Welcoming Schools Wednesdays: Activities and Resources for Inclusive Learning at Home

by HRC Staff

Each week while most students are out of school due to COVID-19, HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools will offer a book and a related activity adapted from our teacher lesson plans to use with children at home.

Each week while most students are out of school due to COVID-19, HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools will offer a book and a related activity adapted from our teacher lesson plans for parents to use with children at home. Our featured books will focus on Welcoming Schools themes: embracing all families, being an ally and respecting differences inclusive of LGBTQ identities. Don’t have the book? Don’t worry! We will provide a link to online readings to each book.


Week 13:  Meet Some of the Most Famous, or at Least the Most Adorable, Dads

In honor of Father’s Day, check out And Tango Makes Three with your kids. Meet Roy and Silo, two penguins in love who lived at the Central Park Zoo. They liked to do everything together. They even built a nest together, but they could not lay an egg. With the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own and Tango became the first penguin chick at the zoo to have two daddies.

Book: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnel

Videos: And Tango Makes Three read aloud and short animated video

Ideas for discussions with your kids after watching the video(s) together: 

  • Did you know that animals could be LGBTQ? (Many other animals have same gender relationships as well -- giraffes, dolphins, lions, flamingos)
  • Do you know any kids with two dads, two moms or LGBTQ parents?
  • What are some things that you noticed about Roy and Silo? Were they being good parents?

Activity: Fun Facts, Penguin Crafts and Cute Videos

For more great picture books and short chapter books with LGBTQ characters, check out Welcoming Schools listings of recommended books at Great Diverse LGBTQ Inclusive Picture and Middle Grade Books and Great Diverse Children's Books with Transgender, Non-Binary and Gender Expansive Children.


Week 12: Bayard Rustin: A Black, Gay Leader in the Civil Rights Movement

Videos: An Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement and The Gay Civil Rights Activist Nearly Erased From History

As Pride Month begins, take a look at Bayard Rustin, the main organizer of the March on Washington. Rustin’s Quaker background was influential in the strategies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

Black, gay activism in civil rights continues today. DeRay Mckesson has been a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement since Ferguson and he cofounded Campaign Zero. In a recent interview with PBS, Mckesson was asked, “What would you say to a young kid today that’s looking to get involved in activism?” His response, “So many things. Find an issue that you care about and learn it well. The second is know that you have more power than anybody will ever try to tell you.”

Ideas for discussions with your kids after watching the video(s) together: 

  • Why do you think that more people have not heard more about Bayard Rustin?
  • What do you think he meant when he said, “We need a group of people in every community to be angelic troublemakers”?
  • Talk with your kids about the importance of activism today. 
  • What kinds of issues do you care about? What do you think needs to change?

Activity: What Can You Do?

  • Talk together about what kinds of change would you like to see happen. 
  • Brainstorm ideas of actions that you can take as a family or that your child could take.
  • Decide as a family or help your child decide what to do as a first step. What are some of the next steps you could take?
  • Then, take action!

For some great picture books and short chapter books, take a look at the Welcoming Schools Great Books on LGBTQ History for Kids.


Week 11: Why is June Pride Month?

Video: How the Stonewall Riots Sparked a Movement - Riots by History.com

In response to police brutality against Black people and pervasive racism in the United States, protests are happening across the country. As we begin Pride month, it is important to remember that protests also helped create the foundation of the LGBTQ rights movement. One important milestone happened 51 years ago, when LGBTQ patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in June 1969 stood up and stood together to stop the police brutality that they had endured for far too long. Starting the following year through today, LGBTQ people have been holding marches to commemorate these uprisings and their role in the early modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Ideas for discussions with your kids after watching the video together:

  • Talk about some of the changes that have happened because of the LGBTQ movement.
  • Have you been hearing about the protests that have been happening over the past week? 
  • Do you know what they are about?
  • ​What can we do to help ensure these protests are an enduring spark for significant changes?

Activity: Learn About Pride and LGBTQ History with Your Kids

Take a look at some other videos about LGBTQ history together with your kids.


For some great picture books and short chapter books, take a look at the Welcoming Schools Great Books on LGBTQ History for Kids. For more resources, check out these Welcoming Schools lesson plans, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Women of Color: The Stonewall Inn and the Modern LGBTQ Movement or A Look at LGBTQ History and Prominent LGBTQ People.


Week 10: Will Mo’s Zombie Parents Accept Him? Be Who You Are

Book and Video: ¡Los Zombis No Comen Verduras! / Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! Por / by  Megan and Jorge Lacera.  Leído por / Read by Jaime Camil.

Mo Romero, a zombie, loves nothing more than growing and eating vegetables. The problem? His parents insist that their niño eat only zombie cuisine, like arm-panadas and finger foods. Mo can't imagine a lifetime of just eating zombie food. He even begins to question his own zombie identity. One of the New York Public Library's Top 10 Books in Spanish for Kids

During or after the reading, you could ask your children these questions / prompts:

  • Are there things that you like to do (or eat) that no one else in the family likes?
  • Does that make you feel different than everyone else sometimes?
  • Remind your children that you will always love them even if they are different from the rest of the family.

Activity: Make Zombie Food Together

  • Make “Finger Food”: Fill celery sticks with sunflower or peanut butter. Dip the wide end of an almond or sunflower seed (in the shell) in strawberry jam. Place it at one end celery stick. Place them on a plate decorated with some more jam or jelly.
  • Make a face on a frozen pizza with veggies before placing in the oven.
  • Make pancakes using sliced bananas with raisins for eyeballs. Serve with streaks of strawberry jam or jelly. 
  • For recipes from the book, click here to see how to make Mo’s Garden Gazpacho (aka Blood Bile Bisque) and The Romero Family’s Famous Shockamole.

For more books about accepting who you are check out the Welcoming Schools Be Who You Are Booklist.


Week 9: Pride and Hope: Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Pride and Hope: Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag; Welcoming Schools WednesdaysThis week we are celebrating the life of Harvey Milk by featuring a book and video that bring his story to life for young audiences. Our featured book is “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” a Junior Library Guild selection. In this true story, learn about the renowned social activist Harvey Milk and trace the life of the rainbow flag, also known as the LGBTQ Pride flag, from its beginning in 1978 when it was designed by Gilbert Baker, to its role around the world.

Video: Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag read by Brightly Storytime

Video: BrainPOP Harvey Milk - A short educational video designed for kids about Harvey Milk

During or after the reading, you could ask your children these questions/prompts:

  • What kind of dreams do you have for our world?
  • Look at the pages with all the other kinds of flags and identify or look up what they symbolize.
  • Where have you seen the rainbow flag displayed?

Activity: Design Your Own Flag

  • What are you proud of?
  • What would you want to include on your flag?
  • Using markers, crayons or colored pencils, draw a flag to show your pride.
  • Display in your window!

Click here for a Welcoming Schools booklist with both picture books and middle grade books about LGBTQ history. Click here for a lesson plan using "Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag."


Week 8: The Adventures of a Non-Binary Guinea Pig

New Book Release: Peanut Goes for the Gold by Jonathan Van Ness, illustrated by Gillian Reid 

Jonathan Van Ness, Welcoming Schools WednesdayVideo: Peanut Goes for the Gold read by Jonathan Van Ness

Peanut, a non-binary guinea pig does everything with their own personal flare. So when Peanut decides to be a rhythmic gymnast, they come up with a routine that they know is absolutely perfect, because it is absolutely, one hundred percent Peanut.

Either during the reading or after, you could ask your children these questions:

  • Peanut is non-binary. Have you heard that word before? A person (or a guinea pig) who is non-binary doesn’t feel like the words “girl” or “boy” fit. They may feel like both or neither. They sometimes use pronouns such as they, them, theirs like Peanut does.
  • How did Peanut score a 10 on their rhythmic gymnastics routine? (Lots of practice.)
  • Even though Peanut got tripped up by their shoelaces, they continued on with their routine. Have there been times when something didn’t go quite right for you but you continued on anyway to make the best of it?

Activity: Make Up Your Own Routine 

  • Find some “funky” music like Peanut did and make up your own routine.
  • You could use a scarf like a gymnastics ribbon and dance and twirl around.
  • Practice your routine and perform it for your family.
  • Remember to tie your shoes!

For more children’s books with gender expansive, non-binary or trans characters, check out Welcoming Schools listing with both picture and middle grade books. Click here for more definitions to help explain LGBTQ words to kids.


Week 7: Draw a Chinese Dragon in Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Book: The Seven Chinese Sisters written by Kathy Tucker and illustrated by Grace Lin

Video: The Seven Chinese Sisters Read Aloud

Each of the seven Chinese sisters had a special talent. When baby Seventh Sister is snatched by a hungry dragon, her loving sisters race to save her.

Pause on different pages to ask your child:

  • What’s going to happen to Seventh Sister after the dragon snatches her away?
  • If you could have a talent like one of the sisters, which would you want?
  • Take a look at each sister and notice how they look different from one another.

Activity: Draw a Chinese Dragon (or Tiger or Rabbit)

  • Follow along as Grace Lin shows special ways that Chinese dragons are different from European dragons in these easy step by step directions for drawing a Chinese Dragon. All you need is paper and a marker or crayon.
  • To draw more animals, take a look at these instructions for drawing a Chinese Tiger or a Chinese Moon Rabbit.


Week 6: Be Brave, Be Quick, Have Fun, Be a Pirate!

March 2020 New Book Release: How to Be a Pirate written by Isaac Fitzgerald 

Video: How to Be a Pirate read by actor, director and author LeVar Burton 

CeCe dreams of being a pirate. When the neighborhood boys tell her that she can’t, she wonders where to begin. Luckily, she suspects her grandpa must know something about being a pirate--why else would he have all those tattoos? CeCe discovers that there are all kinds of ways to be a pirate, and yes, she too can be a pirate.

Pause on different pages to ask your child:

  • Have you ever been told that doing something is just for girls or just for boys? What do you think about that?
  • What did CeCe learn she will need to be a pirate? Can all children be pirates? 
  • Would you like to be a pirate? Or how about something else -- an astronaut, a firefighter, an airplane pilot?

*The video continues with LeVar Burton reading a book he wrote called The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm written to comfort kids who may have encountered and have fears of natural disasters.

Activity: Make Your Own Pirate Hat and Be a Pirate!

  • Easy step by step video to make a pirate hat with newspaper or a paper bag and a stapler or tape.
  • Use smaller paper and make pirate hats for your stuffed animals!


Week 5: Finding Friendship, Adventure, Responsibility and Love

Book: Promised Land by Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris

Video: Promised Land Read Aloud

When a young prince and a farm boy meet in the forest, a growing friendship between them blossoms into love.

However, things get complicated when the queen’s sinister new husband seeks control over the enchanted forest that the farm boy’s family are responsible for protecting. 

Find more adventure and love as the series continues with Maiden Voyage and Raven Wild.


Activity: Imagine and Create Your Own Fairy Tale

Collaborate with your child to create your own fairy tale. Write it, draw it or act it out with dolls or stuffed animals. Older kids can make a short video and share with siblings, family members or their teachers. Prompts for imagining a fairy tale:

  • Who are the characters? Are they good? Evil? Funny? What do they look like?
  • Are there talking animals, trees or mythical creatures?
  • Where does it take place?
  • What kind of problems do characters run into? What kind of adventures do characters have? 
  • Who or what helps characters to solve their problems because, of course, everything works out happily ever after...or does it?

Week 4: Yes, You Are Perfectly Designed

Book: I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown with Jason Rachel Brown



I Am Perfectly Designed is an exuberant celebration of loving who you are. In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways that they are perfectly designed for each other. Pause on different pages to talk with your child about what they are seeing:

  • What is the first memory you have of your family? 
  • What is your favorite activity to do with your family?
  • What do you think it means to be “perfectly designed” for your family?

Activity: Self-Portrait of You and a Family Member

  • Write at the top of a piece of paper, “Perfectly Designed.” 
  • Draw a picture of you and an adult family member doing something that you love to do together―when you were a baby or at the age you are now.  
  • Ideas from the book: going on walks, going to the park, eating a favorite food, playing with toys, looking at the moon, getting a hug or dressing alike for Halloween. 

Find more children’s books that celebrate all kinds of families at Welcoming Schools.

Week 3: Shine Your Light on Everybody with Lupita Nyong’o

Book: Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Book Reading Video 

While adults and kids alike may know Lupita Nyong’o from her role in hit films such as “12 Years a Slave,” and The Black Panther,” she is also a talented author. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. 


In this The New York Times-bestselling picture book, Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty. By the end of the book, Sulwe wants to shine her light on everybody. Pause on different pages to talk with your child about what they are seeing:

  • How does Sulwe feel about her skin color? Why do you think she feels this way?
  • Have you ever felt the way Sulwe feels in any part of the book?
  • What do you think it means to feel “beautiful inside and out?”

Activity: Dance or Sing Along with Sulwe

  • Dance along as you watch these kids perform “Sulwe’s Song” written by Nyong’o and see their awe when Nyong’o pays them a surprise visit as they sing. 
  • Sing along with “Sulwe’s Song” with the lyrics on the screen
  • Want to talk with your kids more about skin color? Watch Nyong’o talking with Elmo  about skin.

To find more children’s books that celebrate who you are and talk about bias and bullying like Sulwe experienced, check out this Welcoming Schools book list on Looking at Skin Color with Books and Activities.  

Week 2: Join Us As We Celebrate National Poetry Month!

This week, HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program is excited to celebrate National Poetry Month. Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, poets and communities coming together to celebrate poetry’s essential place in our lives.

Poetry offers people the ability to express how they feel, who they are and what they aspire to be. As acclaimed LGBTQ poet and advocate Audre Lorde wrote, “My poetry comes from the intersection of me and my world."

We’re excited to feature some of our favorite poems and artwork created by third graders using the  Welcoming Schools “Social Justice Acrostic Poem” lesson plan

National Poetry Month

Malala by NC

Maker of schools
Awesome at speaking to millions of people
Lover of education
Amazing at school
Lots of education
And that is the end of the poem MALALA

Activity: Make Your Own Acrostic Poem and Artwork!

An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase. In this activity, we’ll be using the first letter of each line. 

And remember -- a poem is just words that you put together to show how you feel, or create something fun and new with your imagination. It doesn’t have to be any particular form or way. 

  • Ask your child to help you come up with a list of words or phrases on social justice movements and important issues that they care about. Examples might include: Black Lives Matter, respect all languages, animal rights, climate change, migration is beautiful, LGBTQ rights, water is life, disability rights...
  • Once you come up with your list, ask your child to pick a word or phrase they want to make a poem about. 
  • Working with colored pencils or markers have your child write a final version of their poem using different colors and different sizes of writing for each word.
  • Once your child has written their poem, they can make a drawing to illustrate it. 
  • Proudly display the poem and art on your fridge! And share with HRC on social media! Tag @HRC on Twitter and @HumanRightsCampaign on Instagram. 

Week 1:

Book: The Family Book by Todd Parr

The Family Book celebrates the many different ways to be a family. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Parr assures kids that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. For those who don’t have the book at home, not to worry -- you can use this video of Parr reading the book aloud. We encourage you to interact with your children as you read together. Pause on different pages to talk with your child about what they are seeing. 

  • Do you know of any families where they have different skin tones (though maybe not green, yellow or purple as in the book)? 
  • Do you know what a step-mom is or what adoption is? 
  • Do some families really look like their pets? 

Activity: Draw Your Family Todd Parr Style

  • Take a look at the illustrations in the book and notice how they are very simple yet expressive -- most people have round faces with many different hairstyles drawn with only a few lines -- straight, curly, long, wavy. Notice that the bodies are also drawn with only a few lines -- short or tall, smaller or bigger. Todd Parr; The Family Book
  • Have your child draw your family -- including any pets or important stuffies -- using crayons, colored pencils or markers, encouraging them to use wackadoodle colors as Todd Parr does in his book! 
  • Proudly display on your fridge! And share with HRC on social media! Tag @HRC on Twitter and @HumanRightsCampaign on Instagram

To find the Welcoming Schools lesson plan featuring The Family Book, check out Welcoming Schools family lessons. To find more great books about families, check out these family book lists.

HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier professional development program providing training and resources such as book lists and lesson plans to elementary school educators to embrace all families, create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying, and support transgender and non-binary students.