Be Different….But do I have to?
I am not sure at what age the change happens, but it does. Kids, who never noticed differences before, start to see different skin tones, hair textures, heights, weights and more. Where there once wasn’t fear, now there is. The unknown is scary.
Not just for children, but for adults as well.
I remember when my daughter received a new-to-her shirt. It said Be Different. I loved it. She hated it. She said, “Mom, I don’t want to be different.”
And although I didn’t want it to be true, I understood all to well the fear of not fitting in.
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Edmond the Thing. Astrid Desbordes. Illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Enchanted Lion Books: New York, 2017.
Edmond the Thing by Astrid Desbordes tackles the difficult subject of how we hide from people and things that are unfamiliar. Edmond and his friend George go out for a walk collecting items for a disguise when they come across…. some THING.
They don’t know what it is. It doesn’t speak their language, it doesn’t look like them and they are afraid. They assume because they don’t know what the THING is, it is dangerous. They want to exclude it from their safe, known forest. George, however, wants to learn more about this THING, so he disguises himself and discovers what it feels like when everyone, including his best friend are afraid of him.
Teach Our Children to Be the Bridge
“Carefully, he took down the sign and laid it across the river to make a bridge.”
This is my favorite line from the book. It is never to early to begin discussing with our kids that instead of keeping people out we work to find ways to “bridge” our differences and understand each other. Being different, doesn’t mean dangerous and when we are inclusive our world grows a lot bigger.
When we are inclusive our world grows a lot bigger.
This story is geared towards an older preschooler. It has a more sophisticated narrative and moral lessons are hard for young children to understand. Although, the illustrations share the context of the story well, so if you have a child who can listen to longer stories, the pictures will help them follow along with the story much more closely.
Including books from authors of different countries helps broaden our perspectives and will enrich the reading lives of our children, building not only future readers, but caring and compassionate leaders.
This is an important story to share with children, especially in a world that has grown noisy from adults fearful of change and the unknown or unfamiliar. Including books from authors of different countries helps broaden our perspectives and will enrich the reading lives of our children, building not only future readers, but caring and compassionate leaders.
Create a Better World
After reading the book, talk about a time your child was fearful of someone who was different. We all experience that horrifying parenting moment where our child points out someone who is overweight, or a different skin color or has some outward difference in appearance from us. Instead of allowing our embarrassment to overwhelm us, use the opportunity to discuss how new ideas are scary at first, but when it comes down to it we are all people living on the same planet with similar problems, hopes and dreams.
Yes, it is a heady concept for young ages, but the more we say it, the better world we create.
Books to raise an activist for love
Find these titles at your local bookstore or Amazon.
What books have you used to explain how to embrace differences?