The issue of race has always been a complex and sensitive subject. And although the world has come a long way from the segregation and discrimination that took place before the Civil Right's Movement, recent police shootings of unarmed African-Americans remind people that we still have a long way to go. And if you are struggling for answers, there's a good chance your kids have questions of their own. If you are looking for age-appropriate ways to talk to your children about race relations in this country, you may need to enlist the help of children's books that help your kid understand white privilege.
As a parent, it is important to educate your children about our country's history of racial discrimination. Reading with them is a great way to start a conversation about the fact that the color of your skin can often determine how you are treated by others. And as a result, children will learn to be more accepting and sensitive to the experiences of their friends of other races.
Tonight, why not add one of these books to your bedtime story routine? And remind your children that as lucky as they are to live in a country that accepts people of all races and religions, it will be up to their generation to make sure that we continue to make progress.
1. 'The Soccer Fence' by Phil Bildner
In The Soccer Fence, a young boy wants to play soccer, but apartheid in his native South Africa limit his opportunities. Once Nelson Mandela is released from prison, and apartheid is eliminated, his dreams can come true. This book is a great way to introduce the concept of racial inequality to young people.
2. 'Amazing Grace' by Mary Hoffman
Amazing Grace follows a young Black girl wants the role of Peter Pan in a school play, despite her classmates protests that she isn't right for the part due to the color of her skin. But her grandmother reminds her that she can be anything she wants to be, and introduces Grace to a Black ballerina that inspires her to win the part.
3. 'I Am Rosa Parks' by Brad Meltzer
I Am Rosa Parks introduces young readers to the story of Rosa Parks, a Black woman whose refusal to give up her seat on an Alabama bus set off the Montgomery Bus Boycott — a key event in the Civil Rights Movement. This book will educate young people on how far race relations have come in this country.
4. 'Two Friends' by Dean Robbins
5. 'The Other Side' by Jacqueline Woodson
In The Other Side, a fence creates a barrier that a young Black girl is not supposed to cross. But when she forges a friendship with a white girl, the two children sit on top of the fence together to escape the grown-ups rules.
6. 'Last Stop On Market Street' by Matt de la Pena
Last Stop On Market Street follows the trip a young Black boy and his grandmother take on the bus, in which he asked questions about why their life is different from others. He ponders why they don't have a car, why he doesn't have an iPod, and why his neighborhood is so dirty. His grandmother tries to change his perspective, and encourage him to see all that is beautiful around them.
7. 'Just A Little Different' by Gina and Mercer Mayer
In Just A Little Different, a new kid moves into town, and his classmates soon discover her is the child of a rabbit and a turtle. The book deals with acceptance of those who are different in a way the youngest readers will understand.
8. 'Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad In The Sky' by Faith Ringgold
In Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad In The Sky, a young girl must follow a slave's journey along the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her lost brother in Canada. Young readers are introduced to Harriet Tubman, whose work helped free thousands of slaves, in a story that balances historical fact with fantasy in a way children will want to read over and over again.
9. 'Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx' by Jonah Winter
A Judge Grows In The Bronx tells the story of now Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, and how she overcame poverty and prejudice to become the first person of Latin descent to serve as a Supreme Court justice. Children will learn that determination and bravery are needed to overcome the obstacles that life often puts in our paths.