Seven Resources for Talking to Kids About Race
Red fish, blue fish—let’s talk about color. It’s one of the first things kids name and recognize, and skin color is no exception. Kids aren’t colorblind. They see and notice a difference, so it’s important for parents and adults of all backgrounds to start the conversation about race as early as possible. Luckily, there are books, podcasts, TV shows, and other resources that can help. From books for babies to TV for teenagers, there’s something for everyone! Check out these seven resources for talking to kids about race.
Antiracist Baby (0+)
On the theme of “it’s never too early,” be sure to check out Ibram X. Kendi’s book Antiracist Baby. With fun illustrations and actionable steps, this board book proves that antiracism is for every baby. Antiracist Baby stands for justice. Antiracist Baby stands for equality. Antiracist Baby stands for a world where all babies are cherished and loved. It’s the perfect read for the baby or toddler in your life. For the adults, be sure to check out Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist.
Sesame Street Racism Town Hall (3+)
Join Big Bird, Elmo, and friends for “Coming Together: Standing up to Racism.” Even though it’s targeted to young children, the town hall does not hesitate to bring up tough questions about skin color, police violence, and white privilege. Experts on child psychology weigh in on topics like, “How can we stop racism and stay safe?” This is a great resource for helping kids process through tough emotions like sadness and fear while affirming their empathy, care for others, and desire to help. Remember: no matter the color of your feathers or fur, you are worthy of kindness and respect. You can watch the entire townhall here.
Molly of Denali (5+)
Molly of Denali is a PBS Kids show with a native Alaskan protagonist, 10-year-old Molly Mabray. Molly lives in the fictional town of Qyah with her family and goes on adventures with her friends Tooey and Trini and dog Suki. Featuring engaging plotlines, winning voice performances, humor, and heart, Molly of Denali celebrates Native Alaskan culture and a spirit of adventure. There’s even a podcast for easy listening in the car between soccer practice and ballet.
Sulwe / Don’t Touch My Hair (5+)
Okay, I cheated—this is two resources, two books to be exact. First up, Lupita Nyong’o’s Sulwe, an imaginative and beautifully illustrated tale about colorism and self-love. Sulwe is born the color of midnight and struggles to find self-acceptance, wishing for lighter skin. In Don’t Touch My Hair, Aria loves her hair, but so does everyone else. They try to touch it without her permission until she learns to stand up for herself. These are two wonderful tales for Black girls and anyone learning how to love and protect themselves and their bodies.
Where Are You From? (5+)
A little brown girl is faced with a question in this picture book by Yamile Saied Méndez: where are you from? The question seems innocent enough, but she doesn’t know the answer, so she asks her abuelo. His response is beyond her and the reader’s wildest imagination.
American Born Chinese (10+)
What does it mean to be American? Step into the shoes of Jin Wang, a Chinese American boy struggling to fit in at a predominantly white school. Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel weaves together three stories of identity and belonging. Do kids need to change their cultural identity and assimilate to find acceptance? This is a great read for older kids and teens.
The Hate U Give (13+)
The Hate U Give is about a Black teen, Starr, caught between two worlds: her neighborhood and her fancy private school. Angie Thomas tells a powerful story about racism, police brutality, and finding your voice. The mature themes make it appropriate for teens (and adults) and there’s also a movie based on the book. It’s sure to spark conversations about Black Lives Matter and how we can create a more just future for the next generation.
There are many, many more resources out there for talking to kids about race—these are merely the tip of the iceberg. Start where you are, but just start. Good luck!
Written by: Maylin Tu