The fun of diversity

Kids love to learn and explore; in fact, that’s their most important job! But some parents unwittingly discourage their children’s curiosity by telling them to ignore the differences they notice in others. That approach can rob children (who can’t simply turn off their observations) of the chance to understand and appreciate the fascinating diversity around them. These stories let them do just that!

Gondra's Treasure

In this clever metaphor for a mixed-race family, Gondra is a dragon girl with an Eastern dragon dad and Western dragon mom. She loves to explore both backgrounds; for example, her dad breathes mist and was celebrated by humans, while her mom breathes fire and was feared. Rather than feeling torn between two worlds, she relishes being part of both and is thrilled to think of what she can accomplish. 

Ages 4–7 • $17.99

Polar Bear Island

Parker, the mayor of Polar Bear Island, is hostile to change and maintains a strict “No Others Allowed” policy. When Kirby the penguin washes ashore, he wows the other polar bears with his generosity and his new ideas, despite Parker’s resistance. This funny story shows how accepting those from different cultures can truly enrich a community. 

Ages 3 and up • $16.95

When Charley Met Emma cover

One day at the playground, Charley points toward a girl with limb differences and shouts, “Why does she look so weird, Mommy?” The girl, Emma, is hurt, and Charley’s mother encourages him to apologize and try to be friends. Charley and Emma then engage in an honest and sweet discussion about how they’re different, how they’re the same and how much fun they can have together!

Ages 3–5 • $16.99

Albie Newton

The titular boy of this story is a genius at science, languages, art … everything except making friends. He appears to be on the autism spectrum (though this isn’t explicitly stated), as he offends his classmates by exhibiting little awareness of their feelings. Just as his class is about to rise in revolt, curious Shirley urges everyone to give Albie a chance.  

Ages 5–9 • $16.95

All Are Welcome

A vibrant joy bursts through the rhymes in this depiction of a thriving, diverse school. Many children — including those who wear hijabs, yarmulkes and/or glasses and/or use wheelchairs — can easily see themselves (and their parents) represented in this book’s wide range of colors, cultures and family types, all collected into a double-fold-out finale at the end. Bonus: The book jacket doubles as a cool poster!

Ages 4–8 • $17.99

Ed Dykhuizen is an associate editor at Minnesota Parent and father of three who lives in St. Paul.