Introducing Children to "Differences"

Eliza Clark
February 7, 2009

One of the most important things a child can learn during these crucial preschool years is how to get along with many different kinds of people. With every new playmate at the park or the beach, at school or in the neighborhood, the little ones gain confidence in their ability to form positive relationships wherever they go.

But as much as we try to give our kids plenty of opportunities to have these fun and enriching interactions with all kinds of other children, our worlds and time extend only so far. So we are thankful for a few wonderful books that allow us to introduce them to other children from all over the globe.

People by Peter Spier. We stand in awe of the gifted Peter Spier's illustrations of the teeming masses of humanity that inhabit our beautiful planet. The pictures are just breathtaking, and perfectly designed to help a young mind a grasp the breadth and diversity of human life. The words celebrate this beautifully too: "More than 6,000,000,000 people...and no two of them alike! Each and every one of us different from all the others. Each one a unique individual in his or her own right." It's a treasure for children and grown-ups too.

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. A lyrical picture book celebrating differences and our common humanity that even the very youngest can enjoy. Children fly around a heart strewn world visiting other children who are different from them (different language, schools, houses) but also have "just the same" pains and joys and love.

Children Just Like Me by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley. What a remarkable book! The authors spent two years traveling to every continent and 140 countries to photograph and get to know individual children from all over the globe. Each child's life is featured in detail, with pictures of his or her food, clothes, friends, family, pets, school, home, and more. We appreciate that the children are grouped by continent and come from a wide range of economic backgrounds, but what really grips our little readers are the details -- the games the children play or the way they dress. It's enough to make the whole family want to embark on a voyage around the world! And whether or not you make the trip, you and your children will be poring over this book for years.

From the Parents

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