How to Talk to Your Children About Protests and Racism

How to Talk to Your Children About Protests and Racism

Books Explaining Race and Racism For Every Age

For many parents talking to children about racism and the current protests can be a daunting task. What do you say? What are they capable of understanding? How can you make a positive difference and be a good role model? It’s not an easy task, but it does help to understand exactly what your child is capable of understanding based on their age. And while you may not have all the answers, just having the conversations is a start. 

0-12 Months: 

According to the Conscious Kid, at birth, babies look equally at faces of all races. By 3 months, babies look more at faces that match their caregivers' faces. 

Books we recommend for this age range: 

“More, More, More, Said the Baby” : The cute baby book will help you talk about the different races of the characters and start the conversation about race. 

“A is for Activist” : It’s full of pictures and rhymes to help make reading fun. It focuses on activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.

2-3 Years Old: 

Kids as young as 2 years old use race to understand behavior. By 2.5 years old, most children use race to choose their playmates. Yes, it starts that early, which means we, as parents, need to have these conversations around age 2. 

Books we recommend for this age range: 

“We're Different, We're the Same (Sesame Street)” : Who better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside.

“All the Colors We Are” : Helps kids understand the science behind skin color and how our ancestors shape our color. 

 3-5 Years Old: 

This is the age when racial prejudice peaks. According to research from Dunham et al, black and latina children show no preference at this age towards children they choose to play with. But “white children are strongly biased in favor of whiteness.”

Books we recommend for this age range: 

“Let’s Talk About Race” : Let’s Talk About Race, Lester gets right to the heart of the matter. He’s black, but there’s more to him than his race.

“A Kids Book About Racism” : Yes, this really is a kids book about racism. Inside, you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens.

5 + Years Old: 

This is the age where kids are aware of those who look different than them and start to ask questions about it. By the time your child is in kindergarten, they’ll have the same racial attitude as their parents. Don’t wait until it’s too late to teach them about equality and the importance of interracial friendships. 

Books we recommend for this age range: 

“Something Happened in Our Town” : Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one white, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community.

“When We Were Alone” : When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother's garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. ... When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.

“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” : Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations.

“Rosa” : Rosa is a lovely rendering of Rosa Parks' courageous act in a picture book format that is accessible to younger readers. 

“Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up”tells the story of the momentous Woolworths lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became one of the defining moments in the struggle for racial equality and the growing Civil Rights Movement.