Tag: kids books

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…

p.s. Let’s connect on social media! You can follow my FB page Kalifa Rodriguez Books or IG @the.nutrition.connection and for more health related videos check out my YouTubeChannel. Want to share this blog post with a friend? Simply copy this URL and send it to them!

What Every Parent Should Know About Picky Eating

What Every Parent Should Know About Picky Eating

Something many parents and caregivers don’t fully grasp (myself included) is that even with a picky eater meal time does not need to be a struggle, in fact it shouldn’t be! Picky eating is often related to the “fight or flight” stress response to trying unfamiliar foods. The good news is that as the parents we have the power to ensure that each and every meal serves as opportunity for our child to learn about food while making meaningful connections with family and friends. Often times we want to make sure our kid is getting the nutrients they need so bad that when they refuse to eat what is being offered, we easily get flustered and that energy is quickly transferred to our little one. In this post I’ll offer you some information and tips to help put your mind at ease.

If you haven’t noticed by now, when we repeatedly put pressure or force a child to eat this actually backfires and causes more resistance. The act of eating becomes associated with negative emotions and criticism so meal time quickly becomes something that both parent and child dread. Trust me, I’ve been there…and I’m still navigating my 2 year old’s picky eating tendencies. But as a clinical nutritionist (and fellow mommy),  I’m here to say sit tight, there are things you can do to keep your little ones nutrition on the right track while getting through this phase. Speaking of phase…did you know that it is totally common for young children to go through periods of time where they refuse to eat certain foods, show a preference for a select number of foods or just have a smaller appetite in general? Yup, you are definitely not alone, in fact there are 2 main reasons behind this:

1) At a very young age children begin blossoming into their own person and want to demonstrate their independence by doing things like feeding themselves and choosing their own foods. Just like you, there are some days when their appetite and food interests fluctuate. So I wouldn’t worry too much about what your child eats in any given day, instead try to focus on offering a variety of healthy foods throughout the week and you can rest assured they’ll most likely be meeting their nutrient needs. The children’s book Eating These Foods Makes Me… explains why a variety of foods and key nutrients are necessary for our body’s growth and optimal quality of life. It’s a great resource that can help empower even the pickiest eater to be open to trying new foods, or at the very least spike their interest.

2) After the 1st year of life most children eat less, and their appetite really takes a dip around the 2 year mark. That’s because the natural period of rapid growth and development slows down at this point, so there simply isn’t a biological need to eat as much as they were before. As a parent or caregiver one of the best things you can do for your child is to introduce the concept of mindful eating at this stage, this way it becomes a life-long healthy habit.

To help your child build a positive relationship with food and their self-image start by encouraging them to listen to their bodies- eating when they are a hungry and stopping when they are full, something toddlers are very good at! It is okay to trust your child’s appetite, in turn this will help solidify their internal hunger and satiety cues, something I notice many of my adult client population struggle with to this day. This means, even if your child is not eating as well as you think they should, as long as they are generally healthy and growing, you do not need to worry. As a parent or caregiver, your job is to provide a variety of healthy foods – aim to offer at least 2-3 different food group items at each meal and snack. Then it’s up to the child to decide what, how much and whether they will eat.  Canada’s food guide can offer you more details on what a balanced diet and recommended servings are for different age groups.

The most effective way to say good-bye to picky eating is to increase exposure to foods. In fact it can take about 8-15 exposures to the same food before a child is willing to eat it. So it’s really important to peak their interest by allowing them to look at, touch, smell and even play with different foods. But here’s the real kicker-Successful food exposures can also be accomplished by inviting kids to help out in the kitchen and with grocery shopping, playing with toys that imitate real foods and reading books about food!

I’d like to say one last thing. While picky eating is common, not all picky eaters are the same. It’s important to listen to your intuition, and if you know that your child’s eating challenges are more complex or severe please follow the advice of a pediatrician or a registered dietitian.

My fellow dietitian Leslie Schmille is an expert in the field and is currently helping parents and their kids who are experiencing feeding challenges, please feel free to reach out to her at www.raisingdaringeaters.com for personalized support.

I really hope this helps! I’d also love to know, what do you find works best for your picky eater? Until next time,

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

p.s. Let’s connect on social media! You can follow my FB page Kalifa Rodriguez Books or IG @the.nutrition.connection and for more health related videos check out my YouTube Channel. Want to share this blog post with a friend? Simply copy this URL and send it to them!