5 Eye-Opening Books For Teachers About Diversity

“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring” -Catherine Pulsifer

We have come to the time to rethink what is important. Learning to find strength from something unexpected—diversity

As a teacher, you should know that diversity matters in education. Understanding the great opportunity of what diversity can bring to the table for your students will not only revolutionize the conventional ways of teaching in the classroom but it will also unify and help shape and shift the mind of our future generation to a full 180 degrees. 

Multicultural students standing along each other

And to give you a full insight and fresh perspective on diversity, indulge yourself with 5 eye-opening books for teachers about diversity.

With the set of knowledge and experiences from different people coming from different backgrounds, being able to tell their narratives about each of their own unique cultures is better learned being surrounded by people who come from it rather than learning from plain textbooks. 

Being able to be exposed to a diverse classroom helps form inclusiveness, acceptance, and a sense of belonging that’s equally important to have the quality education that every student deserves. 

It’s also a must for an individual, especially a child, to learn about other people’s ideas, customs, and religion to help expand their knowledge to welcome new ways of thinking and to support self-growth not only socially but in other aspects as well such as mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional facets too. 

With a variety of perspectives coming in from different angles to the table, diversity is guaranteed to change education one person at a time.

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The Benefits of Diversity In the Classroom

For children, after home, the classroom is their next learning space where they get to get a grasp of all the basic learning foundations that they need to be successful individuals later on in life. 

This is where they get to develop all the essential skills, such as their social skills, cognitive and problem-solving skills, language skills, physical development, and most importantly is their self-help or adaptive skills which help them learn how to do things independently and how to properly react to a certain environment that they are being exposed to. 

students listening to their teacher reading a book aloud

All five skills are equally important for a child to develop, but today, we’re going to put the spotlight on how people develop these skills that significantly differ in all parts of the world. What might be normal or sacred to some might not be for others, and students need to learn about accepting and respecting that we are all different in a beautiful way that can be the key to unite us and make us form a stronger bond for the betterment of humanity as one. 

From grooming, dressing up, making friends, and all social things that we do, it is important to know that all people do these things quite differently depending on their, race, ethnicity, culture, customs, religion, gender, and capabilities as well. 

Apart from these different factors, you also need to take a look into socio-economic class, their reading level, athletic background, and most importantly their personality which makes each one of your students unique and amazing. 

Now let’s dive into some of the benefits diversity can bring into the classroom. 

Prepares Students for Diverse Workplaces and Communities

For students who have only been exposed to the same profile group as them, a multicultural environment after school will easily and surely be a shock to them because the lack of exposure to diversity will be their drawback. 

If students do not have the chance to be exposed to a diverse setting they will have a hard time adjusting and absorbing the variety of differences that they need to process in a quick span of time once they encounter it in real life. 

a diverse workplace

Our world is changing, but for the better. Gone are the days when people were left out because they were not deemed significant by other people and it should have never been like that. We are now in a time where we rejoice in our differences and it’s actually the contrast that gives us a better chance to improve the way we do things. 

Having various minds and different perspectives altogether in one classroom can help enrich and create a positive learning experience that society has been needing to have ever since. 

Helps Build Students’ Foundation of Confidence

Building a person’s self-esteem does not happen overnight, it is a continuous process that usually starts between the age of 4 to 11, this is the most important timeline that helps establish a child’s sense of self-worth that will, later on, help them be successful in life. 

Two kids smiling

Being able to be included in a diverse classroom will help them establish the knowledge of how to communicate with different kinds of people coming from different backgrounds. This will help make them feel safe and secure and more comfortable to approach these differences later on in their life. 

They will also have the confidence to interact with different social groups and not have the doubt to express themselves which will then help them connect and build a positive network to be an established individual in our society.

Diversity in the Classroom Ignites Their Creativity

Letting yourself and your students be exposed to new ideas that are unfamiliar or unknown to you can help open your students’ and your eyes as well to new horizons of discoveries and valuable knowledge that awaits you at the doors of diversity. 

Being able to work with diverse ranges of ideas, opinions, thoughts, and cultural background will help students see a topic from different lenses that will help them be more creative when it comes to comprehending it. 

diversity is unity

Diversity is making all the amazing differences to work together in a classroom to help form ideas into something remarkable that can only be achieved when diversity is welcomed in a learning space. 

Students can also gain the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and discover that even with all the differences there are still similarities among each of them that can help bring them together and not be segregated by misunderstanding and cultural differences. 

Students Learn About Acknowledgment and Respect

Being in a diverse environment helps students to be more understanding and aware of the cultural differences which then will lead them to learn how to acknowledge and respect them as well. 

It also helps students to learn from one another which is vital for them to develop at a young age that makes them equipped with various perspectives for them to be a well-rounded person who knows how to value, accept, and celebrate the differences that can help make our world a better place where everyone is united through diversity. 

acceptance and respect

This will also teach your students to use their own set of experiences, strengths, and backgrounds to contribute to the class to help enrich the learning environment they are in. 

Diversity Teaches Students Empathy

One of the most important things for students to learn is empathy. Being exposed to diverse students that are coming from different backgrounds opens their eyes and makes them be aware of those existing people and cultures and learn how to understand them even without having to experience it for themselves. 

teamwork

This also hinders them from developing prejudice and basing on typical stereotypes which are not something that we want them to be instilling in their minds and grow up with. Diversity helps them understand that everybody is different and there is nothing wrong with that. 

This helps them become more thoughtful and accepting individuals that can appreciate that what’s normal for you may not be normal for somebody else. This will surely help them flourish as an individual as soon as they take on life after school. 

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5 Eye-Opening Books For Teachers About Diversity

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1.) Drinking Coffee Elsewhere By Z.Z. Packer

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere By Z.Z. Packer

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This book is a collection of stories full of humanity while fizzing with honesty, energy, hardships, sorrow, joy, sadness, and a whole lot of other feelings that will just send you on a roller coaster ride full of emotions to give you a new eye on how you see life. 

Astonishingly, this book was nominated and was also a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award and it just really deserved the recognition it got especially because of the following reasons. 

First, the book was expertly panned out by the author, Z.Z. Packer, and you would really feel the authenticity of every character like they’re actually telling the story to you. You’ll be hooked as soon as you read the first sentence of this book, and I’ll guarantee you that you won’t stop until you finish it. 

There might be parts in the book where you might need to pause and take some time to process it, but it’s part of the eye-opening experience that this book will surely serve you. Packer selected and constructed the characters perfectly and they were placed in just the right kind of setting that will show you what you need to know about diversity. 

Each and every story had something to bring to the table, and even if it’s fiction, it would really feel like these are the stories that many people have to tell. Some stories might be more striking than others but you’ll appreciate how they complement each other and complete the book that perfectly portrays an important part of diversity. 

Another thing that I give credit for in this book is that even though it’s not your typical happy ending stories because most of them might have unhappy endings, is that people can relate to them, and it tells the narrative of so many people going through the same real situations lived today. 

But from the gloomy and grim situations expressed in the book, it has definitely taught me that even on the darkest days that seem like there’s no end in sight, hope will always prevail and it has somehow balanced the book’s completion. 

As Z.Z. Packer, the author, magnified people’s situation under terrible circumstances she also showed how she had remarkable empathy with how she wrote the book. Reading this will surely have an emotional impact on anyone who reads it. 

The author’s word choices were like jigsaw puzzles making you think that every word on it was chosen to complete it, and it did hit home hard. It stirred emotions that were not ready to be stirred. It portrays a painful yet beautiful realization that teaches us about the importance of diversity. 

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere also tackled controversial and significant social issues happening in our society in disguise without it even stating the obvious or having it right in front of your face. It was masked by Packer’s sarcasm along with humor as she intelligently portrayed each story. 

Overall, I would give this book a solid 5-star rating. It was heartbreaking while it strikingly provided an interesting perspective on the creative writing progress that left its lingering notes in me. 

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2.) Other People’s Children By Lisa Delpit

Other People’s Children By Lisa Delpit

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If you are looking for a guaranteed page-turner book, then “Other People’s Children” is the best bet for you. 

This book puts the spotlight on the role of race in the classroom which can be a very delicate topic up to this point in time.  

The author, Lisa Delpit, is an American Educational Theorist that devoted most of her time to focusing on language development and literacy mainly on elementary education. She molded her book “Other People’s Children” from her own experiences as an educator of both children and adults in mixed-race classrooms. 

This book is loaded with insights, specifically putting the spotlight on the scrutiny of race and culture happening still in most classrooms not only in America but also across the world. It explained the significance of power as well as language and how it factors a student’s position in the classroom. 

Altogether this book shares the experience that both Delpit, the author, and her colleagues exemplify the issues that they’ve come across in classrooms that are diverse when it comes to not only the race of the students but also the other different factors that contribute which makes the classroom diversified. 

Reading this book, you’ll know that the author intended to write the tone of this book in an uncomfortable way—and it’s actually written in a way to help challenge preconceived notions when it comes to teaching a classroom of mixed colors. 

Going over the book, four main points stood out throughout the entire reading that Delpit wanted readers to puck up, and they are the following: Race/Culture, Power, Experiences, and last but not least is introspect showcasing self-assessment that helps improve the strategies of teaching educators apply in their classrooms. 

Each of these focal points played a crucial role in helping Delpit complete the book. It explained that there should be reconsideration when it comes to forming curriculums that should be inclusive and has regard over the analysis of race and culture, especially in multicultural classrooms. 

This book also ultimately helps educators realize that they’re in power to help flourish and promote diversity in the classroom. 

Educators should know that they’re in control of how they choose to understand their students coming from different backgrounds or cultures that may differ from the predominant culture that’s existing in their very classroom. 

Another goal for Delpit in this book is to help teachers recognize the fact that aside from teaching what they are already teaching, they can take the extra mile to empower students and transform them just by altering their approach—in a way for it to have a lasting and more personal impact to help mold them into the best person they can be. 

Unpacking this book will surely give a refreshing view of how you can teach a multicultural classroom which is relevant now more than ever. Telling teachers that when creating lessons and materials for their class, each and every student should be considered to help them foster a strong connection to the learning place that is taking place in the classroom. 

There’s still a lot to talk about in this book, and the only thing I can tell you is to grab a copy and indulge yourself with new perspectives. It is a great reference for modern educators for a thought-provoking discussion. 

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3.) Each Kindness By Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Each Kindness By Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

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Have you ever been a new kid at school? I know that there will be different answers varying from different people who have experienced this situation. 

Some might’ve had a tough time adjusting, while others had an easy transition but one thing is for sure is that it’s definitely nerve-wracking to be the new kid in school—especially when it comes to making new friends in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. 

Now try to visualize the same situation from a child’s point of view. You can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions they are feeling, especially with it just being new to them. Processing every emotion and information being hurled at them at a fast rate. Even adults can become nervous especially when meeting new people at an unknown place, right? 

The story of this unanticipated book starts with a girl narrating about a snowy day at school that turned everything into a magnificent white sight, and that one morning as the whole class was settled in their seat the principal came in with a new student and her name was, Maya

At first glance, Maya wore old and ragged clothes that made other students prejudiced about her. Maya tried to smile and be friendly to Chloe who is the one narrating the story in the book but she chose not to smile back every time Maya tried to approach and make friends with her. 

This happened day after day and most of the students in their class did not want to do anything with Maya. And this part absolutely broke my heart. But even after being ignored or made fun of, Maya still tried her best to make friends by showing off toys that she brings to school and tried to be kind even if she wasn’t receiving the same treatment from her classmates. 

But then one day, Maya did not come to school anymore and the teacher went on ahead to let the class participate in an activity that teaches them about kindness. The idea of the stone experiment was fascinating to me, and it’s actually a great exercise that you can ask your class to take part in to help them learn about how kindness can greatly affect a person positively.

If you’re looking for a great book that you can share with your class that talks about kindness this would be a great book that can also initiate a great conversation that the whole class can take part in. 

This book humbly teaches about kindness and how small acts of compassion or empathy can have a lasting impact on a person that can ripple out and create a domino effect because kindness is contagious, and that’s a fact. 

Exposing students to diverse settings promotes empathy and lessens prejudice. Letting them learn about various cultures, religions, and social groups will help them be more understanding and aware that differences make us stronger and it should not be something that divides us. 

The written words in this book that mentioned “a chance with kindness, is more and more forever gone” dwelled on me, and up to this day, I try to make out the best in any chance I get to be kind to people that I get to encounter because you’ll never know how your small act of kindness can help them in a great deal. 

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4.) All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold, Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

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There’s something amazing about how a children’s book that is sweet and short can pack quite a punch for adults—that’s what the book “All Are Welcome” just did. 

This book tells a story about kindness, inclusivity, and most importantly diversity. It might be a children’s book but it will surely amp you up to join the call for a better world for all of us to live in with harmony and peace. 

All Are Welcome is also a New York Times Best Selling Picture book that showcases diversity and inclusion. It exemplifies that our differences should be celebrated and it should not be the cause for us to be segregated. 

You’ll see that this book was beautifully illustrated exhibiting all our differences when it comes to culture, the kind of food we eat, the way we dress, and all the other amazing ways we differ from one another.

This book starts off on a typical day at school, everyone’s in class and everyone is welcome. The illustration shows the diversity of the crowd and it shows many people coming from different countries all over the world. 

The different skin colors make the book come alive along with the different dresses and clothes that everybody wore in the book. You’ll see a girl in a Burka, a girl in a wheelchair, a boy with glasses and all sorts of differences that we all know are just as true as can be in reality. 

In a traditional classroom setting dealing with differences and prejudices is not something typically taught like other subjects, and that is why this is a great book to include in your classroom library. 

It helps open up the topic that should be explained thoroughly and carefully to students to help them understand and be aware of the importance of diversity not only in school but in our society in general. 

Knowing the importance of diversity will also help pave the way for students of all colors from different cultures and backgrounds to be prepared to be a part of the multicultural world which is inevitably our future. 

A classroom should be a haven for students and not a place where students feel left out or excluded. Educators should shift their teaching strategies that will help create a bond with all students to help enrich their learning experience in the classroom. 

And that is what this book teaches us. It tells us that all children are different and that’s okay. Our differences is what’s going to make us stronger. Diversity is our strength and our protection from adversity. 

We all have different skills and strengths as well as weaknesses, and if we all work together as a community for humanity it’s a sure win that we will triumph over whatever obstacle is in front of us. 

Our differences are just a fact of life, this is why we should help shape the mind of our children that it’s okay to be different. This book is lovely, heart-warming, and charming and I’m sure any teacher would love to read this aloud to their class to teach the class about diversity. 

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5.) Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

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You’ll love our next entry in this list, this book was flawlessly written by the Author, Marilyn Hilton, in a novel verse form which makes the book a little bit thicker but you’ll surely eat up the pages one after the other because the story flows like a stream that you’ll be able able to finish it in a day or two. 

The story in this book follows a middle school girl named Mimi Yamashiko Oliver who currently lives in California but was then prompted to move with her family to Vermont as her father got a job offer as a professor at a local college there. 

The story takes place in the 1960s so it’s known that there were a lot of diversity issues back then which this book encapsulates for readers to be enlightened of. 

Mimi, our protagonist, had a distinct and notable appearance as her mother was Japanese and her father was African-American which was bizarre or peculiar during the 1960s. This made her stand out and became the center of attention, but not really in a good way. 

As people’s curiosity grew and grew they asked a lot of questions that made Mimi uncomfortable and even questioned herself about her own identity. Some people didn’t want to do anything with her while other people asked her insensitive questions about her racial background and ethnicity which led her to be confused and overwhelmed by the situation. 

But still, with all the devastating situations Mimi has faced from suddenly moving to come face to face with racial issues, she still chose to look at the brighter side of things and move on with her goal which is to help make the world a better place. 

Mimi loved everything about Science, particularly space and the space program because it was during the 1960s when people were being brought into space and even the moon, and it was definitely a very exciting time for everyone and Mimi as well. 

Since she was a big fan of Science, she wanted to enter and compete in the Science Fair being held in her school at that time. She also wanted to use the school’s shop to help materialize and bring to life her vision for her science project but was told that girls were not allowed to do that which then hindered her from participating. 

She not only came face to face with racial issues in this book but also gender issues as well. She wanted to build but was told to learn how to cook. She wanted to create but was told to learn how to sew.

Her ventures to make the world a better place were always blocked mainly because of her racial profile and her gender as well, and this sends a strong signal of how opportunity is biased especially for kids coming from a background that is different from the predominant culture existing in the class. 

The story goes on with how Mimi tries to adjust to her new life and slowly make friends along the way. Mimi also had the chance to know herself and her parents as well on a deeper level especially about their culture and what they had to give up just to be together through thick and thin and build a family. 

If you’re curious to know how Mimi’s story unfolds, I highly suggest that you get yourself a copy asap. Let yourself take a look at life from a different lens in a different time in order to gain meaningful insights into life and humanity as well. 

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Conclusion

Uncovering the many benefits of diversity in the classroom will not only help students become successful later on in life, but it will also help them be more compassionate and kind-hearted individuals that will help make our world a better place. 

Where all are welcome, no matter your age, gender, race, culture, background, religion, socioeconomic status, or anything that makes one person different from another. After all, we are all humans living under the same sky, breathing the same air, and trying to survive in the same period of time. 

Education should be equal to all because education can help change the mentality and break the cycle of prejudice and preconceived notions that will hinder our society from evolving into the tomorrow that all of us await. 

What do you think are some of the other benefits of diversity in the classroom? I would love to hear your thoughts and insights about the subject matter, please sound off below! 

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