Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion In Your Classroom

As the U.S. population becomes more and more diverse, the need to embrace the many cultures in our classrooms is more important than ever. When a student’s learning environment respects their history, values, beliefs, and behaviors, students and their families are better positioned to thrive in school. Many educators said they face challenges in finding time or resources to regularly celebrate culture, diversity, and inclusion with their students. To combat this challenge, First Book designed a Diversity and Inclusion calendar to help educators plan for diversity celebrations! In each month, you’ll find a suggested date to celebrate that includes recommended resources from First Book and suggestions for a class or group activity. You will also see month long observances, religious observances and dates of cultural, historical or inclusive significance. Having the ability to successfully teach students who come from cultures other than one’s own is critical to the success of our increasingly diverse student population and society. 

To see First Book’s entire Diversity and Inclusion Celebration Calendar, download it here and be sure to visit the First Book Marketplace for more resources to help you celebrate culture, diversity, and inclusion all year long with your students! 

Monthly Calendar Highlights and Classroom Activities

January

This month, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a day of service. Observed on January 16th, this day is a time to reflect on how we can each be leaders in our schools and communities. Visit the Activism and Civic Engagement section of First Book’s Marketplace for inspiring and engaging books that teach readers about the bravery and persistence of activists and civic leaders such as Ibram X. Kendi and Sonia Sotomayor. 

February

February is Black History month to honor and celebrate the heritage, culture, and accomplishments of the Black community. Visit the Black History and Diversity & Inclusion sections of the First Book Marketplace for books written and/or illustrated by African Americans and books featuring diversity that encourage empathy and self-confidence. Encourage students to select books to be added to your classroom bookshelf and read all year round!

March

March is Women’s History month, with International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8th. International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and a call for gender parity worldwide. Celebrate with your students by planning a lesson about great historical women then, have students interview an inspiring woman in their lives! Visit the Empowering Stories About Women & Girls section of the First Book Marketplace for books that feature women and girls who stand up for what is right, don’t let others define who they are, and aren’t afraid to make mistakes and grow.

April

April is National Poetry Month. It’s time to celebrate the power of words — whether they are combined to make a sonnet, haiku, narrative, free verse, or other style of poem. This month, encourage students to discover poetry through the lens of poets from different backgrounds. Ask students to write a poem on a topic of their own creation or assign a theme. Have students read their poems aloud as part of a poetry slam!

May

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s a great time to highlight the stories and cultures of the 24.5 million U.S. residents of AAPI heritage. Read books about AAPI heritage and featuring AAPI characters to your class in May and then have students write their own! You can shop the full Asian & Pacific Islander Characters & Cultures collection on First Book’s Marketplace. 

June

June is LGBTQ+ Pride month where we celebrate the history and accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community. Fill your bookshelf with the stories of LGBTQ+ cultures and characters from the Pride section of the First Book Marketplace. On June 20th, the world honors refugees — people who have fled their home country because of conflict or natural disaster — on World Refugee Day. Help students develop their understanding of the refugee experience by asking the following four questions: What is a refugee? Why do refugees leave their own country? What is life like in a refugee camp? What is it like to be a newly settled refugee in a new country? Explore the Immigrant & Refugee Experiences section of the First Book Marketplace to further diversify your bookshelf.

July

On July 26, we celebrate National Disability Independence Day, which commemorates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Boost compassion and give students insight into the life experiences of others with titles from our Neurodivergent & Disabled Characters & Cultures section. Have students research various types of disabilities and discuss the following questions with the class or group: How is a person impacted if they have this disability? What is something someone with this disability may need to overcome? How can you show sensitivity and compassion to someone with this disability?

August

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, a day to protect and promote the rights of the world’s estimated 370 – 500 million indigenous people. Have students research the indigenous presence in the U.S. or worldwide and answer questions about their findings! Learn more about indigenous cultures and people in the United States in our Native American & Indigenous Characters & Cultures section.

September

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15th to October 15th to honor and celebrate the history of the Hispanic community. Visit First Book’s Creating Welcoming Schools & Communities section to build or refresh your classroom library with vibrant titles that reflect and explore many cultural experiences and ask students to pick out a book that reflects them!

October

Every year, World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 15th. While societies often focus on physical health, mental health is equally important. This month take time to discuss the importance of mental health with your students. Visit First Book’s Social & Emotional Learning section to find great books focused on how to promote positive mental health and have kids pick a classroom book for the month about mental health.

November

On November 13th every year, we celebrate World Kindness Day. Download Promoting Respect and Empathy: A Toolkit for Educators of All Grades and use lessons and tips from First Book members to teach and encourage respect and empathy to children of all ages.

December

Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10th each year. It commemorates the UN’s 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Help students understand the importance of changemakers through books on First Book’s Time For Change section.

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Educators can join First Book’s network — the largest and fastest growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring new resources and supplies like this calendar to the classroom. 

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