Love trumps hate, right? This is a pivotal time in our world, I think our kids are going to be even more vocal about sensitive topics than ever before. And more aware. I strongly think hate comes from lack of knowledge and awareness. For our kids to love, to truly love beyond what is familiar, they need exposure to worlds outside of themselves. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through books. I’ve rounded up the 10 best children’s books to diversify your library.
We visited at least 6 different preschools recently, looking for a school that would be the best fit for our family. I was really impressed with how one of the schools described their commitment to diversity. They emphasized the importance of students being surrounded with windows and mirrors. Maybe this isn’t a new concept, but it was the first time I heard it described in this way. Mirrors are other students that have similar lives, experiences, and cultures as themselves. Windows are students that have different experiences and cultures. It helps students learn more about themselves and others when they are in an environment of mirrors and windows. In the end, they become more culturally sensitive and knowledgeable.
Even if you are in an area where your child cannot be in this type of atmosphere, it can be accomplished through books and other media. As I looked at my sons’ book library, there were definitely not enough mirrors for them so I set out to find more multicultural books for babies and toddlers. Even if your library has plenty of mirrors, does it have enough windows? These are my favorite children’s books that expose the boys to different types of cultures and families. Not always explicitly stories about cultures, but have protagonists from various backgrounds.
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Who doesn’t love peekaboo?! “Peekaboo Mornings” is an adorable board book that is perfect for babies and young toddlers. You’ll play along with this toddler as he finds everyone in his family through the game!
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match
I fell in love with Marisol McDonald at first sight, maybe it’s her nonconformist nature of not wanting to match. Marisol’s dad is Scottish and mother is Peruvian, so she has red hair with brown skin. Her cousin exclaims that it doesn’t match, but Marisol doesn’t care. She also likes to wear stripes with polka dots, and doesn’t want to match her clothes or how she likes to play. It’s a great book about being unique and loving it.
I Can Do It Too
“I Can Do It Too” is great for babies and budding toddlers. There isn’t a toddler out there that isn’t passionate about doing everything themselves! This is a cute board book, following the excitement of a little girl learning to do everything the grown ups do. You follow her repeating activities, maybe not always perfectly, but with extreme pride at her newfound independence.
You’ll be amazed when your toddler starts to say hello in all of these different languages! Learned through Carmelita’s walks in her neighborhood and she loves to “Say Hello!“. While walking her dog, she says hi to her neighbors that are from many different countries.
“Goggles” is not just a great children’s story, but has beautiful urban landscapes that are not usually found in these books. It gives kids a glimpse into a world they may not know, or they live everyday but not see in their books. Peter and his friend Archie find a pair of goggles together and sets them up for an adventurous day.
“Dumpling Soup” is a true story of multiple cultures coming together, and how traditions are carried down through generations, especially in food! Marisa is helping make dumplings for New Years with her family. Set on the beautiful Hawaiian islands, it’s a true celebration of culture, food and customs from many cultures. Including Hawaiian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese!
Whose Knees are These?
This is an adorable book, from the perspective of a mom’s lap. There are cute pictures and a catchy story you will hear yourself saying to your kids, “Whose Knees are These? “. They get a kick out of it. As they get older, we use it as a starting point to learn other body parts.
Same, Same but Different
“Same, Same but Different” tells the story of two boys living in different countries that are pen pals and learn a lot about each other’s lives. Elliot lives in America and Kailash lives in India. Even though they are different, they learn how much they have in common- like climbing trees and going to school. Colorful, beautiful pictures and inspiring for our kids to see that you can be friends with others that are even across the world!
“Corduroy” is classic that you may already own, but worthy of our list because not many mainstream books have diverse main characters. An adorable book about a teddy bear and a little girl that has an instant connection with him. He goes on a search for his missing button, and can not find it. The girl loves him just the way he is and he finally finds a home that he’s always dreamed of.
I Love Saturdays y Domingos
“I Love Saturdays y Domingos” is one of our absolute favorites. It tells the story of a little girl that spends her Saturdays with her grandparents and los Domingos with her abuelos. This book is how my son learned to count to 12 in Spanish. While there are no translations to the Spanish sections, it parallels to what she does on Saturday with with her grandparents so you can figure it out easily!
Happy Reading! What are your favorite multicultural children’s books?