The calendar is brimming with special days for students in the month of April – April Fool’s Day and Earth Day – just to name a few. One event of particular significance, the International Day of Pink, takes place on April 13th. The goal of this day is to raise awareness for and take a stand against bullying, discrimination and homophobia.
What is particularly special is that the origins of this day started in Canada. In 2007 two high school students from Nova Scotia took a stand against bullying by giving out pink t-shirts at school after a grade nine boy was harassed for wearing pink. Their heroism has gone viral around the world and inspired this important day.
This initiative is meant to reach beyond the classroom - to the home, workplace and the community at large. In honour of the International Day of Pink, here are four books and a musical that embody themes of diversity, acceptance and being true to oneself that you can enjoy with your children:
Written and Photographed by Jim and Jamie Dutcher
For ages: 4-8
While bullying is often associated with students, it’s often less acknowledged that it takes place in countless forms and places. Enter the true story of an animal who experiences bullying. Lakota is a shy wolf pup from the mountains of Idaho who encounters mistreatment in his wolf pack. His story is captured by documentarians, Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who observed and lived with wolves for six years and brought this unique story to National Geographic Kids. Animal lovers of all ages will howl for Lakota and his quest to find friendship in the wild.
Written by Shane Peacock, Illustrated by Sophie Casson
For ages: 5-9
Making its debut this month, this unique picture book is based on the life account of the world famous painter, Vincent van Gogh. Young readers will learn this exceptional artist was not only unappreciated in his time, but actually harassed for his creative genius. As an added bonus, the illustrations are just as stunning as the underlying message.
Written by R.J. Palacio
For ages: 8 and up
Told in the voices of children, this chapter book follows fifth grader Auggie Pullman and his quest to fit in to his new school as a regular kid. This read was inspire d by an incident that transpired in the author’s own life when taking her sons for ice cream. She felt an important teachable moment for her kids was missed when encountering a little girl with a severe craniofacial difference. As a result she was motivated to write Wonder. Centered on themes of bullying, compassion and kindness, it will earn a spot on bookshelves for readers of all ages.
Written by Mariangela Di Fiore, Translated by Rosie Hedger, Illustrated by Hilde Hodnefjeld
For ages: 8-11
Looking for a resource to teach students about the power of perseverance in overcoming prejudice?
Enter Elephant Man, a biographical book based on the life of Joseph Merrick. Students will explore bullying with a historical example of a young man born in England in 1862 who developed severe physical deformities. As a result of his appearance, he is branded with a cruel nickname – Elephant Man. This true tale celebrates the power of friendship to overcome and conquer the negative impacts of bullying.
For ages: 10 and up
This Broadway hit is famous for songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper. It’s special because it’s filled with teachable moments for mature students and the adults who love them. Kinky Boots is based on a true story about Steve Pateman and his unconventional attempt to save his family owned shoe factory. Without giving away too much for theatergoers, the core messages are "let me be me”, "accept someone for who they are", and “you change the world when you change your mind”. Numerous educational resources are available online to stimulate discussion pre and post-show. Good news - the run has been extended until May 15th at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. Teachers and parents, it’s time to book an educational field trip that will have you singing along with the students.
Want to get more great content like this and keep up to date with Mabel’s Labels? Sign up for our newsletter!