February 5, 2012

Teaching Children about Diversity. ~ Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

I would like to share my recently published children’s book with the elephant journal community.

The elephant journal community is made up of open-minded world citizens who are engaged in cultivating compassion through their personal practice. I think that they and their children will appreciate this book as much as the children I’ve met through my travels.

During my travels throughout Asia, I learned the popular saying, “same, same but different” that natives use to compare Western culture to their own, like referring to a cold bucket of water as a shower, or eating with one’s hands instead of utensils.

While teaching art and English at Sunshine School in Bhaktapur, Nepal, I encouraged the children to record their day-to-day lives and surroundings with pencils, crayons and colored markers. This project culminated in an art exchange with friends back home, sparking the idea for my new picture book, Same, Same but Different.

My adventures backpacking around India, the friends I made, my studies in Yoga, Sanskrit and Hindi, my love for Indian culture, and my overflowing sketchbooks all provided incredible inspiration.

I chose two characters for my book – Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and drawings, they discover that they both love to climb trees, have pets and ride a bus to school.

Their worlds might look different, but they are quite similar. Same, same but different!

When I present my book at schools and see American children bowing to each other saying, “Namaste” and asking to “play more yoga,” or when I am chanting the ancient Sanskrit alphabet call-and-response-style with hundreds of African American or  Latino students, I am heartened to see their curiosity bloom as they discover a new culture.

This opens the door for teachers and parents to dialogue with their children about the beauty of diversity and the ways that all people on the planet are the same.

Please enjoy some sample pages:


 For more information visit the publisher’s site here.


Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw shares an art studio with her creative director and daughter, Tulsi. She is the author/illustrator of the children’s books, Same, Same but Different (2011) and My Travelin’ Eye (2008), published by Henry Holt, and the illustrator of The Mother’s Wisdom Deck, a 52-card oracle deck by Boulder authors Niki Dewart and Elizabeth Marglin, (Sterling Ethos May 2012). Jenny is a freelance illustrator, creating art for toys and gifts, as well as wall decor for Oopsy Daisy Fine Art for Kids.  She lives, paints and gardens with her family at their mountain homestead near Taos.  Her websites are DancingElephantStudio.com and chaipilgrimage.com.

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