How to embrace diversity with your children

How to embrace diversity with your children

Our children are all growing up in an increasingly diverse world and it’s our responsibility as parents and educators to educate, to teach, to listen and to learn. We want all children to grow up feeling able and empowered to chase their dreams and conquer any mountain regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

Your children are never too young to start talking about and celebrating diversity and differences. The toys, books, films and experiences we offer our children have a huge impact on who they will become and what will influence them. Our personal beliefs and values are formed so early on in childhood and primarily they come from our place of primary care. This is why it is so important to consciously include opportunities to celebrate, recognise and talk about diversity in all of our homes & educational settings with our little ones.

The materials we offer for our children’s play and learning should be relatable to them but also allow them to develop an understanding of other people’s cultures, lives and backgrounds. Children have natural curiosity and soak up everything around them like a sponge, what we need to do is ensure we are creating an environment that we want them to soak up and replicate out into the world. We need to educate them to be open to finding out more and to not be afraid to question what they don’t understand.

By teaching children to become critical thinkers and instilling this value of celebrating differences, whether that be different cultures, different ways, different abilities, different ideas or different opinions we can hopefully raise a generation of children who are accepting, tolerant and compassionate to all.

I thought I would share some ideas, products and excellent resources for how to include diversity in your homes and educational settings with young children. You can access the full list by clicking the following link:

  1. Diversify your library - Include stories where the main characters come from different backgrounds, races and colours. In addition to this, include books with characters that display physical diversity, cognitive diversity, gender identity and sexual orientation diversity. There are lots where the sub characters are diverse but we need to include more where the main character or superhero is too. It’s important to look for books that aren’t specifically about diversity too as we should be seeing diverse characters in all contexts.
  2. Toys – By including toys, figures and dolls of all different races and colours it means that diversity will naturally become a part of their play.
  3. Colouring arts and crafts – Offer crayons, paints and papers that represent an array of skin tones. You can them prompt children to include diverse characters in their art work that have different skin tones to theirs or what is typically modelled to them.
  4. TV shows and films – As with books, encourage your children to watch TV shows and films with an array of diverse characters.
Talk – Communication is key and you are your child’s role model. The language you use they will use. The bias you display, they will display. Hold other’s accountable. Openly talk about social inequities and be open about acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers to their questions, but you can learn more together. These conversations should start early on with your children and should be ongoing. Talk to teach them about equality, tolerance and acceptance. Together we can all do more.
Below are a list of recommendations of books where the main characters are from a range of different backgrounds, races and colours. 

Ages 0-2 book recommendations

  • Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora
  • So Much by Trish Cooke
  • 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
  • One Love by Cedella Marley
  • Zeki Can Swim by Anna McQuinn
  • Leo Gets a Checkup by Anna McQuinn
  • Baby Loves Gravity by Ruth Spiro
  • Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison

Ages 3-5 book recommendations

  • Handa's Surprise by Eileen Browne
  • Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley & Cedella Marley 
  • The Mega Magic Hair Swap by Rochelle Humes 
  • Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival
  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  • Marvellous Me by Lisa Bullard 
  • Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe

Ages 5-7 book recommendations

  • My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner 
  • Dear Dragon: A Pen Pale Tale by Josh Funk 
  • The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman 
  • The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson 
  • All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold 
  • My Mum the Superhero by Charlene Hemans 
  • Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom by Chris Van Wyk
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