6 Books that Encourage Inclusivity in the Classroom

Building Classroom Community through Inclusion

It’s back to school time! During the first few weeks, I always spent a lot of time working on ways to build an inclusive classroom community.  Building trust among students (and myself) and creating an environment where everyone was accepted and supported was crucial to our year-long success. One of my favorite ways to begin building our community was through read-alouds and class discussions.

6 Back to School Books that Encourage Community through Inclusion

Here are some of my favorite picture books to use at the beginning of the year. I like these books because they incorporate diversity and themes of acceptance and kindness.

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1. All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold

All Are Welcome book cover showing diversity of students in a positive classroom culture

This book is about a diverse group of children’s day at school, where everyone is welcomed. Kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps.

This is a great book when thinking about ways to build an inclusive classroom and open up discussions about how we accept and learn from diversity.

2. The Sandwich Swap by Her Majesty Queen Rania

This is the story of two best friends who have a lot in common, despite their cultural differences. The two friends learn to appreciate their differences and develop an even stronger friendship. This book is written by Her Majesty Queen Rania.

This is truly one of my favorite books. If you’re looking to use it into your classroom, I created an entire unit based around this book that you can find here.

3. Harry and Willy and Carrothead by Judith Caseley

Cover of Harry and Willy and Carrothead showing three boys on the cover. One of the boys is disabled with a prosthetic hand.

Harry was born with no left hand. He has a prosthesis and faces a lot of questions when he starts school, but he doesn’t let his disability stop him. Harry makes a lasting friendship with Willy and Carrothead.

4. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

Cover of book called Be Kind showing two girls on the cover, one is holding an umbrella over the other's head and it is raining

Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress. Her classmate wants to make her feel better and wonders,  “What does it mean to be kind?”

5. Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Cover of book called Same, Same but Different, showing two diverse children from different cultures with different city-scapes behind them.

This is the story of two pen pals, Elliot who lives in America and Kailash, who lives in India. Despite being in two different countries, the boys learn how much alike they are.

6. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Cover of The Name Jar showing a girl putting paper into a jar on a table. The jar already has other small pieces of paper in it.

Unhei just moved from Korea to America. She worries about making friends at her new school. She also worries that no one will be able to pronounce her name, so she decides to pick a new name. In the end, Unhei learns to appreciate her special name and be proud of her culture.

I love The Name Jar so much that I included it in my Mentor Standards Unit on Asking and Answering Questions. If you’re interested in using this book as a mentor text, check it out.

Looking for More?

You can also read more about building relationships with your students here.

Inspiring Meaningful Discussions about Classroom Community

At the beginning of the year, it is so important to have meaningful discussions about classroom community and acceptance, so I created this free-response sheet for you to use. This would make a great bulletin board. Be sure to comment or email me to show me how you use it in your class!

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