Do you wonder how you can celebrate diversity with your kids because you live in a fairly homogeneous area? Here are great tips from guest author and mompreneur Kamilah of Many Shades Club, a unique children’s book delivery service featuring books with diverse characters and families of all kinds.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription box from Many Shades Club for an upcoming review; however, I received no compensation for this guest post on how to celebrate diversity with kids, a subject dear to my heart.
When my husband and I (who were born and raised in the D.C. Metro Area and spent most of our adult lives living in Brooklyn, NY) moved to Florida, we were in for a bit of a shock. We were, in essence, city folk. We were used to having access on a regular basis to just about all kinds of people, food, languages, accents, complexions, genders, family make-ups, and socio-economic statuses that you can imagine.
We knew we valued “diversity.” But we never really appreciated just how much until it became less a part of our everyday lives and more something that we had to put quite a bit of effort into trying to find.
Throw kids in the mix, and for us it no longer was a wish, but an imperative. We felt that our regular access to diversity as kids had fundamentally shaped the people we became and the way we engaged with the world. Bringing this sense of awareness and regular access to all kinds of people and families (especially while living in a much more homogeneous place) is now priority #1 for us now as parents. Here are five things we’ve tried as ways to celebrate diversity in a place where it takes much more effort.
5 Ways to Celebrate Diversity (When Everyone Around You Looks the Same)
Related Post: Resources to Help Kids Embrace Diversity
1) Regularly attend cultural events and celebrations that are different from your own
Local Diwali Festival? We’re there! Japan Association hosting a day of demonstrations and exhibits? Sign. Us. Up.
There’s something very mind expanding about being in places where you are in the minority. Not only does it give you a sense of awareness and a taste for what it’s like for people who may be in that position on a daily basis in their places of work, school, worship, etc, but there are valuable lessons in the discomfort that may be felt initially and the potential gradual lessening of that discomfort as you continue to expose yourself to different cultures. More than anything else, it’s just fun, and interesting, and cool, and lights up parts of your brain that might not otherwise be lit.
Sign up for email lists, social media groups, etc for community events to make it easier to find things to do.
2) Constantly seek and read books that show characters from all backgrounds, and in casual and age-appropriate ways, talk about what you see
And especially for older kids and adults, read books about the experiences of different kinds of people written from the voice and perspective of the people actually living those experiences. Think critically and mindfully about what you’re reading.
3) Try taking public transportation
When you don’t live in a city that relies on public transportation for the majority of the population to get around, taking buses and trains can lead to some interesting conversations and broadening perspectives about the ways that people live, possible disparities, and appreciation for what you do have. Do it on a day when you have time to spare, and start with a short trip (to the library or grocery store, for example). Many cities with public transit have websites with trip planners, or you can also use Google Maps.
4) Expand your social circles and open your home to people for a meal
When our kids are in their comfort space of home and see all kinds of people regularly welcomed into our home, we can’t help but to think and hope it makes some sort of impression. It is also a wonderful way to teach by example about acceptance and welcoming people of diverse backgrounds.
Related Post: Starting a Multicultural Moms Group
5) Food, glorious food
We regularly search and venture to new neighborhoods to try new restaurants that specialize in foods that we’ve never tried before. These are awesome places to both meet new people and raise adventurous eaters.
At the end of the day it’s really all about exposure. It can start with surface-level exposure (just being in the space where there are different kinds of people), but the goal for us is for it to expand to more substantive engagement—actually getting to know people and experiences and being comfortable around all kinds of people and experiences, which we hope will grow into an appreciation for and an awareness of self and others. While it definitely takes extra work to celebrate diversity when everyone around you looks alike, it can be done. And we’re choosing to believe it’ll be worth it.
All images courtesy of Many Shades Club.
Kamilah is an Orlando based nature-loving, travel-seeking wife and mother of two, and the mom in the ‘Mom & Pop’ duo behind Many Shades Club, a diverse children’s book delivery service. Many Shades is a unique children’s book delivery service. Every month children receive a high quality book, carefully curated by us, that features diverse characters and families of all kinds. We do the searching, shopping, and shipping for you, bringing compassion and awareness right to your door.