Fostering Acceptance: Picture Books about Identity that Inspire Open-Mindedness
Are you looking for an impactful and meaningful way to teach your students about identity in the classroom? Stories about identity are an excellent way to help your students explore their own identities, learn to respect the culture and experiences of their classmates, and develop empathy for others who are different from them.
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Self-Esteem Boosting Picture Books About Identity
With an ever-changing societal landscape, it is important to foster an inclusive environment in the classroom.
Picture books about identity explore race, gender, and culture. These books help students build understanding and celebrate the unique identities in your classroom.
From characters representing a range of genders, nationalities, and cultures to stories discussing family dynamics, body image and self-confidence, the potential for teaching about identity is vast.
These stories about identity help children foster empathy and understanding, which improves mental health and give them the confidence to express and be proud of their unique identities.
Why Read Picture Books About Identity?
Picture books open the door to important conversations about cultural backgrounds, foster meaningful connections between students, and help your students become open-minded and tolerant of others.
These stories about identity help open up conversations about what it means to be unique and special and how everyone has something valuable to offer. Reading about similar characters who face the same challenges sends a message to your students that they are not alone.
Benefits of Reading Stories About Identity
Reading picture books about identity in the classroom has several benefits for teachers and students:
Promotes self-awareness: Picture books about identity help students develop self-awareness by encouraging them to think about who they are and what makes them unique.
Fosters empathy and understanding: Stories about identity help students develop empathy and understanding towards others with different experiences or identities.
Encourages diversity and inclusivity: By exposing students to different types of identities and diverse representations of people, stories about identity promote diversity and inclusivity.
Provides opportunities for discussion: Picture books about identity provide opportunities for classroom discussions about important issues such as diversity, stereotypes, and discrimination. These discussions help students develop and become more informed and compassionate individuals.
Builds literacy skills: Reading stories about identity helps students develop literacy skills such as reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking.
Questions to Pair With Picture Books About Identity
- What makes you who you are?
- Do you choose your identity?
- What can influence your identity?
- Can your identity change over time?
- Can other people influence our identity?
- Can parts of your identity be similar or different to other people?
- What happens when we view someone negatively because they are different from us?
- Why is an open mind important when talking about the identity of others?
- Why is it important to read books with people and characters similar to you?
- Why is it important to read books with people and characters different from you?
- How similar/different are you to the characters/people in this book?
- How do you feel when you read about characters who are similar to you?
- Do the author and illustrator show the identities of the characters in a respectful way?
- Do you notice any stereotypes in the story or illustrations? (Race, gender, economic, age, etc.)
- What did this story and the characters teach you about people’s identities?
- Why did some characters stand up for/protest for parts of their identity that some people view negatively?
Picture Books About Identity
Alte Zachen: Old Things by Ziggy Hanaor
Benji and his grandmother, Bubbe Rosa, prepare for Shabbat by strolling around New York. Old, irritable, and slightly disoriented, Bubbe Rosa's shopping trip triggers a mixture of pleasant and painful memories from her childhood in Germany.
Bubbe Rosa's experiences remind us of the enduring bonds of family and the vital role our past plays in shaping our present identity.
Amma's Sari by Sandhya Parappukkaran
This is the first of two picture books about identity by Sandhya Parappukkaran. Shreya grapples with embarrassment over her mother's traditional sari. Yet, as Amma explains the significance of the sari, Shreya learns to embrace her cultural roots while navigating the broader world outside her immigrant family's home.
Amma's Sari initiates discussions around acceptance, cultural identity, and the value of curiosity. It encourages students to respect diverse cultures and reminds us that our cultural heritage is fundamental to who we are.
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Follow young Vanessa, who struggles with fitting in at her new school due to her bold outfit and long name. A heartwarming conversation with her mother inspires her to embrace her unique identity, leading to newfound confidence and friendships.
Becoming Vanessa fosters discussions on self-esteem, individuality, identity, self-expression, and the art of making fr