If there’s one parenting lesson that the events of the past few weeks have taught us, it is the importance and urgency of teaching kids about tolerance, acceptance, kindness, and every human being equally and with love.
Over the last few weeks, this question has popped up in many parenting groups and forums: how do I start talking about these topics? At what age? What books and toys can I use for my conversation?
Fortunately the moms' resources are vast and the answers are almost always handy once you start asking. Here below is a list of books that we’ve gathered from recommendations of parents worldwide on some of these international forums.
These books are all suitable for preschool ages, which is unanimously agreed to be to be the perfect time to start this type of conversation. This is the age kids start to notice differences among people around them, and raise a lot of "why" questions. Research has also shown that gender and racial biases can develop from the very young age of 3, so it is important for parents to notice and correct any unhealthy tendencies since this age.
I hope this list is helpful. If you have further books to recommend, please let me know by commenting below or joining our conversations on Facebook or Instagram!
(Apart from Amazon and Book Depository both shipping to Hong Kong), you can also try to find these books here and support these amazing local businesses: Bookazine, Snuggle Wuggle, Rebooked, and Bookwise.
1- It's Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr
Age range: 3 - 6 years old
It's okay to be a different color. It's okay to dance by yourself. It's okay to wear glasses. It's okay to have a pet worm.... It's okay to be different!
In such a diverse world, it is important for our kids to celeberate their own individualities, embrace their uniqueness as well as understand that everyone is different and that is totally okay, if not great!
2- The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfield
Age: 3 -5 years old
“When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives.
All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.”
This book speaks loud about sympathy, grief and understanding, with just a the right amount of pages and illustration. Just as "sometimes, hugs say more than words”.
4- The Bad Seed by Jory John
Age range: 4 - 8 years old
He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens.
But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy?
With his charming words and style, Jory reminds our kids about the importance of will power, and especially, of just being you.
4- Lovely by Jess Hong
Age: 4 -8 years old
Lovely celebrates everybody's differences through simple language and straightforward visuals.
"Lovely is you. Lovely is me. Lovely is different, weird and wonderful"
Little readers will be exposed to a little girl with two different eye colors (one blue, one brown), a child wearing braces, a person in a wheelchair, someone wearing a prosthetic leg and more.
Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!
5- Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
Age range: 3-6 years old
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference - or at least help a friend.
6- Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Age: 3- 7 years old
As a father, Oliver Jeffers wrote: “Here we are: Notes for living on the Planet Earth” as a means of introducing his baby son to the Earth - to the world we are living in. In this brilliant and lovely book, Jeffers talks about this world and the mission of us - the people who call it Home. He emphasizes on the importance of kindness and care, to both people around us and to the planet, especially, he embraces the fact that we are all different and that is beautiful.
This book is perfect for tiny, little kids who are new to this world, but would also make any parent feels at home with the stories and laugh.
7- Gifaffe can't dance by Gilles Andreae (our personal favorite!)
A tall giraffe feels clumsy among his peers who all could dance deftly and gracefully in the African Dance festival. He left the dance after being ridiculed, feeling conscious and upset, until he was encouraged by a cricket to “dance to the music that you loves” and suddenly something magic happened.
I love this book for its vibrant portrayal of the safari animals, a bit of the African festive culture, as well as its subtle and sweet message: Embrace the differences that make you unique, find what makes your heart sing, and don’t let the bullies put you down.