baby proof: bedtime stories about race & social justice.

August 16, 2017

bedtime stories about race and social justice | reading my tea leavesOn morning walks with Faye we look for the Statue of Liberty. Faye often travels with her binoculars so that when we spot the verdigris lady rising above New York Harbor she can adjust the dial and get a better look. Faye screams and points. The Statue of The Liberty, she chants. She’s jubilant. I’m proud. 

As a child I had my own obsession with the statue. According to family myth, my New Yorker grandfather climbed to the crown of Lady Liberty as a child and carved his initials in its interior, making his mark alongside the scribbles of countless others. When I was ten or so, he told me to, “line up your nose with hers, and then look to the right.” I’ve searched without finding evidence of my grandfather’s boyhood vandalism, but it’s still a family story that I hold on to. The Statue of Liberty: a beacon of hope, a symbol of opportunity and safety and greatness, my grandfather’s initials etched mischievously into her steely interior.

But myths and symbols don’t tell the whole story. Twelve million immigrants passed through Ellis Island in the New York Harbor, seeking refuge and opportunity. Twelve and a half million African people were enslaved and shipped across the same waters these immigrants traveled. The indigenous people who first lived on this land and fished in these waters were systematically removed from it. This land of freedom and opportunity is also a land of violent, systemic racism. There are Americans who have fought those systems and there are Americans who have kept them firmly in place. This is all part of the American story, much as we might be ashamed to tell the whole tale.

So what do we tell our children? How do we talk about race and social justice with kids? As a white parent, I know I’ve been afraid that I’ll fumble the task. I’ve wondered whether talking about race will alert Faye to ideas she doesn’t yet have about identity and difference. This is wrong. If we’re not anti-racist, we’re part of the problem. We’ve got to talk about it.

This isn’t just my opinion. Peer-reviewed, academic research shows that taking a colorblind approach on matters of race with children does more harm than good. Talking openly about race in fact helps children to question the bias they are sure to encounter as they move through the world. Ignoring, glossing over, or shushing questions or observations about difference doesn’t make difference disappear. And because all children will encounter differences in race, size, gender expression, physical and intellectual ability, income, dress and custom as they move through life, we do them a disservice when we pretend these differences don’t exist. If we supply them with unbiased, honest, age-appropriate answers about (in)equity and (in)justice, they’ll know when they spot bias and prejudice—and they’ll know when to speak up against it. Still, like all parenting, these conversations can be hard. I’ve found that books help.

Below, some of my favorites along with recommendations from two of my favorite independent Brooklyn bookstores: 

THE COLORS OF US, words and pictures by Karen Katz
Seven-year-old Lena and her mother observe the different colors of their friends and neighbors; a cheerfully illustrated introduction to the diversity of human skin tones.

WE MARCH, words and pictures by Shane W. Evans
A simple, straightforward look at the 1963 March on Washington and the power of peaceful protest.

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, words by Matt de la Pena, illustrations by Christian Robinson
One of Faye’s favorites, a story to remind folks of the power of teaching children about the world around them.

STAND UP AND SING, words by Susanna Reich, illustrations by Adam Gustavson
A little wordy for the littlest among us, but a wonderful story about using song to further activist goals.

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From Maggie Pouncey, owner of Stories Bookstore*:

NELSON MANDELA, paintings and words by Kadir Nelson
“I really love picture books about change-makers because I think the only bearable way to talk to small children about atrocities human beings commit against one another is through hopeful, empowering stories of change.” 

BLUE SKY, WHITE STARS, words by Sarvinder Naberhaus, paintings by Kadir Nelson 
“It’s a simple, exquisite poem of a book, an ode to America, with stunning art, about all that connects us as a country, and it’s quite impossible to read these days without crying. But a good kind of crying!”

 OF THEE I SING: A Letter to My Daughters, words by Barack Obama, illustrations by Loren Long
“Similarly moving/tear-jerking/hopeful is Barack Obama’s book…It really is written as a letter to Sasha and Malia, but also to all young Americans, and who says it better than Obama? He explores other great Americans (Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackie Robison) and the great American strengths—creativity, bravery, and more—they embodied.”

I DISSENT, words by Debbie Levvy, illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley.
“We also are all crazy about the RBG picture book biography. I mean, what a great title, and that is the theme of the book— how throughout her whole life [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] stood up to voice her disagreement even against powerful adversaries, even when she was the only girl/woman for what seemed like miles around.”

*Stories also has an Activist Book Club, a monthly book subscription where each month an inspiring story arrives in your mailbox accompanied by a page of prompts for discussion, storytelling and art-making. Recent books have been Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, and The Case for Loving, by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls.

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From Amanda Bruns, children’s book buyer at Community Bookstore:

SKIN AGAIN, words by bell hooks, illustrations by Chris Raschka
“‘The skin I’m in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story.'”

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT, words and pictures by Matt Lamothe:
“There are lots of ways for a childhood to be.”

STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS, words by Lisa Mantchev, illustrations by Taeeun Yoo:
“For echoing the generous words of Vivian Paley: ‘You can’t say you can’t play.'”

WE CAME TO AMERICA, words and pictures by Faith Ringgold:
“‘Our food, our fashion, and our art made America GREAT.'”

LIFE, words by Cynthia Rylant, illustrations by Brendan Wenzel:
“‘In every corner of the world, there is something to love. And something to protect.'”

ONE FAMILY, words by George Shannon, illustrations by Blanca Gomez
“There are lots of ways for a family to be.”

PEOPLE, words and pictures by Peter Spier:
“There are lots of ways for a human to be.”

SUBWAY SPARROW, words and pictures by Leyla Torres
“For working together to help friends in need.”

THEY ALL SAW A CAT, words and pictures by Brendan Wenzel
“For considering how perspective shapes what we see.”

WHY AM I ME?, Paige Britt, Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
(This book comes out on 8/29. If you’re in the area, Community Bookshop is celebrating the launch!)
“For thinking what it might be like to feel like someone else.”

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Other things:

If you’re a parent who feels like you could use more guidance on broaching race and social justice with kids—or anyone—I’ve also found these podcast episodes to be really enlightening:

This American Life: Episode 557 Birds & Bees 

The Longest Shortest Time: How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist 

If you’re looking for more resources on talking about race to kids specifically, this is an excellent site:

Raising Race Conscious Kids

If you’re grappling with how to fight white supremacy more generally, these articles, podcasts, and sites provide some helpful starting points:

Ten Ways to Fight Hate, A Community Resource Guide

Scene on Radio: Seeing White

So You Want to Fight White Supremacy?

Nice White Ladies

17 Books on Race Every White Person Needs to Read

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75 Comments

  • Reply Alexa August 16, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Erin, thank you for these resources! I am carrying my first baby, due this winter, and these are the things that keep me up at night. How on earth, as a white mother, do I navigate this, and well?

    Moreover, I live in New York City and have for the better part of a decade, but I hail from a small town in South Carolina. My family’s southern roots, history, and confederate participation run deep. My parenthood will, in many ways, be a reaction to the way I was raised, and I’ll no doubt be challenged not just in daily life, but as we visit my hometown and family history.

    It’s a lot. But I can, and I will, do it. Thank you for helping me!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 18, 2017 at 7:18 am

      Alexa, I think you’ll really love the Seeing White podcast. All of it is *excellent* and so helpful, but Episode 6 addresses lots of this in super thoughtful ways. You might also really enjoy Tim Tyson’s work if you don’t know it. He’s a guest on the podcast, but I also went to a workshop of his when I lived in North Carolina and worked in history museum. Truly transformative. His book Blood Done Sign My Name is terrific.

  • Reply Erin August 16, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for this.

  • Reply Аnn August 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    And is it worth explaining the difference between cultures, races and nations before the child began to ask questions about it?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Yes!

      • Reply Аnn August 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        What for? All people are different, belonging to a particular race or nation is not the most important reason for these differences.
        Is it not more important for a child to be able to just respect other people?

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          Ann, I think the links that I provided at the bottom of the post would be really enlightening for you, they were so helpful for me.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          Ann, I think the links that I provided at the bottom of the post would be really enlightening for you, they were so helpful for me.

          • Аnn August 16, 2017 at 1:25 pm

            Thanks, interesting links, wonderful illustrations, wise stories. Especially I liked “Last Stop on Market Street”. It is simply unusual that these are “stories about …”, and not manifestations of other cultures, like folk tales of children, for example.

          • ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm

            Thanks, Ann. I’m not sure I’m totally grasping your meaning, but I think that you’re referring to these stories being overt efforts to expose kids to race (and racism), justice (and injustice), rather than simply exposing kids to a wide range of stories that come from diverse places. I think there’s lots of merit in exposing kids to stories from all kinds of cultures, but I also think that in the United States in particular we have a long unreconciled history of oppression and systemic racism and that we need to address that fact head on.

          • Аnn August 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

            Who knows this measure, when “the fact of the head” is unnecessary? In this early childhood may be embedded in the psyche of irrational guilt. Not for the consequences of their actions just because of their race or nationality.

          • ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

            I’m not sure what you mean by “fact of the head,” but research shows that talking about these matters make them better!

          • Аnn August 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm

            To be honest, in the article the link is insufficient data to claim that it is scientific research.The parents did not say, but children copy what the real attitude, which manifests itself in the details, even facial expressions.

          • ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm

            Sorry, Ann. I’m just not clear on what you’re getting at here.

          • Аnn August 16, 2017 at 11:27 pm

            And I don’t understand why skin color so much attention. Except skin color and eye shape themselves cause some difficulties in life?

          • ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 7:06 am

            Ann, I’m getting the sense that you find this notion of talking about race to be dubious at best. I really urge you to read and listen to some of the resources for adults that I posted at the bottom of the post. They’re really eye-opening about the ways that race impacts folks because of the systems of inequity that are in place.

          • Аnn August 17, 2017 at 11:15 pm

            Erin, of course, has kept the bookmarks and read a little.
            I do not quite understand what “race” means in this context.
            And I do not quite understand why the cause of all problems is not inequality and its causes, but skin color and the incision of the eyes.

          • ERIN BOYLE August 18, 2017 at 7:12 am

            I think you’ll really enjoy the Seeing White podcast. It helps to break down some of these questions in super thoughtful ways.

  • Reply Judith August 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I knew you would post something valuable in response to last weekend. Bravo! But I’m not sure what you tell kids about the police these days. Just last weekend they “stood down” during all the bloody violence in Charlottesville. And then in Seattle, where my own “baby” was protesting a Nazi/white nationalist rally in progress, they protected the rally by pepper spraying and flash bombing the counter protesters. He told us he also saw the police pushing an older woman holding a peace sign with his bicycle to keep her and everyone else from getting within 4 blocks of the Nazi/white nationalist rally.

    While I am glad that we read him and his brother books like the ones you recommend above, and even took them to some demonstrations when they were Faye’s age, I’m also heartbroken that they, like you, have to witness today’s current events. And my parents, who both served in the military during WWII, must be rolling over in their graves.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      This video is a heartbreaking example of how black parents speak to their kids about the police. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coryt8IZ-DE It’s devastating and a stark reminder about why it can’t only be parents of color who talk to their kids about race.

  • Reply Meg August 16, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    My first baby is due in two weeks and on days when the news has been particularly upsetting (it’s hard to find a day when it isn’t), I’ve already been reading aloud these two titles that I received from my best friend:

    A is for Activist

    Counting on Community

    It gives me a sense of calm that these positive messages are out there in the world and that I already have resources and role models for my little guy. Thanks for sharing so many more and thank you for being an advocate and an activist in this corner of the internet!

    • Reply Samantha August 17, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Meg, same boat here. I waffle between being terrified of bringing a child into this mess and being hopeful that we can raise just one more human with a good head on his or her shoulders. These books and links are so helpful and such a relief.

      • Reply Erin August 18, 2017 at 9:20 am

        I too, am pregnant with my first child, due in December, and I apologize to her almost every day for the state of the country and even greater, the world. I feel awful that she is coming into a world that feels so full of hate and fear, but I know the only thing I can do is to raise her the very best I can to be a compassionate, caring person. So thankful for a friend sharing this post with me, and looking forward to the hard work of teaching our children how to be better than what we have accepted today. Sending love and positive energy to you, Meg and Samantha, and all the other soon to be Momma’s looking for the best way to raise the next generation.

  • Reply Roxanne August 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Erin, this is a fantastic post and you listed some incredible books here. I work at a non-profit that seeks to get books into the hands and homes of kids who might not otherwise have them and one of the biggest pieces of our mission is to send home books that reflect the children who get them. So, with that in mind, might I also suggest some titles that feature children from other cultures and ethnicities as well?

    Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
    My Colors, My World by Maya Gonzalez
    Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong
    Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
    Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin
    Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk
    My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
    Mixed Me by Taye Diggs
    Sofia Martinez (series) by Jacqueline Jules (these would be for kids who are probably more like 5-7 years old)

    Thanks again for a great post! XO

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Yes!! Thank you! These are all excellent. We have several of these from the library right this minute! More on this great list from the anti-defamation league, too! https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families/childrens-literature

      • Reply Nicole August 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        This is a great list–it’s tricky to find books that reflect all children sometimes. I’ve found it particularly hard to find books for very young children that show Native families…My Heart is Full of Happiness, and Little You are huge favorites at our house. Thanks to the Animals is a new one for us–I’ll have to pick up a copy!

        On a slightly different note, you included Life in your list above–it is one of my favorite books for calming and reassuring my very anxious preschooler. He needs to be reminded that life is always changing, and that is a wonderful thing!

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

          Agreed. Yes, everything from Julie Flett is terrific. Have you read When We Were Alone? It’s about a young Native girl talking to her grandmother about residential schools (among other things). I also found this list awhile ago and found it to be helpful: https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/p/best-books.html I’m not finding it now, but I also found one that referenced both best *and* worst books, which was really eye-opening. Will add if I can remember where I found it!

          • Nicole August 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

            I have–it’s a part of my family’s history that is tough to explain, so it was nice to find a children’s book that handled the topic so well.

        • Reply Roxanne August 16, 2017 at 7:18 pm

          Oh, I love Little You, Nicole! Thunder Boy Jr. is also a really great one! 🙂

          • Jen August 17, 2017 at 4:18 pm

            Thanks for all these great additions. The whole list from Erin, and Roxanne and Nicole are just what I needed right now. Definitely going to request a handful of these from the library today!!

  • Reply Ann. August 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    My ex-husband is EXTREMELY conservative and, how best to describe it, sneakily(?) racist. (This, among many other reasons, are part of why he is my EX husband). I try to teach my child to see people for who they are, not how they look or where they are from, etc. My fear is that every time I send him to see his father, he hears that point of view. I don’t know how to counteract it any more than I already try. I (legally) am not allow to disparage his father in front of him so, saying “people who think like dad are bad people”, yet I feel like I am always taking two steps back when he returns from his father’s. Any suggestions? I’m so discouraged…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that, Ann. This sounds so hard. A reader on Instagram just mentioned the website, Raising Race Conscious Kids. I hope it might offer some more guidance! Adding it above, too!

      • Reply Ann. August 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        Thanks for this resource. It should be very helpful. There is a lot of good dialogue in there. Hopefully, my ex will only leave lasting fiscal conservative impressions on my son and not social ones (I’m desperately trying to look for the positive here).

        • Reply Sasha August 16, 2017 at 4:16 pm

          Maybe this is relevant, Dr Gordon Neufeld does work on attachment in families, his book, Hold on to Your Kids, is wonderful. He teaches that sometimes in families one parent is…awesome, and one…not so much. He comforts that the one parent who is present and engaged and deeply attached, and willing to do the hard work of love, is ENOUGH. That one strong light in the child’s life will be enough.
          We can’t make things perfect, but I would hope that the same principle applies here. Your message, and actions, of justice and equality and light, will be so much stronger than your exs hate. Your children will eventually recognize it as you do. Best of luck.

          • Ann. August 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm

            Appreciated Sasha. The unfortunate issue is, other than his horrible viewpoints about others, he’s a good dad. I will just keep on keeping on and like you said, hope that my son eventually recognizes it as I do. Thank you, again.

  • Reply Emily August 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for the roundup of these beautiful books! We have read and loved some, whether they were gifts or from the library, and I am now finding more on our library’s website. My daughter will particularly love the Pete Seeger title, he is a hero of hers, along with Odetta, and she loves singing out his protest songs. I can recommend this title, too, about Odetta: https://portlandlibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1530289077_odetta,_the_queen_of_folk
    which I did find at our library! The RBG title is wonderful, too, for showing my little Jewish girl a powerful female Jewish role model still making a difference in our lives.
    I can also recommend a couple of podcasts that have helped me with processing things over the past couple of days:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/podcasts/still-processing-anguish-and-anger-over-charlottesville.html
    http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510317/its-been-a-minute-with-sam-sanders
    http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510312/codeswitch
    It’s so much emotional work, and it’s so important, and thank you for using this blog to help educate others. We appreciate it.

  • Reply Jessica August 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    So timely and I love a lot of the selections. The mom’s group I’m part of in SF has been having big discussions about what we can do, values and fears of protests (with and without children), and how we broach the topic with our children. Books were a resounding, “Yes!” We crowd-sourced a list of those specifically dealing with race/history of struggles and other favorites that moms and kids enjoyed dealing with inclusion and diversity, along with websites with other recommendations/curated lists and some recent articles. Feel free to share: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1534KhHEWjBGANYWeOdAuP6dZhX6DHSu-mAN_qfewv8k/edit?usp=sharing

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Erin August 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Great post. I was definitely raised during the time of color-blind identity formation and relationship building and the resulting historical erasure of race. Yet, if you are my age (33) you might have had a similar experience, it was also the time when schools and media heavily touted the value of multiculturalism. But only superficial multiculturalism, like clothing, languages, traditional foods, etc.–not multiculturalism as it actually influences cultural systems. When my two-year-old son refers to a classmate or teacher as “brown”, my husband and I both have a reflexive desire to want to instruct him to leave off the signifier. But he’s curious and observant, and that is a good thing. It’s tough to break from that conditioning, though. I would add to your excellent recommendations the suggestion to join and support (even if it’s only web-based) a group like SURJ or SONG (I live in the South.) They offer both virtual and in-person discussion opportunities where you can actually check in about questions or uncertainties regarding parenting tactics. It’s great to consume media produced by a diverse crowd, but it’s addtionally enriching to get direct feedback from real folks representing a diverse range of POVs.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Yes, 100 percent my experience. (We’re the same age!) Agreed on showing up in person! Adding links to your comment so folks can learn more!

  • Reply Archana August 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Erin,

    Thank you so much for approaching sensitive topics with grace and information.

  • Reply Asaake August 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    What in incredible collection! I don’t have kids and neither am I a child but I eagerly want to read all of these! I definitely agree with you and the those who have published that taking a color blind approach does more harm than good! i will definitely find these books at my local library to read myself.

  • Reply Jenny August 16, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I’m so grateful for these book recommendations and am purchasing many of them today!

  • Reply Ruth August 16, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Well said.

  • Reply Jay August 16, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you so, so much for this Erin.

    I would like to recommend What Does it Mean to be White by Robin diAngelo (for adult readers of all colors).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks so much, Jay. Adding a link so folks can find it!

  • Reply Sasha August 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for this post Erin.

  • Reply Elizabeth August 16, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you for this. I will be reading these books to my third grade students.

  • Reply Ariella August 16, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    It is a big struggle, my responsibility to my daughter and my desire to *do* something. I will definitely be purchasing some of these books for when she is older (i.e. sits still long enough to listen to a page or two with me). I grew up with parents who were careful to demonstrate that the best way to teach values was through example: my father was a Freedom Rider and worked for years as a counselor in juvenile detention . These days I worry less about how I will answer her questions about Trump and the people who elected him and more about what my answer will be about what I was doing to help.
    Thanks for taking the time to compile these suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to ‘help.’

  • Reply lauren August 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    You inspire me, Erin (and Team Books). I seldom read stories to little people these days, but there’s a lot to think about in re how to approach curious and receptive audiences of all kinds here. My technique could stand some revision, I think.

  • Reply Mari August 16, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    This post is the more reason why I enjoy your blog (and your book) so much!
    I know it’s a sensitive subject, especially for my fellow Americans who are of European descent. Ann’s comments are all too familiar to me (even in a highly educated liberal circle).
    I agree with the need to talk about these issues early, before – or while – our society creates unfortunate biases in our young (Mamie Clark’s doll test, Jane Elliott’s eye color test).

  • Reply Karen August 17, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day” – You must have come across this beautiful book… It’s charming, gentle and quietly lifts the veil of color-blindness, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-snowy-day-first-picture-book-with-black-child-as-hero-marks-50-years/2011/12/04/gIQA3a8yUP_story.html?utm_term=.ce0d7c0ad778

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Yes, we love that story in our house.

  • Reply Phuong August 17, 2017 at 12:55 am

    I appreciate you pushing white folks on this, Erin! As an educator, I have seen how children are impacted by their parents’ guilt, shame, silence around race. Thank you for using your platform to push folks, especially white readers.

    To the reader looking for more research, it’s all around. Here is an article with more references to studies, followed by a link to a book on the topic of kids and race.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/03/teaching_tolerance_how_white_parents_should_talk_to_their_kids_about_race.html

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0847688623/?tag=slatmaga-20

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 6:41 am

      Thank you for those links Phuong!

  • Reply Merel August 17, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Thank you so much!!

  • Reply Elizabeth August 17, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Erin, I’m so appreciative of this post. Thank you. As an action item I thought I’d purchase a few of the books you listed as well as a couple of our other family favorites and donate them to our local library. Some other picture book titles I’d suggest are “Beautiful Blackbird” and “Let it Shine” by Ashley Bryan, “All the World” by Liz Garton Scanlan, and “Children Just Like Me,” a DK book. We also love “The Rain Stomper,” by Addie Boswell.
    All the best, Erin, and thank you again for your words and encouragement and for promoting these vital conversations.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth! Added links to your suggestions so folks can find them!

    • Reply Sasha August 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

      I gave “all the world” as a board book to the one year old I care for. “Hope and peace and love and trust, all the world is all of us.” She says it right along with me. The illustrations are beautifully inclusive and living, I highly recommend this book for even the littlest ones.

  • Reply Hannah August 17, 2017 at 8:26 am

    This is such a great list. I wondered if you or any of your readers knew any similar kids books with a less American perspective? I watch with such sadness what is happening in your country but we also have many similar (though different) prejudices and problems in England (and throughout Europe). Would you be able to suggest which of the above books aren’t specifically about American history/American identity or people of colour in the USA? Many thanks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Hey Hannah,beyond the most obvious American-centric books (Of Thee I Sing, I Dissent,etc.), Stand Up and Sing, is about American folk singer Pete Seeger and the Civil Rights Movement in the US. The Case for Loving is about the US Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage (and the family at the center of that decision). Of course, I’d argue the messages would be valuable no matter where you are!

  • Reply Leslie August 17, 2017 at 8:53 am

    An acquaintance who is a cultural competency educator recommends the book Hats of Faith for young children, to help them learn about different religions. Thanks for the resource links, this was a impactful section from the 1st one you listed: “by age 3, children can be aware of racial differences and may have the perception that “white” is desirable. By age 12, they can hold stereotypes about ethnic, racial, and religious groups, or LGBT people. Because stereotypes underlie hate, and because almost half of all hate crimes are committed by young men under 20, tolerance education is crucial.”

  • Reply Patricia August 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Reading these comments I see that I am not the only mother-to-be that is stressed about bringing a child into this world with everything going on. I am a white American and my husband is from Brazil. It saddens me to know that my son might face hate because of his skin, but I hope books like these will help him to see his value as well as the value of others. Thank you for the list!

  • Reply Katie August 17, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Erin,
    This is such a wonderful list of books! Thank you so much for sharing.

    You had mentioned a children’s book that your daughter loves in a previous post and I can’t find it now. It was a French picture book about what goes on in one building during the day. Would you mind giving me the title? I would love to find this for my little girl.

    Thank you!!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      It’s called The House From Morning to Night! We have it in English but I think the original might have been in French. Very little text, regardless!

  • Reply Gillian August 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Fantastic post! The ‘colorblind approach’ commentary really resonated. Really great points!

  • Reply Sugandhi August 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Erin, if it’s even possible, I love your blog more every day. I am a Canadian woman of colour and it’s exhausting to always “teach” and “be kind” in the face of everyday ignorance (at best) and racism (at worst). I appreciate the white allies who really come through and walk the talk, and who hold other white folks accountable in a system that was definitely not built for people who look like me. I am trying hard to be optimistic about the future and your blog gives me hope. This reading list – and your efforts to hyperlink noteworthy comment references – are incredible. Thank you <3

  • Reply Rachel August 17, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Erin,

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Reply Susana C. Galli August 18, 2017 at 10:12 am

    This is a great post Erin! Thank you!
    For folks in Britain (or not) my friends have an excellent selection of books for children (and others) on their shop in Glasgow and online: http://www.aye-ayebooks.com/
    I would encourage anyone to have a look at it!

  • Reply Wren @ The Coffee Journals August 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t have kids (yet), but one of the items on my to-do list is to start collecting children’s books. Even if I never have children, I love reading them myself. Is that odd? I just think they’re so charming! Thank you for providing your list. 🙂

    • Reply Sasha August 23, 2017 at 11:52 am

      I love children’s books, to read for myself, as an adult, also, Wren!
      Love your name too.

  • Reply Rae August 18, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful resources. As a white adult woman, aged 33, I find myself digging for something, anything, so I may better understand how I can help.

  • Reply Katie August 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for this. First time commenting, but I’ve been visiting RMTL pretty much weekly for years.

  • Reply Allison August 20, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Thank you for this resource, Erin! I’ve been trying to figure out how to do better in talking to my young kids about race. Thank you for giving me a starting point.

  • Reply Esther August 31, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Thank you Erin for sharing these great books. I am a first grade teacher who decided to purchase many of them. I am also a parent so i will be using them both in the classroom and at home. You are a treasure!

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