“I’m not Korean. I’m just American.”
“I don’t want to be Korean. I don’t want to be different.”
I’d be lying to you if I said that it didn’t sting. My freshly-turned six year old, deflecting the half of him that is from me.
From the moment we found out we were going to be parents, I knew in my head that some day this would be a conversation in our home. I guess though, like with most things in this motherhood gig, I didn’t realize how soon that day would come to fruition.
As a mom to three bi-racial children, I am very cognizant of the multicultural practices and lessons that I try to show and teach my boys. Most of those things are just a natural part of our every day life. In our house, sometimes we eat Korean food and other times we eat American food.
We primarily speak English, but I also speak to them in Korean, as do my parents. We celebrate cultural holidays that are important in both Korean and American households. But for the most part, my kids are growing up pretty similarly to how I grew up as a 1.5 generation Korean-American.
At first, my response to A was to stress the “Korean” parts of who he is, but I realize now that was more of a gut reaction. When I sat back to think about it, I realized that there’s a much greater lesson to be taught. I think it’s something that is a valuable lesson for all children. But, even more so for kids who come from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds or kids who experience feeling “different” than their greater environment.
Beyond the cultural influences of my Korean heritage, the greatest lesson I want to teach the boys is to love themselves fully and wholly. To love both the differences that make them unique and the similarities that they share with their peers.
I hope I can teach them not only to embrace their unique cultural, racial and ethnic background. But, to tell their stories to friends and the growing world around them; while appreciating the diversity that fills our world.
Now that A is a kindergartner, I’m focusing more on having proactive conversations about our multicultural and biracial family. Which is a step beyond the unspoken, passive ways of how we’ve done things in our family thus far.
The Best Children’s Books for Mixed Race Kids
Books are always a great conversation starter, especially as A is learning to read at school. I scoured Amazon and my mom friends’ recommendations on the best children’s books for mixed race kids. I love the overarching message of diversity and inclusion and the basic lessons of teaching our children about how despite our differences, we are all inherently the same as well. Here’s a compilation of the best children’s books for mixed race kids:
We’re Different, We’re the Same
Sesame Street is my tried and true hero! This story is about Elmo and his Sesame Street friends teaches us that while everyone is the same on the inside, it’s our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting and special place.
A Rainbow of Friends
A simple and short story about how all friends are special and valuable regardless of differences or difficulties.
Same, Same but Different
Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar.
Whoever You Are
This is one of our old preschool teacher’s favorite books to use with preschoolers/kindergartners when teaching and talking about diversity. It’s beautifully illustrated and shows how people are the same inside even though their homes, schools, skin color may be different.
Who’s in My Family?
This is a general children’s book about how families come in all different forms. I love the inclusive message about how each family might not look the same. But that the love that we have for our families is the same!
Happy in Our Skin
I love the simplicity of the messaging in this book. It’s a short, rhyming book that teaches young kids differences in skin color, families, and also what the skin does for everyone’s bodies.
What I like About Me!
Teaching confidence is of the utmost importance to me. This fun-loving book tells a story to kids that in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special.
I’m Like You, You’re Like Me
In this colorful, inviting book, kids from preschool to lower elementary learn about diversity in terms they can understand: hair that’s straight or curly, families with many people or few, bodies that are big or small.
The Skin You Live In
This book is written in prose and the figurative language is probably better suited for Kindergarten and up. The themes of the story are friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity.
The Best Children’s Books for Mixed Race Kids
This really hit home for me. Being half “first generation” Vietnamese, it was something I was definitely confused about growing up and throughout school. You phrased this absolutely beautifully.
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