5 Great Books to Add Diversity to Your Young Child’s Bookshelf

We live in a world rich in people from across religions, races, cultures, and family structures. And at Waldorf School at Moraine Farm, we strive to reflect a tapestry of experiences back to our students and our community.

Representation matters. Studies from many fields have shown that it’s important for children to see characters who look and act like themselves and their families.

Likewise, in pursuit of an equitable world, it’s important to share stories of families different than your own with your children – exposing them to the many, beautiful people in our world.

Among their many initiatives, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee is reworking our classroom bookshelves to celebrate a widening spectrum of humanity.

Here are five books that we are adding to our school library for early childhood and young grade school students.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?

My Hair is My Garden by Cozbi Cabrera
My Hair is a Garden

After a day of being taunted by classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie can’t take any more and she seeks guidance from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie. Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.

What a Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards
What a Wonderful Word

Did you know there is a word for friends who are like family? And for searching for something in the water using only your feet? This collection of untranslatable words from all over the world celebrates the magic of language, with gorgeous original artwork and fascinating facts about each word and the culture it comes from

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Last Stop on Market Street

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty-and fun-in their routine and the world around them.

Stay tuned for recommendations for older students (and parents/grandparents!). We’re never too young or too old to learn and work towards a more equitable world. Start today. ♥️

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