Friends, this season has been so intense, so heavy, so confronting and so deeply important for me, perhaps you’re feeling the same? The importance for me as a Mum (and ex-pat) is ensuring that I am having age-appropriate conversations discussing diversity, covert racism, inclusion, equity, and what we can do as a family.
Through these past couple of weeks, I have intentionally examined my own privilege, fragility, lack of understanding, and previous ways of thinking. I am humbled and I am listening. I am learning, I am growing. I am repenting and I am lamenting.
When my daughter Ainslie asks me “Mum, what did you do / think in 2020?” I want to be able to share with her how I grew, what we spoke about, and how we took action in addressing racism, adding diversity into our daily lives, and challenging inequitable ideologies. I want her to know that I did something.
The more I parent, the more I realise that I have to be aware of the ‘both/and’ in many circumstances — Barbies and beautiful dolls in all shapes, colours, and sizes adorn her room. Becoming a parent is a daily decision to adopt or release a lot of the generational and societal ideologies I was raised with and in.
This week, I looked through the books that we have at home. I am not perfect, but we have tried to balance the stories of princesses, understanding feelings, girls being scientists, and a diversity of characters in stories. However, I realised that I had work to do and I could become even more inclusive.
I hopped online (I’d also encourage you to visit your libraries when they open) and also support local bookstores if they’re open as well. I have linked to an Australian based online bookstore for ease of reviewing.
Here are the 10 books we’ve loved reading and have also added to our library:
“Follow one day in the real lives of seven kids from around the world—Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia!”
“Loved the diversity of Australian animals and the illustrations are beautiful.“
“A simple story for the very young that tracks the amazing migration of turtles featuring vibrant Indigenous artwork by Balarinji.”
“Great basic worlds for kids + beautiful illustrations“
“A perfect read-aloud story which revels in the kaleidoscopic colours of the Australian landscape featuring Indigenous art by Balarinji.”
“What can you see? Follow the clues that landscape, seasons, weather, the stars, the moon and the sun give to navigate bush tracks and find the Australian animal.”
“Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.”
A really beautiful story about the connection to ourselves and pride in ourselves. Ainslie really enjoyed it and the illustrations are gorgeous.
“Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.”
“Skin Like Mine is a fun, easy-to- read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry.”
“No matter how you start your day, What you wear when you play, Or if you come from far away, All are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome.”
Ainslie loved this one growing up.
“From two of the most gifted picture book creators of our time, here is a celebration of babies and the joy they bring to everyone, everywhere, all over the world!”
Ainslie really loves this one now at age 6.
“Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of colour, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. Not afraid of failure, she embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery.“
I’d love to know what your favourite books are? Leave a comment below.