Camp Tournesol’s resident librarian has been working hard in her virtual library lately! She has put together a lovely list of the nine best French books about diversity for children of varying ages. Diversity is an essential topic to discuss with children when they’re growing up and one that many children and parents alike could use some education about. Understanding why diversity is a good thing at an early age is crucial to helping your children grow up into adults with open minds to different people, different ideas, and different perspectives that will allow them to be more accepting of these new people and things.
With our librarian’s selection of nine books, your children will not only learn and become familiar with what diversity is, they will learn why it is a positive thing as well. Not to mention that this all happening as your kids are practicing their French reading skills! The books selected are educational, but also entertaining and engrossing enough for children to stay interested!
French Books About Diversity: Age 5 to 6 (SK to Grade 1)
1. Karim Le Kaki by Katia Canciani & Christine Battuz
Part of the Mon Meilleur Ami series, this children’s tome discusses immigration, immigrants, and the different obstacles that they face when compared to non-immigrants. Some of his classmates make fun of Karim because he’s from a different country and has different customs, but he and his best friend Felix know that Karim has some great talents, and Felix shares those with us as we celebrate Karim.
French Books About Diversity: Age 7 to 9 (Grade 2 to Grade 4)
2. Les Dragouilles: Special Noel by Karine Gottot
This book is a celebration of all the December traditions from around the world! It’s a great way to introduce your children to the notion that there are other people and other children around the world that do not celebrate the same holidays or partake in the same traditions as them. Books like this teach kids to react with curiosity and interest instead of fear or anger when it comes to new and different traditions and customs.
3. Un Noel Hanoukka by Sharon Jennings
This French book about diversity brings us back in time to a much simpler era. We follow a Canadian Christmas through the eyes of a young Jewish girl. The main character’s appreciation of her own Jewish heritage as well as the new Christian traditions she was witnessing and learning serves as a template for how all people should react to new traditions. Welcome them with open arms and learn about them, no one religion or set of traditions is better than the other.
4. Fort Comme Ulysse by Sylvaine Jaoui
This story follows the life and times of young Elliott, a kid dealing with his blindness and the cruel jokes and sniping that affliction brings out of his classmates. He takes heart from the strong, clever character of Greek myth, Ulysses, as well as from his friend Esperance, who is always there to make him feel better. A lovely tale about being there for the people you care about and supporting them no matter what might afflict them.
5. Le Jour Où On A Mangé Tous Ensemble by Thierry Lenain
A clever story that discusses the ways in which different cultures can mesh together respectfully by using the example of a class picnic to set the stage. One student wants to bring sausage, but another’s culture forbids them from eating pork, and another has to eat fish because the next day is Friday. Important lessons about tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness are told in this clever little allegory.
French Books About Diversity: Age 10 to 12 (Grade 5 to Grade 7)
6. Les Loteau Plus Un by Emma Donaghue
Sumac is a nine-year-old girl and she thinks she’s a pretty good kid. She lives in a huge family that’s always hustling and bustling but that also features many different familial relations from homosexual parents, interracial relationships, and adopted children. When a grumpy old grandpa comes to live with the big family, his old tyme views don’t jive with Sumac, who wants him gone. A beautiful story with a bevy of interesting characters that teaches you that family love is not limited by things like where you’re from, what colour your skin is, or who you love.
7. Ma Nouvelle Voisine by Adrian Fogelin
Summer brings boredom for Cass.. until she meets her neighbour Jemmie. They share a passion for track and field and quickly become the best of friends and inseparable. However, Cass’ father doesn’t approve of her playing with Jemmie because she’s black. The young women will have to work to maintain their relationship and teach Cass’ father the errors of his ways. Another example of people from different backgrounds celebrating their differences (instead of pretending they don’t exist) as well as the passion that bonds them.
French Books About Diversity: Age 13 to 14 (Grade 8 to Grade 9)
8. L’Histoire De Rachel: Le Recit De Son Voyage Depuis L’Eurasia by Andy Glynne & Salvador Maldonado
Rachel is a young Christian girl living in a country where Christianity is only celebrated by a small minority of the people. The family goes through constant persecution and humiliation until they can no longer bear it and are forced to flee. They end up in the brutal cycle of refugee life, where they wait for long months in tough refugee camp conditions to find out if they will be granted a place in a new country. This serves not only as a great story about why we must all be more open and accepting of different traditions and religions but also a commentary on the sad state of affairs that refugee care is in around the world.
9. Dans La Peau Des Autres by Francine Labrie
Ida-Jane and Olivier are the children of a gay couple, which makes it a little tough on them from time to time. However, this story teaches the characters and the readers a great lesson about feeling compassion and empathy for those around you. It’s important to really try and observe and to understand others to get an idea of why they react a certain way to a certain event or feel some type of way about some other idea.