Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to live where I do. Where all of the houses are similar. Mailboxes are perfectly positioned and sanctioned by the Home Owner’s Association. Lawns are manicured and pristine. And the kicker? The majority of people, for the most part, look exactly like me.
I have developed beautiful friendships in this community and appreciate what the neighborhood has to offer, but I knew it was going to take some effort to expose our children to diversity, or as Webster defines, “the quality or state of being different.” To move outside the bubble. To teach them the value of learning about others. Here is what has worked for us.
Children’s Literature and Storytime
Books featuring people of color or written by diverse authors are a great start. It shows my children that some people look different than them, and differences enrich our life experience. Some books we enjoy are Global Babies by the Global Fund for Children, or It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr. You may also want to visit, “Mother Goose on the Loose Bilingual Storytime” at Kettering Moraine Public Library.
Toys and Music
Choosing a variety of diverse dolls or action figures is a creative way to incorporate learning about differences into natural play. Also, my toddler and 11-year-old have been inundated with music ranging from salsa and merengue to bluegrass. “Kids World Party” by Putumayo Kids will get little feet moving!
Take part in a tour to immerse yourself into a cultural learning experience. We have taken our children to visit the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester. They have a “Know Your Neighbor” event once a month or you can contact to schedule a different time.
Through the Niagara Foundation, we also joined a Muslim family for a fast-breaking dinner during Ramadan and, subsequently, have made lifelong friends.
Festivals or community gatherings featuring a specific group are plentiful. A quick web search for our area produced celebrations of cultures ranging from Italian, Latino, Jewish, or Indigenous communities!
Perhaps the most important way to teach your children about diversity? Talk to them. It’s never too soon. Have conversations at the dinner table about the importance of valuing others who may not look like them. Show your children, through your actions, that being different is beautiful. That there is life outside the bubble.