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  • Heather Pawelkiewicz

The Importance of Diversity in Your Child's Library


Diversify your bookshelf.

Getting ready for the arrival of a baby is a very exciting time for everyone involved. You pick out the crib, bedding, car seat, stroller, high chair, swing, clothing, Our First Year backpack, and many other adorable necessities. But, please, don't forget about the books!


The Our First Year Team has discussed the importance of reading numerous times in our blog posts in order to foster language development, bonding, and attention with your little one. When I was pregnant with my first child, one of my friends organized a baby shower, where each guest was asked to bring a book to fill baby's library. This was a great idea, for when my son was born, we had plenty of books from which to choose and incorporate into his evening routine.


When buying books for our children, we do tend to purchase ones in which the main character is of the same ethnic background; in other words, a character that resembles our own child. There is research from the University of Toronto, which suggests that racial bias may actually begin in babies at six months of age. "Six- to nine-month-old babies begin to associate faces from their own race with happy music and those from other races with sad music" (study found in Developmental Science). "In the second study, researchers found that babies as young as six months were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race, rather than from an adult of a different race" (study found in Child Development).


So, what can we do as parents? Increase exposure, and an easy way to do this is through books. We found these Instagram accounts to be particularly helpful in choosing which books to add to your child's library: @hereweeread @book.nerd.mommy @thereadingninja @theconsciouskid @blackbabybooks @readyourworldmcbd @dadsuggests These are just a few; feel free to contact us with other helpful sites.


Another great Instagram account to follow is @booksbylg. Lawrence Gordon is a father, husband, friend, and author who promotes fathers reading to children. He has story time on his Facebook every Tuesday at 6:30 (where he reads and asks meaningful questions to encourage deep thinking and conversation) and has children guest readers every Wednesday. For more information, please visit his website at www.booksbylg.com


And, because we are lifelong learners, I've included some Bookstagram accounts for the adults: @spinesvines (the name alone is enough to make me want to follow; books and wine!) @aysha_reads @ideallyinspiredreviews @aviva_writes @ _wolfandmoon (the coffee and croissants in her photos!) @bookshelvesandpaperbacks @reggiereads @theguywiththebook


The Our First Year challenges you to make your child's bookshelf more diverse. It is just as important for our children to see diversity in the heroes of the books, as it is to see someone that looks like them. They need to understand that any child, from any background, can be the hero of the story. And often times, they will find that they actually have more in common than not.

Happy reading!


"Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else's shoes for a while." -Malorie Blackman


#diversity #ourfirstyear #bookstagrams #readingwithyourchild #diversebooks #educationmatters

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