Teaching Children About Self-Acceptance and Diversity
A Lovely Book About Diversity
“Live your life, sing your song. Not full of expectations. Not for the ovations. But for the joy of it.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
Teaching our children about diversity and accepting differences is a passion for us. We believe that when we do we not only create a more loving world, we also learn to accept our own differences. What makes us unique is something to celebrate not something to criticize. Books are a wonderful way to expose children to people who are different from them, to introduce them to the concept of acceptance. We found a book that the children gravitate to and want to read again and again.
“What is lovely?” asks newcomer Hong at the outset of a book that celebrates seeing the beauty in everyone. She answers her own question by introducing a cavalcade of individuals young and old, with an emphasis on the individual. “Lovely is different,” she writes as a girl with heterochromia (differently colored eyes) looks at herself in the mirror. A young white woman in a Goth ensemble represents “black,” while a brown-skinned woman with flowing white hair and a garland of flowers signifies “white.”
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Lovely by Jess Hong Curriculum Guide
- Connect with literature.
- Teaching children about diversity.
- Empathy: Help children understand what it means to consider other people’s feelings.
- Tolerance: Encouraging children to show kindness and acceptance towards themselves and others.
- Inclusion: Learning ways in which we can be inclusive, no matter our differences.
We made a curriculum guide for Lovely by Jess Hong that is packed with activities that celebrate self-acceptance and diversity.
We started with some discussion questions:
- Have you ever had a friend who is different?
- Have you ever felt different? Was that a positive or negative experience? Why?
- How can you show a friend that you love/like them just the way they are?
- How can you help a friend be included?
- How does it feel when you are included in a group?
- Have you ever seen anyone being treated unfairly because they are different?
Activities That Teach About Diversity
- Play I love My Neighbor: Seat the children in a circle. Have them take turns saying, “I love my neighbor because….” About the person to their left.
- Play If You Really Knew Me: Again, Seat the children in a circle. Have them take turns saying, “If you really knew me…” and have them share something about themselves. Discuss with the children about what they learned about each other. Were there any surprises?
- Do the Crack an Egg Demonstration: Bring eggs with different colored shells. Have the children observe how they look different. Then crack the eggs. Do they look different on the inside? Explain how this relates to people, too.
- Step Forward to the Finish Line: Have some students line up on one side and choose another child to be the volunteer on the other side. Put a line or marker between them. Instruct the children to give the volunteer compliments about traits that are special about that person. For every compliment, the student takes one step closer to the line until s/he has crossed it. Repeat with as many students are in the class.
- Share What We Have in Common: Have the students bring three of their favorite items in a bag. Then have them share what they brought to share. Talk about why those items are important to each child. Compare and discuss how some the items the children brought to share are different and how some are the same.
- Make a Self-Esteem Mirror: Have the children make a mirror surrounded with words about what makes them special.
Pictures Reproduced with Permission From Creston Books
Printable Coloring Pages and Worksheets:
- Dabbles and Babbles: Faces coloring page.
- EduPics: Coloring page of children from all over the world.
- Keep Your Child Safe: Multi-cultural flowers coloring page.
- Popping Wheelies: has a variety of coloring pages on the topic of children with special needs.
Resources for Inclusion and Diversity Lessons:
- West Virginia University Inclusion Activities: A great list of activities educators can do with groups of children.
- Penn State: A Collection of Ice Breakers Designed to Start Conversations about Diversity.
- Eastern Kentucky University: Printable Diversity Posters
- Tolerance.org: Mix It Up at Lunch Day activities that present a great, low-stakes opportunity for students to engage with one another and cross some common social boundaries.
You can download the full, free Lovely Diversity Curriculum Guide with standards and more!
About Jess Hong:
Jess Hong is an illustrator based in Oakland, CA. She specializes in children's book illustration and all that is silly. She studied and received a BFA in illustration at the Academy of Art. She is fond of cats, noodles, and fine cheeses.
Jess creates her digital illustration work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. For traditional mediums, she uses watercolor and ink.
About Creston Books:
Creston Books fills the void left behind by the major New York publishers who no longer put out a broad range of quality picture books. The golden age of picture books, when fine books were edited and published despite not being blockbusters, does not have to be over. Creston Books is author/illustrator driven, with talented, award-winning creators given more editorial freedom and control than in a typical New York house. "We work hard to promote every book we print, not just the few we think will sell the best."