Over the last month I have had a few people reach out to me asking me about resources for teaching kids about Racism. I have decided to share that information here for others who may be interested.
I am going to break this post into 4 sections. First, the list of resources I have accumulated for teaching my kids about Black History and Racism. 2nd. The books I had already been reading to my kids to teach them about the Holocaust (we have Jewish Ancestry) 3rd. The books I have read to my children to teach them about their VERY DISTANT Native American Heritage. 4th. How my husband and I have gone about teaching out kids about racism.
For those of you just tiptoeing into this area with their kids, a good place to start would be here:
The Giver (book – NOT THE MOVIE) talks about the problems of living in a homogeneous society and speaks to why it is important for everyone that we are all different.
Avatar the last Airbender (cartoon from nickelodeon, currently on Netflix) – talks about different people (some you may even, justifiably dislike to begin with) and living with others. (the “cast” is a bit white skewed, but the ideas are good [and it is great to watch even if you are not a kid])
1. Kids Books on Black History and Racism
a. Anti Racism Resources for Kids and Families
b. This is my Favorite. Children in our World Book Series
c. Be the Change, Make it Happen
d. Can I Join Your Club?
e. Look up Kwame Alexander. He’s amazing and has great books for kids and teens. The Undefeated is amazing.
f. Jacqueline Woodson also has books for kids and teens.
g. I am Enough by Grace Byers
h. Just Ask by Sonya Sotomayor
i. She’s Got This by Laurie Hernandez
j. Where Are You From by Yamile Saied Mendez
k. Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack
l. Under my Hijab by Hena Khan
m. The Zoey and Sassafras series doesn’t directly deal with race, but the main girl is a black scientist and it’s written by a black scientist.
n. Drita My Homegirl, Jenny Lombard
o. Dyamond Daniel, by Nicki Grimes
2. My Holocaust List
a. The Book Thief.
b. Elie Wiesel’s book Night
c. Viktor Frankl’s a Man’s Search For Meaning.
d. “the Terrible Things” an allegory of the holocaust (check this youtube of someone reading it: it is much like the poem “first they came…”, but tailored to kids.
e. The poem, “first they came”, in case it is unfamiliar
g. The Hiding Place
h. Sevek and the Holocaust
i. My Survival: A Girl on Schlinder’s List
j. A Jewish Soldier in Hitler’s Army
k. Anne Frank
3. First Nations Peoples I read and work on with my kids.
a. Indian Captive This was my Favorite, when I was a child and is now my daughters favorite.
b. Black Elk’s Vision
c. The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman
d. How the Stars Fell Into the Sky
e. The Thirteen Colonies
f. The Ceremony in the Circle of Life
g. The Great Race of the birds and other animals
h. Native American History for kids With 21 Activities
i. American Indian Myths and Legends
4. When deciding how to teach our kids about Racism and the Back Lives Movement I sought the advice of many people and followed numerous social media sites.
Since our children were young my husband and I decided that we would not sugar coat the world for our children. Research has shown that the sugar coated versions of the world, we give to our children, adversely affect their ability to comprehend and accept the reality of the world and historical/current issues when they grow up.
While we don’t “Sugar Coat” we also don’t tell them things we do not think they are developmentally old enough to comprehend. This way we are not giving them a false sense of history, we’re just not telling them some things until they are older or ask us about them.
My husband Drew and I said we would tell our kids about racism when the time came for them to know about it. Unfortunately, for us, that came almost four years ago, the day after Donald Trump was elected. My eldest daughter came home and told us “Don’t worry, we’re safe because we are white.” We found out that at her school that day, which had a large hispanic population, kids on the playground were telling the hispanic kids they would be sent home and that white kids were safe. That is when our educating our kids about prejudice and racism began.
Because I am not an expert in Black or Hispanic cultures, I decided to begin teaching my kids about racism and prejudice by exposing them to the history of Jews and Indigenous Peoples. I chose these populations due to our ancestors having come from these groups.
Over the last few years I used John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers comedy news as a medium for teaching my kids the current events dealing with racism and homophobia. I found this platform delivered the material in a way that was funny so my kids were not frightened,. After each episode we would talk about the actual significance and meaning of the issues.
Last summer I took my daughters on a road trip to South Dakota and they were able to learn about the histories of the Lakota and Sioux from elders and the historical sites.
This year I was lucky in that my child’s elementary school did an entire unit on Black History and their entire school concert was comprised of songs sung by Slaves and Freedom Marchers during the Civil Rights movement. Because of that, when everything hit the fan a month ago, my daughters had a good, albeit watered down, version of Black History in America. When my girls were learning about Black History in school we watched a movie called Run Selma Run. I recommend that movie for teaching your kids about the last civil rights movement. During that time we also watched 12 Years a Slave.
Over the last few weeks I decided it was time to fully catch my kids up on what has been going on in the U.S. We watched some documentaries about Slavery, we watched the Netflix Movies The 13th, The Help, and we also talked about and watched a documentary on Eugenics and the Tuskagee Experiments. My kids did not come out of this seeming to have lost their innocence. They are still happy bright young girls, but they also now have a passion for helping the movement. My oldest, took to marching up and down the streets protesting on her own. She is also trying to convince me to let her color all the photos of Jesus in her kids Bible Black. Just yesterday my oldest called out our neighbor boy and his mom when they made comments about all protesters being dumb “N-word”.
Currently, I have been reading my girls some of the books I listed above. I did take them to a protest, but we socially distanced by staying about a 1/2 block behind the crowd. My girls have written letters to their state representatives, local school board and local chief of police. Both of them want to write letters to Donald Trump. I have been dragging my feet on that one.