Celebrating Diversity Through Books
These books are a great way to introduce your child to the complicated topics of prejudice and tolerance.
Books can be an excellent way to introduce kids to the complicated topics of prejudice and tolerance. For guidance, we asked the staff at the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association in
Chicago, to suggest great children's books for teaching kids about differences. They range in theme and tone from sobering civil rights history to the whimsical wisdom of Dr. Seuss, but each of these choices nurtures respect and acceptance, qualities we're never too young (or old) to promote. Here are our top picks for kids of all ages.
By Bernard Ashley, illustrations by Derek Brazell
Ling Sung feels inadequate at school because he can't tie his shoes or write his name as well as the other kids. But one day everything changes when he discovers he has a clever trick that all the other kids want to watch and learn -- his ability to use chopsticks.
(Crown Publishers, ages 4-7, $6.99)
The Sneetches and Other Stories
Text and illustrations by Dr. Seuss
To the delight of parents and kids alike, Dr. Seuss invents a slew of new characters (Star- and Plain-Belly Sneetches, North- and South-Going Zax, 23 sons named Dave, and a pair of pale green pants) to teach children that difference is only skin deep.
(Random House Children's Books, ages 4-7, $14)
By Mary Hoffman, illustrations by Caroline Binch
A young girl with a lively imagination tries out for the part of Peter Pan in her school play in spite of her classmates' assertions that a black girl can't possibly win the role. Striking watercolor illustrations animate this uplifting story about a child who dares to challenge expectations.
(Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin, ages 4-8, $16.99)
How My Parents Learned to Eat
By Ina R. Friedman, illustrations by Allen Say
A biracial girl who has been raised with a mixed heritage describes how her parents, an American sailor and a Japanese schoolgirl, first met and learned to appreciate each other's cultures.
(Houghton Mifflin Company, ages 4-8, $5.95)
The Other Side
By Jacqueline Woodson, illustrations by E.B. Lewis
Clover doesn't understand why she can't play with Annie, the young girl on the other side of the fence that separates the black and white parts of town. Elegant watercolor illustrations complement lilting prose in this story of two children who overcome their parents' prejudice.
(G. P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin, ages 5-8, $16.99)
Wake Up, World! A Day in the Life of Children Around the World
By Beatrice Hollyer, introduction by Tony Robinson
Following eight children from different countries through the course of a typical day, this book offers a glimpse into the lives of kids around the world. Vivid photographs and endearing quotes on every page celebrate the diversity of global cultures while revealing the similarities that connect us.
(Henry Holt and Company, ages 6-8, $16.95)
Through My Eyes
By Ruby Bridges, articles and interviews compiled and edited by Margo Lundell
Through the eyes of Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old black girl, this award-winning book captures the uproar surrounding the 1960 court-ordered integration of an all-white school in Louisiana. Original photographs and powerful quotations from writers, civil rights activists, politicians, and observers enhance this true tale of courage and triumph.
(Scholastic, ages 8-12, $16.95)
By Andrew Clements, illustrations by McDavid Henderson
When Phil spots a kid at school wearing the same jacket he gave his brother, he wrongly accuses the boy of stealing. The experience prompts him to examine the implications of his assumption. With sensitivity and honesty, Clements, the bestselling author of Frindle, explores the delicate issues of race and prejudice.
(Aladdin Paperbacks/Simon & Schuster, ages 9-12, $4.99)
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