Open any newspaper or news channel today and you find several stories about how people are intolerant and how everyone practically hates anyone who is the least bit different from them. We’re not talking only about recent events, but ones that have been going on for some time now. While we’d like to believe that there is still good left in humanity, news like this can pull you down into a negative spiral. As parents, such stories are more worrying since we wonder about the kind of world we’re leaving our children.
Helping kids learn about accepting and respecting one another’s differences is important, and a crucial part of making them good, compassionate human beings. Starting young is the only way for us to ensure that this cycle of hate is nipped in the bud, and that our kids don’t treat others differently based on how they dress, what they eat or how they pray. And we can’t help but agree that mothers have a lot to do towards this end.
Since it was Children’s Day yesterday, let’s use this opportunity to take a step forward in this direction and start a conversation about how humans are the same despite their differences. The ideal time to do it is when they’re really young, so that they grow up sensitive of such matters. A great way to do this is by introducing them to different cultures through books. Here are 10 multicultural books for toddlers, that will help kick start a meaningful conversation between you and your child.
10 Multicultural Books for Toddlers
This is perfect for the youngest readers in the group, who can get introduced to the idea that while babies can be of different colors, they’re all equally cute! Following the style of other Karen Katz books, this is a great book for bedtime.
This is a lovely book with a great message about how we’re really all alike. Mem Fox writes in simple sentences that are easy to understand for a young child, who can later learn to read them himself. The beautiful illustrations are also a treat and add to the charm of the book.
It is often said that babies love looking at pictures of other babies. In that case, this book is perfect as your baby can look at his peers from different countries. The book also gives adorable descriptions on how babies live in their respective lands!
This book is similar to the Global Babies book, and has cute pictures of babies being fed and put to sleep. While these activities may be different in each country, the love between a baby and his parents remains the same!
Reach is one of the books in the Happy Healthy Baby series that also includes titles like eat and cuddle. It is a book that is heavy on photographs, all of them in black and white while the text is in color. The book features young children of different ethnicities, reaching out and communicating with others – a must buy!
In a country where fair skin is unnecessarily elevated to a higher status, this book makes for a delightful read. Full of pictures of African-American children, the book shows how even a color like black has so many shades and such beautiful diversity. We wish some adults would read this too!
Sometimes, just taking a quick peek into another person’s life can help us realize how similar we really are. This book is based on a Thai lullaby that includes animal voices. Be sure to read this at bedtime along with your traditional stories and let your child grow up knowing that every language has its own beauty.
8. Say Hello
Say Hello is a book about Carmelita who likes saying Hello to people as she walks her dog. But the fun part is when each person replies in his or her own language! This is a great way to introduce the concept of different languages to young toddlers, especially if you live in a uni-lingual household.
If your child is familiar with the Old McDonald rhyme, he’ll enjoy reading this book which is an African version of the old nursery favorite! And it’s not just the farmer’s name that’s changed; you are now dealing with animals like giraffes and elephants!
10. Rainbow World
This is a delightful little book with songs to sing along to, that stress on how all our colors come together to form a beautiful rainbow. It’s a lovely thought and one that young kids can understand easily.
While these books are certainly useful, they’ll not be of much use if your child constantly hears adults around him berating other people because of their color, religion or caste. Remember, kids learn more from our behavior than from any amount of advice, so it’s very important to watch what we say and do. In short, our kids can actually inspire us to become better human beings! So, let’s all take a step forward and help to build a more tolerant, compassionate and loving world for our children.