It’s no secret that many people, and many parents, largely avoid talking about race—especially with their kids. They think that they can lead by example, showing kindness in the ways they know how but politely keeping their mouths shut and their hands clean. Unfortunately, that’s not a privilege all of us have.
Conversations surrounding race and discrimination are vital for all parents to partake in—especially if you benefit from the privilege of not being a racial minority.
But how can you go about that? Or where do you even start?
Well, books can help. What’s important to note, though, is that reading a book with your child doesn’t excuse you from having to have the actual conversation. Books are a starting point, a window to another world—what comes next is still on you.
Take the opportunity to ask questions to understand your child’s thinking around certain subjects, and keep the lines of communication open so that they feel comfortable asking freely and without judgment. Guide the conversations so you’re helping them form a strong sense, as well as compassion, empathy, and respect for differences. Point out similarities to show that our commonalities are what unite us.
And remember, when it comes to keeping your library diverse, the type of diversity is also important. Having only books that present marginalized groups with a hero narrative or as constantly oppressed doesn’t help. We are all different in some way—choosing books that show diversity in race and abilities of the characters while still living a regular life is just as important as learning about the heroes. So while these books will help you start conversations of the race with your kids and in your family, be mindful of all the content they consume to ensure that it’s diverse and representative of the world we actually live in.
10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California.
Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
It's Gabe's first day of school in America, and he doesn't speak English. This story shows how kindness is a universal language.
Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from.
Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah finds new ways to be strong.