Why Diversity and Inclusivity Is Important in Children’s Literature

Why Diversity and Inclusivity Is Important in Children’s Literature

It was Multicultural Children’s Book Day last Friday January 28th and it got me thinking about how truly important diversity and inclusivity is in the books available to our children. In fact research shows that by the tender age of 2 years old children already start noticing social differences such as race. Diversity in children’s literature is so important, especially for kids who identify with different communities. These books allow children to “find themselves” within the pages and it validates their place in this world. It is about ensuring all our kids feel seen and included in activities, especially one as important as reading!

Let’s clarify: what is a multicultural book?

According to https://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/ diverse & multicultural books include those that:

  • Books that contain characters of color as well as main characters that represent a minority point of view.
  • Books that are written by an author of diversity or color (such as myself) from their perspective.
  • Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions. These books can be non-fiction yet still entertaining and informative.
  • Books that embrace special needs or even “hidden disabilities” like ADHD, ADD, and anxiety. For example, Eating These Foods Makes Me… features a character with special needs and embraces children with “hidden disabilities” like ADHD.
  • Books that show IBPOC readers what is POSSIBLE–like in my book there’s a black female teacher with dreads, there’s also a Muslim child modestly dressed in a hijab practicing gymnastics.

 

Why choose children’s books that celebrate diversity ?

I remember growing up and feeling frustrated by the lack of books, toys and dolls that looked like me. As a child you don’t really understand these thoughts and begin to harbor subtle feelings of inferiority and estrangement that can last a lifetime. Our kids inadvertently start to compare themselves to those they more frequently see books written about. However, books with diverse characters aren’t only meant for IBPOC readers, they help to develop kindness and empathy in all readers! These books help our children learn respect for all identities, something we desperately need in today’s world.

If you share my mission to raise awareness for kid’s books that celebrate diversity, you can do your part today by sharing the word about your favorite children’s books and #elevatemelanatedvoices by supporting authors of color, as well as requesting them at your child’s school, local libraries and day camps.  Together we can raise our #ownvoices and #readyourworld by demonstrating how much #representationmatters.

Kalifa Rodriguez M.Sc, RD, CBS
Author of Eating These Foods Makes Me…

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