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Modern children's books help families explore diversity
Children's books now include a diversity of families that reflection today's world.
March 13th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Modern children's books help families explore diversity

By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The sale of the old house, the purchase of the new house, the packing, the good-bye parties. It was all so overwhelming for me. I can't imagine what it was like for my toddler, leaving the only home, neighborhood and sitter she had ever known in the city where she was born. Fortunately, I got a little bit of help from the Berenstain Bears to give my daughter some answers.

In that classic tale "Berenstain Bears Moving Day," Brother Bear asked the questions about moving that my daughter asked: "What about my toys?" "And what about my friends?" She'd carry that book around like a teddy bear. The answer for the toys was easy: "We'll take them along, of course." Harder to hear: "You'll be leaving your friends behind."

Growing up in a house filled with books, I turned to children's literature to explore and learn about worlds beyond my experience. Now, I turn to the classics of children's literature for assistance in parenting my way through the basic struggles in our lives, such as feelings, friendships, sharing, courtesy, differences and loss, among others. If the Berenstain Bears didn't have the answers, maybe Dr. Seuss, "Goodnight Moon," "Ferdinand the Bull" or "The Hungry Caterpillar" could do the trick. The classics explained essential subjects to a young mind better than I ever could, and they reassured me, too.

Still, some of the classics didn't represent our experience or the lives of many of the families we know and love. My child has two moms. Her neighborhood friend has one mom who adopted her. Her friend across the street has a mom and dad.

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