December is always a big month for our family. It’s my son’s birthday month and, as a multifaith family, we also observe both Hanukkah and Christmas, so it’s gifts aplenty over here. This year I started planning in November because I wanted to be sure to give meaningful presents. Since I started writing
, I’ve repeatedly stressed the importance of age-appropriate books and activities that help parents bring antiracism into the home. Being antiracist starts at home and it’s never too early to introduce kids to books and other materials that can make the issue understandable for them. Raising Anti-Racist Kids
As a parent of a 6-year-old, sometimes he has questions that stump me, so I’m happy to get any help I can in opening up the conversation and introducing him to examples of some of the theories and practices I explain to him. I’ve compiled a guide here to some of my favorite books, toys, and items for kids that are amazing gifts and do just that. All items on this list are from Black authors, artists, shops, or designers — and it’s definitely not too late to add some of these items to your own shopping list, not just for your kids but all the little ones in your life.
This book, co-written by one of the most respected experts on antiracism of our generation, Ibram X Kendi, is a great one for your little ones. Ashley Lukashevsky illustrated the book with her trademark style of infusing relatable art with activism. It’s an easy read for parents and makes a great addition your nightly book rotation. ($8.99,
I love board books for babies because they get to touch and feel the pages. This little board book by Mahogany L Browne is a cute take on getting ready that’s sure to be a hit for your kid. Follow the path of waking up to seize a day of activism and fighting for what’s right, from the perspective of a little baby. ($4,
Black Baby Books)
meditation app was created by the author of the Antiracism Daily Instagram account (which I highly recommend for adults). She launched a meditation app for kids of color. I’m a huge fan of meditation for kids because they need all the help we can give them to develop mindful coping skills. My son does breathing exercises every night before he goes to bed and he loves it. There's a free version which offers 20 to 25 practices organized on the app homepage, or you can subscribe for $6.99/month. Content is provided in English and Spanish. Hair Love, by Matthew Cherry, is one of my favorite books that I actually received as a gift from one of my mentees. She bought it before my little girl was born because she knew how big I am on self love especially pertaining to hair. This adorable story is a great way to talk about Black hair and instill self love for Black kids as well as educate white and non-Black people of color about the realities of Black hair. ($17.99, Mahogany Books) This painting first appeared on the cover of 'The New Yorker Magazine' on November 23, 2020. Kadir Nelson
I’ve started to help my son grow his collection of great art. Even though we can only afford prints for now, the power of surrounding him with affirming images of Black kids is a priority for me. This print is a bit on the pricey end but the images are stunning. Kadir Nelson is a brilliant artist and has done artwork featuring Black people for many magazine covers so you’re sure to recognize a few. Limited edition gicleé prints start at $405.
My partner introduced me to the
Brown Toy Box and I fell in love with the idea. It’s a monthly subscription box that you can sign your kids up for. All of their boxes include a book on a Black trailblazer or child hero, a hands-on project for children to test and learn, and some other fun activity or edible, all based on a specific STEAM theme. It’s so important for Black kids to see themselves in a wide variety of career paths. Each box is $34.99, plus $5 for shipping. Subscriptions may be stopped at any time.
I can’t stress enough the importance of Black kids seeing themselves reflected in their toys. These cute
puzzles all feature Black kids. This is a great gift for a toddler who is just getting into puzzles because the pieces are chunky and fun. A portion of proceeds from sales of this print will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and St. Jude. Nikkolas Art
This print was the second piece of art that I bought for my son. It hangs in his play area to remind him that in every kid is a little bit of superhero. He loves Black Panther and it was such a beautiful image of what Chadwick Boseman meant to Black kids around the world. This print is also reasonably priced so it’s a great entryway into Black art for your little ones or even your big ones who are Black Panther fans. ($120,
'Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down'
We got this book, by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, as a gift from a friend and read it often to our son. It explains the power of protest in effecting change in a way that’s kid-appropriate and still timely. Even though sit-ins may involve violence, this book addresses it in a way that is appropriate for a discussion with a kid. ($18.99,
I lived in New York for close to 20 years so my heart will always beat for its vibrancy. This shop in Harlem sells the most amazing Black art on t-shirts. Their
Black Superman Tee ($45) is a great gift for that preteen or teen in your life that’s obsessed with superheroes. My son is specifically obsessed with Captain America so I can’t wait for him to grow into this Black Captain American Tee. Tees are a generally great gift for those preteens or teens that have everything or are difficult to shop for.
Representation in superhero movies is greatly lacking, so I love that this
Black Wonder Woman Sweatshirt ($70) features a Black woman as the superhero. It’s critical that kids see themselves reflected in society around them. It’s affirming and can be powerful in them envisioning themselves as the heroes of their own stories.
It’s important that kids of all colors see that the Black experience isn’t just about racism and pain. It’s also about incredible creativity and joy and deep love. Duke Ellington is an example of that creativity. This prolific musician paved the way for so many others. This book by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, is a great gift for a kid who loves music. ($4-$7,
'Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside'
My kids have been to so many protests in their short lives. Now, my son is so used to it, he does his own thing when he attends them. He sits in his stroller and eats snacks and just observes everything. This book by Kenneth Braswell can open the door to conversations about what protests really mean and why disruption is needed to effect change. ($20,
fistoreonline.com) Click on the photo to see these products and more in The Black Toy Store's 'Black-Owned" category. The Black Toy Store
I recently discovered the
The Black Toy Store and they can just go ahead and take all my money. They have a wide selection of dolls, games, puzzles, toys and more all made by Black companies and highlighting the Black experience. I’ve heard so many parents say they don’t know where to find Black dolls. Well, here they are and they’re aplenty.
This holiday season, you can shop with your values intact. Use the opportunity to support Black creators and give yourself a bunch of great avenues to open up conversations with your kids about race and identity. Help your kids know that having an antiracism home includes what is read, talked about, discussed and played with. It’s a commitment that you can instill in your kids, starting with these gifts. Enjoy shopping!
Raising Anti-Racist Kids is a bi-weekly column written by Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs focused on education and actionable steps for parents who are committed to raising anti-racist children and cultivating homes rooted in liberation for Black people. To reach Tabitha, email email@example.com or follow her on Instagram . Previously: White Moms, You Need To Step Into Your Power Please Talk To Your White Children About Breonna Taylor The Myth Of The Perfect Time To Discuss Race With Your Child