Importance of Representation in Children’s Books

As parents, it’s important be aware of how impressionable children are. Kids’ brains are like sponges; they soak up everything they are hearing and seeing. Reading more diverse books are a great way to spark necessary conversations about race and acceptance with your little ones. 

Over the past year, children’s books about diversity have found their home in family bookshelves. Many of the best children’s books to read in 2020 were books about race embracing diversity. 

Here are five reasons why representation is important in children’s literature:

  1. Relatability: Authors that identify with their characters know how to effectively communicate their messages and themes. They know what lessons need to be taught and how to properly convey them to young readers inside and outside of their communities. Someone who experiences the same struggles as others is able to connect better with that community of people. For example, when authors of color write a book, they can accurately depict what the characters of color actually experience, instead of assuming how they feel.
  2. Interest: Children want to follow stories that incorporate topics related to their interests. When kids start learning how to read, they enjoy stepping into the shoes of the characters that they can see themselves in. The more you connect to characters in a book, the more interested you become in the story.
  3. Self-Confidence: Children feel empowered to see characters that look like them in the stories they read. It’s easier for kids to accept who they are when they see characters like themselves among their book covers and bookshelves. They are able to appreciate their own heritage as well as others. Instead of feeling different, kids feel seen and included and look up to the characters. Children become inspired by characters when they see someone like themselves doing the extraordinary.
  4. Educate: Children’s worldviews expand when they read books about cultures that are different from their own. It allows them to learn about historical events, beliefs, and practices that they may not have known about before. Reading books that include multicultural characters increases children’s awareness that not everyone is the same, and that’s a great thing! 
  5. Awareness: The more diverse, multicultural books children read, the more empathic they are towards those who are different from them. They are more likely to want to learn about their differences and are more willing to accept them.

After you read a book with your child, it’s important to ask them about what they just read. It gives them the chance to ask questions and learn lessons that extend beyond the pages. Think about how it’s easier to teach your children a new lesson at a young age when they don’t know anything else, instead of later in life when it might challenge what they already know.

Reading your children books about diversity is a great way to teach them about acceptance and what makes everyone unique. If you haven’t already, it’s time to update your library and add more multicultural books for kids to your bookshelves!

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