Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books

My sister told me that on her first day working at a summer camp she encountered a little boy who was enjoying his midday snack of a chocolate pudding cup. As all 5 year olds do, he ended up with an equal part of the pudding in his tummy and on his face. She politely told him that he had chocolate on his face, and he replied, “So! You have chocolate all over.” While what he said was {sort of} true, I remember thinking that my sister was probably one of the first African Americans that this young man had met. I often wondered how we can introduce kids to cultural diversity, when the social stakes are low– and I’m always brought back to the power of reading

Because of my continuous desire for this power, I spend countless hours in the library. When I’m in the library, I talk to complete strangers about the book they’re reading, the site they are on, or the activities that I think they should take their kids to. Every librarian knows my name and comments on how long its been since they’ve seen my son and I attend events.

I once read that students who have at least 100 books in their home build their literacy skills faster and stronger than those of their peers– I have run with that quote ever since. I currently have at least 250 books in my home, between my son and me. As our world has changed, I have realized the need to prepare my son for what he will face. Being a single mom, this can be challenging so I often rely on my first love– books. As we approach Black History Month, I want to share with you the list of books that we read to celebrate African American pioneers, embrace cultural diversity, and connect with our Nigerian heritage. Here’s a short list of the books that we have read, and I hope this will help you celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our country.

Houston Moms Blog "Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books" #momsaroundhouston #houstonmomsblog #reading #blackhistorymonthLove Will See You Through by Angela Farris Watkins

Reason to read :: This is a new perspective on how Martin Luther King’s fight for Civil  Rights can be used to help teach your children how to stand up for themselves and what they believe in. 

Synopsis :: This book is written by Martin Luther King’s niece, and gives 6 guiding beliefs on the value of the Golden Rule. This book and its positive ideals can be applied to any person, any age, at any time. 

Favorite Quote :: “Fight the problem, not the person who caused it.”

Houston Moms Blog "Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books" #momsaroundhouston #houstonmomsblog #reading #blackhistorymonth

Mae Among the Stars by Rhoda Amed 

Reason to Read :: This book uses poetic imagery to paint the picture of a girl with enough moxie to believe in the impossible. 

Synopsis :: STEM skills are going to be a necessity for our kids when they grow up. Most of the jobs  they will have probably have not even been created. This book tells the story of the first African American woman in space, and how she overcame the haters in her life to break down walls. 

Favorite Quote :: “Later she asked her dad, ‘But how do I become an astronaut?’ It seems impossible. You will find your way, Mae. Because if you dream it, believe in it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” 

Houston Moms Blog "Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books" #momsaroundhouston #houstonmomsblog #reading #blackhistorymonthLast Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

Reason to Read :: The only person that my son loves more than me is his grandma. I know we all can relate to that, so this book will pull your reluctant reader in as Nana takes CJ through the city and eventually to a place where he learns an important lesson about perspective. 

Synopsis :: CJ and his grandmother take a trip downtown to volunteer at a homeless shelter. All through the trip he finds something to complain about, and with maternal ease his grandmother finds a way for him to change his mindset and be grateful for what he has. 

Favorite Quote :: “CJ saw the perfect rainbow arcing over their soup kitchen. He wondered how is nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look.” 

 

Houston Moms Blog "Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books" #momsaroundhouston #houstonmomsblog #reading #blackhistorymonthEmmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Reason to Read :: There are few books that accurately portray African countries as places full of life where kids and families are similar to other kids around the world. In the story Emmanuel loses his father, gets bullied, and eventually lost his mother but perseveres to show the values that she instilled in him as a little boy. 

Synopsis :: This is a true story of a young man born with a physical disability. Despite this, he cycled 400 miles across Ghana to prove that disability does not mean inability.   

Favorite Quote :: “From her bed on Christmas Eve she told her son, “Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever bet. And don’t give up.”

Houston Moms Blog "Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books" #momsaroundhouston #houstonmomsblog #reading #blackhistorymonthHidden Figures {illustrated children’s novel} by Margot Lee Shetterly

Reason to Read :: The movie was such a powerful way to encourage girls of all ages that they are capable of doing hard things. Now you can continue the experience by reading the book.  I remember getting all the feels as I watched the movie. As a young girl, I remember repeatedly being told that I would not be good at math– and I believed it. This book is a great way to dispel that myth with girls from any ethnicity. 

Synopsis :: Four African American women used their skills with Math, Science, and Computers to help send our country into space. The book tells of all the obstacles they faced in a child-friendly way. 

Favorite quote :: “Tell me where you want his spaceship to land, and I’ll tell you where to launch it.”

Check out these other cultural diversity books that include important African American figures :: 


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Need more cultural diversity posts? Check out Houston Moms’ Diversity in Motherhood:: We All Love the Same series!

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2 Responses to Reading is Still Fundamental :: Teaching Cultural Diversity Through the Power of Books

  1. Avatar
    Chrystal February 11, 2019 at 10:49 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this!!! #futureteacher #june2014mom #homeschool

    • Ugochi
      Ugochi February 12, 2019 at 9:20 am #

      Good luck on your Mommy and Teacher journey– Those are 2 of my favorite roles!

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