This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

I am a huge advocate of reading books to young children. Just as important, I believe, is what and who kids see in those books. As part of the work I do, we help train our volunteers on the importance of equity and inclusion especially as it relates to the students we work with and the books that we provide. The video below beautifully underscores how impactful this is. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it…it’s fantastic and draws me in every time. It can’t be put any more simply or beautifully. If we want our kids to grow up to show love and respect towards others, to be able to empathize with others, then they need to see others in books and learn about people that don’t look like them. But it is also super important, especially for children of color who don’t often get to see themselves, for kids to see books in which they see themselves and those like them as well. Please take the time to watch this, and then take a look at your kids’ library…does it have both mirrors and windows? Here are a few of my favorites that I encourage you to look at:

  • Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina – Monica Brown
    • I LOVE this book! It is a beautiful story with a young mixed-race girl as the main character and how she stays true to herself. Not only is this book bilingual in English and Spanish…there are Spanish words in the English text and vice versa to really capture how a lot of families speak in their homes. I recommend any book by Monica Brown but cannot recommend this one highly enough.
  • Tiger in My Soup – Kashmira Sheth
    • Beautiful pictures, my favorite animal, an imaginative boy and a fun story make this book a winner! I buy multiple copies of this book every year at work so that I can give it to as many of our programs as possible.
  • My Brother Charlie – Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
    • What a beautiful and touching story about a young girl and her brother who has Autism. I knew nothing of this book and decided to read it while I was visiting one of our programs and started to tear up right in the middle of the visit. I love the focus on her brother’s strengths rather than his disability and think this is an amazing story for all kids to read.
  • One Word From Sophia – Jim Averbeck
    • A hilarious and cute story about a little girl asking her parents for a pet giraffe…what little girl wouldn’t want a pet giraffe?
  • Round is a Moon Cake: A Book of Shapes – Roseanne Thong
    • The story and its author are great, but the illustrator of this book is also an excellent author and the speaker in the video I linked above. This is a great way to introduce aspects of a different culture while also introducing shapes.
  • Lucia the Luchadora/Lucia la Luchadora – Cynthia Leonor Garza
    • This book is fun and fantastic! The colors and pictures are beautiful and the story with a strong female protagonist is excellent and inspiring. This book was extremely popular in our Book Awards Contest at my work this year.

Other titles I highly recommend:

  • Families, Families, Families – Suzanne Lang
  • Round is a Tortilla : A Book of Shapes – Roseanne Thong
  • A Squiggly Story – Andrew Larsen
  • The Colors of Us – Karen Katz

This is fatherhood…