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Teaching Diversity: 3 Children's Books About Respect

mom reading to boy as he looks up at camera Stocksy / 347620
Photo by Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy

The Benefits of Teaching Diversity at an Early Age

Teaching respect for people who are different from us, whether in appearance, behavior, manner of speech, religion, or physical ability, begins early. It must. "Children soak in every relationship and every experience they have,” says KinderCare Education's Director of Education Programs Kate Jordan-Downs. “It's important that their early experiences give them an opportunity to learn about differences in a positive way."

A Few of Our Favorite Picture Books About Respect for Kids

The books below teach children that our many wonderful differences are worth celebrating. We use them to help teach diversity in our classrooms, but they would also make a wonderful addition to your home bookshelves, no matter who you are, where you live, how you talk, what you believe in, or how you like to dress each day. (Not to mention, reading to your child has proven benefits!)

A Rainbow of Friends cover 658x666
Rainbow of Friends © 2005 by Ideals Children's Books. Presented by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

A Rainbow of Friends by P.K. Hallinan

Friends come in all colors and sizes: They can be funny or serious, musical or athletic, outgoing or quiet. A Rainbow of Friends makes sure even young children learn that differences are what make us special with sweet rhyming verses: “And though we may wander a bit wide or far, our friends still accept us the way that we are.”

Also available in Spanish!


My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, pictures by Shane W. Evans

Based on the real story of the authors’ family, My Brother Charlie features two twins—one of them  has autism. As Ryan writes in her author notes about her brother, “Kids with autism are valuable human beings with real feelings, even though they can’t always express them.” In this story, her brother RJ is shown to be full of kindness and love. (Take it beyond this book and check out more books on diverse families.)

Book cover: Keep Your Ear on the Ball
Keep Your Ear on the Ball used with permission by Tilbury House Publishers.

Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo

When Davey, who is blind, arrives at his new school, all of his classmates want to help him. A capable and self-reliant Davey always replies to their offers in the same way: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Out on the kickball field, however, the students and Davey must work together to make the game a real winner. Keep Your Ear on the Ball teaches kids how to accept others, how to accept help, and how to see and honor who each person is—especially on the inside.

Do you have other children’s books about respect that you love? Share them with us on our social media pages!

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