Introducing your children to diverse picture books at an early age has many benefits for their emotional and social development, as well as benefits for their ability to understand and embrace the world around them. It has thankfully become easier than ever to introduce your children to diverse picture books, thanks to an increasing demand for diversity in children’s literature as well as more avenues for diverse books in the children’s market. If you are wondering why it is important to have your children read diverse picture books, consider the following 4 reasons why children should be reading diverse picture books.

Reason #1: Diverse picture books help children embrace differences

It can be hard to teach the concept of cultural differences to children, and diverse picture books are one way that children can be taught to understand and embrace the differences in the people around them. Picture books which feature diverse characters and settings allow children to understand that there are people around the world with different cultures, lives, and experiences than their own in a tangible way that can be applied in a broader sense as they grow older.

Reason #2: Diverse picture books encourage children to develop empathy

Empathy is important in children and diverse books are a great way to encourage children to place themselves in the figurative shoes of others. Books which have characters from different cultural backgrounds or of different ethnicities, as well as books which touch on diverse subjects, are all ways to help start the building blocks of empathy-learning in younger children.

Reason #3: Reading diverse books helps children make friends and social connections

It may be surprising, but reading diverse books actually helps children to make friends and other social connections easier due to the fact that they will be more open and interested in understanding children who are different from them. Rather than be timid or even afraid of differences, children who are exposed to diverse picture books are more likely to reach out to other children from different cultural backgrounds, resulting in more friendships and stronger interpersonal connections. This type of early exposure to diversity will be especially beneficial later in life when a child’s ability to connect with people around them despite cultural differences has a more tangible effect.

Reason #4: Diverse books help children feel more secure in the world

Reading diverse picture books helps your child feel more secure about their place in the world, whether the book being read features characters from your child’s personal background or not. The reason for this is that when children are exposed to stories and characters from diverse backgrounds, they are able to form a basic understanding of identity—in other words, what makes someone “them.” In turn, this will help your child feel more secure about their own identity and their own place in the world, whether they were represented in the book or merely saw someone else with a distinct identity represented in the book. Reading diverse picture books is essential, so start putting together a diverse reading list today!