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The Sandwich Swap: A Children's Story about Diversity
Using Books to Teach Diversity
One of the goals that I have as teacher is to promote a knowledge and tolerance of diversity within my students. I love to use children's books to help kids to understand this and The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio is one of my favorites. This story lends itself nicely to understanding differences in others and not making judgements on things that are different than what you have experienced.
The Sandwich Swap
The Sandwich Swap is one of DiPucchio's most recent books and it is actually a story based on Queen Rania of Jordan's experiences as a child. In the tale, two girls, one American and one Arabic, are best friends and share all of the wonderful things that growing up brings. There is just one difference, their lunches. Each day Lily eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch while Salma eats hummus and pita. Secretly each girl cannot understand why the other one would want to eat the disgusting, pasty spread for lunch. One day the two girls end up voicing their thoughts which lead to a name calling fight that turns into a food fight.
In the end the two girls realize their mistake and repair their friendship with apologies. They decide to share with others the vast diverseness of the world around them by organizing and hosting a multicultural event with food to share. This delightful story brings great awareness to the differences in the world around us. It teaches children that not only are others different, but that being different is ok. It also allows children the opportunity to think about trying something new like hummus or peanut butter, and that it might actually be good too!
Extension Activities for the Sandwich Swap
After I read this story to my students, we talk about how each of us come from different backgrounds and share different traditions and foods that others may find strange. My student population is 99% African American while I am white. Many of the foods that my students may eat (like greens or homemade, not from a box, macaroni and cheese) are foods that are not typically on my dinner table. I shared that my own children may find that some of the foods that they eat a little gross whereas they may find foods that my family eats on occasion, (like pasties) disgusting. We then talk about how the story unfolds and that there was a shared understanding between the two girls and they even ended up liking the other's food in the end. I ask my students to write about an event in their life in which they may have had to try a food that they had never had and seemed yucky or strange to them.
Although I live and teach near Dearborn, Michigan, which is the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East, many of my students had never tasted hummus. So I brought in hummus and pita for my students to try. Although almost all of the students turned their noses up at the hummus while we were reading the story, most of them tried and even liked the hummus and pita that I had brought in to share!
You could also extend this by hosting your own mulitcultural food festival either within your classroom or make it a school wide event. Children will have a great time traveling the world and tasting the yummy treats that are not typically found in their homes. They may even find some things that are very similar to what they do eat!