Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

by Lee Scott, Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member
Teacher reading a story to two preschool children

Learning to understand, appreciate and respect others is an important social-emotional skill. You can easily help your children build these skills through reading engaging stories. Children learn social behaviors and attitudes in many ways — through observing others, using dramatic play, modeling the behaviors of adults and siblings, and considering stories and their characters. Sharing books and bringing the narrative into the forefront supports children in applying the lessons they learned to real-life situations. We thought we would help you get started by selecting five engaging books for infants and toddlers and five for preschoolers and kindergarteners. It’s never too early to build a fountain for understanding others and working toward anti-bias and inclusion.

Infants and Toddlers

Babies around the World written by author Puck and illustrated by Violet Lemay  

Wonderful images of friendly babies from across the world are seen throughout this book. The book shows children in New York, London, Paris, Cairo, Beijing, Tokyo and more. The added feature of greetings in their language is fun for our littlest learners to repeat. The English translations are a bonus as well. Babies around the World is a great place to start viewing the broader world.  

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury  

The images in this colorful book will bring a smile to all children. It helps children connect to who they are and builds awareness of how similar we all are. What a wonderfully visual way to begin to show how while we may look a bit different from one another we all have ten fingers and ten little toes!  

Everywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee 

In Everywhere Babies, rhythmic and rhyming language takes the reader through the everyday activities of babies. Depicting a diverse range of families, the book shows babies in all their glory: eating, playing, moving and, ultimately, showing they are valued for being just who they are.  

Who? – A Celebration of Babies written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Natascha Rosenberg   

Who? provides a terrific way to engage babies and toddlers in the relationships with people around them. The rhythmic verse and beautiful images make the book one they will want you to share over and over again.  

Baby Faces written and illustrated by Margaret Miller 

What do the expressions for yucky, yum-yum, stinky, uh-oh, boo–hoo and yippee look like? This book provides real–life, close–up pictures of infants with a bunch of different facial expressions that infants can make along with simple wordplay expressions to support language development. This is a simple yet effective book for helping infants learn about themselves and have positive reading experiences.    

Preschoolers to Kindergarteners

Same, Same but Different written by and illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw   

Two boys explore each other’s lives while becoming pen pals. They learn what they have in common and what might be different. They soon learn that they have become close friends even though it might seem they live in different worlds at first. Same, same but different becomes different, different but the same.   

My Two Moms and Me written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Izak Zenou  

This story follows various children and their two moms. Each child describes what the moms do and compares their interests to what the child likes to do. It is fun to see how self-confident each child is. As you follow the children throughout the day, the children highlight their own talents. The story is full of the love within each family.  

All Are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman 

School is a wonderful place to gather with friends, learn new skills, play and have fun. Everyone is welcome and everyone has a place in this delightful rhyming story about a multicultural school. The focus is on helping children understand that everyone can be welcomed and accepted for who they are. 

The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López  

This beautiful story shows children how interesting their lives really are. It is okay to be different. Even though it may feel awful at times, you will soon find your way. The story highlights the interactions of a variety of children and how they cope with changes in friendships. The day you begin is the day you start to find similarities and celebrate differences.   

Be Kind written by author Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill  

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better and wonders, “What does it mean to be kind?” From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, the choices highlighted in this moving story explore what kindness is and how any act, big or small, can make a difference or at least help a friend. 

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