Skip to main content

Teaching Children About Diversity With the Book "The Sandwich Swap"

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Consider reading to your child, 'The Sandwich Swap.' It promotes diversity and encourages children to be understanding of one another.

Consider reading to your child, 'The Sandwich Swap.' It promotes diversity and encourages children to be understanding of one another.

Using Books to Teach Diversity

One of the goals that I have as teacher is to promote 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 from what you have experienced.

Summary of "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!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


cardelean (author) from Michigan on November 04, 2012:

We had a multicultural days YEARS ago at my school. It sounds like yours is very similar to what ours was like. Thanks so much for your visit and I hope that others are able to use this book as a launch for a wonderful event such as the one you've shared.

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on November 04, 2012:

Cardelean, interesting hub. Until recently I worked at a primary school and we had a multi-cultural day with Yr 1 pupils (age 6) which went down really well, they learned all about children in Morocco, India and the indigenous population of Australia, aborigines. They tried food from a variety of countries which differed from our own. They then brought the foods around the school to staff and had to tell us what they had learnt about them and the country they came from. I think they learned more that day about other races and other cultures that ever before and learning about them through food is such a universally popular one that along with a book, you would get them off to a good start. Well done you on gaining their interest with both.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on October 14, 2011:

I agree that children/young people today are not as well educated as they should be. I experience that in my life on a daily basis both in the classroom and in public. However, I also see that without a common sense of respect for one another there is much too much anger and animosity for learning to take place. I do not believe that it is a matter of social engineering but a matter of human kindness and decency. Something that unfortunately has also seemed to escape our young people of today. I think that there needs to be a balance of the two. Thanks so much for your input James.

James A Watkins from Chicago on October 10, 2011:

I might respectfully submit that the time spent on "social justice" "inclusion" "tolerance" "multiculturalism" and "diversity" (social engineering) might be better spent on Readin', writin', and 'rithmetic. Just based on the ignorance of our recent generations of "high school graduates," some of whom cannot even read their own diplomas, and most of whom who cannot make simple change without a machine. Not meant to be an insult to you. I know you are not in charge of the curriculum. I am sure you are a fine teacher. :-)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 08, 2011:

Thanks Kate. It really is a great one isn't it! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Feel free to check out some of the other hubs I've done on lessons with books.

Kate Spenser from Austin, TX on June 07, 2011:

I LOVE this book - I bought it as a gift recently and then was excited to see it on my little sister's bookshelf this weekend - we read it several times and she loves it, too! These are some great ideas for using it for larger conversations about difference.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 07, 2011:

I met her at an MRA conference a couple of years ago and I really liked her, very down to earth. She talked about how to get your work published but at the time this one was just ready to be released so I had not read it yet. I ended up buying and having "Grace for President" signed by her for my Grace. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Sarah Webster on June 06, 2011:

Kelly DiPucchio visited our community for our Young Authors' Conference. I happened to be substitute teaching during the week of the Conference. She gave a wonderful talk about how she created this story and several others she has written. The Sandwich Swap was, by far, my favorite. Thank you for sharing this story with us. Great hub!!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 05, 2011:

Thanks Mrs. Menagerie. I know what you mean. I pretty much do too but I teach in a primarily African American community. My 4 yr. old daughter saw me ediing a video from my class last week and said, "They're all brown. Why are your students all brown Mom?" It gave us a nice opportunity to have a conversation about others being different. Thanks for reading!

Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on June 05, 2011:

Great hub and I love your ideas for activities. I currently live in a very "vanilla" community and would like to broaden my children's horizons, so-to-speak. Recently we took our kids to Disney World and my almost 9 year old son saw his first non-white people (I know, sad but true.) He thought people just got very tan in such warm was very cute and innocent.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 05, 2011:

At least you've tried WillStarr, that's all anyone can ask!

Docmo, thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate your kind comments. I agree that it is our job as parents to encourage our children to try new things and we must be that example for them.

Mohan Kumar from UK on June 04, 2011:

What a delightful story and a great way to explore diversity in culture. I have never been shy of trying new things and encourage my children to do so to - story based themes work so much better as it is constructed learning rather than transmitted. You are a great teacher!

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on June 03, 2011:

I try new foods at least three times. I just don't like the yucky stuff, and never will. :-)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 03, 2011:

Come on now WillStarr. Have you even tried it? My kids have eaten it since they were babies! It's great with pita and veggies.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on June 03, 2011:

I can be friends with anyone, but I still won't eat hummus!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 03, 2011:

Awww HBN, you're too kind. I try to do the best that I can. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Phobe, check out the book if you can get your hands on a copy. It's definitely worth the read! Thanks for commenting.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on June 02, 2011:

This hub blew me away! What a wonderful story book, but more importantly, meaningful lesson that sounds like great fun! I love all the suggested activities that complement the story and expose your students to other ethnicities and cultures. You are such an amazing teacher with a talent for really making a classroom come to life. Thanks for sharing this hub, but more importantly, thanks for the work you do teaching young people tolerance and acceptance.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 02, 2011:

Thanks Mom. You can always bet that I'll habve something new to read at my house!

Thanks Stephanie! I love using books to teach just about everything. It's a great way for kids to both learn about the world around them and promote literacy at the same time.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on June 02, 2011:

What a great idea to use this book to teach children about cultural differences in foods. I like that you were able to actually bring in the hummus and pita for the children to try! A book review with a moral to the story -- I like it!

Denise Handlon from Michigan on June 02, 2011:

Great story, Cara. I enjoyed reading it at your house :) Wonderful hub, wonderful book.

Phoebe Pike on June 01, 2011:

I had never heard of this book, but it seems like a good children's book to read. :)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on June 01, 2011:

It is a great one Susan. I'm glad you share it with children you work with! Thanks for reading!

Lilibees, I bet your local library would have a copy. It is a wonderful story with a great lesson. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

lilibees on June 01, 2011:

This book seems very interesting I will have to track it down and give it a read. Thanks for sharing such useful informatin.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2011:

I know this book. It is one of my favorites to read to and with the children when I help out at the school volunteering. Wonderful hub!