Book Review

14 Children's Books That Teach Diversity, Inclusion, Empathy and Kindness

Vinay K Singh
14 Children's Books That Teach Diversity, Inclusion, Empathy and Kindness

Ethics like acceptance, diversity, friendship, kindness, and inclusion are the seeds that must be planted in kids at an early age. And what's better than books to accomplish this noble task? To help teachers and guardians, we did some research and made a list of 14 children's books that can teach your child about embracing others with differences a.k.a the art of inclusion, empathy and kindness.  

A Helping Hand by Payal Dhar

This book is a collection of notes written by a girl to the new girl in her class, whom she has been asked to help settle in the new environment. Only there is something different about the latter. The new girl has just one hand. The letter-writer finds the new girl strange because of this physical disadvantage, just like her classmates. However, she soon starts respecting the new classmate for being able to do many tasks with just one hand. Through the letters, you get a glimpse of how this new friendship starts. Also, the book gives an idea about fitting in and dealing with disabilities.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

This heartwarming book encourages positive behaviour by using the concept of an invisible bucket as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the wellbeing of others and ourselves.

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counsellor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This book shows that we shouldn't judge people by how they look or what they like. Even though the theme is very cliché, it has an important meaning. It's a story of August's Middle School and how its one student is immediately judged by everyone around because of his facial deformity. It's sad to read how nobody would even get near him. This book is a must-read even for adults because it illustrates the power of empathy, compassion, and love.

I Am Human by Susan Verde

Very much a message-driven book, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as a part of one big imperfect family. A beautiful reminder of what is important especially for our younger ones.

Manya Learns to Roar by Shruthi Rao

It covers issues like disability, bullying and bias and aims to make its reader conscious/sensitive about them. We especially love the qualities that the story speaks of without being preachy – friendship, respect, self-respect and empathy. This book was one of the winners of the Children First competition organised by Duckbill Books and Tata Trust’s Parag initiative in 2016. The contest aimed to encourage books that feature children with disabilities.

Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis

A book that is all about relishing the journey and making good choices along the way—because how we live and how we love is how we learn to make the world a better place, one small step at a time. This book can be used to teach children that it's ok to look different from others and that we are all not the same. The kids will also learn that they can be friends with anyone, no matter if this new person is blue, purple or green in colour. 

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

It urges us to accept our differences, to recognize our similarities, and, most importantly, rejoice in both. An insightful book about how people may look different on the outside and live different lives but are very similar on the inside.

Why Are You Afraid to Hold My Hand? by Sheila Dhir

This book with illustrations attempts to describe the attitudes, reactions, and misconceptions of people on children with disabilities. The book uses a differently-abled child's silent dialogue with society to offer a sensitive and sensible way of helping children understand disability and the strengths of those who are differently-abled.

Zoom! by Robert Munsch

Zoom! teaches children the importance of inclusion through the adventures of Lauretta, a little girl who is fed up with her old, slow wheelchair, and understand the feelings and ideas of their different classmates in a way they can relate to. For differently-abled children, this story will validate their own experiences through situations they can relate to or see as humorous.

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete And Ryan Elizabeth Peete

An amazing book that explains how it feels to be the twin sister of an autistic boy. The author uses simple narratives from a sister's point of view to show the experiences you might encounter with a child with autism and shares insights into a family whose oldest son teaches them important lessons about togetherness, hope, tolerance, and love. We highly recommend this book as it gives children the opportunity to understand Autism from a relatable perspective.

Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability by Pat Thomas

It explores questions and concerns about physical disabilities in a simple and reassuring way. Younger children can find out about individual disabilities, special equipment that is available to help the disabled, and how people of all ages can deal with disabilities and live happy and full lives. This book is a great introduction to understanding disabilities for children.

Wings to Fly by Sowmya Rajendran

Wings to Fly is a must-read for all ages. This biography of the differently-abled sportsperson Malathi Holla, with illustrations full of warmth and cheer, imprint Malathi’s journey in the young reader’s mind, and create a lasting impression.

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall

A blue crayon mistakenly labelled as "red" suffers an identity crisis in this insightful and colourful picture book. This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone.

As teachers, we must support children & youngsters with the right guidance that eventually affects their social and emotional skills for years. Moreover, reading and storytelling promote language skills development, critical thinking, and creative development. Let us know how you liked this list. Happy reading!

Fair use disclaimer: All images are used for representational purpose only and are the copyright of their respective owners.

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