From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Diversity

Your child can better understand the world in an inclusive environment that celebrates differences.

Mar 10, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Diversity

Mar 10, 2022

Helping your child learn about the world means introducing them to cultures and identities beyond your front door. Diversity shapes your kid’s understanding of their environment — which is essential for their growth.

Celebrating diversity means embracing differences and similarities among people, including their age, language, ethnicity, gender expression, physical abilities and disabilities, sexual orientation, and religious status. You can be a positive model of diversity and inclusion by teaching your child to respect individuals for who they are, surrounding them with counter-stereotypical media, and practicing inclusive language and behavior yourself.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about diversity easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

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Learning About Others

Has your child ever imagined themselves in someone else’s shoes? The beautiful hardcover book Why Am I Me? is a poetic exchange between two characters who don’t realize they are asking the same question. A beautiful celebration of diversity and humanity that's ideal for read-alouds, Why Am I Me? invites children to imagine a world where there is no “you” or “me,” only “we.” 

In “Why I Wear a Head Scarf,” from Scholastic Action magazine, readers meet Soha, a California teen who, like most teens, plays after-school sports and enjoys watching Netflix and Marvel movies with friends. Except Soha does it all in a hijab, the headscarf she wears as part of her religious beliefs. Soha, who has worn a hijab since 6th grade, is one of 3.4 million Muslims living in the U.S. who practice Islam — one of the world’s largest religions. In this article, readers learn more about Soha’s decision to wear a hijab proudly, including at school.

“It has made me more confident,” she says.

Making New Friends

Lety Out Loud tells the story of Lety Munoz, a native Spanish speaker who loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter. When the shelter needs someone to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance, but finds a competitor in Hunter, whose first language is English and who is eager to be the shelter’s only writer. Can the two work as a team to get these animals adopted? It’s a story about coming together despite differences to achieve a higher goal.  

In You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!, Lambda Literary Award-winning author Alex Gino delivers a sensitive tale with themes of social justice. After Jilly’s sister Emma is born Deaf, she matter-of-factly seeks advice from fellow fantasy reader Derek, who is a Deaf Black ASL user. Jilly’s attempts to connect with Derek — and the mistakes she makes along the way — open her eyes to how life is different for everyone. The takeaway here is that being open can change one’s life in the best possible ways.

Coming together to celebrate differences is the core message of “They Changed Their School. Could You?” in Scholastic Choices magazine. Readers meet Peyton Klein from Pittsburgh, whose empathy for classmate Khawla Issa, a Syrian refugee, results in a close friendship and the launch of Global Minds Initiative, a school club that brings together native and non-native English-speaking students for after-school activities. 

“I don’t think students know how much power they have to make their school more open-minded,” Klein says in the article.

“When you step out of your comfort zone, magic happens.” 

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on diversity and other must-discuss topics. If you’re having conversations with your child about similarly complex topics and seek tips or book recommendations, visit our Tough Topics hub. You’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Recent topic additions include:

Shop books below to celebrate the beauty of diversity! You can shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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