Mem encourages children to embrace who they are regardless

Mem Fox is a bestselling author who has sold millions
of books worldwide. She lived her life as a literacy professor who taught and
developed teachers for many years. Her first book “Possum Magic,”
which was published in 1983, sold millions of copies. From that, she went on to
write “Whoever You Are,” a
children literature book illustrated by Leslie Staub. The book released in 1997
and aimed at celebrating the diversity in our world, and promoting inclusion
and acceptance. The book describes that
while people may look different, speak different, and their lives may not look
the same but inside we are alike. It breaks down barriers between people by
highlighting the similarities in the fundamental routines of individual’s daily lives. For example: we
all laugh and cry, we learn and we listen, and we sleep and we eat. This book
allows students to accept their differences while as well as recognize their
likeness to their peers and other members of society. Furthermore, the vivid
illustrations and vibrant colors display the many different cultures and
practices of people all over the world as well as captivate the student’s attention. The book presents
diversity in ethnicity, making the child feel as though they can relate to the
story and characters throughout. This would be a great way to start a lesson on
diversity and multiculturalism for young children because the book is easy to
read and the illustrations provided will help the children understand the many
different cultures in the world. It could be presented as a read alone;
however, a read aloud would be more engaging and allow students to collectively
understand the message the author is trying to get across via discussion about
their own personal background and culture.

Parr, T. (2001). It’s Okay to Be Different. New York: Scholastic Inc.

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Todd Parr is a New York Times bestselling author and
illustrator who has written and illustrated numerous children’s books.  Parr’s goal was to give children a “satisfying reading experience about acceptance,
differences and empowerment for kids to feel better about themselves in a
simple, fun way”.  It’s “Ok to Be Different,” published in 2001 celebrates celebrate the
differences in different people. It’s “Okay to Be Different” encourages children to embrace who they are
regardless of what is different about them, or whatever circumstances they may
face. Parr recognizes that people come in all different shapes and sizes, and
that these differences are what give people their sense of individuality. Parr
targets many different issues that may make someone feel different, such as
appearance, culture, feelings, and family structures. This book relates to a
variety of individuals and emphasizes to children that they are not inferior to
others because of their differences. Parr delivers an important message of
acceptance, understanding, and confidence in a child friendly format. The
illustrations featured are bold and bright and childlike makes it relatable to
children and easy to follow. This book will enhance a child’s emotional development and teach
children to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity.  An efficient way to share this reading with
young students would be to read aloud with the students, as they will be able
to look around at their classmates and appreciate the differences among them
that make them unique.

Beauvais, G., Webster, J. C., &
Jones, S. A. (2013). I Am Mixed. Stranger Kids.

I am mixed is a children’s book written by Sebastian A. Jones and Gracelle
Beauvais. The plot of this book portrays twins, Jay and his sister Nina who are
different skin tones. The story is told from the sides of each of the twins and
explores life through the eyes of a mixed-race child. The authors portray the
twins like any other children living a regular life and doing the same things
as other children, bringing a sense of relatability, yet still celebrating
their uniqueness. The illustrations created by Webber add a dimension of
vibrant colour and responsiveness to the text. This book would be great to have
in a classroom as classrooms are so diversified children will learn that its ok
to be different. “I am mixed” teaches children that although people come in all
different colours they are all similar in some way. It teaches children that
differences are what make them unique. With a simple age appropriate plot, this
book commemorates diversity making it a great read and useful resource.

Tyler, M., & Csicsko, D. L. (2016). The skin you
live in. Chicago, IL: Chicago Children’s 

A simple children’s picture book, written by Michael Tyler portrays
different boys and girls doing everyday things and feeling everyday ways. The
book incorporates poetry and rhyming patterns to deliver a message of social
acceptance to young readers. It is an easy book for young children to read as
well the pictures help deliver and emphasize the message. The “Skin You Live In” will help children understand that different skin
colours exist in the world and that not one is better than the other. The
author creates a sense of familiarity by comparing skin colour to a variety of
things such as; warm coca, spun sugar, lemon, and cinnamon, which removes the
dissimilarities amongst the students and their peers. Furthermore, by employing
this technique, Tyler makes it acceptable to be special and different. David
Lee Csicko’s
illustrations are bright and happy, capturing the children’s attention. Children have the
ability of going through the book and seeing other skin tones, and
understanding that skin colour is a part of who they are. This book would be
great for a read aloud as it would create an atmosphere of discussion with
children.

Yaccarino, D. (2011). All the way to America: the
story of a big Italian family and a little shovel. New York: Dragonfly Books.

“All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian
Family and a Little Shovel”, is a non-fiction children’s story book written and
illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.  Dan is a
famous author, and television producer, he has received recognition for his
illustrations, books and television series. The story book is an
autobiographical tale about great grandfathers’ journey to America. The story follows Dan’s family from generation to generation as well as a
shovel which his great father brought with him when immigrated to Canada. Many
young children have only a little idea of why and where their grandparents have
come from. This book allows children to think of where their family originates
from and will create a topic of discussion among the children as they learn
their classmates have come from all different parts of the world. Not only does
this book teach children of the sacrifices their families may have made while
also encouraging hard work. The shovel being passed down is to symbolize all
the hard work his ancestors did. The book is a simple read and the
illustrations are done right, to give visualization to the context. This read
aloud book could potentially create discussion between children and their peers
as well as their families, and help them appreciate and understand their own
cultures and the cultures around them. It will allow them to understand their
parents sacrifice and the sacrifice of the generations before.

Ulmer, M. (2001). M is for maple a Canadian alphabet.
Toronto: CNIB.

Published in 2001 by bestselling author and sports
writer Michael Ulmer, the picture book focuses on Canada’s rich history, culture, and people. This would be
beneficial in educating children on Canada’s deep history as well as important figures. It could
also be used as a tool to create a better understanding of Canadian culture and
customs. The book is written in an alphabetical format providing many
interesting points corresponding with the letter.  The book is suitable for all ages and will
give individuals a chance to connect with their roots. “M is For Maple” is a national bestselling book that is filled with
full colour illustrations. The picture book is easy to read and filled with
many poems. A book like this is essential in classroom filled of children from
different backgrounds as it gives them common ground in trying to build a
connection with their identity. Whether it be learning about Canada’s Aboriginal ancestors, or Canada’s favorite pastime, this book will educate and remind
students about Canadas rich and diverse history.

Singer,
M., & Cairns, J. (2011). A full moon is rising. New York: Lee &
Low Books.

Marilyn
Singer is an award-winning author who has written many children’s
books in a variety of genres. “A
Full Moon Rising” is a collection of poems
that describes how people around the world celebrate a full moon. This is a
great way to teach children about the different cultures and traditions around
the world, as well as in their own backyard. Informative and innovative, the
poems unite people by lyrically explaining celebrations and customs around the
world. The book is filled with pictures and illustrates a visual connection
between the moon and the customs. The book features the moons in different
places from America all the way to Africa giving the readers a variety of
different societies to learn about and explore. The book investigates the
different phases of the moon and provides some extra information regarding each
countries celebration. This easy to read book will help children in learning
about the different cycles of the moon, as well as create an opportunity for
discussion and appreciation for multiculturalism.

Choi,
Y (20010 The Name Jar, New York:  Alfred
A. Knopf publishing company,

            Yangsook Choi is an accomplished
writer who has received praise for her writings receiving awards from the
International Reading Association’s
Children’s Book Award. “The
Name Jar” by Choi is a children’s
picture-book that tells the story of a little girl whose language and cultural
differences create a disturbance in her new school environment. Huenhi is a
recent immigrant from Korea who is on her way to her first day in an American
class when revealing her name students begin to poke fun of her strange
sounding name. Huenhi just like any other kid just wants to fit in and decides
to let her classmates pick put a new name for her. As the story progresses
Huenhi learns the meaning behind her name, and learns to accept and be proud of
the culture she is from.  This book is a
good read aloud book as it raises questions and discussions of the different
names present in classroom, as well as exploring and appreciating the different
cultural and linguistic differences among students in a class.

Section III:
Description of some of the learning activities

i)    Magazine and article collection more so
those that deal with cultural diversity

Children
love color, images and physical activities that are gelled in the learning
process. Thus, the kids in grade one and two will have an amazing time creating
a poster collection from magazines and articles. The essence of the activity is
to showcase the multicultural characteristic of the world and how people
co-exist harmoniously despite coming from different cultures. Teachers will be
expected to communicate to the children in advance on the essentials of the
classes. The children will then present their classroom needs to their parents
who will provide the necessary magazines and articles such that each child will
have his or her own study material with a unique culture. The teacher will also
provide some standard magazines as per the Alberta Program of Studies.  Together the children will clip various
sections that represent culture and diversity as per the instructions of the
teacher. This can be done either individually or in groups depending on the
teachers` preference and the stage of the children.

ii)    Poem, Picture and Book collection on
multiculturalism

The
activity will aim to create awareness of the existence of different cultures as
required by the Alberta Program of Studies. Through the teachers` supervision,
the children will participate in collection activities where they will be
required to collect poems, pictures, books and other visuals that represent
different cultures.  The whole adventure
is in collecting the poems, images and pictures which will help create
awareness. The Alberta Program of Studies advocates for group activities more
so for children in lower grades in a bid to reduce their egocentrism and
advocate for active socialization (Spodek & Saracho, 2014). The children
will participate in the activities as groups and will be required to describe
their pieces and what they stand for. 
The poems collected should be inspired and based on the children`s
backgrounds implying they should be assisted by their parents in selecting
appropriate poems, pictures and pieces. 
This will help educate the children from an early age and consequently
make them aware of the existence of multiple cultures.

iii)    Children Plays

The
Alberta Program of multiculturalism focuses on the need for embracing and
celebrating diversity in school. June is set as the National Aboriginal Month, as
a result, it would be appropriate to organize and plan for plays and artistic
contests to appreciate diversity, more so during the month. This will be an
opportunity for the Canadian children to appreciate diversity and the various
contributions of Metis, First Nations and Inuit through the month-long
activities. The plays will be well structured to not only entertain but also
educate students on the need for diversity and accommodation throughout Canada,
and Alberta. What is more, the teachers are expected to lead the children in
rehearsals and ensure the children are well distributed in balanced groups that
advocate for diversity and cultural appreciation. Thus, the children will learn
to appreciate the value of culture and its richness not only in school but the
entire society.

iv)    Learning Songs and recitations

Children
learn through songs and recitations which highlights the importance of adding
song learning sessions as part of the learning curriculum. The first step will
be pairing up children in different groups based on their respective cultural
backgrounds whereby all the children whether Metis, First Nations or Inuit are
perfectly integrated. Also, children from other cultures should be integrated
and represented accordingly such that the learning activities are completely inclusive.
The children will then participate in learning activities through a continuous
recitation process that will oversee each of the groups learning new songs and
recitations about the other groups such that in the end, all children will have
learnt a new song or piece from a new culture. The importance of such an
activity is to create the much-required multicultural awareness and interest
for the children such that they become interested in learning and appreciating
foreign cultures as a way of life.

v)    Multicultural calendars and journals

Children
learn best when given a plan on what to expect to learn. Additionally, journals
and diaries make learning easier for children since they can write down or draw
personal accounts of their experiences and what they have learnt. Thus, having
a multicultural calendar and journal will help boost the learning process as
the children will understand what is required of them. Additionally, the
Canadian learning guide reiterates that teachers should always capitalize on
the excitement of children and take advantage of such opportunities to educate
children. Therefore, in regards to cultural education, it will be appropriate
to set up exiting calendars that will cheer up children and have them excited
to learn more about culture and diversity. The essence of journals is to help
children record the important details that would otherwise be easily forgotten
due to their low concentration spans. Teachers should encourage the children to
write down or draw the most exciting details they see or what they learn. This
will greatly assist in the learning process.

vi)    Bring your parents to school days

In
as much as it might sound far-fetched, it is one of the most reliable and
effective ways of educating children and developing their interests in
diversity studies. When parents come to schools, children get to see their role
models interact and talk about their experiences. Consequently, this will get
the children excited and create a much-required urge to learn more about
different cultures and diversities. It is critical to note that children are
easy to impress and thus, it is necessary to tag parents along occasionally to
spice up the learning environment and make the children warm to learning new
ideologies about new different cultures (Henniger, 2017). Moreover, the
presence of the parents will also play a pivotal role in boosting the
children`s curiosity and interest in culture since they will see a different
side to the normal sides they are used to seeing of their parents at home. What
is more, tagging parents to school also helps the children understand that
other children`s parents also have interesting stories too.

vii)    Coloring and painting activities

Children
are fascinated by colors and are often more interested in drawing and painting
activities than learning through reading. The aim of the painting and coloring
activities is to enhance the interest of the children in understanding the
various aspects of culture and diversity. This means that in the long run it
will be possible for the children to paint different cultural objects as well
as maps which will help boost their understanding of the topic. For instance,
children can be divided into different groups and requested to participate in
painting historical monuments, maps, roads, oceans or even trees as long as the
paintings have a cultural value. Consequently, this makes it possible for the
children to understand different backgrounds and the fact that it is important
to accommodate diversity in the school work. Children can paint personal objects
while in groups which will be showcased in class to allow for all children to
view and identify the objects.

viii)    Storytelling

Storytelling
is an important part of educating children. As mentioned earlier in the course
syllabuses for children, children have very limited concentration spans. The
Alberta Education program advocates for children friendly education plans for
children in the early childhood stage. Multicultural and diversity studies
should be taught in a fun way that enhances excitement and joy for the children
(Bredekamp, 2016). Once the class is the fun, the children are bound to learn
and want to know more about the topic. Thus, it is essential for teachers to
involve the children in storytelling activities that will boost interest levels
of the children. The teachers can be the storytellers, or they can have guest
speakers to tell stories in a captivating manner to the children. This will
make the lessons memorable and leave children excited and yearning for more.
Furthermore, having storytelling sessions will enable teachers to tackle
different aspects of a story depending on the curriculum.

ix)    Outdoor lessons

The
beauty of taking children for tours is that it does not have to be to the exact
location. Showing a child, a tree and giving a simple explanation of the
importance of the tree could go a long way in changing his or her perception of
the tree. Thus, the cultural studies and classes that require outdoor classes
should be held outdoors. Not only will this help sink in the information taught
but it will also help in giving a practical appeal to the children. Thus, it is
important to have some classes outdoors, more so the classes where the children
can interact with other children from different classes in a bid to understand
the classes better. Therefore, having outdoor lessons could prove highly
effective as a learning activity, especially when it involves the use of simple
objects like the sun, the wind, trees or even soil in describing cultural
aspects.

x)    Oral question and answers

Children
love answering questions they know answers to; and because of this, it is
important to involve the children in both regular and random question and
answer activities (Gonzalez-Mena, 2013). Issues on diversity and
multiculturalism should be taught in a gradual and open manner that will enable
the children to appreciate the lessons while learning as well. Consequently, at
the grade one and two level, teachers should challenge children to discuss in
groups in preparation for quizzes on the topics they discussed on. Discussing
the topics in groups helps make the classes fun and increases the efficiency of
the classes since the children can learn more about diversity from the group.
After the group discussions, the teachers can take the next step of oral
quizzes which will help increase interaction of the children as well as
enhancing socialization and the appreciation of diversity. In the long run, the
children will understand the importance of respecting diversity and its
relevance in everyday life.