10 Baby & Toddler Books That Celebrate Diversity
Have recent world events had you thinking about how you'll teach your little one about issues around race and diversity but left you wondering when they'll be old enough to be able to understand such a big topic?
It's never too early to start talking about race with your children! When adults don't openly discuss race or use "colourblind" rhetoric, they leave children to interpret the patterns they see around them alone, without any understanding of historical, societal or economic context - who seems to live where, what kinds of homes they see in different neighbourhoods, who has which roles at the doctor's surgery, who is the most desirable / central character in programmes they watch - and children then try to assign "rules" in the same way they are taught that rules apply to physical objects, play, counting and reading.
A study shows that children as young as 2 years old use race to reason about people's behaviours, by 2 1/2 most children use race to choose playmates and expressions of racial prejudice often peak at 4-5 years old.
With this in mind, I wanted to share some great books I've come across, which will introduce some new faces to your little one's bookshelf and equip you with age appropriate language to begin important discussions about race, diversity, empathy and self-love with toddlers and older siblings too.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
by Mem Fox, RRP £6.99, Waterstones (Age 0m+)
This lovely board book features lovely illustrations of babies from different cultures and celebrates just how much they are all so loved.
Little People, Big Dreams Series
by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, RRP from £5.99, Wordery (Age 0m+)
The fantastic Little People, Big Dreams book series tells the inspiring stories of small children with big dreams who grew up to become some of the most influential figures in history. Featuring role models across many different cultures and countries, the hardback books for older children have now been adapted into board books, featuring simpler language that's perfect for reading to babies and toddlers.
by Ibram X. Kendi, RRP £6.99, Blackwell's (Age 0m+)
From the National Book Award-winning author of 'How to be an Antiracist', this brand new board book introduces the youngest readers and their carers to the concept and power of antiracism, providing the language necessary to help initiate critical conversations at an early age.
All Are Welcome
by Alexandra Penfold, RRP £6.99, Waterstones (Age 3yrs+)
This book follows a group of children through their day in school, where everyone is welcome, where students grow and learn from each other's traditions and where diversity is a strength.
Happy in Our Skin
by Fran Manushkin, RRP £6.99, Scholastic (Age 3yrs+)
This book celebrates the world of babies, children and grown-ups who love the skin they're in. Featuring rhythmic rhymes and charming illustrations, this book is a celebration of diversity and a great way to teach children to be happy in their own skin.
Happy to Be Me
by Emma Dodd, RRP £6.99, Wordery (Age 3yrs+)
This joyful rhyming book teaches children to celebrate their body - the way it looks, the way it works and the things it does - to build confidence and self-esteem. This book reminds us that every body is different and features a diverse group of friends, including a wheelchair user, a child with a hearing aid and characters with glasses.
The Lion Inside
by Rachel Bright, RRP £6.99, WHSmith (Age 3yr+)
This bestselling story book follows the journey of a shy little mouse as he sets out to find his roar. Fed up of the other animals ignoring him, Mouse wished he could roar like Lion. In this feel-good book about finding your voice, we learn that even the tiniest creature can have the heart of a lion.
Together We Can
by Caryl Hart, RRP £6.99, Scholastic ( Age 3yrs+)
This book by a best-loved author discusses why it's so great to have friends. A celebration of friendship and being kind, this vibrantly illustrated book features a diverse range of characters.
I am Human: The Book of Empathy
by Susan Verde, RRP £7.32, Book Depository (Age 4yrs+)
From the author of 'I Am Peace', 'I Am Love' and 'I Am Yoga', this #1 New York Times Bestseller celebrates the human family and affirms that while we may make mistakes, we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others. This sturdy board book version will become a bedtime story favourite.
Mixed: A Colourful Story
by Aree Chung, RRP £11.99, Amazon (Age 4yrs+)
This thought-provoking picture book has a message of unity and acceptance. In a world where colours never mix, a blue and a yellow fall in love and this book shows the beautiful new colours that are created from their love.
If you'd like to understand more about how children pick up on subconscious racial biases and how best you can approach the subject with them, this article by Dr Erin N. Winkler is well worth a read!