The topic of racism is complex, but essential. Despite years of social action, it is still prevalent in our society. It is just as important now than ever before that we teach our children that our skin tones do not symbolise inequality, but that everyone is important and valued. Children books to educate about racism are important, but parents and guardians must have open conversations with their children about racism as well.
In this blog post, we will provide some tips for talking to your children about racism, followed by a few recommended books that can help get the conversation started.
What Books Are Best?
Talking to your kids about racism can be challenging. However, it is imperative to broach the topic of different skin tones and why they elicit such a strong reaction in society. Whether you are trying to expose your children to the subject from a young age or looking for a good title for your teen, some fantastic children’s books can teach your kids about racism.
Tips for Talking to Your Children About Racism
While it is an in-depth topic, there are some great ways you can begin to educate your children about racism. Below are a few examples of how you can get the conversation started or deepen your child’s understanding.
#1 Make Connections
If your child already understands skin tone differences, ask them why they think light skin is seen as more desirable than dark skin. Help them to make the connection between racism and the way that light skin is glorified in our society.
#2 Examine the News
Take some time to look at the news with your child and discuss events or stories that involve racism. This can help them to understand how the issue impacts people’s lives every day.
#3 Use Everyday Conversations as Opportunities to Learn
Be aware of the language you use when speaking with your children about skin tone. Try to avoid stereotypes and be careful not to compare their appearance to others’ in a negative way. Make sure that your child knows they are valued for who they are, not what their skin tone is.
#4 Talking About Racism with Children Books
It can be difficult to talk about racism with a young child. They may not understand all of the complex concepts and vocabulary involved in the discussion. That’s where children’s books about racism can be a valuable tool. They can help to introduce these difficult topics in a way that is age-appropriate and easy for kids to understand.
Here are a few recommended books that can help get the conversation started with your children about racism.
9 Children Books to Educate About Racism
More, More, More, Said the Baby
Written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams, this is a children’s book for ages 0-2. More, More, More, Said the Baby is the perfect title to expose your kids to the topic of racism. Allowing your children to be exposed to racism at an early age will make it easier to have in-depth conversations on the matter when they’re older. The worst thing we can do is pretend that race and differences don’t exist at all; it ignores the broader problem. This title will expose your children to many multiracial characters. In addition, it gives an opportunity for you to talk to your child about different races by featuring them throughout the story.
The Colors of Us
This book was written for children between the ages of four and eight years old, which makes it perfect for very young kids who may not yet fully understand racism.
This board book uses the colours of food to describe the different skin tones (for example, french toast and honey). Racism isn’t directly discussed or mentioned, but opens children up to the idea that we are all different colours in an abstract and engaging way that they can quickly grasp.
All the Colors We Are
Written by Katie Kissinger and featuring photographs by Chris Bohnhoff, this children’s book is for kids aged 3 and up. This book looks at race and why we have different skin tones. It takes on a scientific and objective look into where our skin tones came from and what they mean scientifically. This book introduces the idea that our skin tone makes up just one part of who we are, and the way we look comes from our ancestors and where they lived. Furthermore, activities to open up and encourage further conversation are included to help your kids firmly grasp the ideas.
Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race
Written by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, this children’s book is for ages 2-5. Like the last title, this book focuses on why we have different skin tones. However, it directs away from the scientific angle and takes a historical look at why we have the skin tones we have. This book also explores the discussion on how the colour of our skin can lead to racism both by mistake and on purpose. This book is the first step in making your child aware of ideas and thoughts that could seem innocent but may actually lead to something hurtful.
What’s the Difference? Being Different is Amazing
Written by Doyin Richards, this children’s book is for ages 2-10. This book is all about exposing your children to race. It is about being out in the world and seeing people of a different race and how to celebrate our differences. This story will help teach your family how to see differences in skin tone in a celebratory way.
The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson, this children’s book is for ages 5-8. This is a story about meeting new people of a different race to you. In the story, the children return to school to a new classmate of another race and learn the experiences of a different race and what racism is like.
Written by Jason Reynolds and Ibrihim X. Kendi, this book is a young adult novel for ages 10-14. This story is written for tweens and teens and helps them to understand how racism in history and the evolution of racist ideas have shaped today’s culture and attitudes towards race.
This Book is Anti-Racist
Written by Tiffany Jewell, this book is for ages 10-18. This young adult novel is about identifying and standing up for racism. This novel is twenty chapters long, with each chapter focusing on a different lesson. Focused on teens and tweens, this book will help them to understand racism and race at an in-depth level and give them the tools needed to face racism in the world.
Edited by Ibi Zoboi, this is an anthology for children aged 10-18. This collection features a collection of seventeen short stories focused on race. Authors based stories on their own experiences with racism in their lives and tell the story of what it’s like to be young and black in America.
Teaching your children about racism is more important than ever. At Apple Fostering, discussion around race for children is essential and giving children the best tools for life is integral in shaping them to be the best citizens possible.