10 Books To Diversify Your Bookshelf: Children’s Edition
Representation is important, seeing someone on television that resembles you creates feelings of belonging, understanding a builds self-esteem. In a similar way, seeing someone that looks completely different from you, and hearing about their personal experiences and cultures, builds characters within yourself, and deepens your sense of empathy and understanding. This creates a society where we start thinking of each other as one unit, an altogether, instead of us and them.
In the same way as television, social media, radio, books are just as, maybe even more important. As a child, reading and stories are one of the first sources of entertain, and our first experience with the world, outside of our little bubbles. It's important for us to be aware of what we read, what we have always read and how this has shaped the way we were, brought up, how we view the world and everyone around us. As parents, we should question how we are raising the next generation, are we creating an inclusive, diverse experience within our homes, and are we raising empathetic well rounded little humans. There is just so much we can teach our little ones about being inclusive, the best way is to incorporate inclusion within their lives.
When it comes to diversifying your bookshelves the best thing to do is look at your child’s book collection, identify how diverse and inclusive it really is or is not, and why. Are they full of classics, or nostalgic literature you’ve passed down, are they school recommendations, or are they a book they’ve chosen themselves - does your child look like the person on the cover?
The next step is doing a bit of research, what do you think your child might enjoy, what might enhance your little one's perspective and what has an interesting message.
There are tonnes of beautiful children's literature written by a variety of diverse authors, there are plenty out there, it's just a matter of finding one that resonates with you and your family.
There are 10 of my favourite books to diversify your child's bookshelf:
1. Mixed Me - Taye Diggs
This storybook is about a little boy named Mike who is Mixed race, he has lots of energy and loves his parents who both equally love him but he still has loads of questions about his identity. Inspired by his son's experience, Diggs’ beautifully written picture book is perfect for understanding the meaning of identity and how this differs for everyone.
2. Little Feminist Picture Book - Yelena Moroz
This beautifully illustrated picture was constructed with the intention to celebrate 25 amazing women throughout history, of all periods, colours and cultures. Ranging from well-known writer Maya Angelou to famous ballerina Misty Copeland. This colourful handbook has a tonne of powerful women to inspire your little one.
3. My Hair - Hannah Lee
This brand new modern picture book follows a young girl who, in becoming herself she decides what hairstyle she wants to wear for an upcoming party that she is coming to be attending. This storybook has colourful illustrations and addresses the subject of loving herself and her hair, and identifies the versatility of it.
4. Hair Love - Matthew A. Cherry
This picture book is based on Oscar-winning short film animation Hair Love. Which follows the story of a young girl and her family. It’s a big day for her, and her dad is having his first go at doing her hair himself. This story teaches young girls that all you need is a little bit of patience and love, to embrace your style, and dad’s to do the same.
9. Maggies Chopstick - Alan Woo
This beautifully illustrated and written story focuses on a young girl who gets her own chopsticks. Everyone around her has their own ideas on how they should be used but she is on a journey of discovery which way is best for her. This story views culture and identification is a truly playful yet artistic way.
5. Ruby Finds a Worry - Tom Percival
This is a reassuring story about a curious imaginative young girl who struggles to feel relief from her worry. This is book is really important when teaching your young one about mental health and how to deal with stress, anxiety and grief.
6. It’s Okay To Be Different - Todd Parr
This book contains a variety of colourful pictures characters and events and the general message signifies that it is OK to be different. It's okay to be a different colour, dance by yourself wear glasses, have a different personality, or even have a pet worm. It encourages children to love who they are and embrace their differences, and the differences of each other.
7. I Am Perfectly Designed - Karamo brown
Similarly, this colourful storybook is fun of energy and character. Written by Culture Expert from the TV lifestyle reality show Queer Eye, his mission is to create a world where everyone loves each other and themselves for exactly what and who they are.
8. The Proudest Blue - Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
This New York Times bestseller is a powerful story about two sisters on their first day of school and explores their experiences they face while wearing a Hijab. Written by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, the story builds confidence and identifies cultural and religious difficulties some children face.
10. Mateo Finds His Wow - Gabi Garcia
This children’s self-help storybook is a story of wonder and gratitude. It delves into the story of a young boy who just feels stuck and unhappy but manages to focus on the present and learns to prioritise his health and wellbeing.
Diversifying your child's bookshelf could really make an impact, be It how your child moves through the world, treats others, or even views themself. When you’re young It's all about learning and developing but also having fun and finding what you enjoy, so it’s only fair that we give them the opportunity to make decisions based on a wide range of information.
The best and most effective way to fight against prejudice and racism is knowledge and understanding. When we all truly know each other we’ll likely all be compassionate towards each other and learn to love our differences.