By Amy Hackworth.

“Hey, where’d you get your brown skin?” my five-year-old nephew asked his school bus driver as he got off the bus one day. My sister’s cheeks flushed as she made eye contact with their friend, bus-driver Bill.

What was true for my nephew is true for most kids — his comment was sparked by nothing more than a simple observation and some innocent curiosity, but the complexities of race, diversity and tolerance weigh heavily on our parenting shoulders when our children publicly notice differences in others.

We’re sensitive about being offensive, disrespectful, or discriminatory, but remember, recognizing differences does not equal discrimination and ignoring questions about diversity or shushing observant kids sends the wrong message. Pretending differences don’t exist is foolish (and boring!), which is why I love Karen’s philosophy: what makes us different is the essence of what makes us beautiful, so starting with the things that make your family unique can be a great way to navigate potentially tricky — but essential — conversations about our differences.

What conversations and experiences have helped your children appreciate diversity? If you were my sister, how would you have handled the school bus situation?

P.S. — Aren’t these darling matryoshka prints a sweet way to explore cultural differences?