Tag Archives: Diversity

Hidden Figures

Title: Hidden Figures


Author: Margot Lee Shetterly


Illustrator: Laura Freeman


Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2018


Number of pages: 30


Tags: Culture, Diversity, Math, Non-fiction, Science, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about four black women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden.  These four women were some of the first black women to become engineers, and make strides in space and airplane technology. No background knowledge is needed for this because there is no actual math or science in this story, just a lot of mention of it because of how complicated the math they were doing is.


Classroom Application:  This story has many classroom applications including history, math, and science.  It could be used to tell the story of these four intelligent women or show real world applications of math and science.  Also could be used to show african american scientists and mathematicians to show that they are indeed out there.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book represents african american culture and some of their struggles to gain equality in the workplace and in the world.  Since this story takes place during the 1950’s, it can help show the fight for equality in America, and also can show the discrimination they felt by being segregated from white people, “They could not eat in the same restaurants.  They could not drink from the same water fountains. They could not use the same restrooms.” This shows the segregation in America at the time, and helps to show how important it was for these women to do what they did. These women did amazing work and helped bring men to the moon and back down to earth, and advancing airplanes to prevent more crashes, among many other things, “No one knows how many lives her work may have helped save.”  Talking about Katherine Johnson and her work, and no one can truly tally just many lives she saved, and no one probably even mentions it.

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My Pal, Victor

Title: My Pal, Victor


Author: Diane Gonzales Bertrand


Illustrator: Robert L. Sweetland


Publisher and Year: Raventree Press 2010


Number of Pages: 31


Tags/Theme: Adventure, diversity, friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This book is about two friends, Dominic and Victor.  Dominic tells the reader about all of the great things about Victor: he tells great stories, has great jokes, and likes Dominic for who he is.  They are the best of friends. At the end of the story they show that Victor is in a wheelchair.


Classroom Application:  This story can be used to show that everyone should be accepted by all students no matter if they are black, white, green, yellow, or in a wheelchair.  Dominic and Victor are best of friends and Victor cheers on Dominic at his baseball games even though he is in a wheelchair and can’t play.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  Looking at the cover and reading the title it seems like this book is going to be about two friends, one American and one Mexican, but Victor is in a wheelchair and they are still best friends and do normal things that any two friends would do, “My pal, Victor tells great jokes.”  They tell jokes and laugh until their stomachs hurt just like any friends do. “My pal, Victor throws a toy for his dog to catch.” Victor plays with his dog like a lot of other people that aren’t in wheelchairs do. This book shows that even though he is in a wheelchair he can still do all of the fun things any other friend does and he is really funny!

As Good as Anybody

Title: As Good as Anybody


Author: Richard Michelson


Illustrator: Raul Colon


Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2008

Number of Pages: 34


Tags/Theme: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story starts out with a young Martin Luther King Jr. and him living with segregation and how it’s not fair to all people to treat people like this.  Then he grows up and becomes a Pastor like his father and starts lobbying for civil rights. Then it goes to Abraham Joshua Heschel in Poland and how he had to deal with segregation for being Jewish.  Then he grew up and came to America and along with Martin Luther King Jr. marched for freedom.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and also teach about Abraham Joshua Heschel.  This story also can be used to teach that if you want something to change for the better that you should do something about it like these two men did.  

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book could be used to generate discussion on the civil rights movement and its leaders like Martin Luther King Jr..  It could also be used to discuss the discrimination against jews in Europe. It sends a good message throughout, at the beginning Martin’s father tells him, “You’re looking down when you should be looking up.”  He’s telling him to keep his chin up and be proud of who you are because you are someone, and everyone is someone. Another good quote from this is, “Walk like a prince, not like a peasant.” It brings the same message of keep your head up and be proud of who you are.  Abraham’s father told him that and Abraham made sure to walk with his head up.

Cooper’s Lesson

Title: Cooper’s Lesson

Author:  Sun Yung Shin

Illustrator: Kim Cogan

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2004

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Diversity, Family, Emotion, Fiction, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book follows the story of Cooper, a young boy who is half Korean and half white. His mother sends him out to a store where the store owner only speaks Korean. But Cooper’s Korean is pretty poor and he gets stressed out and thinks the other people in the store are laughing at him because he is not good at speaking Korean. So he tries to steal a brush, but ends up making friends with the storekeeper. Together, he learns Korean and helps the storekeeper around the store in order to make up for trying to steal. The book is written in both Korean and English.

Classroom Application: This book would be very good to use in a classroom where some of the students spoke Korean. It would bring to light the very real struggle that students have when they have multiple racial backgrounds and struggle with identity. By being in both Korean and English, it allows the book to be more accessible to students who maybe speak just Korean, or are learning English as a Second Language. Additionally, it is a good book for English readers to read because it reveals some of the struggle that millions of people have when they are either from, or their parents are from, different parts of the world.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Having the book written in both English and Korean allows the book to be accessible for people who speak either (or both!) languages. It also can help strengthen the understanding of one (or the other) language, because the reader could read both, reading the language they understand less of first, and then reading their more comfortable language second, checking for understanding. It addresses diversity issues very head-on because there are several points where the store owner tells the boy that he, too, struggled with languages and figuring out what to call himself. This identity struggle seems to be common for people who are any ethnicity other than white, and this book does a beautiful job addressing that and letting the reader know that it is normal and okay to struggle with language and sense of belonging.


And Tango Makes Three

Title: And Tango Makes Three

Author:  Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell

Illustrator: Henry Cole

Publication/ Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

Number of Pages: 28

Tags/ Themes: Animals, Award Book, Diversity, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture book, K-5

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: At the beginning of the book I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking this was just another story about a man and a woman who fell in love. But I was quickly surprised! It follows the story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love and want a baby. Finally, the zookeeper gives them another penguin’s egg and they have the baby they have always wished for. At the end of the book, there is an author’s note which explains that all of these events are things that truly did happen in the Central Park Zoo. Students wouldn’t necessarily need any background knowledge, just an open mind.

Classroom Application: This book would be great to use when teaching acceptance and appreciation of everyone regardless of what their preferences are. It appeals more to the Social and Emotional Learning Standards, encouraging kids to both see and accept others for who they are and also to be proud and confident in themselves, regardless of if they are part of the “norm” or not. This book would be great to start a conversation about social justice issues, and I could tie it in to a social studies lesson talking about gay rights or other civil rights movements. Additionally, it makes me wonder about how different species are wired psychologically! I bet there are more examples out there of animals showing gay tendencies! I might encourage someone to do research on that and see if they can bring any other information forward (if it was an older class).

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: As I mentioned before, this has great cultural diversity. In my opinion, there are not nearly enough books which depict homosexual love. In our society today, the LGBTQ+ population is bigger than ever, probably because more are willing to be open and honest about who they are. Despite this, there is still a ton of prejudice and discrimination against us. By using books which open kids’ eyes from an early age, such as this one, showing that love is love no matter what, it will help society continue to grow more and more accepting of everyone, despite our differences.


She Persisted

Title: She Persisted

Author:  Chelsea Clinton

Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger

Publication/ Year: 2017, Philomel Books

Number of Pages: 27

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Diversity, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, K-5

Genre: historical fiction (maybe even non-fiction)

Descriptive Annotation: This powerful book outlines the story of thirteen different women who persisted through incredibly difficult times, and came out stronger than before. This book is not only a lesson to young readers that women are powerful and capable, but it is also an inspiring message to young girls that even though life can be incredibly difficult and people often discriminate against girls and women and assume we are weaker or inferior to men, we can persist and prove our capability and power to the world! Through real-life examples, the author connects the stories of these historic women and relates it to the modern-day girl. The illustrations are painted with watercolor and depict many different races and ethnicities. Before reading this book, students would need to know what the word “persisted” means.

Classroom Application: I could use this book to supplement a lesson about any one of the women mentioned here. It would be good to use because it would show that even though that woman probably struggled to get what she wanted (or maybe even failed), her efforts were important and there is an army of women fighting for what they believe in. Even if they are not right next to you, they are there and supportive. This book would be very good to use to help social studies lessons. Additionally, it addresses SELS because it teaches students to be confident and determined and encourages them to be themselves despite hardships which may come their way. I would use this book to prompt a text-to-self writing lesson because students could write about a time where they were challenged or doubted because of some part of their identity and how they persisted through it. The only problem with this potential writing exercise is that some of the boys would not have anything good to write about, and some of the girls might not either! This activity might be better suited for upper-level students, but it could potentially be modified for younger kids too.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The cultural diversity representation in this book is phenomenal. It has characters of all ethnicities and races, and represents a minority and brings power to them. For girls, it is inspirational, relatable, and encouraging. For boys, it allows them to see how strong and capable women are and helps open their eyes to the oppression we have dealt with for centuries. Through the use of real quotes from these historic women, it helps make the book land with a heavier impact; bringing to life these people. With the repetition of the phrase, “she persisted”, it brings forth a theme of determination throughout the book which is very powerful.


My Diary from Here to There

Title: My Diary from Here to There, Mi Diario de Aqui hasta Alla.

Author:  Amada Irma Perez

Illustrator: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2002

Number of Pages: 31

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, Spanish, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This story follows the journey of the author as a young girl when she moved from Mexico to the United States. It is formatted as diary entries, probably based off of the real diary entries Amada wrote when she was young. This story is great because it shows both the excitement and the worry that people have when they are leaving their home country. A key part of this book is that on every page, there is the text written in both Spanish and in English. This is important because it would be a great tool to use with either bilingual or ESL students. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which describes why this story is important to her and how she wants to encourage people who are new to the United States to be brave, and be true to themselves.

Classroom Application: If I was working with either a bilingual student or an English as a Second Language Learner, this book would be very helpful. By including both the English words and the Spanish words it allows students to try to read the foreign language, while also being able to look and read the comfortable language in case they get stuck, and to figure out the meaning of the words. By having this book in the classroom, it would allow students to feel more comfortable and excited to read, knowing that there are books which accommodate their language needs. But this book is also great for students who only speak English because it shows them that students who come from different countries are just like they are—excited to learn, worried about making friends, and totally human.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an excellent job portraying the different cultures and the struggle of immigrant families finding a place in a different country. It shows diversity and the strength that people have to be brave and be themselves. The author uses both English and Spanish, which is a key part of this book because it allows it to be accessible for students of any background (assuming they speak either Spanish or English), and the text, while dense, is very honest and relatable. One example of the honest text is seen on page 9, “Mama and Papa keep talking about all the opportunities we’ll have in California. But what if I can’t learn English? Will I ever see Michi again? What if we never come back?” These questions are very real questions many people have when moving to a different place, and some students in the classroom may have even gone through a similar experience which would make this book that much more powerful: they are not alone.



Title: Wings

Author:  Christopher Myers

Illustrator: Christopher Myers

Publication/ Year: Scholastic Press, New York, 2000

Number of Pages: 38

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, diversity, emotion, fantasy, friendship, picture book, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fantasy

Descriptive Annotation: This book is loosely based off of the story of Ikarus. However, it doesn’t get into the dark and depressing part of the story where his wings melt off and he dies. Instead, it looks at Ikarus when he is a kid and how he got bullied for being different. The illustrations are definitely noteworthy, done in an abstract, almost collage-y way. I think that the message of the story is beautiful because it is teaching children to stretch their wings and soar, regardless of what other kids might say about you. It encourages kids to be their true self and not be ashamed of their differences, instead embracing them. I think that if a child were to read this book they should NOT know the story of Ikarus before hand because if they did (like I did) they would be worried the entire book that he was going to die. In fact, I think that is where this story falls short. I believe it could be a much more powerful piece if the author chose to not name the boy Ikarus because in doing so it prompts a tragic underlying tone to the whole piece. I think it could have been much better if he was just any boy, but happened to have wings! Then the same things would happen to him but without the worry that he would then be his best self flying high… and then die.

Classroom Application: I probably would not read this book out loud to the class unless I wanted to use it as a supplement to a lesson about the fable of Ikarus. If this is what I was doing, I would first read the book to them and have the children discuss what it means to bully, why it is bad, and what it means to be a good friend. I would lead them in an activity where they write out their differences from one another and explain why their differences make them unique and special. Then (if I wanted to explain why the boy’s name was Ikarus) I would describe the fable. Another cool idea would be to first read this book and then read a more informative book about Ikarus and have students compare and contrast the two pieces. This might be a good activity to prompt synthesis and deeper thinking, while drawing connections between two texts.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book shows good diversity for several reasons. First, every person in this book is a different color (the main character is black, the girl is orange, the policeman is blue, many of the other boys and girls are brown or green). This adds to the abstractness of the illustration while also demonstrating the insignificance of what color you are! Another way it demonstrates diversity is by showing that Ikarus is the only kid with wings, and he gets bullied for being different. This is a very real thing which is going to happen in the classroom or at recess, so it is important to demonstrate to students how harmful that can be. The language used in this book is very eloquent, as seen in this passage, “Their word sent Ikarus drifting into the sky, away from the glaring eyes and the pointing fingers. I waited for them to point back at me as I watched Ikarus float farther and farther away”.


My Name was Hussein

Title: My Name Was Hussein

Author: Hristo Kyuchukov
Illustrator: Allan Eitzen

Publisher/ Year: Boyds Mills Press, Inc. 2004

Number of Pages: 26

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about the author, who grew up in Bulgaria. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which provides further details on the historic events which occurred when the Soviet Union took over Bulgaria. He explains in this author’s note that this story is based on real events which occurred in his childhood. The first half of the book is more upbeat, describing the holiday of Ramadan and the traditions his family carry out. The second half of the book is when he describes what happened when the soldiers came and made them all change their names and stop celebrating their religion. Before reading this book, students would need to know that there have been recurring events of governments taking over countries and forcing the people to change their religions and culture.

Classroom Application: Having this book in the classroom would be a good asset because it would allow students to see that different religions are okay and forcing people to change their religion can be extremely harmful. It is also beneficial because it portrays people of different ethnicity (rather than just Caucasian people), and it would appeal to Social and Emotional Learning Standards by creating a feeling of empathy and understanding for minorities. This book could be used as a supplement to a social science lesson looking at religions or even various instances of violence as a result of religious control (such as the Haulocaust). This book could be beneficial to such a lesson because it would demonstrate that these incidents are not isolated, and have been repeated far too many times throughout history. Most of all, this book should prompt an understanding in students that acceptance of all religions is important and that you shouldn’t judge anyone for their name, ancestry, or religion.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents the Muslim religion and can be used to generate discussion about religion and religious inequities. Because the author is writing about his own life, I think this book is very honest and does a good job demonstrating first the beauty of his religion, followed by the harm which can come from people trying to change other’s religions. This would also be a good time to allow students to share their own religious beliefs, and confirm that it is okay to believe in whatever you believe in. I would introduce this book to the students by first asking if anyone wanted to share what religion they practice, and then allowing students to discuss their different religions. I would be very careful facilitating this discussion to make sure that people who practice “minority” religions did not feel overlooked or pushed aside—because the whole point is to embrace them! The author has a nice tone shift halfway through the piece when talking about the main holiday, Ramadan. At the beginning he says, “The last day of Ramadan is the best. My father goes to the mosque. When he comes back, he gives us candies. My little brother and I kiss our parents’ hands to say thank you”. Later, he says, “It was Ramadan. I wanted to visit my grandparents. I wanted to taste my grandmother’s puddings. My mother would not let me go. She was afraid of the soldiers.” This tone shift is important to show the effect that the Soviet Union’s Invasion had.


The Dreamer

Title:  The Dreamer

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrator: Peter Sis

Publisher/Year: Scholastic Press, 2010

Number of Pages: 355

Tags/Themes:  Adventure, Award Book, Chapter Book, Emotion, Culture, Diversity, Family, Poetry, Historical Fiction, 4-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

 Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book was based on the famous poet Pablo Neruda’s life, except we don’t know this until the end. This emotional story is for anyone who is an outcast, who feels different than other people, or feels like they are letting their family down. We meet a young boy, Neftali, who is a dreamer. He loves to write, daydream, and imagine. His father thinks he is an absent-minded fanatic, who will amount to nothing. The story begins when Neftali is eight, and ends when he goes off to college. We watch him struggling to find a balance between being himself while pleasing his father, and root for him as he discovers his passion and gift for writing. Illustrations are included at the beginning of the chapter and sporadically throughout the book, accompanied with poetry that Pablo Neruda wrote later in his life (of course, we do not know yet that it is our beloved Neftali’s poetry we are reading). This book also comments on the issues of displacing native peoples for development, and uses little Spanish phrases throughout. This book would be excellent for someone who had a Chilean background, or anyone who felt like their differences were a bad thing. It is easy reading, but very long, so would be most appropriate for a 4th or 5th grade classroom.

Classroom Application: This book would be a great asset to help students recognize that we are all important and smart even if we are good at different things. Neftali wasn’t very good at math, but a very creative writer and thinker. It would also be good to assist a lesson on Native Americans to demonstrate that this displacement is still going on and to raise the question of right versus wrong. Another way to incorporate this book into the curriculum would be to have an entire mini unit devoted to it—for math, we could use leaves and twigs to illustrate multiplication by grouping, for social studies, we could investigate the displacement of Native Americans and native people all over, and for reading/writing we could write poetry that Neftali would have written, and then teach a lesson on Pablo Neruda and his poetry. We could also include art into this lesson by cutting out construction paper into a leaf or a beetle or a swan and write a poem on it and hang them in the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an exceptional job of raising awareness of and cultivating discussions about cultural diversity. Within the book, many different viewpoints are discussed about the diversity in the town Neftali is from, and this could raise a very stimulating discussion which could expand the minds of students. The depiction of Neftali as a dreamer who is on the outside is also very beneficial to the classroom to recognize that everyone is unique and awesome in their own way. Overall, this book contains a wide cultural vocabulary, from the Spanish words and the Chilean setting, to the discussion of native people, to the differences of Neftali from other boys and girls.