Today’s post is written by Samantha Sweeney of Culturally Competent Kids, a fellow book mama.
“My favorite thing to do with my toddler is to sit down and have an in-depth discussion about power, privilege, and diversity in our society” said no parent ever. I love that as a society, we have become more open and inclusive. Diversity appears to be something that many people value, but it’s still not easy to talk about with your kids. It feels like such a complicated topic and there never seems to be a “right” time to talk about it. That is, until your kid says something mortifying on the playground loud enough so that everyone can hear. *Shudder*
So, what’s a well meaning parent to do? How can you go about talking about this topic in a way that won’t bore your child (and you!) to tears? Books of course! The long, involved talks will come later (although they come sooner than you’d think!). The most important thing is letting your child know that this is not a taboo topic in your household; that he or she can talk about diversity with you. It’s not off-limits. Here are some of my favorite books to introduce different diversity topics:
Author: Todd Parr
Age Group: 3-7
With bright, cartoon-like illustrations, Todd Parr is a master of showing the differences between people while also highlighting what binds us all together.Purchase the Book Online
Author: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Age Group: 4-8
Not all families look the same and this story introduces the idea of family diversity. The family is nontraditional, but no less love than any other. This heartwarming tale is sure to put a smile on your face.Purchase the Book Online
Author: Bob Graham
Age Group: 2-5
With beautiful watercolors and a fun story about an interracial family, your kids will love this story. Enjoy looking at the pictures and imagining the sights and sounds throughout this sweet story.Purchase the Book Online
Author: Eliza Woloson
Illustrator: Bryan Gough
Age Group: 4-8
This book is about a boy who has a good friend who likes so many of the same things he does; she just happens to have Down Syndrome. A beautiful story of friendship showing that some things are universal.Purchase the Book Online
Author: Ezra Jack Keats
Age Group: 2-7
One of my very favorite books of all time & a 1963 Caldecott winner, the story of Peter, a young African-American boy exploring the sights and sounds of a cold winter’s day is one that all kids can relate to.Purchase the Book Online
These books help us learn about new people, but also get us thinking about ourselves & what makes us unique. After reading these books, do an art project with your child about who they are. Draw a large picture of a person (or if you have the paper & the room, trace your child) and have them fill it with who they are.
Questions to Ask: Who is in your family? Who is your best friend? What’s your favorite food? What is your favorite holiday? What do we do on your birthday/other holidays? Where do you live?
This activity allows your child to start thinking about who they are. Save the final product and have siblings, other family members, or friends do it as well. Show your child that there are similarities between all of us and also differences that make us unique and special!
Samantha Sweeney of CulturallyCompetentKids.com
Samantha Sweeney is a proud native New Yorker turned Washingtonian. She is a psychologist with a private practice on Capitol Hill with a focus on cultural competence and diversity awareness. A self-described “book junkie”, she is slowly turning her two kids into book lovers as well.