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  • Thomas Tri

How to Use Books to Broach Diversity

Norms change alongside our evolving society. What was considered “normal” one hundred, fifty, or ten years ago may be very different in today’s time. To catch up with this change, it is helpful to broaden the perspective of kids so that they can develop an inclusive and open-minded approach to diverse ideas. What better way than to read books with new perspectives!

Diversifying the bookshelf is a helpful way to encourage kids to engage in unique perspectives and experiences, differing from their own. Families come in all shares; from two parents' households, divorced parents who are still both involved, single dads or moms or by their grandparents or a caregiver. Diversifying the bookshelf is helpful for kids who come from diverse backgrounds to feel a sense of connection to the book, children experiencing great change in their family structure and can feel empowered through this change, or providing understanding and empathy for those with different backgrounds.

Research by the University of Kent found that diversifying reading lists promoted a sense of belonging for students and an increased sense of cultural competency. When children are able to resonate with the characters in the book, they feel seen and represented!

Below are a few suggestions of books you can include on your child’s bookshelf:

It’s Okay to be Different

Written by Todd Parr

“This book is great because it talks about how we are all different. It's Okay to be Different, is a book that helps young children understand that there are no two people exactly alike and that it is okay to be who you are. It helps children learn to embrace the differences in the world around them and be proud of themselves and their families.” - Goodreads

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Families, Families, Families!

Written by Suzanne Lang & Illustrated by Max Lang

“This is a terrific way of introducing children to the diverse families that exist and to that whole notion that there is no such thing as a typical family. It’s presented in the way that every page is a family photograph, a framed photograph.” -

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Say Hello!

Written & Illustrated by Rachel Isadora

“Readers will fall for the sociable Carmelita as they proudly learn a range of salutations, and the artist’s rich environment, packed with hidden details and charming animals, will delight readers with each return visit. Simply enchanting.”– Kirkus Reviews

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Just Ask!

Written by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

“A hopeful and sunny exploration of the many things that make us unique [with] dynamic and vibrant illustrations [that] emphasize each character’s unique abilities. . . . A thoughtful and empathetic story of inclusion.” —SLJ

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

My Hair

Written by Hannah Lee & Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

“A super fun story with wonderful illustrations, loved the bright colours and the way this book dealt with physical differences so tactfully, celebrating them and providing a talking point for young children and adults alike.” - Goodreads

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:


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