Building a Diverse Bookshelf
Building a diverse and inclusive bookshelf for your family has many benefits beyond building a love for reading! With so many books available on the market, now it is easier than ever to build a unique library that represents a huge variety of identities and experiences.
Why Should We Diversify Our Bookshelves?
We already know that reading to your child builds their vocabulary, helps them learn early literacy skills, and strengthens their academic skills. Why is building a diverse and inclusive bookshelf even more beneficial?
Children benefit from seeing characters, families, and interests that feel familiar and similar to them depicted in the stories they read. Seeing their own unique experiences and identities depicted in literature helps foster a sense of connection, positive self concept, and belonging.
Exposure to New Ideas
Children also benefit from seeing characters, families, and interests that are unfamiliar or new in their stories. Seeing these concepts in stories and media exposes your child to new ideas and opens the door for conversations about differences and acceptance.
Reading diverse and inclusive stories helps to expand your child’s emotional and social awareness. Sharing this experience with your child helps to build essential social emotional skills, including empathy, acceptance, flexible thinking, and perspective-taking.
How Can We Make Our Bookshelves More Inclusive?
While diversifying your library can seem like a daunting task, the process might be easier than you think! Diversity can include many aspects of our identities and experiences and involve a huge range of topics! To get started, here are a few ideas to incorporate into your bookshelf!
Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Gender identity is our personal sense of having a particular gender and gender expression is the ways in which we choose to express our gender which may include clothing, style, and behavior. See below for books that explore these concepts!
Race and Culture
Stories about race and culture can expose your child to new identities and experiences while also exploring themes of acceptance and inclusion. These stories may include geography, race, language, rituals, art, spirituality, celebrations, holidays, and food.
Abilities and Neurodiversity
Stories about abilities, differences, and neurodiversity can both affirm and validate your child’s own experiences and expand their awareness and acceptance of how others show up around them!
The concept of “family” means something different to all of us-and this is something to celebrate! We can celebrate this idea by reading stories about the unique and wonderful ways we build our families!
This is Just the Start!
Building a more diverse and inclusive library for your home is an ever-evolving process! The topics provided in this article are not inclusive of all aspects of our identities and experiences and just begin to explore the themes we can learn about in the stories we read. Happy reading!
Questions or concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about any of the above information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-332-9439.
Elizabeth Gilbert, MSW, LSW
Licensed Social Worker
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