With the protests over the killing of George Floyd surrounding the media, as parents we are needing to find ways to explain the unrest to our children and educate them about the #blacklivesmatter movement. The children are our future and what we teach them will go through life with them.
It’s never too early to start teaching about racism and equal rights but it starts with seeing diversity in the books they read, and teaching that everyone is equal and we don’t only read books showing white characters.
This selection of books shows diverse characters and stories which can make this easy to understand.
1) The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.
2) We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street)
Who better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside—but it’s important to remember that deep down, we are all very much alike. We all have the same needs, desires, and feelings. Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it’s our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. This enduring, colorful, and charmingly illustrated book offers an easy, enjoyable way to learn about differences—and what truly matters. It is an engaging read for toddlers and adults alike.
3) Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Listen up! You may not have heard about it (though we really hope you have), but black women have done a shedload of amazing things. Now this gorgeous illustrated book takes you on a journey to meet 40 of the greatest ever trailblazing black heroines. Nurse Mary Seacole. Singer Shirley Bassey. NASA maths genius Katherine Johnson. Best-loved TV presenter Oprah Winfrey. Each spread gives you a short biography on one side, and a beautiful full-page colour picture on the other, capturing these iconic women in all their fabulousness.
4) The Mega Magic Hair Swap – Rochelle Humes
Mai and Rose are best friends but they’re not two peas in a pod. Mai has dark hair that is curly and whirly and never stays put. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Rose?
Rose has blonde hair, as straight as a ruler, which slips and slides whenever she tries to put it in a pony tail. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Mai? A joyful and fun story about celebrating differences and loving yourself from head to toe!
5) Here we are, Notes for living on planet earth – Oliver Jeffers
Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you’ve only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let’s explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you’ll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else… Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.
6) I am Human: Book Of Empathy
From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third bookin their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that its okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying Im sorry. At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family millions strong.
7) Welcome to Our World: A Celebration of Children
Children all over the world are very different, but they also have much in common. In this beautifully illustrated book, young children can learn all about what people in other countries eat, wear and play, and how they speak and celebrate. From breakfasts to birthdays, cakes to clothes, and hiccups to hellos, there are so many ways to say and do things – but everyone shares a love of family, friends, food and fun. This delightful book teaches us that despite different languages, customs and traditions, it really is a small world, after all.
8) All Are Welcome
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome. A school where children in patkas, hijabs, baseball caps and yarmulkes play side by side. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions. A school where diversity is a strength.
Warm and inspiring, All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school.
9) Mixed by Arree Chung
The Blues, Reds and Yellows lived in harmony. Reds were the loudest, Yellows the brightest and Blues were the coolest. However when one of the colours proclaims they are the best, discord breaks out and eventually the colours decide to live in different parts of the city. Then one day a Yellow befriends a Blue and they become inseparable, discovering a world of different possibilities and colours.
From the brilliantly talented Arree Chung comes a sweet tale of difference and acceptance. Mixed is a charming and timely story with characterful illustrations and humour.
10) Kind – Alison Green
Imagine a world where everyone is kind – how can we make that come true? With gorgeous pictures by a host of top illustrators, KIND is a timely, inspiring picture book about the many ways children can be kind, from sharing their toys and games to helping those from other countries feel welcome. The book is endorsed by GRUFFALO illustrator Axel Scheffler, and one pound from the sale of each printed copy will go to the Three Peas charity, which gives vital help to refugees from war-torn countries.
11) The Boy at the Back of the Class – Onjali Rauf
Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense. There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He’s nine years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That’s where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we’ve come up with a plan.
12) The Dreaded Groak: Overcoming prejudice and discrimination – Peta Lemon
Heart-warming story about breaking down barriers and embracing each other’s differences. Time has come for Hazel the rat to leave his mum and make it on his own in the big, wide world. Hapless Hazel must learn how to build a nest and find food. Hazel must also watch out for the DREADED GROAK, the most feared and loathsome creature in the woods. When Hazel suddenly finds himself face to face with the dreaded groak, he is forced to confront his fears. He finds that sometimes things aren’t quite as they seem and that special friendships can be found in unexpected places. The Dreaded Groak is a beautifully illustrated rhyming picture book, suitable for children age 3-5 years or an early reader age 6+.
13) It’s Ok To Be Different Sharon Purtill
Every Child is Unique! Whether they are big or small, short or tall, like to swim, dance, sing or bike. Perhaps they have a special need or are from a different ethnic background. Maybe they wear glasses or talk differently. The truth is that all children are different and their individuality should be celebrated, not shunned. And this inspiring and brightly illustrated rhyming picture book does just that.
14) We are all equal – P Crumble
A diverse group of animals comes together to celebrate one very important idea: no matter our differences, we are all equal. These animals may all be different from one another, but they know that doesn’t matter. They have different lifestyles, different places of origin, different abilities, different types of families, and more. But big or small, weak or strong, native or new to their land, these animals are all equal, with no one better, more important, or more worthy than the others.
With vivid, vibrant art and a resounding message of tolerance conveyed with a sweet and playful rhyme, this book is a celebration of the many different ways to be, all of which are good, welcome, and equal.
15) What If We Were All The Same! C.M. Harris
“What If We Were All The Same! is an inspirational and warm celebration of the differences in all living things…” 2020 Gold recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award