Even before I became a mother, I was always concerned of how society is shaped to treat those who don’t appear “normal” differently. Inclusion is very important in my household. We celebrate differences, learn by having an open mind, and consider failures as an opportunity for improvement. Preschool is around the corner, and I anticipate there will be children who will appear “different” from my daughter, whether it is in abilities or appearance. I don’t doubt that they will have lots of questions when they see someone who is “different” from themselves, but before that time comes, I need to be prepared.
It isn’t as easy as opening up the conversation about inclusion at the dinner table with a two year old. Let’s be honest, as a working mom, often times you will find me scrambling to get dinner on the table in time before a potential meltdown. When dinner is ready, food is flying everywhere, and with a distracted and curious toddler who wants to play with her babies, there is likely a bit of negotiation to get the bowl empty. Everyday is a wildcard, but what is constant is my daughter’s affinity for books. She is at an age where she is imitable and easily impressionable, so naturally books and new visuals interest her. So that is how I get my conversation started with my two year old.
Thankfully there are starting to be more books that revolves around inclusion. In fact, libraries are becoming more and more inclusive, which is a great start to educating our children.
Without further ado, here are my top picks for inclusion books for children.
1. My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson
This book talks about the amazing friendship between Isabelle and Charlie. They share a special bond, but are also very different from each other. Isabelle happens to have Down syndrome and Charlie doesn’t. This is a great book to introduce your child about developmental differences, with simple text and beautiful illustrations.
2. The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
This book takes the “traditional” out of family. It offers a great overview of what a modern family can consist of, everything from single parents, parents of mixed ethnicities, and disabilities in a fun and lighthearted way.
3. Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
This book is perfect for preschools as it rhymes, with simple language. It provides a snapshot of who Susan is and what she likes, most of which your child can relate to. At the end of the book, your child will learn that Susan is in a wheelchair .
4. A Rainbow of Friends by P.K. Hallinan
This book is wonderful for the child who is about to start school because it offers snapshot of how diverse our friends can be. It celebrates differences but unites it with friendship.
5. We’ll Paint the Octopus Red By Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
This is a great book for parents who are expecting a child with Down syndrome. It follows the thoughts of 6 year old Emma who worries about her little brother who has Down syndrome cannot play with her the way she dreamed he would. The book also includes a Q and A, and a refreshing outlook on a beautiful relationship between siblings.
6. Freddie and The Fairy by Julia Donaldson
Chock full of beautiful illustrations, this book is about a hard of hearing fairy that has a lot to say about deafness to Freddie. In a fun way, it also offers messages about hearing impairment.
Have you read any books that you feel should be added to the list? Let us know!!