Written by Elena Barker
As a school-based speech language pathologist, you know that the magical power of reading can help create an inclusive classroom. Books can introduce new ideas and cultures to your students, and sometimes, reflect their own worlds back to them. And what better time than the new school year to help your student celebrate their differences? If you are looking to refresh and restock your classroom bookshelf, we’ve found these six books about diversity for you:
By Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
A popular choice for teachers, this book is about a day in the life of a group of school children, who all come from different backgrounds. At this school, everyone is welcome, and students are encouraged to learn about each other’s traditions. The musical prose and bright illustrations make this book an instant childhood classic. It’s also a great tool to help your students understand social skills, perspective taking, and ask questions.
By Grace Lin
A Chinese mother and daughter plant a garden together. As the daughter watches the garden grow, she realizes it’s full of ugly vegetables, and she’s a bit disappointed, especially when she sees the beautiful flower garden next door. However, her disappointment turns to delight once harvest time comes. Who knew that these ugly vegetables could make the most delicious soup? As her neighbors come together to share flowers and soup, the young gardener learns that everything has a purpose. This charming book can help expand your students’ vocabulary—it even has a pronunciation guide to the Chinese vegetables highlighted in the book.
By R.J. Palacio
We’re All Wonders is based on the young adult novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. That first book became a major motion picture, and soon fans everywhere began asking the author to write for younger readers. The result is this heartwarming picture book which follows the adventures of Auggie, who feels just like other kids, but isn’t always seen that way. It’s a great way for teachers to explore the ideas of empathy and kindness with their students.
By Victoria Nelson
Moriah doesn’t let her special needs stand in her way. She knows that sometimes you just need to say “hiya” to make a new friend with different abilities. Moriah’s bravery and silly humor shine through in this inspirational tale. At the end of this book, there’s also a glossary of terms, so your students can learn more about people like Moriah.
By Jessica Love
Inspired by three women dressed up as mermaids he saw on the subway, Julian decides to make his own costume at home. When his Abuela finds him, he’s worried about how she’ll react to the mess he’s made and his appearance. Rather than punish him, his Abuela takes him to the Mermaid Parade—it’s a real event in New York—and Julian is thrilled to join in the fun! Critics and teachers alike have praised the way this book gently breaks down gender norms.
By Michelle Worthington and illustrated by Joseph Cowman
Noah knows he is different. “He could see things that others couldn’t, like patterns in the dust that floated down on sunbeams.” Noah’s inquisitive nature sets him off on a quest to uncover the answer to a burning question: “Where does the wind go?” While the book never labels Noah as autistic, it’s a great jumping off point for parents and teachers to discuss with their kids about neurodiversity.
What other children’s books about diversity are in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!