Living abroad and teaching in an international school setting has been a truly rich and mind opening experience. Surrounded by people from different corners of this world makes one appreciative of diverse cultures, traditions, languages, but also aware of the importance of staying connected to his/her own 'roots'. The longer I live in this context the more I understand the concept of identity in terms of cultural background.
As a teacher librarian I strongly believe and advocate for sharing stories about identity, individuality, self affirmation and ethnic pride as they play an important role in nurturing young children's sense of belonging especially of the ones living in a multicultural environment.
Have you heard the metaphor: Books are windows, mirrors and sliding doors? This expression applies to every reader no matter the age, to every book no matter the genre, and goes beyond the topics I am focusing on in this post. As windows books open the reader's view to the world. As mirrors books allow readers to see their "reflection" in the characters in the story and relate to them. And finally as sliding doors they allow the reader to enter the world on the other side of the page, fully engage and even get inspired to make a change.
Books are windows, mirrors and sliding doors.
Here are some of my favorite stories I have been sharing with my students, books that fill out my shelves and promote diversity, self affirmation, respect towards self and others, authenticity, pride and self affirmation.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
This is an uplifting story that celebrates sibling love but also highlights resilience in moments of unkindness based on stereotypes and closed mindset as well as being proud of your identity.
Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz
Leila doesn't like her reflection in the mirror. Her lovely grandmother comforts her with saffron beads and shows her that they really suit her. Leila finds the way of being comfortable with who she is thanks to her grandma.
Marvelously illustrated story of self discovery.
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
I fell in love with the cover and title of this book. This is powerful story about self-love, self acceptance and celebration of uniqueness. The beautiful little girl on the cover realizes she has a different look from her peers but she finds her beauty and uniqueness in the look of her mother and grandmother.
Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim
Little Danbi is moving to America. She is excited about her first day of school but she faces silence and staring in her new classroom. That doesn't discourage Danbi to bring her imagination to live and build a bridge between two cultures.
Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color
A lyrical story of how biracial and multicultural children could form their own identity.
The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson
A story that celebrates diversity that sometimes can cause silence when you just walk in to a room. Sometimes it will be silent but there will be times when someone else would be waiting to meet someone like you to share his/her story.
Saffron ice Cream by Rashin
Rashin lives in a new country and she is overly excited about heading out to the beach with her family. She loves her new home but she keeps her old one in her heart and memories.