Stories Matter: Books with diverse themes and characters

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko

1. Experiment with all the rhyming and silly sounding words with your youngest child.


2. Ask your older child “What do you think they are doing? How do you think she feels?”

3. As you read stories or watch videos featuring people of different skin tones look for common feelings your child may have with the character.

4. Write the names of two or three of your child’s closest playmates or family members. Make a list of three things they both like and three things they feel differently about. Talk about how we may look the same but not always have the same likes and feelings.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

1. Have your  child put his hands on the illustration. Ask if his hands are bigger or smaller.

2. Count fingers and toes . . . over and over.

3. Look for pictures of babies from around the world in magazines or online. Make your own “baby book.” Try to find images showing ten little fingers and ten little toes.

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester

1. Point out the bold bright colors and detailed images of the illustrations. Ask your child what she thinks is going on, or how does the picture tell the story.


2. Do what the author asks his readers to do by letting your child press various parts of your body to feel your bones.

3. Encourage your child to ask questions like those early in the book of a playmate or acquaintance to help build a story about each other based on what each learns from the other.

4. Talk about what your older child may have heard from other adults, or electronic media about various racial groups. How is this similar to what the author says about discovering each other’s stories?

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

1. The artist used watercolor and collage to create the illustrations for this book. It received the Caldecott Honor in 2006 for illustrations in a children’s picture book. Talk about the pictures and how they help to tell the story.

2. What do you know about Rosa Parks, Emmett Till and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.? Read more about them and the Montgomery Bus Boycott through resources from your school, public library, or online.

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins

1. Look at the illustrations. How are the two character’s speeches part of the art?


2. Invite a friend to tea. Talk about what each of you feels is unjust in the world and how you might improve it, even just a small part.

3. Read more about the two characters from the bibliography in the back of this book.

More Stories Matter picture books:


Books for Middle Grades:

Books for Young Adults:


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