Books that Celebrate our Uniqueness and Diversity

I want to share children’s books that celebrate our uniqueness and diversity.  The books I’ve selected are gems that children will love, easily grasp their meaning and want to read again.  All three books are great books for home and in the classroom.

All the Colors of the Earth, is written and beautifully illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka.  She reveals through soft verse that despite our physical differences, children everywhere are lovable and all the same.    The book opens with “Children come in all the colors of the earth…”  Hamanaka creatively uses the colors of the earth to depict how closely we are all related, even through nature.  Children come with hair like lambs and hair that flows in water.  They come in all colors of love of their families, and in cinnamon, wheat and caramel and chocolate and honey bees.   Their vibrancy and innocence has a valuable impact on our land, and unite us as one.   Her book leaves one hopeful for our future.   I also appreciate that Hamanaka  carefully includes children with special needs in her illustrations.   Her book is inspired by her own two children’s multi-ethnic heritage.

Whoever You Are, is written by Mem Fox and richly illustrated by Leslie Staub.  Fox’s book focuses on the differences between people around our planet, and the similarities that unite us, such as love, pain and joy.  It is a beautiful celebration of  all human life.   Her message is simple –there are children just like you all over the world living in different homes, attending different schools, speaking different languages,  and living lives that are culturally different.  But no matter where they are, they all smile, laugh, cry and love.  Such a powerful story.

The Colors of Us, is written and boldly illustrated by Karen Katz.   Lena’s mother is an artist and she very creatively explores and teaches her daughter the many differences in the color of their friend’s skin through her paint palate.   Lena describes her mother as the color of French toast.  Her mother shows Lena how to mix the right paint combinations that will match her own skin.  Lena is a shade of brown, so her mother takes her for a walk to show her the beautiful colors of skin.  She finds friends who are the colors of creamy peanut butter, honey, reddish-brown, butterscotch, golden brown like pizza crust, bronze and amber.  Lena is very excited with all she observes and begins to see each friend as a beautiful shade of color.  Lena ends the day with all of her paints and begins to mix the colors so she can paint a picture of all her friends — “the colors of us.”   Great read!

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

6 thoughts on “Books that Celebrate our Uniqueness and Diversity

  1. These are right up my multicultural street, Pat. I was immediately drawn to The Colors of Us and All the colors of the earth. What tasty, creative, child-centered way to describe some of our beautiful, and most obvious differences, to children. I think I shall have to get these on the school library’s next book list! Like you, I am with you on appreciaing the inclusion of special needs children in a story.

    Mem Fox is an author I appreciate very much. Her book sounds a great way to demystify differences and focus on similarities amongst children of the world.

    Great choice of books!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked them. Mem Fox is a favorite of mine too. I loved all three books, but I found The Colors of Us by Karen Katz, my favorite — having a mother taking her daughter on a walk and showing her through art the colors of her friends and then taking her painting palate and showing Lena how to mix just the right colors, was very poweful. Hamanaka’s book was beautiful and lyrical. She included an albino child, which pleased me. I’m glad you’re interested in them for your school library. They all celebrate our uniqueness and diversity and emphasize at some level that we really are all the same.

  2. Oh my! This so connected with me. I started humming Celine Dion’s “Lets talk about Love”.. the first verse is so appropriate. Then I reread this again and checked out these books. I so love “All the colours of the Earth” and New Zealand being such a multicultural country I would not be surprised to find this and “Whoever you are” in the libraries. These are beautiful books. Thankyou so much Pat, I loved this post.

    Edit: Agree with Joanna about the inclusion of special needs children.

    • Yes, you are right about the Celine’s song. I hope you find them in your library. There really are some very good books out there for children that cover the entire spectrum, yet don’t focus on one specific culture — it reminded me that yes, we are part of that great wheel of life.

  3. These books sound excellent, Pat — and what a good way to get children looking at differences in a positive light, and in ways they can relate to. Kids from a very young age are curious about differences, and disabilities can make them fearful (“will it happen to me?”) Reading these books with kids would be a great way of being proactive, and helping them to realize right from the start that, as a song I learned years ago says, “Different is beautiful, God bless variety.”

    The name Hamanaka rang a bell in my mind, so I checked my shelf. I have one of her books, one of my “library sale table” finds, “I look like a girl”. I confess I haven’t read it yet — I will do so, and it will at some point find its way into my blog. With luck I’ll find the books you’ve reviewed at our library. Perhaps I can do a Hamanaka post!

    • Oh, I love the words to the song you learned — so appropriate when thinking about diversity. I am glad you liked my selection to review. Ironically, I do have Hamanaka’s book “I Look Like a Girl” and have already written a review I will post soon with another book that is very different. Although there is a multicultrual tone to it, I found the book to be a celebration of girlhood and young girls finding their essence. All the books I loved. You will like Hamanaka’s lyrical voice. Like her work. I am glad you enjoyed my selection.

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