Top Ten Picture Books Celebrating Diversity by Jennifer McLaughlin
Culture refers to the “traditions, rituals, beliefs, and values that are shared amongst a group of people.” The classroom is the first place many children encounter cultures other than their own. Educators have a responsibility to assist children with recognizing differences, as well as similarities, among all cultures. Allowing children to explore varying cultures through literature creates opportunities to see people who have different customs and traditions. Children often will find that other cultures also share common traits. Children learn to celebrate the uniqueness of and recognize similarities between different cultures. Literature in the classroom opens the door that leads children to accept differences and the elimination of prejudices. We want our children to accept, respect, and celebrate the contributions to society of those from all cultures and backgrounds.
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr
This dynamo of a picture book delivers a clear message to all the people of the world that it is OKAY to be different. The bright colors and bold illustrations are appealing to children and adults of all ages.
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
This small book packs a profound punch. Human beings experience sadness and happiness, we cry and laugh, and this is true everywhere for everyone. Beautifully written and illustrated this simple, yet powerful story will bring in cultural awareness to children of any age.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr
What is peace? What does it look like? How does it sound? Where can we find it? So many questions and so hard to answer. These are the question addressed in The Peace Book. A must for every classroom and home with children. Bright and bold illustrations with touching and meaningful words.
The Sneetches and other Stories by Dr. Seuss
A collection of four shorter-than-usual Dr. Seuss stories, but ones with important messaging for children. The stories illustrate the issues of prejudice, compromise, individualism and not judging a book by the cover.
I Love Saturdays y Domingos by Alma Flor Ada
So many children live in multicultural homes, yet they do not see the multicultural family represented on television, in books or in the movies. This books tells the story of the integration two different cultures. Millions of students across the country live in home with more than one culture. This book is a great resource to illustrate and celebrate the dynamics of a multicultural family.
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
This is an amazing book that celebrates the various colors of children. The story details a journey through the neighborhood looking at all the colors of the people in their neighborhood. The author describes the many beautiful shades of skin tone in our society. This book is appealing and welcoming. It is a great starter for discussions of color and race with children.
Going Home by Eve Bunting
This book is portrait of a migrant family. A touching story portraying the sacrifices of a Mexican immigrant family. The story looks at the sacrifices one family endured to move to America hoping their children will have a better life. Depicting the first and second generation immigrants, showing the value of going home and the sadness for what is left behind. Written in a way that transports you emotionally into the story.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Excellent book to show children the difficulty of change. The Name Jar details the difficulty of one girl’s assimilation to American culture. The story illustrates how many common practices appease the intolerance of differences. The main character must adjust to a new country, culture, school, and classmates.
In My Family: En Mi Familia by Carmen Lomas Garza
The book paints the picture of Mexican-heritage family living in Texas. It embraces the closeness of family life and the importance of culture. The bilingual component makes this a great choice for dual language classrooms.
Drum: A Folktale from India by Rob Cleveland
Follow the Drum on a journey to see how the boy finds ways to share with others in need just like him. This little gem of a book teaches love, respect, compassion, hope, charity, and good citizenship. Insightful and beautifully written with enough finesse that the moral of the story is both subtle and obvious.
Jennifer McLaughlin has spent the last 20 years working with children in the public schools. She is a wife, mother, teacher and voracious reader. Graduating from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and from Lamar University with a Master’s of Science in Educational Leadership. Currently she is the ALD (Academic Language Development) Specialist at Jean McClung Middle School in Fort Worth, Texas. Jennifer has also served as an Academic Specialist and a classroom teacher.