Beyond Trends: Embracing cultural diversity through children’s books

Talking about diversity isn’t just a trend; it’s an essential conversation because diversity enriches and enhances our world. When we mention diversity, we can refer to countless aspects, but today, let’s focus on cultural diversity, since every year on May 21st, the World Day for Cultural Diversity is celebrated.

Cultural diversity is a wonderful topic to explore, especially through children’s books! Celebrating this special day with books is both enjoyable and easy. Here are some strategies to guide you in choosing diverse books to read alone or with others.

These tips can help you broaden your book collection, not just for this special date, but throughout the year, even until it becomes a habit. Don’t worry—it’s not difficult to follow these steps, and you can start with just one if you feel like it.

Strategies to guide you in choosing diverse children’s books

  • Firstly, remember that even within our own culture, there is a lot of diversity. Try to identify and appreciate it in your own environment.

Indigenous communities, for example, have a rich literary heritage that you can immerse yourself into.
Consider reading at least one children’s book a day by an author from a different culture or country. Utilize the information and resources that Ninho and public libraries make available to you, and don’t hesitate to ask a librarian for assistance or email me for specific suggestions.

  • Choose books featuring a variety of characters.

If your collection includes diverse characters, they will offer a range of perspectives, narratives, and experiences. Don’t limit your imagination, opt for books that feature animals, plants, or even inanimate objects as protagonists.

  • Try to go for books from publishers you’re not familiar with.

Small and indie publishers often have delightful surprises! Balance your selection with a mix of classic and contemporary books.

  • Look for children’s book writers and illustrators who are or have openly described themselves as immigrants and refugees because, why not?

Find more books in Spanish and Portuguese that you can borrow from Helmet libraries

👉🏾 Click here!

Remember, cultural diversity in books can be reflected in the ethnic backgrounds of the authors and illustrators, the themes of the books, and the portrayal of characters. However, it’s important to understand that writers and illustrators are not obligated to address biographical themes or explicitly tackle topics like racial or equity issues. They should have the freedom to explore diverse themes in their own ways or not explore them at all.

Recommended authors of diverse children’s books

To wrap up, I recommend the following authors for this occasion (their books are available in several languages):

  • Anything by Isol.
  • The Capybaras, by Alfredo Soderguit, which offers a thought-provoking narrative and representation.
  • Cat is Sleepy, and The Smile Shop, by Satoshi Kitamura, or any of his works for that matter.

Here’s to a world of diverse tales and open minds. Happy reading!

Get to know Ivonne Carlos

Expert in Community Engagement and Culture at Cooperative 3E in Vaasa. MA in literature from the University of Bologna. Workshop facilitator, reading mediator, and creator of autonomous libraries. She adores dogs, loves baby drool, and can’t live without spicy food. She has published books, is an independent researcher, and activist. 

Read more tips from Ivonne to choose diverse children’s books!

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