There is a lot going on in our world today. It started with Covid 19 and mass quarantine. Our communities spiraled into protests. Now big conversations about diversity and racism have begun that many families have not had before.
Empower Children to Handle Bias and Racism
Children as young as three years old have even experienced racism. It is our job as parents and educators to empower our youngest children. They will need our help with language and the knowledge to combat it. White children can learn to become better allies for their peers and examine their own behavior. Children of color can learn to recognize and label things that have happened to them. They need to acquire the language to use to describe their experience, and how to stand up for themselves.
Parents and teachers – Take Responsibility
Parents and teachers of young children have a bigger responsibility than ever to be proactive in teaching. We must show them how to become respectful people. It can be hard to know how to talk about racial injustice, diversity and bias with young children. Picture books are a a great way for parents to jump start those conversations with your family. Teachers already know how powerful a book can be to become more intentional about important topics within the classroom. Luckily there are now more of these books available.
Books as a Liaison to Talk about Racism
Teachers can use more diverse literature within their classrooms to help become more intentional in discussing diversity and racism with young children. Our classrooms need to contain diverse characters within books and our children need more books read to them that include topics and characters that students can identify with. They need books that teach them to love and befriend those that may look different.
Parents can use picture books to help start these very tricky conversations. Young children don’t have the language to put into words the complex issue of racism and diversity.
Jump Start Conversations with Picture Books
Here are a few books to help you as you talk to your child about racism and injustice.
- s%2C187&sr=8-2″>Something Happened in My Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazard follows a white and a black family as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.
- Mama, Did You Hear the News? by Sanya Whittaker Gregg is a book about the “talk” parents need to have when approached by a police officer as well as emphasizing that all police officers are not bad.
- Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs is about a little brown boy being harassed by several white students and how he learns to love his skin.
- Mixed Me by Taye Diggs
- Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller is a sweet thoughtful book about being kind to others.
- I Am Human by Peter Reynolds is a book about how humans are full of possibility. We learn, we dream, we wonder at the world around us. We make mistakes and can feel fearful or sad, too.
- Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sheree Miller is about a little girl’s feelings about everyone wanting to touch her hair
- Same Difference by Calida Garcia Rawles is a book that addresses the sensitive and sometime divisive issues of beauty and identity.
- Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth is about a little girl who longs to see beyond the scary sights on the sidewalk and angry graffiti on her building. Her search for “something beautiful” leaves her feeling much happier and she experiences the beauty of friendship and the power of hope.
- I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia is a great guide for any age to remember how to tap into inner strength and find the encouragement needed to navigate daily environments.
Clarify Vocabulary Words for Understanding
Children are natural problem solvers and really have an inclination to fix things. We need to give kids the correct vocabulary and understanding of issues. Then we can help them develop into better human citizens and be part of the change in this rapidly changing world. Using books to springboard your discussions will help parents and teachers be a part of the solution to our society’s racial dilemma.
Discussion Questions During Reading
Use these discussion ideas and questions as you are reading to help your child think about this issue more deeply.
- What do you think about this?
- Has this ever happened to you or have you seen this happen to someone else?
- What would you do?
- Is this a problem?
- Do you agree with this? Do you disagree with this?
- How does this make you feel?
Teach New Vocabulary
Teach & explain to your child new vocabulary. They don’t know what diversity, bias, oppression, and racism really mean. We must explain it to them.
- diversity is including and involving people that are different
- bias is prejudice for or against something, someone, or a group usually in a way considered to be unfair
- oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment
- racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of race or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority
Strategies for having discussions with your child on tough topics can be found in my post, How to Talk to Young Children about Covid-19 here.
The conversation is alive in our communities. Be an example in your conversations to stop this next generation from causing hurt and harm. Let’s work together as we strive as families, classrooms, and communities to make our world a better place for all citizens.