Bullying is a subject on the minds of many parents lately, particularly for those with children of color or of a different faith, orientation, or that simply look or act different than other kids. For generations parents have worried about whether their children will fit in or whether they would make friends, but for many families today, the worries are much more serious and the consequences even more so. It is time for us to come together to create safe havens for our children, where they can just be kids, without fear of harassment. In that spirit, I am honored to share with you these wonderful resources to help children of all ages embrace diversity and choose love and acceptance over judgement.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of several of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links; if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Resources to Help Kids Embrace Diversity
A friend recently pointed out to me that so many resources about bullying and acceptance are aimed at school age children, although we need to start teaching respect for diversity at a much younger age. While there are some picture books on the topic available these days, we do need more that speak to younger children in language that they understand. I love Red Or Blue I Like You because it takes real situations that children may encounter and helps deal with misconceptions they may have or that others may have about them. I also appreciate that it deals with stereotypes in a way that is very gentle and not at all s-c-a-r-y. No one is harassed or targeted; there are just a bunch of happy monsters that have some silly ideas about each other, which they overcome through genuine friendship. For example, when Elmo goes to his new friend’s house, he finds out that not all blue monsters eat the same food, while Angela and her family are surprised to learn that not all red monsters watch a certain TV show!
A great book for very young children is Olivia Loves Owl. Although Olivia and Owl have many differences – one has feathers, one has a sweater, one sleeps at night, one sleeps in the day – they are inseparable buddies. Olivia and Owl do everything together, and children will love their special bond. While this book does not talk explicitly about diversity, it does have a message of acceptance of differences, told in a way that very young children can understand easily.
A sweet book for animal lovers is Coco y Coca Tienen Miedo (Spanish Edition). Through the story of Coco and Coca, two Doberman Pinschers, children come to understand the problem of judging someone before you know them. Coco and Coca are loving, friendly dogs, but most of their neighbors gossip about them and hide their pets because they assume that all Doberman Pinschers are aggressive. Yet, as we learn, the truth is that these dogs are often scared themselves, even of the vacuum cleaner! What I most love about this book, though, is that the reader is invited to become the illustrator, as many of the drawings are only partially complete. Great activity to help children pay close attention to the details of the story so that they can illustrate it!
A tiny elephant is the perfect friend – except that no one else seems to think so. A young boy is excited to take his tiny elephant to the Pet Club meeting, only to find out that there are strictly no elephants allowed! But this pair show what friendship and loyalty are all about, as they not only stick together but reach out to others who have been rejected. Soon they start their own club, where strictly everyone is allowed. Very sweet book for any child that has ever felt left out because they are different.
I cannot say enough good things about the #RespectEachOther resource packet. This packet, offered free of charge here, is full of resources for parents and educators on how to prevent and deal with bullying at school. It has practical, easy to follow advice about what to do if your child is being bullied, how to talk to students in the classroom about bullying and diversity, and what to tell your child to do if they are being bullied or see someone else being bullied. These are the on the ground, nitty gritty details about how to handle bullying and harassment – from phrases to use when talking to your child’s school, how to keep from losing your cool, and even how to contact the police and FBI. It includes great visuals for talking to children about different forms of bullying and about how to stand up for yourself and others.
This packet was borne out of love and fear for children today, who face a rising tide of bullying, in particular bullying that targets racial or other minorities. (Read more of the story behind the packet). It is being offered free of charge so that it can be used as widely as possible to create safe communities for all of our children.
How do you teach your children to embrace diversity?