I have always tried to purchase and borrow board and picture books for my kids that depict children and families from a variety of racial backgrounds. As I’ve mentioned before, we live in a very racially homogeneous area so as a White mother of White children, I have a responsibility to ensure that our children see Black, Indigenous and People of Color in our reading material. Recent events have made me even more determined to help my children understand and confront racism and their own privilege.
As a trained librarian, I may be an expert on finding information sources, but I am not an expert on race. I am grateful that there are people who share their expertise on child rearing and racism. There really are so many good ways out there to find diverse books for kids. EmbraceRace and the Children’s Defense Fund: Freedom School Reading List are two places where I started my search this weekend. I also discovered and am loving the OurStory app created by We Need Diverse Books.
Here is what I’ve ordered for our house so far. I will share reviews as we read them.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? by Patrice McLaurin.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni.
I Can Make a Difference: a Treasury to Inspire Our Children by Marian Wright Edelman.
Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee.
A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
For me, I’ve ordered I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. My two closest friends and I decided to read this and then discuss it virtually. I am grateful that we are creating a space to have these discussions where I can be honest and vulnerable. These women will support, challenge and help me grow in my understanding.
As hard as it is for me to admit that reading won’t solve all the world’s problems, I know that owning and reading diverse books is not enough. So I’m doing research on other steps I should be taking. If you live in a Racially Homogeneous Community like I do, EmbraceRace has a helpful tip sheet. It is also available in Spanish. I am also making my way through their other Action Guides. The Center for Racial Justice in Education also has a great list of resources to check out. Once I started looking, I discovered plenty of material. I have so much to learn!
Raising anti-racist kids and becoming anti-racist myself feels hard and overwhelming sometimes. But I know it’s nothing compared to what parents and kids who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color have to contend with on a daily basis. This is literally the least I can do.
What books do you use to start conversations about race with your kids? What other sources have you found helpful when it comes to parenting and race? Please share with us in the comments.
Note: I have chosen not to include affiliate links on any of these titles. Please consider purchasing them from Black owned bookshops or making your purchases support anti-racist organizations.