For Parents

Global Identity and Shared Experiences for Kids


One of my favorite topics to slowly introduce into story times and special events, like Black History Month, is the concept of “Global Identity and Shared Experiences.” As overwhelming or scary as that concept might seem, it’s actually much simpler than it sounds—so simple that it’s almost designed for kids to pick up on without too much effort.

Let’s take, for example, the necessity to teach young kids the importance of empathy so they learn to keep their hands to themselves, not fight over toys, and that it’s not OK to bite people. With a topic like that, you’d do well to use books like Share, Big Bear, Share!, How do Dinosaurs Stay Friends?, and We Don’t Eat Our Classmates! to get the general point across.

By introducing a book like All Kinds of Children and The Skin You Live In, though, you introduce the idea that most people experience and want the same things even if they look or live differently than we do. Then, just like that, you’ve planted the seeds for young children to see the similarities between people, rather than their differences, through the experiences we all share.

As kids grow older, it’s very easy to work this concept into programs that have a focus on diversity. World history, economics, family activities, nearly everything can be worked into a discussion of how other people live around the world. Any books featuring that lesson, paired with the focus on finding similarities between ourselves and others, create the opportunity for children to acknowledge that we are all part of a global community. With books like Same, Same, but Different; This is How We Do It; and My Two Blankets, the varying perspectives presented in each highlight our similarities while also praising some of the things that make us different.

Like a second or even third language, it’s beneficial to teach kids certain things when they are still developing. Introducing some harder topics at a young age can make all the difference in a child’s understanding of the world around them. By making the effort to talk about harder stuff with kids, even if it’s simplified or “dumbed down,” we can open the door to many new ideas and opportunities that will make a world of difference in any kid’s life.


Global Identity and Shared Experience Stories for Kids

Even though we hear news of far away places all the time in the news, it's still hard to really understand what makes us different and in what ways we are all the same. These books are a great way to teach kids about other cultures and how similar they can be to their own, regardless of the distance between. #indyplkids

Same, Same, but Different

Kostecki-Shaw, Jenny Sue

This is the very story that got me started on following this kind of theme of Shared Experiences and the building of a Global Perspective. Fantastic for storytimes and programming that celebrate diversity, it follows the story of two boys who have become pen pals and share what kinds of things make up their daily lives. Over time, they start to realize how much they're alike in spite of their differences.

Outside My Window

Ashman, Linda

A collection of quick perspective of the daily lives of children around the world and the things they see every day. Whether they are looking out the window of their brick house or going to market with their mother, a shared experience starts to develop while the book acknowledges how easy it is to forget that there's more to the world than what we see daily.

This Is How We Do It

One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World

Lamothe, Matt

A series of experiences shared by seven different children around the world. As their family lives, homes, and dreams are shared side-by-side, it's hard to ignore their similarities and differences.