Not finding kid-friendly, inclusive art? Try books!
by Tara Mandalaywala and Family
When we were decorating our son Miles’ room, we really struggled to find art that was kid friendly, racially and ethnically diverse (just like him!), and that would promote values of equity and inclusion. However, every time we went to the library or bookstore we found books that ticked all three of these boxes! We love books and also wanted to share that love with Miles, so we decided to use books as art in his room. There are now so many excellent books with covers that represent people who are diverse in so many different and beautiful ways, so it made finding ‘art’ for his room much easier. (Find a Bookshop link to the books on Miles' wall below.)
We took mounts that were meant for displaying vinyl record albums and repurposed them to display books. (We might also have a vinyl record addiction). We attached them to the wall where we wanted to display the books, trying to leave enough room to put up his largest hard cover books. They were very easy to install. We installed all of them in less than an hour, but picking and choosing the books is a longer (and ongoing!) process. Our mounts were just screwed into the wall, but they also could be attached with adhesive strips if one didn’t want to screw something into the wall. Hardcover books work best as paperbacks don’t stand up reliably and board books don’t lean as well.
One thing we love is that Miles engages with the art. Everyday he will point at the books he wants to read and we will pull them down for him to enjoy. It keeps the more fragile books up high and out of his hands so that he doesn’t accidentally tear them while also making them accessible so he can indicate what he wants.
As his tastes in books change and we acquire new books, we swap in and out the books on the wall, so that the art doesn’t feel stale. We put his favorite books at the bottom to make them easier to grab and put the pretty books he doesn’t ask for as often at the top of the wall.
Here is a link to the wall mounts we used — we did them in white with screw mounts, but you could also use 3M adhesive command strips for those who don’t want to screw into their walls.
Check out our podcast conversation with Tara Mandalaywala, developmental psychologist and mom to Miles, for more on how she uses books with Miles. See Miles' current books in rotation list below!