Diversity

Have you struggled to find diverse books for your children?   One of the problems we face as home educators is finding books with main characters who are not of European ancestry.   This diversity is important so that children can both look into a mirror (see characters that are like them) and peer through a window (see characters that are not like them).  

 Sure, we can find lists here and there scattered across the interwebs, but I've longed for a page that has all those links gathered in one place.

Since I couldn't find one, I made one.

Without further ado....

(If the pictures of the books don't show up, make sure your ad-blocker is turned off.  They are Amazon links, and if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you)

Indigenous American Books

Our Stories: Children's Books on the Native North American Experience (San Francisco Public Library)

from the American Indian Library Association:

Favorite authors:

Julius Lester

Kadir Nelson


Hispanic/Latinx

Our Latino Heritage: 2nd-8th Grade

Our Latino Heritage: PreK-1st Grade

Best 15 Latino Books from 2013

Sampler of Latino Children's and YA Authors and Illustrators

Teen Latino titles by Reforma

Latino Books for Kids by Seattle Public Library

Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

10 Latino Poets Your Children Should Know

Hispanic Heritage Month from poets.org

Pura Belpré Book Award

Américas Award


Asian

13 Books for Kids That Celebrate All Things Asian

Top 10: Chinese American Children's Books (ages 2-14)

Books with Asian Children

Asian American Books for Children of All Ages (another page of links)

6 Asian Culture Children's Books

Our Asian Heritage: Children’s Books on the Asian-American Experience (3rd to 6th Grade)

Our Asian Heritage: Children’s Books on the Asian-American Experience (PreK to 2nd Grade)

Asian Heritage in Children’s and Young Adult Books
South Asia Book Award

Favorite author:

Grace Lin


Mixed Race and Multi-Racial

14 Children's Books with Multi-Racial Families

70+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read from the National Education Association

21 Middle Grade Novels With Multiracial Characters

18 Multicultural Books About Friendship

50 Diverse Children's Books About Strong Girls by Biracial Bookworm


Middle Eastern

Arab American Book Award

Middle Eastern Heritage for Kids from San Francisco Public Library

Middle Eastern Book Award

Top 10: Best Middle Eastern American Children's Books

15 Must Read Books by Middle Eastern Authors

20 Books by Arab-American authors

Children's Middle Eastern Heritage from King County Library System


Disabilities

Children's Books About Disabilities

60 Books About Disabilities and Differences for Kids

Schneider Family Book Award

Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award

Books with Characters Who Have Physical Disabilities

10 Captivating Fiction Books That Portray Disability and Disease

Children’s Books with Characters Who Have Physical Differences

25+ Children's Books Featuring Visually Impaired Characters

Disability in Fiction: Top Ten SFF / YA Books


Translated into English

Batchelder Award

100 Great Translated Kids Books from Around the World

Required Reading: The Books that Students Read in 28 Countries Around the World


And lists that didn't fit into a category:  

What is family? Picture books about loving families in many forms

Related PostsWhat Are Living Books?

You’ve heard things about this Charlotte Mason method, and the more you read the more it sounds like exactly what your family is looking for.

But there’s one problem: you keep seeing on blogs and Facebook groups that Charlotte Mason is for Christians only, and can’t be used by those who aren’t.

But you’re not Christian.

Do you need to leave this method behind and look for another that will welcome non-Christians? Does Charlotte Mason’s method of education really only work for those who have committed themselves to her god? Is there something different about the biology and brain of children of Christian parents that makes this method unsuitable for those of us that aren’t?

Of course not!

Charlotte Mason was Christian

Let’s get this out of the way right now — Charlotte Mason was Christian. More specifically, Anglican. In the U.S., this is the modern Episcopalian Church. Her worldview was saturated with it, and she couldn’t conceive of any other religion being ‘right’, just as many modern-day Christians can’t.

However, she also taught Jewish students, and had friends and close co-workers who were Jewish. Nowhere in her writings have I found where she said that Jewish or any other religions should not use her method. On the contrary, she says that her method works with all children. Are we to believe that her ‘all children’ actually means only Christian children, and that children are biologically different depending on what religion their parents follow?

I don’t think so.

How to bring your own beliefs to a CM education

With the proliferation of Christian curricula where the entire thing seems to be saturated with a certain brand of Christianity, and the inclusion of generally Young Earth resources in these, you’d think that Charlotte Mason held those same views.

Nope.

Her programmes (from the PNEU) are filled with books that are only mildly Christian or that are outright secular. She used books that taught current scientific theory (Darwin), and she says in Volume 1 concerning which Bible commentaries to use: “Mr. Smyth brings both modern criticism and research to bear, so that children taught from his little manuals will not be startled to be told that the world was not made in six days; and, at the same time, they will be very sure that the world was made by God.”

So what do we as non-Christians, or Christians whose beliefs don’t follow other curricula, do?

First, “We must teach only what we know.”

What does this mean? It was actually this singular passage that brought me back to my non-Christian beliefs. I was trying to raise my daughter with Christian materials, because that was all that was available 15 years ago. I read this passage, and realized that I didn’t believe what I was trying to teach my daughter.

“In the first place, we must teach that which we know, know by the life of the soul, not with any mere knowledge of the mind. Now, of the vast mass of the doctrines and the precepts of religion, we shall find that there are only a few vital truths that we have so taken into our being that we live upon them––this person, these; that person, those; some of us, not more than a single one. One or more, these are the truths we must teach the children, because these will come straight out of our hearts with the enthusiasm of conviction which rarely fails to carry its own idea into the spiritual life of another.” (Home Education p 347)

What are the core beliefs that you carry in your soul? These may or may not align with the religion that you belong to. However, these core beliefs are the only ones you can teach.

How do you make this into a curriculum?

The easiest way is to use a curriculum that aligns fairly closely with what you already believe, and then tweak from there.

The great thing about Charlotte Mason’s curriculum as found in the PNEU programmes is that there are few religious books outside the Bible portions, so it’s easy to take a curriculum that is modeled after these programs and tweak it to fit your own worldview.

Tweaking curriculum for your views

Wildwood Curriculum is a strict Charlotte Mason curriculum, but without religious dogma.  It is easily customized to fit your own beliefs.

If you belong to an organized religion with educational materials for your religion, just put those in in place of World Religions/Philosophy. Easy peasy.

If you don’t have such a simple option, it will take a bit more work.

Take a few days to think about what ideas form your spiritual beliefs or core values. Besides those, what knowledge (spiritual or mindfulness) do you think is important to have? What qualities and morals do you want to cultivate in your children?

If you’re a visual person, you might find an outline or a mind map helpful to organize your thoughts. Don’t rush it. It will be a work in progress. Here’s a copy of mine so you can see where I’m coming from.

After you’ve figured out what ideas you want covered, use that as your guide when planning your year. What resources are available to you to convey these ideas to your children? Think outside the box — they don’t need to be books; they can be experiences or you modeling actions. At the same time, they can be books.

Hang with people going through the same thing

Finally, consider joining Facebook homeschool groups that reflect your spiritual views, especially if you can find ones that follow Charlotte Mason.

I prefer groups that embrace both religious and non-religious viewpoints. Here are a few resources:

Charlotte Mason Secular Homeschoolers
Wildwood Curriculum (this is the link to the homepage.  If you are planning to use the curriculum, there’s an active Facebook group, too)
Charlotte Mason Plenary

Up Above the Rowan Tree

Charlotte Mason’s method is for everyone, no matter your religious beliefs (or lack of them!)

Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

 

woman in yoga pose next to lake with text Charlotte Mason is not for Christians only

 

Bringing our own religious beliefs into a Charlotte Mason education can present a challenge, simply because there is no pre-made format for us to use.  As Heathens (Germanic Pagans) we are not “people of the book”, so while Charlotte Mason used the Bible from the time the children first started “school”, we don’t have a similar book to use.

You could argue that the Prose and Poetic Eddas fill that gap, but the Eddas were not written as a “holy book”.  Nor were they ever considered “divinely inspired.”  This is an older but good short article about why we shouldn’t use the Lore as religious documents.

While I do plan to introduce my little one to these books, it will be when she’s a teenager, not when she’s 6 years old.

What can we use then?

Stories about our culture.  Stories about our Gods.  Traditional fairy tales and fables.  All of these can contribute to developing the worldview that we are looking for.  In future posts, I’ll add resources for stories about our culture and traditional fairy tales.

Let’s start with stories about our Gods.

Mythology books — stories about our Gods

Heathen mythology - Edda

D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths

D’Aulaire’s is more colorful but the stories are written to children. This makes them accessible but also sanitized. There is also a very subtle Christian influence, particularly at the end where the Gods are replaced by the One God, and also the same subtle thread of women being inferior to men. (“it was so important that even the goddesses were invited”) Be aware of it so you can contradict it or edit on the fly.

Even with these issues, this is the book that we are currently using with our 6 year old.   She enjoys the colorful pictures.  I’ll be honest though — I much prefer the illustrations in D’Aulaire’s Greek Mythology to the ones in Norse Myths.  The illustrations in this book seem more harsh, not as pleasant.  The short episodes are the perfect length for early elementary.

The Heroes of Asgard by  Kearny and Keary

This is used in the PNEU programmes from the 1920s and 1930s.  It is a wonderful introduction to heathen mythology - heroes of asgardNorse/Germanic mythology written in a literary manner.  The only copies I’ve found on Amazon are either “facsimile” or CreateSpace, and the quality of these are always hit and miss.  It is on Project Gutenberg.  

It’s used in Form IIB, which is approximately 9-10 years old.  You could probably use it with a younger child, but don’t be surprised if you need to wait a bit with a much younger one.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s book is enchanting but without illustrations. The mythology is accurate, the stories delightful. There is a passing reference to lovemaking but nothing graphic. Struggling students will prefer D’Aulaires; more confident or older students may well enjoy Gaiman better.

This is one you’ll want to read aloud for the younger set, perhaps all the way through elementary.  I’ve heard such good reviews of this book from parents, though, that I’d not hesitate to make it a family read-aloud.

Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum

While I haven’t read this particular book, I am familiar with other works by Padraic Colum.  They are on a level midway between D’Aulaire’s and Gaiman.    My copies of his other works don’t have pictures.  This may be dependent on the particular edition, but it’s something to consider if you have younger children.

In the Days of Giants by Abbie Brown (various printings, some abridged)

Imythology book ‘ve recently learned of this book, and it’s one that definitely has promise.  On Amazon, I found one that’s self-published.  The reviews say that it is significantly abridged, so something to be aware of.  You can read the original at Project Gutenberg to compare.

I’ve only briefly looked at this, but it seems to be on a similar level as The Heroes of Asgard.

The Takeaway

There you have it — 5 books of Norse/Germanic mythology to use in your homeschool.  It’s a great way to familiarize your children with the Gods.  If you are new to them, they are all a pleasant way to familiarize yourself, too.

You could stack these end to end in your child’s education, perhaps starting with D’Aulaire’s and ending with Gaiman’s.  Hearing the stories from several different stories is never a bad thing.  It can teach children how people read the same thing but interpret it differently.

Or you could choose one of these books and simply read through it multiple times over several years, letting the stories sink deeply into your child’s psyche.

Do you have a favorite Germanic or Norse mythology book that isn’t on this list?  I’d love to hear more suggestions!

What does that mean? “For the rest of us”?

Not Charlotte Mason-lite.

Not Charlotte Mason-inspired.

Not Charlotte Mason-ish.

We knew we would homeschool when our first daughter was born, 21 years ago.  I strongly believe that a Charlotte Mason lifestyle is the right one for our family.

But …  we aren’t an evangelical Christian family, and most of the blogs about Charlotte Mason education come from a distinctly Christian background.

I am Heathen (sometimes termed Germanic Pagan).  My husband is culturally Christian and spiritually neutral.

This blog is for “the rest of us.”  We who want to follow a Charlotte Mason lifestyle and homeschooling method but do not come from an evangelical, young-earth Christian background.

We are Buddhists.  Hindu.  Muslim.  Humanist.  Jewish.  Pagan.

We are Christians who want to choose which doctrine to teach our children.

We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers swimming upstream.