Teaching Kids about Diversity :: The Story Behind “Zoey the Zebra Meets Lexi the Lion”

I love the pictures of young children with different skin colors, holding hands, laughing, and hugging each other. The videos that you see on social media where the kids run to embrace their good friends bring warmth to the soul. So, what happens as those same children grow up? In a perfect world, we would see them grow up together, continuing to laugh and smile and grow closer, but they don’t. So, what happens, and more importantly, how do we fix this problem?

Diverse kids hugging
Kids hugging

My heart was stirred watching our differences divide us as Americans over this last year. I thought, “How can I help? Where do I start?”

In my very first adult job, right out of college, I became best friends with a co-worker, Christina. We had very different backgrounds and looked completely different, yet we had so much fun together and truly “got” each other! One day she said to me, “I never thought a white girl could be my best friend.” Although she said it in a loving manner, I hurt at the thought that she grew up thinking this way. Even then, I can remember thinking, “What is wrong with our world?” but no real world-changing solutions came to mind.

Enter 20 years later and I’m watching current events unfold where a country is diving over skin color and overall differences. Knowing there’s no magic wand to resolve these issues, I realized I can start with my family. Wherever we are planted, I believe that’s the area where we can start making a difference.

“How do I get my girls to accept others with differences?” I thought and then it hit me. Zoey the Zebra meets Lexi the Lion, the book concept, was born. My girls happen to love those animals that share their first letter and these two animals don’t get along or hang out; they are very different.

I spent a couple of weekends thinking through the storyline and how this could be entertaining yet impactful to a large population of various children. I realized some of my best friendships in life have involved people that are very different than me.

Zoey the Zebra Meets Lexi the Lion
Zoey the Zebra Meets Lexi the Lion – The Book

As a cheerleader, you can’t all be flyers. You need some strong bases to lift you up. It’s the same way in life: I believe our differences make us stronger teams, in work, in life, in all the things we do!

So, I encourage you to first look at yourself and the people you choose to do life with. Are all of your friends like you, and look like you? Do we accept others with differences? And I’m not just talking skin color here. Maybe they have a speech impediment or a prosthetic. Whatever it may be that makes someone feel different is, for me, what makes them a valuable, unique creation.

Here’s a quick self-check list to help us grow in this area:

1- Ask yourself, “Do all my friends, look, think, and act like me?”
2- What friends do my children most want to be around?
3- What opportunities can I make to connect with people that are different than me?

Let’s be the generation that teaches our kids to accept others by our own actions. Everyone is important, everyone is needed, everyone should be loved and have friends no matter their size, shape, skin color, or uniqueness.

For more information on Zoey the Zebra Meets Lexi the Lion, you can find it on Amazon or CheeringOnMoms.com

When asking where Jennifer is from, she finds just saying "Texas" is easier! Jennifer has lived in cities from Houston to Kerrville but has resided in Collin County since 2007. She lives everyday with all things that sparkle, being a girl Mom of Zoey (born 2010) and Lexi (born 2014). Married to her hot firefighter husband, Daniel since 2007, they love their small town of Celina and their hairy German Shepherd mix, Duke. Jennifer is a Certified Life Coach with an MBA who founded Cheering On Moms where she utilizes her background to encourage Moms to pursue their dreams. Living what she preaches, she has braved stepping out herself and won Mrs. North Texas in 2019 and Mrs. Diamond Universe in 2021. When Jennifer is not Momming or Coaching, you can find her on a local film or tv set. Her and her daughters are represented by a Dallas area talent agent and they love when they get to film together. To find out more, connect with her at CheeringonMoms.com