What do you see in a typical children’s book library? Books organized by different genre, reading levels, categories and grades? Have you found a section on “diversity” that has been particularly interesting?
Before I started writing Beato Goes To series of books, I visited dozens of libraries and scanned through internet bookstores to see what children’s books are available on diversity. I was greatly disappointed by my findings. Occasionally, schools and stores would run a “black history month” and bucket everything else into “world cultures” not giving much attention to the fact that there is much more to the world than the 2-3 genres highlighted.
In our multicultural society, we regularly interact with people of different backgrounds who may be immigrants, refugees or founding fathers. The kids of these real-life heroes share the same classrooms, ride the same swings, grow up in the same neighborhoods, and are often unexposed to each other’s heritage. Though we want to protect our kids from discrimination, hate crimes, and hurtful words, it is not always possible to do so without proper education. Imagine how cool would it be to be able to start learning about the world from the time you are in kindergarten? We can raise children to celebrate and value diversity and to be proud of their family traditions. We can teach children to respect and value others regardless of the color of their skin, their physical abilities, or the language they speak.
Librarian must think about what impact books can have on the leaders of our future. Why they should read about people of color, different religions, cultures, customs and background. How learning opens our mindsets and makes us more tolerant and understanding human beings.
Perhaps the characters in the “diverse book” may resemble a classmate, someone in the community, or a complete stranger at the farmer’s market. If your child already read and understood an aspect of their culture, he or she may speak a word in their native language, lend a friendly hand, or be willing to try their food. That is the true power of books.
Beato Goes To books addresses many of the requirements that a diverse library is built upon. The books include:
- anthropomorphic main character (talking animal)
- main character of color
- written and illustrated by people of color
- features people of color
- is set in Asia, Europe and Middle East
- is reflective of current day’s student culture and heritage
- explores different socioeconomic backgrounds
- explores religious diversity
- is set in different geographical settings
- has words in different languages
The featured image is a 48-piece puzzle that introduces kids to different cultures, available at Puzzle Warehouse.