One of my favorite things about the school my children attend is the cultural diversity of the students that make up the school. We are so fortunate that this diversity is regularly celebrated through classroom learning and school-wide activities.
My children have friends from China, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Italy, and more. They go to school with kids who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and other religions.
Why We Need to Teach and Celebrate Diversity With Our Kids
At a time in our current culture when Americans seem more divided than ever I think it is important to teach my kids empathy, to celebrate diversity, and to recognize that our differences don’t have to divide us, they can actually make us better.
Our kids will always be exposed to people from different backgrounds and cultures. It is up to us, as parents to help our children learn acceptance, tolerance, and to celebrate the diversity of this amazing world we live in.
Your children recognize differences from a young age. Kids can easily begin to identify as part of a group based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, and many other affiliations. It is important to talk about differences with our kids instead of ignoring them.
How to Teach Kids About Diversity
When we discuss diversity it can actually be helpful to point out differences, even among the groups in which our children identify with. In this way, we can help our children recognize that even within a particular group, everyone is unique and different. And there is no one standard that makes a person better than anyone else. We can help our children recognize that every person has value and our differences make us stronger together.
Ask your children questions and welcome their curiosity about how other people live. Learn and explore other cultures and traditions together. Discuss your own family background and culture. Have your kids imagine what it would be like to live in another country or culture.
One of my favorite events that our school hosts is multicultural night. On this night, families from different countries and cultures host a booth to showcase an aspect of their culture. We were able to try snacks and treats from Italy, Greece, and the Philippines, we could get henna drawings on our hands, we tried on traditional clothing from Pakistan, created African art, learned a Filipino dance, and more.
By exposing our children to the sights, tastes, sounds, and stories from other people, cultures, and countries they begin to recognize the beauty and the value in diversity. They can see how our differences make us unique and special and give each of us the ability to be our individual selves, all working together to make the world a greater place.
There are numerous stories and situations in which diversity is or was not celebrated. And it’s important for our children to learn these lessons too. By teaching our children about the times when people have been mistreated, hurt, or even killed simply because of their differences we help our kids recognize why acceptance and tolerance are so important. We give them empathy to view things from other perspectives. And we can help them develop the courage to do things a better way.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
One of the ways we are working to celebrate diversity in our family is through books. I’ve been specifically looking for children’s books that can teach our children about other cultures. I’m also including stories about prejudice and discrimination so that our kids can see the devastating results that can happen when we don’t value others and their differences.
Recently, I learned about Multicultural Children’s Book Day (this year it is being held on January 25th, 2019). This is a day set aside to bring more awareness of children’s books that celebrate diversity. The goal of the day is to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries so that children have the opportunity to learn from them.
This year they also have kits for teachers to help them teach about empathy, kindness, poverty, and celebrate diversity in their classrooms. There is also an ebook resource available for parents and educators to discover and learn more about multicultural children’s books. I love that the message is not just about teaching tolerance to kids, but to learn about and celebrate differences.
Books that Teach and Celebrate Diversity
Here are a few of the books we are using in our home to help our children learn about and celebrate diversity (note, I received early reader copies of some of these books which will be released in the coming weeks):
Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor by Vivian Kirkfield – this is a story about a woman named Sarah who was one of the first African American women to get a U.S. patent. The story offers a glimpse of the struggles that African Americans faced even after slavery was abolished. Sarah noticed a need in her community and worked hard to find a solution. As both a woman and an African American she worried that she wouldn’t be granted the patent she needed to protect her new invention.
A Scarf for Keiko by Ann Malaspina – this story takes place in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles during 1942, where Jewish American and Japanese American families were neighbors. Readers are able to learn about the anti-Japanese feelings and the internment camps that many were forced to go to. This book takes a difficult topic and shares it in a way that young children would understand.
Pavel and the Tree Army by Heidi Smith Hyde – in this book we learn about Pavel, a new American who is excited about his new country while struggling to support himself and his family during the Depression-Era. He and other immigrants are treated poorly by some of their coworkers. The immigrants band together to work hard and accomplish a feat that gives them a sense of national pride and belonging.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai – my mom accidentally purchased the Young Readers Edition of this book for me for Christmas. As I started reading it I realized it would be a great read-aloud book to share with my kids. The book offers a glimpse of life in Taliban controlled Pakistan as well as some of the traditions and cultural aspects of Muslims.
These are just a few books that we have gotten started with. I hope to read many more of these types of books with my children to share both current and historical stories of diversity, inclusion, acceptance, discrimination and the like. Do you have any favorite multicultural or diversity books that you have enjoyed with your children? Please share in the comments so that we can all discover new books to read with our kids.
Details Regarding Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
Medallion Level Sponsors
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board
Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana andA Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.
FREE RESOURCES From MCBD
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.