We live in a complex world. It is full of colors, cultures, experiences, and struggles. For children, learning about these unique differences can represent a positive change of paradigm in their lives.
Maybe they’ve faced bullying at school, don’t accept themselves yet, or have outstanding physical features that may lead to complex feelings. Either way, it’s never too early or too late to teach your kids about self-love, acceptance, tolerance, and diversity.
Tackling such important subjects and approaching them from a children’s perspective, might seem overwhelming, but it becomes easier if you present them in a digestible format. One of the best ways to give your kids life-changing lessons is through children’s books about diversity.
So, if you’re looking to fill your child’s bookshelf with inspirational children’s books, this list is for you – some of the most brilliant books covering the many different elements of humanity, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Our Favorite Inspirational Children’s Books About Diversity
by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson
Age Range: 3-6 years
This book is the perfect option to introduce children to understanding gender identity and transition in a touching story about tolerance, empathy, and acceptance.
One day, Errol finds that his friend and teddy, Thomas, is sad, and Errol can’t decipher the reason. When asked about his feelings, Thomas confesses to Errol something he’s always been afraid to get off his chest. “In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl Teddy, not a boy Teddy. I wish my name was Tilly.”
And Errol replies, “I don’t care if you’re a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.” In this way Introducing Teddy delivers a simple yet compassionate message; when someone is figuring out their gender identity, what others can do to support them is to love them unconditionally for who they are.
While some people may feel troubled about the title not being “Introducing Tilly” and using Tilly’s birth name Teddy instead, the story gives Tilly a proper reintroduction.
Thus, the book has a positive symbolic potential to explain to children the process of transitioning. At the end of the book, Tilly changes her bowtie for a hair bow and starts to live her life as her true self.
by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko
Age Range: 4-8 years
A great pick for children’s books about race is The Skin You Live In, aimed at little kids. A rhyming book that celebrates all different skin colors – from “butterscotch gold” to “cookie dough rolled”- it delivers with ease and simplicity a message about inclusion.
Themes that fill the pages of this book touch on child development and social harmony concerns, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity.
Our favorite quote is “Think how lucky you are that the skin you live in, so beautifully holds the “you” who’s within.” Michael Tyler’s kid-friendly prose along with David Lee Csicsko’s vivid illustrations bring in playful rhymes and colorful images connected with the way kids see the word; transparently.
Therefore, this delightful picture book offers a wonderful format through which parents can discuss important social concepts with their children.
by Pat Thomas and Lesley Harke
Age Range: 4-7 years
Living with a disability doesn’t necessarily have to be a gray experience. You can show the kids that are part of your life that live with a special condition the bright side of life with this book. Don’t Call Me Special shows you in a comforting and reassuring way how it is like to live a happy and full life while having a physical disability.
Thus, you’ll find the answers to questions and concerns about medical impairments, information about special equipment, and a story that explores the emotional issues that come with being different. Written by a psychotherapist and counselor, this book promotes a constructive interaction among children, parents, and teachers.
by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, and Hatem Aly
Age Range: 4-8 years
This book is a powerful and vibrant story about two sisters, Faizah and Asiya, on the first day of school. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows that this day will be like no other.
For Asiya, it’s her first day wearing a hijab at school. Faizah thinks Asiya looks like a princess in her blue hijab, blue “like the ocean waving to the sky”, but not everyone at school thinks the same. People point at Asiya and say hurtful and confusing words. Asiya is shy about her discomfort, but Faizah has to find ways to stay strong.
Nevertheless, they remember their mother’s wise words and pull through the discrimination. Therefore, The Proudest Blue brings young readers an uplifting story about the impact of new experiences and the unbreakable bond between siblings.
by Traci Sorell and Frane Lessac
Age Range: 3-7 years
A multi-awarded diversity children’s book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga focuses on the many blessings and challenges that each season brings to the Cherokee community. The curious word that is in the title Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by Cherokees to express gratitude.
The story begins in the fall and ends in the summer, following a full Cherokee year of celebrations and culturally-rich experiences. While the Cherokee is only one tribe of the 574 indigenous tribes of the US, it is the largest.
So, this book is important to introduce your children to this important part of the American identity. Additionally, the book includes an appendix with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary.
by Leslea Newmann and Mark Dutton
Age Range: 3-7 years
Today is a very important day for Donovan. He has a very important job. Donovan’s two moms are getting married and he is the ring bearer, so he can’t wait for the celebration to begin.
From the renowned author of Heather Has Two Mommies, the first children’s book to portray lesbian families positively, comes this beautiful story.
Throughout the book, we still don’t know Donovan’s parents are same-sex, since the story focuses on the joy and excitement of a wedding day from a child’s point of view. In the end, the big reveal is wrapped in a message of love.
by Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez
Age Range: 5-8 years
Another awarded children’s book about diversity is Mango, Abuela, and Me, which centers on the relationship of a little girl and her far-away grandma, who comes home to stay. Mia’s abuela has left her comfortable house with parrots and palm trees to spend time with Mia and her parents in the city.
The night she arrives, Mia tries to share with abuela her favorite book but soon she finds out that abuela can’t read the words inside. So, while the family cooks, Mia tries to teach abuela English, and Mia tries to learn Spanish too, but it’s hard to communicate with each other.
Later, Mia sees a parrot in the pet shop window and has a brilliant idea! Thus, love and patience transcend in a tender story about learning new things out of love.
by Yangsook Choi
Age Range: 8-12 years
A new girl at school learns how to embrace her roots and appreciate her Korean name.
When Unhei moves to America with her family and starts school, she wonders if she should change her name in order to fit in. Her classmates make fun of her name and try to convince her that she should change it so it sounds more American. Nobody seems to pronounce her name well and Unhei gets anxious with the peer pressure.
So instead of introducing herself with her real name, she decides to choose an American name from a glass jar. But while Unhei thinks about changing her identity to become Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, nothing feels right. Eventually, Unhei meets a friend that helps her learn that the best name is her own.
by R. J Palacio
Age Range: 8-12 years
Auggie Pullman is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. He was born with a facial feature that, up until now, has prevented him from attending a regular school.
Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated with dignity and respect. However, Auggie’s classmates can’t get past Auggie’s outstanding face.
Called by R.J. Palacio “a meditation on kindness”, this novel forms a portrait of a community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. Hence, in a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this book offers a refreshing narrative of hope.
As a reader, what will make you feel the happiest about this children’s book about diversity, is its empowering message. “You can’t blend in when you’re born to stand out.”
Did you like these children’s books about diversity?
We hope you did.
At TruFluency, we always include quality resources like these in our inclusive full immersion language classes. We embrace the multiculturality of our country and strive for a transparent and empathetic language learning environment. Contact us or call us at (469) 338 – 9382 for more information!