One of the greatest gifts we can give the next generation is tolerance and understanding. Just imagine what the world would be like if we were all accepting of each other and our differences! Books are a fabulous way to teach kids about, well, anything really. Whether it is because you yourself don’t have the words to explain the situation or because you want to start introducing subtle messages about diversity, respect and kindness, these 12 books should start the conversation.
12 children’s books about tolerance, diversity and accepting others
This story explores gender identity, friendship and acceptance. Written by an Australian woman who wanted to have a storybook to read to her son that reflected her own experience having a transgender father. The story centres around Errol and his teddy, Thomas. Introducing Teddy is beautifully simple, with Errol wholeheartedly accepting his teddy when she reveals that she wants to be a girl called Tilly.
What is an Australian? Mem Fox (you might know her from Possum Magic), takes a look at who Australians are. Whether you were born in Australian or your family travelled from near and far to join our great land, it is the diversity of our people that make Australia great. A simple book that is both heartwarming and hopeful for a future of tolerance.
The debut novel from comedian David Walliams, The Boy in The Dress is a witty and charming story of a young boy, Dennis, who after his parents divorce, misses his mum, and finds solace in the clothes she left behind. The story takes themes of cross dressing and combines it with friendship, tolerance and humour. Suitable for older kids aged 9+.
Sometimes tolerance and accepting others starts with learning to accept yourself. This book is a beautiful little story of how a donkey, Thelma, comes to accept herself for who she is. After finding herself living a life as a famous unicorn, she realises fame isn’t all it is cracked up to be and longs for her old, quiet life.
Now adapted into a motion picture, Wonder is suitable for older kids aged 9+ and tells the story of a young boy born with a severe facial abnormality. After being home schooled his whole life, at the age of 10 he is now going to a regular school. A heartwarming story of acceptance and tenacity that is worth a read for kids and adults alike.
If you have ever been to Disneyland you will be familiar with the It’s a Small World ride. This book brings that ride to life, celebrating the different cultures of the world and how we all share the same sun and the same moon. It also includes an audio CD with the song so kids can listen along.
Kids can often feel ostracised or cast out for being different, but in this book, difference and friendship are celebrated. Dennis, a young boy who communicates through mime, meets a girl called Joy and starts to discover the joy of friendship. A subtle exploration of the world of children with autism and language barriers.
Emma is awaiting the arrival of her new baby sibling. When he arrives her father tells her that he has Down Syndrome. Emma asks her father what her bother won’t be able to do and her father explains that with patience and help, there probably isn’t anything he can’t do. A touching story of family and acceptance. The book also includes a set of commonly asked questions about Down Syndrome to help children in their understanding.
Arriving from Korea, Unhei is anxious that none of her new American friends will be able to pronounce her name. She tells her classmates that she will choose a new name. Her classmates fill a jar with names for her to pick from but she soon realises, with the encouragement of her new friends, that her own Korean name, with it’s special meaning is just the right one for her.
Anna, Chiara, Henry, Izzy and Jack all live on the same street but their families look very different. Introducing multi-generational families, same sex parents, divorce, single parents and adoption, this is a story about diversity in families and accepting and loving your own family for just who they are.
Mary is a young Aboriginal girl who is shunned by the other girls because of her fair skin. Old Ned, one of the community elders teaches them that Aboriginal identity transcends skin colour and that family, community, country, culture and spirituality is what being Aboriginal is really about. Old Ned’s words “We all brothers and sisters in this life, no matter what colour we are” are sure to resonate.
Start the conversation of reconciliation and the history of the first Australians with this book. Written by an experienced Kindergarten educator, Sorry Sorry helps to build a platform where understanding, appreciation and respect for “All Peoples” can be built.
Can you recommend any children’s books about tolerance, diversity and accepting others?
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