Teaching Cultural Diversity to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Future

I love good food and it is fun to eat special dishes from Korea, India and Mexico.

So I feel very lucky to live in a multi-cultural neighborhood.

All of the little kids growing up on our block are lucky too because, beyond the yummy dishes, they will also benefit from an environment that exposes them to all different kinds of people. In the future, they will be able to understand, appreciate, and work with others from diverse backgrounds. This is what it will take a boy to be a success in tomorrow’s world.

If you live in a great location like I do, with families from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, you want to expose children to diverse races and cultures at an early age. The more children are around different people, the more likely they are to readily accept them as a part of their environment.

You want to prepare your child to meet the challenges and reap the benefits of the increasingly diverse world they will inherit.

You want to raise your youngsters to celebrate and value diversity and to be proud of themselves and their family traditions.

But how do you teach children to respect and value people regardless of the color of their skin, their physical abilities, or the language they speak?

One good way to start is by reading books about other cultures. Find books about holidays celebrated by children around the world. You want to make sure your child understands that each of us is different and unique, but there’s much that we share, regardless of the way we dress, the food we eat, or the way we worship.

Expose your children to different cultures by getting to know your neighbors and by making friends with families from other ethnic or racial groups or religions. If you are Hispanic, take your children to a deli for a corned beef sandwich or a Thai restaurant for noodles. Restaurants are often decorated to fit the culture they represent and play authentic music. They offer an abundance of learning possibilities, such as how to eat with chopsticks.

Attend cultural festivals and exhibits. Teaching your children to understand and respect one another’s differences is important. Opening the doors to cultural diversity will teach your family valuable lessons about different cultures, customs, foods, rituals and more.

Teach your child the meaning of equality. Tell them often that, although we are all different colors, nationalities, etc., we are all human beings that deserve the same amount of respect and kindness. It is as simple as the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Here is a list of books that I got from a very nice librarian that may help you teach your toddler about cultural diversity:

Asian American, Pacific Islander American, Asian

  • Siddals, Mary McKenna | Sayles, Elizabeth (illustrator) | 1998
    Millions of snowflakes
    As snow begins to fall; a child counts the flakes, enjoying every one.
  • Krishnaswami, Uma | Krishnaswamy, Uma (illustrator) | 2010
    Out of the way! Out of the way!
    A little boy cares for a little tree, and soon the grown tree is caring for him, as well as all the people who pass by.
  • Lin, Grace | 2002
    Fortune Cookie Fortune
    After a young Chinese American girl opens fortune cookies with her family, she notices that the fortunes seem to come true. Includes brief notes on the history of the fortune cookie.
  • Yee, Wong Herbert | 1995
    A drop of rain
    Everyone in the family thinks that baby is crying and tries to cheer him up until it is revealed that it is not tears but drops of rain that are on baby’s face.

African American

  • Asim, Jabari | Pham, LeUyen (illustrator) | 2006
    Whose toes are those?
    Children are invited to explore their toes by playing “this little piggy.”
  • Grimes, Nikki | Collier, Bryan (illustrator) | 2006
    Welcome, Precious
    Illustrations and text welcome a new baby to some of life’s delights, from “the glistening mystery of soap bubbles” to “the swish of leaves in the breeze.”
  • Isadora, Rachel | 2008
    Uh-oh!
    As a toddler keeps getting into mischief all day, the reader is invited to discover the trouble with each page-turn and to say, “uh-oh!”

Multiracial

  • Smith, Dana Kessimakis | Freeman, Laura (illustrator) | 2004
    A wild cowboy
    Grandma’s babysitting today, and the frontier’s best cowboy gathers his things for the long journey there. The wild cowboy tells his tale of adventure in rhyme.

Hispanic

  • Mora, Pat | Morale, Magaly (illustrator) | 2009
    A piñata in a pine tree: A Latino twelve days of Christmas
    In this adaptation of the folksong “The twelve days of Christmas,” friends exchange gifts such as a piñata and “cuatro luminarias.” Includes pronunciation and glossary of Spanish words and a description of Christmas foods and other holiday traditions from different Latin American countries.
  • Mora, Pat | Suárez, Maribel (illustrator) | 2008
    Here, kitty, kitty! = ¡Ven, gatita, ven!
    In this illustrated story told in both English and Spanish, a child describes the antics of a mischievous kitty.
  • Alarcón, Francisco X. | Barragán, Paula (illustrator) | 1997
    Poems to dream together = Poemas para soñar juntos
    A collection of short, bilingual poems celebrating the connections children share with their families, communities, and all living things.

Indigenous Peoples and Nations

  • Scott, Ann Herbert | Coalson, Glo (illustrator) | 1972
    On mother’s lap
    A young boy who lives with his family in the Arctic discovers that mother’s lap is a very special place, with room for everyone.
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