Every mom wants her child to live in a kind and safe world. A world that is full of love, not hate. Last few weeks, all of us saw a change in people’s mindsets, and what started as a protest against injustice became so much more than that. It does not matter where we live, what color of skin we have, the cause touched deeply the heart of so many people. And I feel happy to live the history, history of change. When each of us becomes the change we always wanted. And I hope that conversations will continue, that we will continue to evolve in a better version of ourselves for the sake of our children.
We, humans, are made by love for love. I believe that every child comes into this world free and equal to other humans. Yes, we are different, but at the same time, we are so alike. We cry and laugh for the same reasons. We love and stand for our beliefs in the same way. I always saw diversity as an opportunity – opportunity to learn something new, become a better version of myself. Maybe it comes from the childhood spent in a multiethnic community – my father was a high-rank military officer and military base commander. I grew up on an army base, where I met families from 10 different republics of the USSR. Many of them had a different religion, language, skin color, and I learned from my early childhood to respect and embrace multicultural diversity. It was such an exciting adventure to discover another culture, another way to do things, other languages. My favorite part was learning through the traditional food – sharing a meal, sitting at the same table, learn to cook meals of different cuisines, discover new tastes was so much fun! I learned to listen and to try to understand other cultures better. The real meaning of ” rich ” for me is measured not by the number of zeros at the bank account but by the experiences lived, and the number of people helped—the “numbers” you gave back to the community.
I believe that to change the world, you have to start with changing yourself, and I strongly believe in the power of education. For a parent, sometimes it is hard to speak to our littles about specific topics – about equality, diversity, social injustice, being kind to others, about forgiveness. We do not know how to explain what we feel in the way they will comprehend it entirely, but luckily there are so many tools available to help us to raise good people. Books are one of them, and today I want to share with you some of my favorite finds. I include a little excerpt for each book, so you can choose the ones that speak to you most.
A is for Ability, B is for Belief, C is for Class. All people have the right to be treated fairly, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. An ABC of Equality introduces complicated concepts surrounding social justice to the youngest of children.
★ An Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Year selection and New York Times bestseller! A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.
The book tells the story of a boy who struggles to make friends, a girl who feels different from those around her, and a man who meets a stranger that changes his life. Each letter of the alphabet accompanies a word that helps to demonstrate what inclusion is all about. As you read through the alphabet, you can begin to see these people, stories and ideas come together to build understanding and inspire action.
Nursery Rhymes for Social Good takes classic songs and poems and gives them new purpose, encouraging children everywhere to learn about and participate in the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals–to make our world a better place for all. These poems are meant to spread awareness and encourage discussions with children about the world we live in, the problems we face, and how to resolve them. They were inspired by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development which were established by 193 world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in the General Assembly in New York, 2015.
Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better. Adapted by Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s first child, and gorgeously illustrated by Vanessa Newton, this heartwarming picture book offers an upbeat testament to the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts.
by Matt Lamothe
In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them.
This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. The book describes the day of children from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia. And it is inspired by the traveling experiences of the author.
Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.
Featuring eighteen women creators, ranging from writers to inventors, artists to scientists, this board book adaptation of Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World introduces trailblazing women like Mary Blair, an American modernist painter who had a major influence on how color was used in early animated films, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, and architect Zaha Hadid. The irresistible full-color illustrations show the Dreamers as both accessible and aspirational so the reader knows they, too, can grow up to do something amazing.
Kindness is a friendly hello. A roaring cheer. A quick boost. Kindness is what makes us strong! This joyful board book shows various children as they extend kindness in all kinds of situations: on the playground, at lunchtime, on a bike path, and on a neighborhood street. This sweet preschool read-aloud shows the way kindness helps build friendship and community.
Perfect for the youngest readers, this board book adaptation of the acclaimed Shades of People celebrates the diversity of everyday life. Cocoa, tan, rose, and almond–people come in lots of shades, even in the same family. This exploration of one of our most noticeable physical traits pairs simple text with vibrant photographs. At school, at the beach, and in the city, diverse groups of children invite young readers both to take notice and to look beyond the obvious. Combining lively action shots and candid portraits, Shelley Rotner’s photographs showcase a wide variety of kids and families–many shades, and many bright smiles.
From the intrepid efforts of Susan B. Anthony to the quiet courage of Rosa Parks, Courageous People Who Changed the World is a young child’s first introduction to the brave people who fought to make the world a better place. Simple text and adorable illustrations tell the contributions of eight champions of freedom: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, William Wilberforce, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Author, Illustrator)
Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different! Through an inviting point-of-view and colorful, vivid illustrations, this story shows how two boys living oceans apart can be the best of friends.
by Sophie Beer
This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family . . . and that’s LOVE. Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.
Starting with A and ending with Z, this beautifully illustrated book will show young readers the many ways they can make the world a kinder place. A diverse cast of children shows everyday acts of kindness and generosity through thoughtful and vibrant illustrations. Whether it be donating blankets to the animal shelter, helping with chores, or standing up for what’s right, this is the perfect book to spark conversations at home or in the classroom about the concepts of empathy and compassion. Featuring durable cardstock pages and approachable language, this book will encourage children to be their best selves wherever they go.
This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. “Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service– the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack–with stunning illustrations by Harrison–delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.
Who better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside—but it’s important to remember that deep down, we are all very much alike. We all have the same needs, desires, and feelings. Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it’s our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. This enduring, colorful, and charmingly illustrated book offers an easy, enjoyable way to learn about differences—and what truly matters. It is an engaging read for toddlers and adults alike.
A culture-rich picture book that proudly showcases the beauty of diversity while also celebrating all the wonderful things we have in common. From skin, hair, and eyes in a multitude of colors to different personalities and interests, God gave us all special traits and characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. And we all have things in common too: like sharing fun and laughter on the playground, a sense of curiosity, big feelings, and so many other things that show how we are all more alike than we are different.
by Kadir Nelson (Author, Illustrator)
What began as a spiritual has developed into one of America’s best-known songs, and now for the first time it appears as a picture book, masterfully created by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson. Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and nature. Inspired by the song’s simple message, Kadir sought to capture the joy of living in and engaging with the world. Most importantly, he wished to portray the world as a child might see it—vast and beautiful.
From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Well, I hope you will find a book to your liking in this “list” or, maybe, even a few. A book that will help you to talk to your child and to learn at the same time. Here is another selection of good reads “My People” at BCBA.
I would love to know your favorite children books that educate about kindness, love and equality. Please feel free to share them in comments below.