It is never too early to start having honest and thoughtful conversations with our children about racial inequality and injustice.
The events of the past couple of weeks seen not just here in the US but around the world had a lot of us taking a moment to reflect: what is really happening around us, how is this affecting (or not affecting) us, how much do we really know and understand, and how we can help to change things. #BlackLivesMatter finally (hopefully) isn't just a hashtag. People have stopped to listen and to educate themselves more.
One of the things that a lot of us don't realize is that racial prejudice can be learned by kids as young as age 3. This just highlights how us parents are and should be responsible in instilling the right values in our kids. Sometimes, we think that part of protecting them at a young age is to deny what's currently happening or to not honestly address the questions that they may have. As parents, we also have to remember that it's essential for us to prepare our children — that teaching them and explaining the realities of the world isn't to scare them but it is to prepare them while assuring them that we are here to guide them and to give them the encouragement that they need.
For parents who are looking for resources on how to engage in these conversations with their children, we listed down these 10 books that will teach kids of all ages about diversity.
The ABCs of what it means to be an activist. "The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice." - Innosanto Nagara.
Order for $14.08 at Amazon
by Ibram X Kendi and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
The nine steps and principles of what it takes to be an antiracist. "With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism."
Born a Crime (Adapted for Young Readers)
by Trevor Noah
The 36 year old host of The Daily Show recounts his life as a mixed race child growing up during and after the apartheid in South Africa. It may seem so long ago but apartheid existed until the early 1990s. "A lot of kids are fascinated by apartheid itself. They ask, why didn’t the government like black people? For a kid who hasn’t yet internalized the workings of government, there’s an illogic to apartheid that kids just don’t understand." - Trevor Noah
Order for $7.01 at Amazon
This book shines the light on the trailblazers, role models, and heroes that still inspire us today. "Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them."
Part of starting honest conversations with our children is to address why simply ignoring the subject of racism is not the way to go through life, but empowering and educating ourselves. "Not My Idea lifts the burden of fixing racism off the shoulders of children and empowers kids to seek an education in both white supremacy and those who have always fought against it—including some white people. "
A book to truly open the eyes of children on the systemic racial injustice — the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family's case that helped end school segregation in California.
Another favorite from Ibram X. Kendi and we honestly couldn't introduce the book better than this: "It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited."
Order for $15.32 at Amazon
by Lupita Nyong'o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong'o in her debut fiction book tells the relatable story of Sulwe, a young girl who wishes that her dark skin to be lighter and her journey learning to love oneself.
One of the must-reads that helps us and our children navigate through the world as we actively put the work required to being an anti-racist. "“In a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist—we must be ANTI-RACIST.” —Angela Davis.
A book that will speak to everyone: no matter who you are, where and how you grew up — you matter. Your existence and your identity matters.