Diversity and Inclusion Book Recommendations

The Seattle Children’s Museum continues to work towards creating a welcoming, inclusive space for our community and families. As an institution supporting the development of early learners and their caregivers, we aspire to being an accessible, relevant resource for all young children in our communities, offering teachable moments that launch deeper conversations and understanding of self and others, and positively impact each child’s lived experiences. This includes issues of systemic racial injustice, individual prejudice, and inequity. The fact is, young children are exposed to these issues and impacted on a daily basis, right alongside their adults. Take a moment to examine those experiences in a way that feels safe and productive with your young child. Real moments, whether they seem big or small at the time, help shape our understanding of the world we live in, ourselves, and our role in our community. Look for ways to empower and affirm while reflecting. We hope the resources and activities provided here offer some options for at home experiences around privilege, equity and empathy. Stay tuned as we continue sharing and developing resources. 

SCM offers monthly theme-based and daily programs. As a part of your community, SCM educators provide opportunities for young children and caregivers to engage and explore big ideas in a supportive environment. Whether imbedded or explicit, those topics include social injustice, racism and issues of equity. Our goal is to create an inclusive, culturally relevant environment that supports early learners’ social and emotional development, a positive sense of self and community. We hope these suggestions help young children exercise their social justice muscles, practice empathy and critical thinking at home, and in their community. Try these activities as a stand-alone, a follow up to a family discussion, witnessed incident or question from your child.  

Books for Kids about Race, Equity and Social Justice

  • Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness, Anastasia Higginbotham
  • A is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara
  • Something Happened in Our Town, Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
  • Don’t Touch My Hair!, Sharee Miller
  • The Youngest Marcher, Cynthia Levinson
  • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, Read Aloud with Andrea Davis Pinkney: Here
  • Ghost Boys, Jewel Parker Rhodes
  • We Troubled the Waters, Ntozake Shange
  • Undefeated, Kwame Alexander
  • Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, Edwidge Danticat and Leslie Staub
  • The Wedding Portrait , Innosanto Nagara
  • Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Freedom on the Menu Read Aloud with Carole Boston Weatherford: Here
  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  • I Have a Dream: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kadir Nelson
  • Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jean Marzollo
  • I am Rosa Parks, Brad Meltzer
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles, Read Aloud: Here
  • Barbed Wire Baseball, Marissa Moss

Books of Joy and Affirmation

  • Sulwe, Lupita Nyong’o
  • My Hair is a Garden, Cozbi A. Cabrera
  • Jabari Jumps, Gaia Cornwall
  • I Am Enough, Grace Byers
  • Leo Can Swim, Anna McQuinn
  • Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
  • Derrick Barnes
  • Mixed Me!, Taye Diggs
  • Chocolate Me!, Taye Diggs
  • Full, Full, Full of Love, Trish Cooke
  • Max and the Tag-Along Moon, Floyd Cooper
  • Early Sunday Morning, Denene Millner
  • A Dance Like Starlight, Kristy Dempsey
  • Julian is a Mermaid, Jessica Love
  • Ada Twist, Scientist, Andrea Beaty
  • The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  • Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry
  • The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop, Carole Boston
  • Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold
  • The Proudest Blue: the Story of Hijab and Family, Ibtihaj Muhammad
  • Think Big, Little One, Vashti Harrison
  • Drawn Together, Minh Le
  • Dreamers, Yuyi Morales
  • The Name Jar, Yangsook Choi
  • You Matter, Christian Robinson
  • Read by the author online: Here
  • Same Difference, read aloud by the author, Calida Raules Here

Other Resources

  • Black Lives Matter: Instructional Library: Here
  • BLM Instructional Library, Books read aloud for you: Here
  • PBS, SoCal: Here
  • KUOW/NPR article: Here
  • NPR Interview with Michel Martin and Jennifer Harvey; Here
  • Center for Racial Justice in Education: Here
  • Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race, a Resource Round Up: Here
  • Center for Racial Equity, Seattle Education Association: Here
  • American Library Association: Here
  • Coretta Scott-King Book Awards: Here
  • How to Get Free E Books from Your Library: Here
  • Schools Out Washington: Here

Equity, Race and Social Justice, At-Home Activities to Try: 

The at home activities provided are inspired by our educator-led exhibit imbedded programs at SCM. Adapt these suggestions as needed for your circumstance, your child’s interest, questions and emerging responses. These activities address big ideas about inequality, power and resource hoarding or sharing. Young children are acutely aware of the concept of fairness, and are actively forming values around personal and collective responsibility, equity and access. SCM educators receive overwhelmingly positive feedback and support when leading experiences that explore young children’s developing understanding of these issues. That said, children often experience cognitive dissonance and may be temporarily unhappy when experiencing unequal access to resources. You know your child best, and we encourage you to support their struggle to remain engaged in an uncomfortable moment. Listen as they talk through their feelings, and encourage them to stick with the moment. Putting words to an experience and sharing it helps us understand that experience differently. Switching up who gets more or less will allow children to practice empathy.   

At SCM, we often get the conversation going with a favorite book. –You can find many our staff recommend right here.  Where possible, we’ve included links to books read aloud by the authors themselves or an authorized organization. 

What is the Difference between Equality and Equity? 

This is a simple activity for participants of all ages and stages to use their bodies to experience the importance of equity.  

Materials Needed:

  • Small, desirable object, such as a toy, one for each person
  • String and secure rod, such as a shower curtain or window curtain rod
  • Sturdy step stools, crates, or other objects for participants to stand on
  • Equity infographic, as reference

What To Do:

Set up the objects at the same height, but so only one person can reach them. Each person stands under an object, and tries to reach theirs. Can they? How else could they try to reach the object? All the toys are at an equal height, but not everyone can reach that height. Explain that when everything is “the same”, but not everyone can actually access it, then equal still isn’t fair.

  • How does it feel to be the shortest person, and not able to reach the toy?
  • What if you were a person with another kind of barrier, such as in a wheel chair, or an arm in a sling?
  • How could you make access to the toys fair for everyone?

Break out the boxes, step ladders etc. Allow participants to reach the toys. Begin a family discussion of ways we can become more aware of whether everyone is really getting the same opportunities.

Taking a Seat at the Table, Food Security and Economic Injustice  

At SCM, educators lead this activity in The Market exhibit space. You can try this activity using your kitchen cabinets and pantry as the space for “shopping”. This activity works well with more than one child participating.

Materials Needed:

  1. A different sized grocery or canvas bag for each person (using smaller bags highlights the constraints)
  2. Access to kitchen cabinets or pantry, boxed food and canned goods, or play food items
  3. Download Choose My Plate graphic https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/myplate-graphic-resources

What To Do:

Participants are each given a shopping bag or basket, and told they are each in charge of planning a special meal for the group. They are only able to get as many items as they can fit into the bag.

Before going through the cupboards or pantry, talk together about how each person feels about the bag they were given to use.

  • Do they think they can choose what they need to make their meal?
  • How hard or easy is it to plan a balanced meal, depending on which bag you get?
  • What else do you want to put in your bag that you don’t have room for?
  • How does it feel to have to choose between two things you really want, or even two things you really need?

Talk with your kids about how your family makes choices, and how sometimes those choices can be really hard.

Switch up the bags so everyone has a turn with different sizes.

  • What if a family has to choose between food and rent?
  • What ideas do you have that would make this game fair for everyone?
  • How can our family help in the community to make things fair for everyone?

Dots Not Fair 

This activity can inspire rich conversation with and between children, especially if they have some experience with each other already. –Heads up, sibling rivalry may rear its head, but if you are willing to talk kids through their feelings, and each person gets to experience all the roles, it’s a great way to encourage empathy. This activity goes well with discussions about segregation, Jim Crow, red lining and other exclusionary practices. We like to read Freedom on the Menu, the Youngest Marcher, I Am Rosa Parks, and Something Happened in Our Town. 

Materials Needed:

  • Sheets of 3-4 different colored adhesive dots for each child, or for a large group, creating small groups of kids with the same color dot
  • Lots of toys

What To Do:

  1. Suggest a new set of rules for play time, for the next half hour or so. You know your kids best, so gauge how they respond to this challenge, encouraging them to express their feelings of frustration as they work through the moment.
  2. Put colored dots on each of the toys kids will be able to play with for this time period. Use more of one color of dot than others. Example, lots of green dots, a little less blue dots, and very few red dots. For older kids, you can level up by deliberately placing different colored dots on related toys. A child might be able to play with the cars, but not have access to the toy garage, or be able to play with the Legos, but not the people or gears.
  3. Each child is assigned a color of dot. Explain that for this play time, each person can only play with the toys that have a colored dot that matches theirs. Watch their responses and help kids find words to express how this is or isn’t working for them.
  4. Older kids will sometimes offer trade, give away or join their play together so things will be fair. If this happens, encourage this approach, and talk about how it feels to have less, or how it feels to share, while kids are playing together. Sometimes kids will ask to use a toy, sometimes they will grab. Support their non-physical attempts to “level the playing field”. Helping young children express big feelings with words is key to social/emotional development. Try to keep the experience productive, even if it’s uncomfortable by helping them find their words, listen to each other, and respectfully work together.
  • How does it feel to be the person with so much less to play with?
  • How does it feel to have a lot of toys to play with? Can you notice how someone else feels?
  • What can you do, if you are the person with more than anyone else?
  • What can you build, create, imagine together, that you might not be able to do on your own?

Resource Images