Despite the huge diversity in the world we live in, sometimes, we may be stuck in our own social circles of people who are exactly like us. If that’s the world we operate in, our children also will not get much chance to interact with people from a different cultural, social, or educational background.
Teaching children about diversity is important, especially if we want them to grow up to be compassionate individuals who care about people different from them.
And one of the best ways to instill this understanding is through the use of books. Stories are a great way of introducing children to diverse people groups. This includes minority cultures, different races, or even people with special health needs.
The more you expose young children to people different from them, the bigger the chance that they will grow up with an inclusion mindset.
The Best Books About Diversity for Kids
Although some of the books listed here are books that your children may already be able to read on their own, we still recommend discussing the books, preferably in a casual manner over a meal.
We have divided the books based on recommended age groups, but if your child is more or less mature than average, you can choose titles at your own discretion.
Books About Diversity for Ages 4–8
Check out these books we’ve chosen for the younger age group:
1. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
If you want to talk about diversity in a classroom setting, this book offers a great place to start. This picture book is about a group of classmates who come from a wide array of cultures. They share these different cultures through their lunch times, music, stories, and art.
2. I Am Enough by Grace Byers
This picture book comes in the form of a lyrical ode, and will help your child to embrace who they are while also learning to respect and be kind to others. This is a #1 New York Times bestseller, as well as a winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards.
3. This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe
This book follows seven real kids through daily life in Japan, Iran, Italy, India, Uganda, Russia, and Peru. Read about how Kei plays freeze tag in Japan, or how Daphine jump ropes in Uganda. Matt Lamothe wrote this book after being inspired by his own adventures around the world.
4. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
When a Korean girl moves to America, she wants so much for her classmates to like her that she tells them she will choose an English name that is easier for them to pronounce after one week. Her classmates love the challenge and start to fill a glass jar with names she may like. Will she be an Amanda, a Laura, or a Suzy? But what happens when the name jar goes missing on the day she’s supposed to choose her new name?
5. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison
This New York Times bestseller also won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award for its powerful story of colorism. Through the story of Sulwe, whose skin color is darker than everyone else’s in her family, we learn that true beauty is that which comes from inside the heart.
6. The Eskimo Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
This book, which can also be found in the public domain. shares the story of five-year-old Eskimo twins Monnie and Menie. Share their adventures in the Eskimo village where everyone has to provide for his own needs, and get a unique glimpse of life in a different part of the world.
7. Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson
In this classic picture book, we get to know Ferdinand, a bull who, instead of wanting to fight in the bull fights in Madrid, prefers to sit and “smell the flowers.” This is a great introduction for children on the importance of respecting other people’s differences.
Books About Diversity for Ages 9–12
Children aged 9 to 12 are able to read longer books, and the following are some of our favorites for teaching them about diversity:
8. The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum
Set in Holland during World War II, this excellently written story follows a Dutch family as they hide a shot down pilot and a Jewish child from the Nazis. Not only does this give us a glimpse of life during that difficult time in history, but young readers will also see how people in the same family can be divided by different ideals.
9. Homesick by Jean Fritz
This autobiographical chapter book tells the story of beloved author Jean Fritz’s childhood in China. See her relationships with her nurse-companion Lin-Nai-Nai, the struggles of growing up white in a country with increasing hostility toward foreigners, and her eventual travel back to her homeland.
10. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Set in the deep South a few years after the Civil War, this children’s book tackles the complicated issue of racism from the perspective of Cassie Logan. Cassie struggles with the standards of her time, as well as the injustice and mistreatment of her people.
11. Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
This heartwarming classic follows siblings Hans and Gretel as they try to win silver skates in an ice skating race, and offers a very engaging picture of life in the Netherlands. In the background, they also struggle with their father’s deteriorating health condition.
12. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
This Newbery Medal awardee is set in Korea in the 12th century, where 13-year-old Tree-ear, who is an orphan living under a bridge, becomes fascinated with master potter Min’s craft and wants to be his apprentice. But how will Tree-ear overcome the obstacles of backbreaking labor, his master’s temper, and his own lack of knowledge?
Reading Books About Diversity
Reading books is one of the best ways to expand your worldview, and learning about diversity becomes fun when you read about the lives of people from different cultures or backgrounds.
If you want to be even more intentional, you can choose a book to read together with your child, and build an atmosphere that encourages open communication and discussion. That way, you can train your child to be a critical thinker who is open to points of view that may differ from their own.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- 30 Classic Children’s Picture Books
- 15 Best Children’s Books of 2019: Inspiring Reads for Little Ones
- 16 of the Best Children’s Authors that Delight All Ages
- Educational Games for Kids: 22 Websites and Board Games for Math, Reading, and Science Skills
Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.