HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT RACE | 5 BOOKS THAT WILL HELP.

It wasn’t that long ago that my 3-year-old daughter came home from preschool talking all about her day and wanting to share all that had taken place. I remember it as clear as day because it was the first time I heard my daughter referring to one of her best friends as,‘Sarah with the black face.’

See my daughter had TWO friends called Sarah and was innocently trying to communicate which Sarah it was that she actually played with. Suffice to say, we tried not to make it a big deal, as we gently encouraged her to perhaps use the girls last name to differentiate between friends. I knew however that we were about to embark on an ongoing discussion about the complexities of race and varying cultures in the world and it was my job to prepare my little girl to live it out well.

So today, we wanted to share with you just a handful of books that will help make that discussion as natural and as enjoyable as possible with your little ones as you continue down that road that we recently traveled. We hope you enjoy the books and the road! x

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

As Lester discusses how we all have a story, he brings up questions about why we think race is important and what it means to have a racial identity. This gorgeous book — great to read with kids of any age — allows for open-ended conversation and questions.

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Sadler

This vibrant picture book “brings to life the empowering story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize. An engaging narrative and vibrant images paint a robust portrait of this inspiring champion of the land and of women’s rights.” A rich collection of related resources can be found on the publisher’s web site.

The Name Jar – by Yangsook Choi

Eager to fit in upon her arrival in America, Unhei announces that she’ll choose an “American” name to use in place of her own. Her whole class gets involved, but ultimately, Unhei sees the power and joy of sharing a bit of her true self with her community. Easy but effective companion activities and discussion prompts can be found at Teaching Tolerance.

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story – by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon

In a new school and new country, Lailah is excited to participate in the celebration of Ramadan — but wonders if her classmates will understand. A supportive community helps Lailah share her beliefs and trust that others will respect them.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina – by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios

To Marisol, “opposites” make a lot of sense. She has red hair and brown skin, loves polka dots and stripes, and eats peanut butter and jelly burritos. Should this Peruvian-Scottish-American girl have to choose one identity over the other? A bilingual affirmation of everyone’s right to not “choose.”


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