Diverse Children’s Literature

Hi everyone! These books are some of my favorite Diverse Children’s Books. Some of them may be older and harder to find. For that I apologize. I’m hoping to be able to give you enough options, that you won’t have that trouble! I will list the books and give you some quick learning activities you can do with your little one! Most of my ideas are Preschool Age (3-5 yrs) ideas, but if you tweet me/DM me, we can work together to make them more age appropriate for your lil one! Also, please note, when I say Diverse books…these were books I used in my classroom to teach children about diversity and acceptance of others. Here we go!

1. Black, White, Just Right! By Marguerite W. Davol and Illustrated by Irene Trivas. I love this book!!! It’s a story about a little girl who’s Mommy is African American and Daddy who is Caucasian. Obviously, she’s biracial. The cheerful lil angel tells the story about how she looks like/acts like both her parents and she is perfect just the way she is. It’s very upbeat and loving. Basically, this tells children that they have traits from both of their parents and they become their own person. They are a perfect and wonderful person, completely unique. To celebrate “Uniqueness”, let your child look in a mirror. Examine his/her eyes. What color are they? What shape are they? Now, how about Mommy’s eyes? Daddy’s? Siblings or Friends? Compare the similarities like 2 eyes, a nose, a mouth, teeth, eyebrows, hair. Then look at differences: eye color, hair color, size/shape of nose or eyes or mouth, freckles? What makes your child unique? The goal of this lesson is to teach your child that we don’t all look the same, but we do have similarities. We want our children to grow up being accepting of others and not judging based on appearance. Lastly, Crayola used to make Multicultural Crayons. Your child can draw friends, family members, or favorite TV characters using these crayons. Hopefully, there will be a rainbow of skin tones and races on their paper. If you can’t find crayons, you can also use paint! Finger painting with skin tone colors will create a wonderful work of art!

 

  1. One of my other favorite books is The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf and Illustrated by Michael Letzig. Now, you may question…how is THAT diverse? In my opinion, this book opens the door for the discussion of diverse reading. Here’s how! The story focuses on a box of crayons that don’t like each other. They are arguing and think they are better than the crayon next to them. Eventually, they learn to work together and as the book ends, “We are a box of crayons, Each one of us unique. But when we get together…The picture is complete.” I find this to be a great a life lesson for children. Whether it’s working together with your big brother/sister to complete a task or befriending children of many races (colors). America (for example) wouldn’t be what it is without many different cultures and religions coming together. We learn and grow from each other, or we SHOULD. So that’s what I always taught my students. Sketch out (or trace) crayons from the book. Have your child color one crayon. Then you and your husband/wife/partner each color your own crayon. Ask friends. Ask family members. Hehe Even your pet! (You would have to color it for your pet lol) Everyone color a different color. Then place those crayons together in a “box”. Next, you and your child each take a crayon and color a picture TOGETHER. For example, I am yellow. My child is blue. To put the sun in the sky, we need a blue sky, right? Even little children can color from a coloring book with their parent.(Lil One TIP: Use Twistable Crayons with a smaller child. They are actually PLASTIC with a  crayon tip. Chewers can’t chew the wax anymore! HA!) 2 colors are better than 1! For an added art history lesson, pull up pieces of art from online. Show your child how many colors create a beautiful work of art. It’s not necessarily a Diverse book, but I always opened my theme with this book. Children learned that taking note of our differences and using them together as a group, really created a great end result!

 

  1. Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel and Illustrated by Blair Lent. This is a really fun read!! As the reader, be prepared for a tongue twister!!! This story tells of a long standing Chinese custom where parents would name their first born son, a very long name. This child’s name is Tikki Tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo. Yep! So, in the story Tikki falls down a well and his poor little brother has to go for help. Tikki’s name is SO LONG that the poor boy can’t get all the “words” out! In the end, the custom was ended haha It’s a cute little story and children LOVE watching you try to say that name 100 times!! (Make sure you practice before attempting to read this one aloud! Hehe) For this lesson, I would first discuss your child’s name. What does it mean? Why did you name your child that name? Give them a little history lesson. Hehe Next, I always made Paper Lanterns, because they are fun! Take a long rectangular piece of paper. Have your child watercolor anything they want on it. You can use blues and yellows to mimic the art in the book, if you choose. Let dry. Then have your child glue streamers (the cheap ones used for parties!) to the bottom of the paper. (ONLY THE BOTTOM). The streamers should hang off the paper. Then, when dry, take the short ends of the paper and bring them together (to form a circle on the top & bottom). Staple at the top, bottom and middle. Lastly, tape string/yarn to the top, in order to hang it. Hope that all make sense without pics. Sorry about that! These look beautiful when you hang them! The boys in this story were playing with flags. You can play with flags or create a flag if you would like a different activity!

 

  1. There are 3 incredible African American books I’d like to recommend.

First is, “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale” by John Steptoe. This book is gorgeous!! It’s also a Caldecott Honor Book. So, I’ve heard this book called an African Cinderella Retelling. I definitely see the merit in that. The story is about a man named Mufaro. He has 2 daughters named Manyara and Nyasha. Nyasha is the “Cinderella” of this story. She’s beautiful and kind. Manyara is the “Evil Stepsister” personality. She’s jealous and unkind. One day, a prince asks for the Most Worthy and the Most Beautiful girl in the land. Despite Manyara’s objections, Mufaro says he couldn’t choose between his two girls. So Manyara decides to sneak off, in order to reach the Prince first. Without telling the entire story, Manyara ends up making some poor choices on her journey. She is tested 3 times and fails. So in the end, things don’t work out so well for her. Nyasha on the other hand, is kind and sweet. She passes all 3 tests when she makes the journey. She ends up with the happily ever after ending. Now, I believe this book is for an older child. It has quite a few words on a page and needs some explaining for a younger child. If you’d like to pick it up, you could still show your younger child the beautiful illustrations and tell the story in a simpler language. Example, “this is Manyara. She wasn’t nice to her sister. This is Nyasha she was kind to everyone, even this little snake”. For this lesson, I would focus on being kind. Do something kind for someone else. Have your child help bag up some old toys or clothes and donate them. Or have your child help a neighbor/family member carry “heavy” things from one place to another. Maybe they can clean up their room and “help” you out! 😉 Discuss what it means to be kind to one another and draw/paint/etc a picture for a loved one or person in need. They could also help “cook” a meal for a loved one! For an art project, get yourself a paper plate (cheapest kind you can find). Have your child paint (green glitter paint looks awesome!!) all over the plate. When dry, cut the plate in a spiral all the way to the center. This is super hard to explain, but if you google “Paper Plate Snake” I’m sure you can find great tutorials. In the end, when you grab the “top” of your plate, it will hang down into a spiraling snake. Kinda cool!!

Second, “Come On, Rain” by Karen Hesse and Pictures by Jon J Muth. This is an adorable story about a cute little African American girl who just KNOWS it’s gonna rain! She and her mother clearly don’t have a lot of money and its sweltering hot outside. The little girl knows it will rain soon and she gathers up her friends so they can play in the rain. It’s got a rhythm or poetry to the writing. The illustrations are simple and sweet. It’s short and perfect for warm weather! For this story, I would make little umbrellas. Just print some off from online or free-hand it. Then let little one color it! Have your child watercolor a blank white sheet of paper. Cut raindrop shapes from that paper, after it’s dried. Attach string from the umbrella to the raindrop. (One at a time) You now have raindrops dripping off an umbrella! Water play is perfect for this lesson!

Lastly, Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester and Pictures by Jerry Pinkney. This book is imaginative fun! It’s silly and makes no sense at the same time, but kids love it! Basically, there is a place where everyone is named Sam. This particular Sam gets all these fancy clothes, only have them stolen by tigers! He finds a way to get his clothes back and it’s full of humor/nonsense. There ARE quite a few words to a page. A child with a shorter attention span may not love this book just yet. The pictures are colorful and fun though! For this activity, I usually had children make family portraits. Create little frames out of construction paper and glue them to a larger piece of white paper. Inside each frame, have the child draw their family members. Then, label each one. If the child is old enough, have them trace/write the names!

 

  1. Here’s a quick list of Diverse books and a brief lesson idea. These aren’t as in depth as my others, but if you have questions…PLEASE ask!

Luka’s Quilt by Georgia Guback is a Hawaiian story. It’s about a grandmother and a little girl. The grandmother is creating a quilt and the little girl doesn’t like it because it’s only made of 2 colors. In the end, the little girl learns the importance of the quilts tradition. For this lesson, you could either create a quilt or use paper squares to create a large quilt to hang on the wall. Each family member can decorate a square!

Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain and Illustrated by Stacey Schuett. Honestly, it’s been awhile since I read this book, so it may be hard to find. It’s a lovely story about the Native American people and the Dreamcatcher. In the back of the book, they teach you how to make your own dreamcatcher, though it is a little more difficult. My way of creating one: use a paper plate and punch holes all the way around the outside. Then have your child weave some yarn in and out of the holes. You want to create a spider web effect (to catch the bad dreams). Then tape some extra yarn to the bottom of the plate and put 3-5 beads on each strand. Tie at the end of each string, so the beads don’t fall off! Hehe. Hang over your child’s bed. Great story, but lots of text.

A Hearing Instrument for Philip by Alfred Tremmel was a yard sale find for me. Even that was ages ago, so this could be hard to find. It’s obviously a story about a little boy who has a disability and cannot ear as well as his friends. For this story, we practiced whispering (like whisper down the lane) and discuss how hard it can be to hear someone else. Then, we’d discuss Philips’ condition. Usually, I focused on the 5 senses and how each sense worked. If you want ideas for that, please let me know!

 

Final Thoughts:

These are other books that I enjoy, but I will not be giving lesson ideas for because this post is already incredibly long, and I have a little one of my own to go educate! 🙂

Family by Isabell Monk is a story about a creative and fun loving biracial family.

Colors Come from God…Just like me! By Carolyn A. Forche is a story about a beautiful African American girl who uses Bible verses to explain how we are all wonderful in God’s eyes.

How Chipmunk Got His Stripes by Joseph Bruchac is a Native American story discussing bragging and teasing.

Two Eyes A Nose and A Mouth by Roberta Grobel Intrater is a book with HUGE pictures of children. Each page is full of beautiful children of many races. It mentions countries of origin and how we are all the same, but very different as well. Older, but fabulous book.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell is NOT technically a diverse book. I have used it because it discussing children bullying other children based on their physical differences. I think that children should be kind to everyone no matter if those differences are buck teeth, a wheelchair or a skin color. So, I use it in my diverse unit.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold is an oldie but a goodie. It’s amazing and very unique. It’s about a African American young girl, living in the city, who lays on her “Tar Beach” (roof of a city building) and imagines herself floating above everyone. You feel like the little girl really is telling the story, because her voice is captured so well. Minimal writing on a page. Fabulous book!

Wings by Christopher Myers is an Honored Book. I will just “read” you the insert to sum up this amazing book. “Are you brave enough to be your true self? Ikarus Jackson is. Stretch your wings with him and discover how it feels to follow your own heart. In this powerful and thought-provoking story, Christopher Myers challenges us to embrace our differences and celebrate our individuality. Only then we can truly fly.” Oh yeah!

That’s all I have for now, folks! I hope this has provided you with some great books for Diverse Learning. Again, these lesson were designed for a Preschool (3-5yrs) child, break them down as you see fit. If you want/need any help, please Tweet or DM me and I’ll be glad to help. If you enjoyed this post PLEASE spread the word and LET ME KNOW!! If this goes well…..next time, I will focus on a different theme, most likely Spring/Flowers/Insects!

Note: If you have read this post and you feel the need to be combative or unkind, please be respectful enough to move on. I know when it comes to Diverse reading, people can become very passionate. I respect that passion, but we each have our own interpretations and opinions. If you don’t like my book choices or lesson ideas, you aren’t obligated to read/use them. Also, please keep in mind that these books and lessons were my way of opening up lines of discussion with VERY YOUNG readers. Readers who were not my own children, and therefore you walk a finer line. More detailed explanations and discussions can be held at home, under a parent’s personal guidance. Thank you for your respect on this matter! 🙂

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