The world will celebrate Global Oneness Day on United Nations Day, October 24. Since its creation by Humanity’s Team in 2010, it continues to expand every year. Central to its theme is solidarity and recognizing our similarities. This year it will begin at dawn in Australia and spread as the sun rises around the world. On Global Oneness Day, Humanity’s Team “invites people to take this awareness of our Oneness public for one day, to remind others of our fundamental interconnection with all people and all life.”
For parents and teachers wishing to help children focus on the uniqueness and diversity of our global community, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite picture books that fit this theme for children ages 4 to 9 years. They are all excellent selections for parents and teachers to use with children at home and at school.
Wendy Anderson Halperin, Author and Illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Fiction, 2013
Synopsis: Halperin’s message is very clear from the start. For there to be peace in the world…you must have peace in your heart. Her lyrical style encourages children to question “how do we bring peace to our world.” There must be peace in nations…in cities…in neighborhoods…in schools…in homes…and in hearts. The text includes quotes from famous peace makers. Her artwork is simply stunning pencil and watercolor, and intricately detailed. The illustrations in the beginning show every day problems in all cultures. Once you reach the middle, the text and illustrations in the book reverse and show how the world could be if we have peace in our hearts. Such a beautiful contrast. This book will lead to many interesting discussions. It is a gem!
Sheila Hamanaka, Author and Illustrator
Harper and Collins, Fiction 1999
Synopsis: Hamanaka reveals through soft verse that despite our physical differences, children everywhere are lovable and all the same. The book opens with “Children come in all the colors of the earth…” She creatively uses the colors of the earth to depict how closely we are all related, even through nature. Children come with hair like lambs and hair that flows in water. They come in all colors of love of their families, and in cinnamon, wheat and caramel and chocolate and honey bees. Their vibrancy and innocence has a valuable impact on our land, and unite us as one. Her book leaves one hopeful for our future. I also appreciate that Hamanaka carefully includes children with special needs in her lush illustrations. Her book is inspired by her own two children’s multi-ethnic heritage.
Mem Fox, Author
Leslie Staub, Illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fiction, 2006
Synopsis: Fox’s book focuses on the differences between people around our planet, and the similarities that unite us like love, pain, and joy. It is a beautiful celebration of all human life. Her message is simple — there are children just like you all over the world living in different homes, attending different schools, speaking different languages, and living lives that are culturally different. But no matter where they are, they all smile, laugh, cry and love. Staub’s illustrations are colorful, folk art–style oil paintings and give the book a warm feeling. This a story children will easily relate to.
Vladimir Radunsky, Author and Illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Fiction, 2004
Synopsis: Radunsky opens the book with children and adults saying “Peace” in a variety of languages. Children at the Ambrit international School in Rome were asked to comment on peace using their five senses: what it smells, sounds, tastes, looks and feels like. Their answers are simple and in many ways wise. For example, “What does peace sound like?” The children respond, “like a silent day.” The book will encourage children to share their own thoughts and visions of peace. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful and compliment the story. Radunsky ends the book with “peace” in approximately 190 different languages.