Children’s Books that Showcase Canadian Multiculturalism

Reading together is a good way to have open and meaningful discussions about diversity with your child.

Different: A Children’s Picture Book About Diversity and Kindness by Sharon Purtill

Author Sharon Purtill
Illustrator Sujata Saha
Author Sharon Purtill / Illustrator Sujata Saha

Every child is unique, whether they are big or small, short or tall, like to swim, dance, sing or bike. Perhaps they have a special need or are from a different ethnic background. Maybe they wear glasses or speak differently. The truth is that all children are different, and their individuality should be celebrated, not shunned. This inspiring and brightly illustrated rhyming picture book does just that.

By highlighting the ways kids are different from one another, Purtill helps children learn to accept themselves and others as beautifully unique individuals. It’s OK to be Different encourages kids to be kind and befriend those who are different from themselves, showing young children that they don’t have to look alike or enjoy doing the same activities to be kind to one another.

I am Canada: A Celebration by Heather Patterson

Author Heather Patterson
Author Heather Patterson

Ever wonder what being a Canadian kid is all about?

Through simple texts and inspirational poetry Patterson describes the freedom children in this country have to grow, dream and share. With artwork from 13 of Canada’s finest illustrators, each page is a celebration and a reminder of the infinite variety of our home and native land, highlighting Canada’s diversity in a very special way.

My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić

Author and Illustrator Dušan Petričić
Author and Illustrator Dušan Petričić

A young boy traces his ancestry from his great-great-grandparents to his present-day family. As in every family, there is more than one side to the story. From front to back, follow along as the boy links the relatives on his dad’s side. Then, from back to front, begin again as the boy links the relatives on his mother’s side.

This mini-lesson in genealogy explores how generations can be connected, reflected through the illustrations of recurring inherited physical traits among family members.

In Lucia’s Neighbourhood by Pat Shewchuk

Author Pat Shewchuk
Illustrator Marek Colek
Author Pat Shewchuk
Illustrator Marek Colek

A little girl’s observations of her community have been adapted by the award-winning team of Shewchuk and illustrator Marek Colek from their animated short film Montrose Avenue.

Lucia takes readers on a day-long tour of her bustling city neighborhood, commenting on all the people and activities that she encounters along the way. Intergenerational and multicultural, her busy neighbors are seen going to school, tending gardens, opening shops, practicing Tai Chi and visiting with each other on their porches.

This book serves a dual purpose as both a terrific read-aloud and a resource for information. The content aligns with the elementary social studies curriculum and invites all kinds of discussions about who and what make up a community.

French Toast by Kari-Lynn Winters

Author Kari-Lynn Winters
Illustrator François Thisdale
Author Kari-Lynn Winters / Illustrator François Thisdale

Phoebe, the daughter of a white French-Canadian mother and a Jamaican English-speaking father, dislikes her school nickname of French Toast.

Gently prompted by her blind grandmother, she uses descriptions of familiar foods from both cultures to explain the family’s varied skin colors and realizes she can take ownership of the nickname proudly.

Winters cleverly uses descriptions of favorite foods from both sides of Phoebe’s family to celebrate their varied skin tones.

Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo

Author Kari-Lynn Winters
Illustrator François Thisdale
Author Kari-Lynn Winters
Illustrator François Thisdale

Moe’s neighbours on Wishbone Street come from all over the world. She’s excited to meet the new boy who just arrived from Syria. Sami isn’t quite ready to talk about his past, but he loves birds just as much as Moe. And who wouldn’t have fun in a parkette full of packing snow?

When the children discover a female cardinal stunned by the cold, Sami uses his experience taking care of pigeons in Syria to help rescue the bird — an incident that helps Sami to feel more at home.

In Birds on Wishbone Street, the author demonstrates the power of an act of kindness, telling a story about finding home and making friends in new places.

Illustrated with her signature polymer clay art, the story revisits characters from Del Rizzo’s New York Times book “Notable My Beautiful Birds” and reminds us that we’re all more similar than we are different.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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