The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences
“The ABCs of Diversity equips us to be co-conspirators in creating a justice- and love-infused future of flourishing for all. Read this book.” —Jennifer Harvey, author, Raising White Kids
“A well-structured and pragmatic approach to teaching young people how to embrace the differences among us and begin to participate in civic engagement.—Library Journal
How do we help our children respect, embrace, and learn from those who look and think differently than they do? What are the “ABCs” of diversity that can help guide their path?
Written by two mothers and educators — one black, one white — The ABCs of Diversity equips parents, teachers, and community leaders to address children of all ages on complicated topics of race, gender, class, religion, political affiliation, ability, nationality, and sexual orientation. The authors employ three sets of ABCs throughout the book to help guide the conversations: our automatic ABCs; the ABCs of intentional engagement; and the ABCs of a more just society.
This book includes specific resources and activities for younger and older children that parents and community leaders can employ to encourage compassion and empathy. An educational and practical resource for parents, teachers, community leaders, ministry personnel, human resources directors, and librarians. Questions at the end of each chapter invite reflection and further discussion.
Download the ABCs Worksheets: Use these worksheets on your own or with a group to reflect on each set of the ABCs in the book.
Chapters include: The ABCs of Diversity; Identities We’re Assigned at Birth; Identity and Diversity in Action; Disentangling Gender and Sexuality; Relearning Race; Fears of Fitting Out: Religious Differences; Social Media and Diversity; Old Enough to Know Better; and Choosing our Place in History. A robust appendix includes diversity reading lists for kids, curriculum activities for teachers and parents of children and youth, scripts for parents, and more.
Featured in the New York Times Parenting Section, June 3, 2020 and reviewed by Library Journal and Foreword Reviews.
"Carolyn B. Helsel and Y. Joy Harris-Smith’s parenting guide The ABCs of Diversity is about navigating modern culture in an effective, loving way. A steady approach shows parents, both through direct instruction and its caring tone, how to be nonjudgmental—first with themselves, then with their children, acknowledging that everyone needs to change and let go of past patterns. From this place of healthy self-acceptance, people can engage with others and their differences." —Foreword Reviews
”With compassion, clarity and a beautiful collaborative spirit, Drs. Helsel and Harris-Smith give parents and caregivers a powerful gift. Answering real questions we might be afraid to ask, providing concrete tools to help us know and do better—ourselves and with our kids, The ABCs of Diversity equips us to be co-conspirators in creating a justice- and love-infused, future of flourishing for all. Read this book.”—Jennifer Harvey, author, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America
"Covering topics from “the talk,” gender, identify formation, and talking to children and adolescents about difference, The ABCs of Diversity provides readers strategies, practices, and accessible entry points into the life-affirming, and for some of us, life-saving conversations that are necessary in today’s world. Helsel and Harris-Smith provide a toolkit for any parent, small group leader, or individual looking to build deeper relationships across differences."―Patrick Reyes, author, Nobody Cries When We Die
"If every parent of every child reads this book, this next generation will truly create the kind of world we all want to live in — where radical difference is something to be celebrated, where every human being enjoys peace and safety, and where our own hearts are not ruled by fear and hatred."―Kerry Connelly, author, Good* White Racist: Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice
"Building a beloved community of acceptance and belonging begins with our children. The ABCs of Diversity provides us with building blocks to engage young (and not so young) hands and hearts in constructing a way of being a more just and equitable society. A counter-cultural way to put flesh on the imago dei."―Leah Gunning Francis, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Christian Theological Seminary and the author of Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community
“In eight chapters, authors Helsel and Harris-Smith offer a course of action to talk to children and teens about diversity and inclusion, and how to celebrate our differences. Topics include race, gender, sexuality, religion and politics, nationality, ethnicity, and culture. The authors explore how our assigned gender at birth influences our lives, and how we image ourselves. Later chapters examine contemporary American society and the varied responses, both affirmative and otherwise, to a changing cultural landscape. Two chapters focus on social media and its impact on diversity. The authors argue that adults should make an effort to continually learn and lead by example, including reaching out and building relationships with people from different backgrounds. Appendices include annotated bibliographies for additional readings and activities. VERDICT A well-structured and pragmatic approach to teaching young people how to embrace the differences among us and begin to participate in civic engagement. Best for parents, educators, and community and pastoral leaders.”—Library Journal, May 18, 2020