Reading Diverse Texts at Home


I love to read, always have. Diverse texts help me see versions of the world that are and are not my own. Reading diverse texts with my kids is even more enjoyable. Some years ago, I took my daughter to the library story time, an activity that we love, as I imagine some of you might as well. That day though the story time was a bit different and featured a theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Maybe it was my imagination, but my daughter seemed to lean in more during this story time. In that moment, I had an epiphany: I should be reading more diverse texts at home too. Since then I have been discovering how to engage diverse texts in my home with my two kids, one a preschooler and the other a first grader now.

At first, I was really lost and confused as to what direction I wanted to go and whether the books I chose were going to be developmentally appropriate for the kids. It was then that I reached back out to that same librarian, Nicole Lawton, from story time. She alerted me to the plethora of diverse resources that the Naperville Public Libraries have and shared a great resource that she later built when she presented to my class at North Central College ( At this site, you can search for books on various topics of interest to your family regarding antiracism, disability, and family structure to name a few. The list is also separated into picture books, fiction and non-fiction as well as chapter books for older kids. My kids and I started to check out books such as All are Welcome, Fry Bread, and The Other Side. The more diverse books we read, the more we wanted to read. The more we read, the more we questioned about what was being presented in the book and why. The books we were reading also allowed me an “in” with the kids for conversation regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.

Around this time, the kids started Pre-School and Scholastic flyers started coming home. We received Firefly, Arrow, and some others where I was promptly searching for books with diverse characters that told a counterstory and found a few to purchase for our home collection. I discovered that a Scholastic flyer called “Celebrating Diversity” existed but many times schools did not receive this flyer. Today, there is an additional flyer called “Voices” that features “Black American literature, history, and life” but if you want to order from that flyer, you have to do it online. I hope that by sharing this information, more caregivers realize that there are more choices than what is on the flyers being sent home (

Within the Scholastic world, there were books on topics that hit home for our family, such as the celebration of Diwali, but I wanted to dig deeper than that. That’s when I found a great resource called Kitaab World ( Kitaab in Hindi translates to “book” and this website includes great books with South Asian characters that reflect our multifaceted culture even more deeply. The favorites in our house include Hot, Hot Roti for Dadaji and Infiniti and Me. Both of my children love these books, because grandparents are main characters in these texts. I will never forget their reaction when we read about the main character, Uma, in Infiniti and Me having butter chicken with her grandmother for dinner. Every time my kids saw themselves and their lived experience reflected in a book, I was reminded about how important that was to their perception of self.

As important as it was for my kids to see themselves and their traditions and religion being reflected back in the books that we were reading, it was equally as important that they saw a window into the religion of our neighbors, who happen to be Muslim. Kitaab World has a fantastic collection of books that feature Muslim main characters as well as books about Muslim culture. The favorites in our house are Deep in the Sahara and The Hijab Boutique. The last one prompted my daughter to ask our neighbor about wearing Hijab and she came away with a pretty good understanding. Understanding our neighbors’ traditions and holidays also helped us to connect to each other.

Speaking of connecting, just last year, a friend and colleague reached out to me and asked me to attend an online book party that she was hosting. I had never heard of Usborne Books and Kane Miller, and I was intrigued by the platform. It was also the middle of a pandemic and I wanted something cool to do virtually with moms in my community. I made an instant connection with our book person, Martha (, and began digging into catalogs to see what the book choices were. This led to my own book fundraiser with Martha and featured only books related to diversity, equity, and inclusion such as Fair Shares, Room on Our Rock, The Children’s World Cookbook, and All about Families. While I am not a vendor, a shout out to all of you here in Naperville who are! Here and There, Home Sweet Home, and Leo and the Octopus are next on my growing list, so let me know if you are having a book party!

I am often asked why I spend so much time investing in diverse texts whether it be when we are checking out from the library, when a Scholastic flyer comes home, or it’s that time of year when I allow myself to send Martha our wish list for Usborne Books. I do this, because I know that it builds empathy in my home and allows for my husband and me to have deeper conversations about human difference with our kids. It helps us learn too. As we start a new year of school, I want to ask our community to remember that diversity is a fact, but that inclusion is an act. As caregivers, we can have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our homes. Don’t know where to look? Start with a book!


Dr. Jennifer K. Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at North Central College where she teaches classes focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Jenny loves living in Naperville with her husband and her two children. She says, “While I tried hard not to include my teacher self in the writing of this blog, I fully acknowledge that I am a mother/scholar/teacher and sometimes those identities all go hand in hand.” 

The image of the four stones is meaningful to Dr. Shah. Her first year at North Central she taught an equity course. She was moving from group to group as they worked on a project. Each time she came back to her desk (every 10 minutes or so) a new stone appeared. First Humanity, then Diversity, Unity, and finally Inclusion. After all four rocks were assembled the class stood up and said, “Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!” She cried at such a meaningful, kind gesture from her students and still treasures these gifts today. 


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