Children encounter diversity on a regular basis in their interactions with others at home, in school, or around their neighborhood. As our nation continues to diversify, it is essential that children learn to understand the important role of their culture and the cultures of other people in creating an overall global culture respectful of differences. One way that children learn about the world around them and other cultures is through the social messages found in stories. Stories help children understand how society perceives their culture as well as the cultures of their classmates, teachers, caregivers, and others, thereby influencing their social and identity development. Stories can be found in traditional print materials for children or in newer digital formats. Regardless of the format for delivering a story's message, children are greatly influenced by the stories they encounter.
One place that children can interact with stories on a regular basis is the library. Through its materials collections and programs, the library introduces children to many stories, starting at a very young age. This white paper emphasizes the importance of developing print and digital library collections that reflect cultural diversity, and details how librarians can promote cultural understanding through library programs that embody the diversity of their communities and the larger world. It concludes that stories reflecting diversity should be routinely included in library programs throughout the year and represented in print and digital material collections and displays.