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[Bio] Diversity in picture books

Representation matters because it shapes how minorities view themselves and how they are viewed by society.

Outdoor educators often use picture books as part of their practice when working with young children. At home my picture books represent all kinds of people and families, it's a wonderful way to expose children to diversity, increase representation and make children feel like they belong.

I have below included some nature-based books with diverse characters and themes which I recommend to Forest School and other Outdoor Education leaders to include in their kit. Some are overtly about diversity and other types of families, others just support the increase in representation. I really strongly believe that intersectionality is important so I haven't separated these books into themes, remember, we are not one thing!

If you have any really great recommendations from your own collections let me know and I will aim to create a second post!

Hike by Pete Oswald

In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they're going on a hike. Follow the duo into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and play a small role in the survival of the forest. By the time they return home, they feel alive -- and closer than ever -- as they document their hike and take their place in family history.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

After Lola reads a book of garden poems, she wants to plant some flowers. She gets books from the library and chooses her plants. Then Lola and her mommy buy the seeds, make the garden, and mark the rows. Now it’s time to wait. . . .

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie and Baldev Lamba

Green grass is wide and fresh and clean for a family to play in, and brown dirt is perfect for digging a garden. But when grey buildings start to rise up and a whole city builds, can there be any room for green space? The neighbourhood children think so, and they inspire the community to join together and build a garden for everyone to share in the middle of the city.

Only a Tree Knows How to be a Tree by Mary Murphy

Trees have leaves that turn sunshine into food. Amazing! Birds build nests, sing songs, hatch eggs, and fly. Dogs are our friends and can move their ears to tell us how they feel, while fish live in water, flashing like jewels. As for people, every person on Earth is different, each with their own thoughts and feelings.

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom

Lush visual storytelling with poetic language to tell the tale of a magical gender variant child who brings transformation and change to the world around them.

My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan

Our friend Earth does so many wonderful things! She tends to animals large and small. She pours down summer rain and autumn leaves. She sprinkles whisper-white snow and protects the tiny seeds waiting for spring.

Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington

Charles Henry Turner's mind itched with questions. Fascinated by animals, bugs, and crustaceans, Turner studied their lives. When books didn't answer his questions, he researched, experimented, and looked for answers on his own, even when faced with racial prejudice.

Neither by Airlie Anderson

In this colorful and touching story that celebrates what makes each of us unique, a little creature that's not quite a bird and not quite a bunny--it's "neither"--searches for a place to fit in.

Call Me Tree/Llamame Arbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez

Maya Christina Gonzalez once again combines her talents as an artist and a storyteller to craft a gentle, empowering story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self. Young readers will be inspired to dream and reach, reach and dream . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.

Worm Loves Worm by Mike Curato

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is: It doesn't matter. Because Worm loves Worm.

The Hike by Alison Farrell

This book tells the story of three girls' friendship—and their tribulations and triumphs in the great outdoors. Here is the best and worst of any hike: from picnics to puffing and panting, deer-sighting to detours.

My Footprints by Bao Phi

Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels "double different." She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully's taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration.

The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein

Lovable Elmer's story will make readers cheer, and his difference will help children recognize and appreciate the qualities that make them—along with other people in their communities—special.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin

Sometimes children need a break from our noisy, over-stimulating world. Charlotte and the Quiet Place shows how a child learns and practices mindful breathing on her own and experiences the beauty of silence.

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

Boy and Bear both love to explore the outdoors. There are so many neat things to see, and so many strange things to find. These explorers are prepared for anything . . . except each other!

When Bear and Boy meet in the woods, they're scared at first. Really scared. But soon these kings of the wild realize that no mountain is too big to conquer if you have a friend to climb it by your side.

Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney

Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and in his heart he's fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear.

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