Books are such a simple yet impactful way to introduce diversity into our families. I am always on the lookout for picture books that show diverse cultures, people, and traditions. I have been doing this since my firstborn was a baby. Chuck and I have always sought out dolls, books, and toys that show human diversity. From special needs to immigrants, to the importance of facial expressions…these books have you covered.
These books were provided to me for review purposes. I received no compensation. This post contains affiliate links.
The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee
Daniels’s parents are night janitors for an office building and one night when the babysitter can’t make it Daniel has to go to work with his parents. Daniel is “so tired he felt like crying” (boy is that a feeling I can relate to!) He wonders why he has to go to work with his parents and why people can’t just clean up their own messes.
Daniel’s parents weave an elaborate story about the Paper Kingdom where the king sits on his throne making important decisions. While cleaning the bathrooms they check to see if dragons are hiding there. “They’re small and friendly, but sometimes they hide because they’re afraid”.
When they go to clean the kitchen and it is a disaster, Daniel wonders why dragons don’t pick up their own mess. His mama explains, “Maybe they ate in a rush and forgot to clean up. They don’t mean to be naughty.”
Daniel doesn’t like watching his parents clean up other people’s messes, but his parents tell him maybe one day he can be king of the Paper Kingdom.
Daniel’s mama tells him, “Remember to be nice when you become king.”
The Paper Kingdom tells a pleasant story about immigrant parents who are working hard to make a better life for their son. This book isn’t too sappy or sentimental. The author writes this book from her own memories of having to go to work with her immigrant parents occasionally. While I really enjoyed this, I wish Daniel’s parents would have also explained that cleaning the Paper Kingdom means providing money and food for their family. We try to teach our children that there is no shame, ever, in working hard. This feels like a message that is missed in the story, but easy enough to bring while reading to your child.
Secret Supers by Andy Zach
What happens when differently-abled people become super-abled? Andy Zach tells that story in this short (100 page) novel.
From the back of the book:
“Jeremy Gentle fell flat on his face at therapy. That was normal since he had cerebral palsy. But his new superpower wasn’t normal. Then things got weirder when his best friend, Dan Elanga, got a different superpower. But Dan was still blind.
Kayla Verdera and Aubrey Wilcosky, two girls in their middle-school special ed class, discovered they too had new superpowers. Kayla was mute and needed a walker. Aubrey lost two legs and used crutches. But they were as powerful as the boys.
What should the four friends do? Jeremy knew if the word got out, it’d be a media circus. Then they started fighting crime, as the Secret Supers. Who knew a disability could be a perfect disguise? No one would ever think of disabled kids as superheroes. Then they ran into problems they never expected.”
Secret Supers is perfect for kids, ages 8-12 who have special needs, siblings with special needs, or just live on planet earth. Along with diversity in race, income, and culture, we also work to introduce our kids to people who are different than them. This book tells the story of four amazing kids who gain superpowers and how they learn about themselves.
I am including Bad Brows in this post because facial expressions are something I have had to work on with a couple of my kids who struggle with social cues. I find myself having to say, “When you look at someone like that, it seems aggressive” and similar things.
a little EXTREMELY silly. It tells the story of the day Bernard wakes up and realizes his eyebrows are completely out of control. He attempts to go through his day as usual, but people are continually misunderstanding Bernard due to his bad brows. At one point, the principal tells Bernard, “…your eyebrows are your faces way of telling other people how you feel. They show when you’re happy, sad, scared, excited, curious or angry.” I am not sure if the author was writing a book to help kids with social cues or if he was just writing a silly book. Either way, it hits the mark.
For more books that help teach about diversity check out these posts:
Be sure and share your favorite books in the comments. I am always looking for recommendations!