When purchasing books for children, it is important to find texts that are engaging, with interesting information or entertaining stories, and with brightly colored illustrations that will capture and hold their attention. It is also essential for the healthy social development of children to find books that include persons of many different cultures, skin colors, and abilities. Many authors and publishers produce books that include these qualities.
Round Is a Mooncake, written by Roseanne Thong for preschool age children, is a book of shapes that exposes children to Chinese culture through the eyes of a young Chinese girl. Thong uses simple words and beautiful pictures to teach children not only shape concept, but also about many aspects of Chinese life.
Illustrated with vibrant watercolors, I Love My Hair! tells the story of an African American child whose mother is combing her hair. While doing so, she begins to describe to the child all the wonderful ways she can style her hair. In this playful manner, the mother teaches her daughter to love and appreciate her unique and beautiful hair.
Vera B. Williams’ book More, More, More, Said the Baby, written for toddlers, is composed of three stories about three different babies during different parts of the day: wake up time, time you are awake, and bed time. Each child is cared for by a different person. One is with a father, one with a mother, and the third is with a grandmother. Beautiful, brightly colored pictures draw and hold the eye, and the stories are of love and gentle harmony within different families.
Hairs/Pelitos, by Sandra Cisneros, began as a chapter within the young adult novel The House on Mango Street. It has been converted into a picture book, written in both English and Spanish, and illustrated with brightly colored paintings that seem to jump off the page. Within the book, a young Latina girl lovingly and vividly describes the hair of each member of her family. She tells the audience about the smell, the feel, and the sight of it. This book teaches children to notice details about their own families, and to appreciate everyone’s individuality.
Laura Dwight penned a beautiful book about different ability levels, called We Can Do It. Within the book are photographs of real children who have disabilities. This book gives a glimpse into the children’s everyday lives in a positive and realistic manner. The photographs show the children participating in daily activities, alongside their friends.
Helping children to learn about other cultures early will help them to more fully appreciate and accept them. Not only this, but when children read books about their own cultures, those portraying them in a celebratory manner, they will come to love and appreciate themselves as important, valuable members of society. Look for a variety of books, such as those described above, which portray members of other races, cultures, religions, and abilities. These books will help any child begin a well-rounded life.