by Courtney Gupta
Our children are like sponges--soaking up and learning from all the things they see, hear, and perceive in a day. This is why diversity in books, shows, dolls, toys, friends, schools, and communities is so important. Surrounding your children with diverse toys and people will help them see the wide range of human experience. So far our children only know their little place in the world, but through books we can show them different cultures, races, and disabilities. It also gives children an opportunity to ask questions and understand differences in people. As a parent you have an opportunity to teach your children that diversity should be celebrated. Start in the home. Start where you are.
Start with the books and shows you already have at home. Have your child point out the diversity they see. Let them ask questions. Answer them directly. Open up a dialogue and help your child to understand that people are different from us and that is to be celebrated. Normalize difference. Celebrate it. Here are more specific ideas on how to use children’s books to talk about race and racism and how to talk about all types of diversity and inclusion. And remember that conversations about race, diversity, and inclusion are not a one time thing--we should continually confront and address the injustices we see.
As a next step you could read books that specifically address diversity--you can find them at the library or even add to your library. Check out this list of 50 Children’s Books that Celebrate Diversity and this book that shows children from many different cultures to help you get started.
My family has really been enjoying The Day You Begin, Skin Again, and Mary Had a Little Glam, if you want some personal recommendations.