Have you started having conversations about race and racism with your children yet? It’s a topic I have touched upon (in the most simplistic way) with my children on several occasions. As they get older, these topics will become more important to talk about on a more regular basis.
If you’re thinking: “Why do I need to to talk to my children about race?” or “My kids are too young to start having those types of conversations?” or “Will talking about race promote racism or bigotry?” or “Isn’t that the teacher’s job?” Think again.
I understand that talking about race can sometimes feel dangerous and overwhelming for some people, but it’s important work if we want to truly get to a place where all people are treated as equals. I believe it is crucial that we talk to our kids openly and honestly about race as soon as they are old enough to understand that people come in all different colors, shapes and sizes.
I think it’s important to give children the words and language to understand both the superficial outer differences between people, as well as the very real, lived differences that exist under the surface. As parents, caregivers and educators, we need to teach them to respect and value those differences as well as the many similarities that all people share.
The books I’ve listed here provide you with a sort of simple blueprint for educating your children or students about race and being unique. It helps them become more compassionate toward people and allows them to help push the lever toward true equality. In essence, these books helps kids to see beyond the superficial outward differences and look deeper for common interests, similar likes and dislikes, values, beliefs, and attitudes. We all have a story to tell.
Mariama: Different But Just the Same by Jerónimo Cornelles
Lovely by Jess Hong
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt
Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengar
Skin Again by Bell Hooks
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
Shades of People by Sheila M. Kelly
Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney
Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue
Happy In Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais
We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan
Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs
Your turn: Which books would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.