5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now by Ilham Alam

DiversityPlease welcome back to Frog on a Blog author and mom Ilham Alam. This past September, Ilham shared her Top 5 Books for Kids to Learn ABC’s.

Today, she’s stopped by with another wonderful list: 5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now.

 

 

 

5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now

by Ilham Alam

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn

Mommys Khimar

This is one of the books that I always recommend for kids and is a perennial favourite for many reasons. It teaches diversity and acceptance through the means of the oft-misunderstood Hijab, or Khimar. Through the eyes of a little girl, we can see her love for her mother and her mother’s many beautifully coloured khimars. We see the reasons why this little girl and her mother choose to wear the khimar, and cultural reasons are only one part of it. I also love that it depicts diversity in relationships as it appears that her parents have an inter-religious marriage, yet family members with different religious beliefs still love each other all the same. Read the book to find out what her favourite color of khimar is.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer

Written by the writer of the celebrated novel, Kite Runner, this poem has been written as a dedication to the refugees from Syria and likely inspired by the story of Aylan Kurdi. In wispy and haunting pictures with short but powerful verses, we see the story of a boy and his family who had a lovely life in Syria prior to the current Civil War. Then comes their decision to flee using the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, just for a fighting chance to reach safety in Europe. Before they get into the boat, the father whispers a sea prayer to his son, who’s asleep in his arms and unaware of the perilous sea journey that he’s about to take. If nothing else, this book will fill you with compassion for their plight.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman

Hidden

This is an untold history of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and should be read by all kids, especially girls from diverse communities. These 4 pioneering African-American female engineers/mathematicians, are wonderful role models, as these women displayed intelligence, grace, talent, and courage, to become the first women of colour to be employed at NASA as scientists. These women worked on the historic missions, which successfully sent the first American man into space, the first people ever on the moon in 1969, and vastly improved the safety of commercial airplanes. And these women made their astonishing achievements at a time of segregation among races and when women, especially black women, had little access to higher education.

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora

Mikamba

This is the African version of “Old Macdonald had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O.” Younger kids will love the familiar sing-a-long, but with different animals, and older kids will love learning about the different animals that are found in the African continent. All will love the rich yellows and browns showing Mikamba, his animals, and his village. This is a clever retelling of the age-old nursery rhyme by Rachel Isadora, meant to teach us something about another part of the world.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët

Malala

Who doesn’t know of Malala Yousafzai? She is the brave young woman who was nearly killed for speaking out in support of girl’s education and equality between the genders. In simple sentences, Malala expresses her desire to rewrite her society with her pencil. In beautiful painting-like images, Malala shows us what her life was like in the deeply conservative part of Pakistan that she is from, the lack of safety and security, her home and family, and the lost potential of her female peers being denied schooling. This book is not only autobiographical, but inspirational, as kids can see what Malala’s determination and courage eventually got her: the right to an education. Kids here will be a bit more thankful that there is universal public education in the West and that it is their birth-right to get quality education, when they read about Malala’s hopes and sacrifice.

Ilham Alam

 

Ilham Alam is a married mom of 2 from Toronto, Canada and an avid reader of most genres. As a dedicated bookworm, she has been on a mission to turn her 2 boys and her cat into dedicated readers as well (she’s making good progress). She also has her upcoming picture book, Wonder Walk, being published by Iguana Books in Spring 2019. You can pre-order your copy of Wonder Walk today and also multiple perks to go with it for a limited time only.

wonder walk

Pre-Order Link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wonder-walk-illustrated-children-s-book/x/20435653#/–

Our Big, Beautiful World: The Importance of Diversity in Children’s Books by Karen Kilpatrick

Pumpkinheads - Carmin Cares

Two Books From…

Pumpkinheads - Danza's Message

…Karen Kilpatrick’s Pumpkinheads Series

Diversity in children’s books is a hot topic right now. But it’s certainly not a fad. I believe most in the children’s book industry (e.g. publishers, authors, illustrators, agents, librarians) agree that diversity in children’s books is important. Children need to see other children just like them, children they can relate to, in their books. Whether we’re referring to appearance, aspects of culture, or a disability they may have, children need to see how they fit into the world around them. Books can help them do that.

On the other hand, children need to see children who are different from them in their books, in order to foster awareness, understanding, and acceptance of other people in, as guest blogger, children’s book author, and mother of 3 multi-racial children, Karen Kilpatrick calls it, Our Big, Beautiful World.

  

Our Big, Beautiful World: The Importance of Diversity in Children’s Books 

By Karen Kilpatrick

 

“Mommy, why don’t any of the girls in my class have hair like me?” my young daughter came home from preschool asking one day.   

“Because everyone is different,” I answered.  “It’s hair that not a lot of people around here have. But there are a lot of little girls with hair just like yours.”  Then I asked, “Your hair is one way that you are different from the girls in your class, but what other ways are you the same?”  

We came up with a long list of traits that she shared with her classmates, and a shorter list of traits that she didn’t.  We talked about, in simple terms, how differences are what make people beautiful, and how boring the world would be if everyone looked exactly the same.  

From that day forward, we spent a lot of time noticing appearance.  I am mainly Italian and part German, my husband a mix of Bahamian, Native American, and African American.  My three children were born with caramel skin, curly hair, and brown eyes, quite different from my straight blond hair, blue eyes and freckles and my husband’s chocolate brown skin.  They didn’t start to notice how different we all look from each other, and how different they looked from most of their classmates, until they were about four or five years old.  And it wasn’t with concern, just curiosity, as to why they look the way they do, and why other people look they way they do.  If they had attended school in a different neighborhood, it may have been them who looked like the majority of people.  

Wherever we travel in life, I tell them, within the same city even, we will be surrounded by different groups of people.  Sometimes we will look like the majority, and sometimes, we will not. 

What has been so important to me in raising my children is that they feel comfortable around anyone.  That whether they are with brown people, peach people, caramel people, chocolate people (we have identified such a variety of skin tone shades – and there are many more!), and whether they are in the majority or minority, they know and understand that differences are to be celebrated and not feared.  

But the only way they would know not to fear difference is to experience difference.  My children can visit myriad relatives, of all different shades, who live in a wide variety of economic circumstances.  They can experience differences firsthand.  However, another way to expose children to the beauty of differences is through books, and the diverse characters found in those books.  

Children learn through storytelling.  Storytelling, through books, can introduce children to the wide, wonderful, beautiful world of differences that they may not otherwise experience.  Which is why, as an author, I am particularly careful that my books reflect a variety of characters.  It is important that children recognize and see themselves in characters but equally important that they are exposed to characters who do not look like them.  In order for this to occur, we have to have diverse characters in books, and not just in terms of skin color, but disabilities, ethnicity, culture and more.  

It’s a big, beautiful world out there, filled with a variety of people, and books are the perfect starting point in exploring and understanding that world.

Karen Kilpatrick

Author and entrepreneur Karen Kilpatrick, a mother of three multi-racial children, is a former attorney, who left her large law firm position in 2009 to start and grow two successful online legal services websites. Kilpatrick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctorate from NYU School of Law. She established her own publishing firm, Nina Charles Publishing, and launched the Pumpkinheads® series in 2013. She resides in Parkland, Florida, with her husband and three children.

For more information on Karen Kilpatrick or her award-winning Pumpkinheads® series, please visit: www.pumpkinheads.com.

The Pumpkinheads® series titles include Carmin Cares (ISBN 978-1938447068), Love Monster Lulu (ISBN 978-1938447037), Sage’s Song (ISBN 978-1938447013), Danza’s Message (ISBN 978-1938447020), and Ella’s Toys (ISBN 978-1938447006).