kinds of glorious people in books, we show kids that all people should be celebrated, no matter what.
Diverse books for children include those stories conveying that love is love, that people around the world or right next door may look or seem entirely different but are so fundamentally same at the core, that neurodiverse children and kids with physical challenges are to be valued and celebrated, that families come in all shapes and possess no “one size fits all” scratchy labels.
As Rudine Sims Bishop famously stated, reading is about “windows and mirrors.” Window books give children glimpses into the lives of people different from themselves, whereas mirror books are those in which children see themselves reflected in the stores they read.
It is vital that children read both.
Diverse books for children help nurture empathy and build compassion
When we teach kids from the time they are infants that learning about the beautiful traditions, people, cultures and holidays around the world is magical — when we show them that these traditions, people, cultures and holidays around the world share so many similarities to us and ours — we help bridge the perceived divides between us.
Sharing diverse children’s books with our kids helps them become more accepting, more compassionate, and less inclined to feel nervous or scared when they encounter others who they perceive as being different from themselves.
SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
These are some of our very favorite diverse books for children
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Suggested Grade Level: Pre-K – 3rd
Check out our lists and book reviews featuring the best diverse books for children!
Make storytime magical and meaningful with these diverse children’s books.