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The ongoing protests against racially fuelled police brutality following the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor — and many more — have prompted conversations between non-Black parents and their children about race.
In an article for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Ashaunta Anderson and Dr. Jacqueline Dougé explored how racial bias is developed in children. According to Anderson and Dougé, the brain can notice race based differences by the time a child is six months old. Implicit racial bias can be internalized by the time a child is only 2, based on the behaviours they witness from their parents.
With many children establishing a set of beliefs by the time they enter their preteen years, Anderson and Dougé encourage parents to use that small window of time to help model and develop a sense of cultural understanding, diversity and inclusion.
While race and discrimination are discussed within black families from an early age the same can not always be said for white families. For some, media coverage of the riots will be the impetus for parents to have an open discussion about race with their children for the first time.
I'm a parent, author, and a former college interviewer. Please hear me - in this time of stress people want to "flood" their kids with books about racism. Please provide 20 joyful books for every one book on racism. They also need to know POC kids are like every other kid.— Christine Taylor-Butler (@ChristineTB) June 1, 2020
Parents have been purchasing anti-racism children’s books online to help foster conversation with their kids. Although these books are an invaluable resource for prompting these discussions, strictly reading and buying books about racism, black historical figures and stories of black oppression is not enough. Experts are also encouraging parents to purchase books that feature non-white protagonists to help their children see People of Colour in leading, hero roles.
Below, we’ve gathered a list of books for children of all ages to help create a diverse bookshelf for your child.
“This wonderful book should be a first choice for all collections and is strongly recommended as a springboard for discussions about differences.” —School Library Journal
“How wonderful: a book with both racial diversity and class diversity that feels authentic. Special and splendid.”―Kirkus Reviews
“An age-appropriate and hopeful look at what it means to be a connected human on this planet.” - Editorial Review
“Parents seeking read-alouds that educate kids about diversity and acceptance will find It's OK to be Different the perfect lesson of choice.”- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Reviews
“A beautiful and inclusive story that encourages children to find the beauty in their own lives and share it with the world. . . . Each child feels very alone until they begin to share their stories and discover that it is nearly always possible to find someone a little like you.” - School Library Journal
“Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.”
“Heartbreakingly topical.” —Publishers Weekly
“A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.”
“A simple, beautiful story with an empowering lesson and call to action.” —School Library Journal
“This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power and privilege affect us from birth, and how we can educate ourselves...Not My Idea is an incredibly important book, one that we should all be using as a catalyst for our anti-racist education.” —THE TINY ACTIVIST
“[An] exquisite story of generosity from the beloved McKissack… Harrison has created soft yet dazzling illustrations for this tribute to faith, hope and the African-American community.” —New York Times Book Review
“And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father's bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people-Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father's bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father's book itch.”
“A visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice.” -Publishers Weekly
“In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.”
“Taken away from her mother by a ruthless slave trader, all Julilly has left is the dream of freedom. Every day that she spends huddled in the slaver trader's wagon travelling south or working on the brutal new plantation, she thinks about the land where it is possible to be free, a land she and her friend Liza may reach someday.”