In their Family Guide to Talking About Race, the American Anthropological Association says, “What children learn about the idea of race at home and from family members often affects their attitudes and ideas about race as adults.” From the places we live, the people we hang out with, and the schools we attend, race touches our lives every day. Author, Trillia Newbell, says, “Kids are going to look and see differences. What we need to be equipped and ready to do is teach them about differences.”
Wow—that seems like a lot of pressure. Luckily, resources are abundant these days. From picture books to articles, there are so many ways to educate your little ones about celebrating diversity. Keep reading to find the right resources for your family!
There are so many picture books educating little ones about diversity, but here are a few of our top picks. For more, here’s a list of 50 Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity.
The classic Reading Rainbow favorite, Whoever You Are, transports readers around the world, where kids can see other children—who look and live differently than them—experiencing the things about life that remind us we're all the same.
Sulwe is a fabulously illustrated book, written by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, about a young girl's journey with race, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.
Norah Dooley’s, Everybody Cooks Rice, will expand your child's palette and cultural understanding with food—just like the main character in this book. Try reading this book and then cooking a few different meals with your kiddos!
Trillia Newbell’s book, God’s Very Good Idea, celebrates diversity and will help children see how people from all ethnic and social backgrounds are valuable.
Written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, All Are Welcome, depicts a classroom of children who come from a wide range of cultures. The book explores how these kids connect with each other through food, music, art and stories.
By PBS Kids
“Here are seven tips from Dr. White to help parents prepare for difficult conversations and start discussions, using picture books, activities, and asking questions of our children.”
By Scholastic’s Janet Gonzalez-Mena, and Dora Pulido-Tobiassen
“Building positive identities and a respect for differences means weaving diversity into the fabric of children's everyday lives. Working with families is an important first step in helping children accept, understand, and value their rich and varied world.”
By Felicia Gomez, Mary Margaret Overbey, Joseph Jones, and Amy Beckrich
“This Family Guide serves to advise parents or caregivers on how to talk to their children about race and provides a menu of activities that parents or caregivers can do together with their child.”
By Kara Corridan and Wanda Medina
“Find out what children understand about racial differences and how to talk to them about it in our age-by-age guide.”
Plan a trip to a museum or historic site to travel back in time to a different era and/or culture! From Native American history to the Civil Rights Era, pack up the kids for an interactive day of learning about history! Find museums near you with this national search system.
Similar to Norah Dooley’s, Everybody Cooks Rice, message in her children’s book, cook around the world! Find recipes from regions all over the world as a fun (and yummy) way to teach your children about multiple cultures. PS—Here’s a cookbook with over 200 delicious recipes from all sorts of nationalities.
Get creative with ways to bring up conversations about race! The People Shapes™️ Project Kit includes crafting supplies that allow kids to create self-portraits, favorite storybook characters and more. This is a hands-on way for your older toddlers to explore people’s differences.
When do you start educating your little ones about diversity?
Rebecca Bigler, Ph. D., an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied children's racial attitudes, says that babies identify differences in skin color and hair textures. Although your little one may not even be talking yet, it’s important to teach through your actions. Get involved with diverse communities, interact socially with people of other racial and ethnic groups. For more on teaching children of all ages about race, read Parents’ “Your Age-by-Age Guide to Talking About Race” article here.