Promoting diversity through children's literature

At the British Council’s Teaching Centre in Paris, as part of our holiday programme for children, we are using carefully selected storybooks from the rich world of authentic children’s literature to raise awareness of diversity. Children attend these week long, 15 hour story-based courses for three hours each afternoon.

Two young learners and a teacher in Mexico reading a storybook together

A storybook acts as a springboard for a wide variety of activities designed to develop children’s English language skills as well as opportunities to develop the theme or content of the book. In this way, the stories link to children’s learning across the curriculum and develop their general knowledge. Most important, the stories we select contain values which allow children to think about issues which are important and relevant to them. Storybooks are also very motivating as they exercise children’s imagination and cater to different interests and learning styles.  Storytelling is a shared social experience and provokes a response of laughter, sadness, empathy, excitement and anticipation which encourages social and emotional development. The excellent illustrations support children’s understanding and help them relate what they hear to what they see and therefore decode meaning. Children develop their visual literacy and appreciation of art and discover the different styles of illustration and culture of the illustrator. These are just some of the many reasons for using children’s literature. Our main aim is to develop positive attitudes in children towards language learning and towards their appreciation of literature. 

The storybook is introduced on day one of the course in order to provide a context for the children’s work. Children are informed that the week will end with a presentation of the story to their parents. This provides them with a concrete objective to work towards. The presentation also provides an ideal opportunity for us to showcase our methodology based around children’s literature and to make contact with parents. Both children and parents are very proud of the performance as it values their work and allows them to build their confidence in English. 

We are very pleased to share with you a small selection of stories we have used in our centre to address different aspects of diversity. Click on the links below to find out more details and to download all activity plans and worksheets. You can also download an overview of all the titles in this series (as well as further recommended storybooks) in the attachment below.

Is it because?

Susan Laughs

What if?

Little Beauty

The Very Busy Spider



We have created story notes to provide suggestions on how to exploit the storybooks which can be used as they are or adapted to your own context as per your time available, your course aims and structure as well as your children’s needs and interests. We hope you enjoy using the storybooks and would love to hear about your own favourite titles, especially those that help raise children’s awareness of diversity.

Gail Ellis

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