Way back in November of 2017, before I was a mom, I walked into Little Nomad on Broad Street and bought this book. The illustrations are gorgeous and the message is simple and easy to understand. Home looks different for everyone, but it’s home. I brought the book home and put it on a shelf, where it has stayed for the last 2.5 years. It’s slightly advanced for babies and toddlers, but I’m looking forward to reading it with the kids when they’re old enough to appreciate it.
Fast forward to the beginning of June, when I took a hard look at the inventory of books my kids own and read. There are the staples, like Go Dog Go, Little Blue Truck (and the sequel), and Harold and the Purple Crayon, all which we have memorized. There are lots of books to teach numbers, letters, animals, and colors.
I noticed during my inventory that we could use more books related to diversity. Our own family is very diverse, and the kids are both so young that we haven’t really talked about our differences or what they mean. So I bought a bunch of books that celebrate the differences we see in the world, to help start some appropriate conversations.
For anyone else who might want some books to help your kids learn and celebrate diversity, here’s a list of what we have, and how my kids have responded to them, as well as my own impressions as I’ve read them:
Families, Families, Families! – Suzanne Lang & Max Lang
This is the toddler’s current favorite. He asks to read “FamwesFamwesFamwes” several times a day and he loves the different animals showcased in each “famwe.” He especially loves when a family in the book has 4 members so he can identify each member of our family. There’s a page with a family of 4 dogs where he makes me stop so he can say “Mamadog, Daddydog, Asadog, Miradog” while pointing to each dog.
Whoever You Are – Mem Fox; illustrated by Leslie Staub
My baby girl and I really like this one. She likes the illustrations and the repetition. I like that it’s a Reading Rainbow book (I read it with the same cadence I remember LeVar reading), and I love the premise of the book, which is that we’re all different on the outside but have important similarities. I have yet to read through the book without tearing up halfway through. “Joys are the same, and love is the same. Pain is the same, and blood is the same.” Gets me every time.
All Kinds of People – Shelley Rotner & Sheila M. Kelly
The 2 year old really loves this one. The book is a collection of diverse kids, with the text of the book describing the “many shades” of all of the people with “cocoa,” “sandy,” “copper,” “rose,” and “almond.” Asa likes to look at the kids in the pictures and see what he has in common with them.
All Are Welcome -Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman
The infant liked this one; the colors are really vivid and there’s lots to look at on every page. She did seem to tire out about 3/4 of the way through – it’s above her age level and it’s a pretty long book for a baby. I really like the message and the illustrations. It’s set in a school and the diversity of the students in the class is what the book celebrates. It would be a great book for a teacher to read in a school setting with slightly older kids, say ages 3-5.
We have a few other books that we haven’t cracked open together yet. I’ve read through these three and I especially love “Home,” but I’m waiting for the kids to be interested before we read them.
- A Rainbow of Friends – P.K. Hallinan
- Home – Carson Ellis
- The Shape of Me and Other Stuff – Dr. Seuss
- More More More Said the Baby – Vera B. Williams
What books are you reading with your kids right now, to teach and promote diversity and inclusion? Share your reading lists in the comments!