Children's Books About Inclusion & Diversity

by Lee Scott, Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member
Three diverse children lying on a map rug smiling with hands raised above their heads

A good way to begin a dialogue with young children about inclusion and diversity is by listening to and reading stories. Engaging young children with stories of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and races helps extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing them with opportunities to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions within their families and communities. This helps promote critical thinking about bias, and it develops children’s ability to stand up for themselves and others in the face of bias. 

The following is a compilation of books selected by members of the Educational Advisory Board as well as families who also sent us book ideas that they feel support the understanding of inclusion and empathy. Here is a list of 15 books to help launch important conversations:

Infants and Toddlers

  • Who Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim is a tickle and giggle book with a beautiful baby’s brown toes.
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox is a wonderful celebration of babies from all over the world.
  • Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison shares the inspirational stories of powerful black women in history.
  • Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora is a cheerful book that all babies will enjoy.
  • Who? A Celebration of Babies by Robie Harris is just that, a wonderful book featuring babies’ first words.

Preschoolers to Kindergarteners

  • We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates (Sesame Street) supports young children’s understanding that although we are different in many ways, we are all the same inside.
  • Lovely by Jess Hong is a celebration of what makes everyone unique and how we all are lovely.
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson supports children as they work through the challenge of not feeling that they fit in or are fearful of new environments.
  • The Family Book by Todd Parr, focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other.
  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, explores how children accept cultural differences such as names unfamiliar to them and learning acceptance and friendship.
  • I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët is a heart-warming story about caring for others and standing up to bullying.
  • All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman sets the stage for understanding inclusion with a wonderful story about the children in a school.
  • Say Something by Peter Reynolds shows children how their voices are valued.
  • Skin Like Mine by LaTishia M. Perry celebrates diversity in an entertaining way for early readers.
  • Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester is a great book to help parents begin the dialogues with their children.
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