Are your bookshelves limited in cultural and ethnic diversity? Here’s how to check, plus our top picks of diverse children’s books for your child or classroom.
Have you “really” looked at the books on your shelves lately?
I mean really looked. Once you get past the kind turtles, quirky talking flies, and teaching trains,
- What books are on your shelves?
- Who are the characters in the story?
- What stories do they tell?
- What cultures do they represent?
- Are your books as globally unique as the people in our communities?
- Do the books in your library celebrate diversity?
- Sleeping Bear Press Books That Celebrate Diversity
- Diverse STEM Books
- Tales of Young Americans Books
- Tales of the World Books
- Discover the World Alphabet Books
- Sleeping Bear Alphabet Books
- Science Alphabet Series
- Sports Alphabet Series
- Black History Month Books
- Join In the Celebration for Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Books
People have different eye colors, hair colors, and skin colors. Some people are tall, short, skinny, or stocky. There are people who speak other languages, eat different foods, and have other traditions.
Is this amazingly wonderful diversity represented in the literature we share with our children?
If your bookshelves are anything like mine, our school library, and our local library shelves, then they are limited in cultural and ethnic diversity.
Many of you may have read that my goal this year was to raise more globally aware children, to be the change and the catalyst our household needed to embrace the world beyond the walls of our home, beyond the roads in our neighborhood, beyond the lines that define our state.
We started by learning more about our Russian culture and heritage. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for us to find whimsical tales of Russia, historical fiction to read to our children, and modern-day Russian adventures in English to share with our children. This is disheartening.
Fortunately, as the years have passed raising our children, we’ve seen a growth in books that feature diversity and culture. Although I’d love to see more, we now have the beginning list of Russian Books for Kids.
How diverse are the books on your bookshelf?
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Diversity in Children’s Literature
For Multicultural Children’s Book Day we were partnered with Sleeping Bear Press Books to share with you several books to add diversity to your bookshelf at home and school. Their collection of diverse picture books has grown quite a bit in the past several years.
While looking for the best books that include culture and diversity in their stories and illustrations a few series published by Sleeping Bear Press Books caught our eye.
- Tales of Young Americans
- Tales of the World
- Discover the World
- Sleeping Bear Alphabets
- Science Alphabet Series
- Sports Alphabet Series
Here are their latest books with diversity that we’d recommend adding to your bookshelf.
Sleeping Bear Press Books That Celebrate Diversity
Looking at just the covers the illustrations of these adorable children’s books will catch your attention. The stories themselves capture your heart. Finding storybooks that share a storyline with your child that they connect with is important for books.
This collection of books from Sleeping Bear Press celebrates diversity through both art and text for your child to embrace the world around them. Here are our top picks!
Diverse STEM Books
One area of books that are beginning to grow over the most recent years are books focused on STEM Concepts. We loved seeing how diverse the characters are within these stories.
They have now been added to our popular STEM Books for Kids List.
Tales of Young Americans Books
As young children learn about our history in America, these Tales of Young Americans are important for our children to read. They also help them to work on learning how to read historical fiction to prepare for reading passages that are used in standardized testing in schools.
They may even inspire the selection of someone to feature in their own living history museum project.
One of my favorites for empowering our kids is to read stories written from someone’s own personal story. Here are some of my favorite Own Voices Books for Kids.
Tales of the World Books
This series impressed us with it’s ability to allow your child to walk in the shoes and lives of children around the world. Take a moment to explore this Tales of the World series of books.
We’ve added one to our India Book List.
Discover the World Alphabet Books
There are so many options with these alphabet books with a global focus from the series called Discover the World from Sleeping Bear Press. Your child can travel the world virtually from these pages as they celebrate the culture of specific countries and communities around the world.
Several of the World Alphabet Books have been featured in our Around the World in 12 Dishes Recipes.
Sleeping Bear Alphabet Books
We loved seeing the pages full of illustrations of diverse characters working into everyday concepta in the Sleeping Bear Alphabets Series for books.
Science Alphabet Series
Sports Alphabet Series
Inspiring all to participate in sports is so important to young children, this Sports Alphabet Series does a great job of explaining all about various sports like basketball, ballet and even the olympics to inspire our youngest of athletes.
Black History Month Books
Sleeping Bear Press sent me two stunning books to read and share with you from their Black History Month Suggested Book List. All thoughts and opinions written below are my own. (THANK YOU!!!!)
Pappy’s Handkerchief by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Chris Ellison spins the tale of the Oklahoma Land Run in 1889 from a unique perspective. It is a story of perseverance and the American Dream. This story is written is such a way, that grade school children can relate to the historical event.
My seven year old and I had a great discussion about the time period, land ownership, and changes in the world since the 19 century as relating to travel, society beliefs, and what makes a “home.” “Pappy’s Handkerchief” would make a upper grade school classroom resource for learning US history.
Riding to Washington by Gwenyth Swain, illustrated by Dave Geister is another tale of a young American and how she internalizes and begins to understand the meaning behind Dr. Martain Luther King’s “I have a Dream,” speech during the 1963 civil rights march on the nation’s capital. Geared for older children to learn about this controversial time in history, Swain is able to capture the magnitude of this event and help children understand how strongly people felt about the need for change.
As a parent, I feel that this book would be best for third grade and up. It brought up a lot of thought-provoking questions that my daughter and I talked about.
Join In the Celebration for Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Will you join in this year in celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day? It’s January 26th!
Keeping in the spirit of this Multicultural Children’s Day Event, we have already passed these books on to our local school’s public library. For you see, when you stop to take a look at the bookshelves in your home, in your child’s school library, in your community library, you will notice a need for more cultures represented in children’s literature.
It is my belief that all of our children need to “see” themselves in stories as well as to be able to “hear” the stories of others and be able to “travel” to times and places around the globe, all within a book.
Will you join in?
- Read a book with your child
- Read to a classroom
- Host a book club
- Buy a new book for your personal collection
- Donate a book in honor of the day
Let us work together to celebrate diversity!
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