February is Black History month! What does that mean, and what can we do about it? One place to start is to talk with your kids about race. Raising an inclusive, open-minded child is often our goal as parents, mentors, and clinicians, but the steps to doing so are not clear. The many other priorities we have often use up our energy and time. The easiest and most effective way to raise an inclusive child is to both model the desired behaviors and beliefs you want to instill in your child and to construct an environment that reflects the same sentiments. Some ideas to start on this path may be as simple as updating your child’s home library, bringing intentional activities to the kitchen table, and having simple conversations on your own experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Simple ideas to help raise an informed and inclusive child:
- Expose yourself and your kids to people of other races, backgrounds, etc.
- Use inclusive toys (e.g., different skin color, hair types)
- Use news stories to discuss current events in meaningful ways
- Create self-portraits to reflect on individual identity
- Read inclusive books
- Stay curious and humble!
Educational and fun books:
Infant – 3 years:
- I Like Myself! Board book – by Karen Beaumont
- Meesha Makes Friends – by Tom Percival
- Say Hello! – by Rachel Isadora
- Hello, My Name Is . . . – Marisa Polansky
- Ruby Finds a Worry – Tom Percival
- Ravi’s Roar – Tom Percival
- All Are Welcome – by Alexandra Penfold
- Jabari Tries – by Gaia Cornwal
- Hair Love – by Matthew A. Cherry
- Mae Among the Stars – by Roda Ahmed
- Ways to Welcome – by Linda Ashman
- My Name Is Yoon – by Helen Recorvits
- Alma and How She Got Her Name – by Juana Martinez-Neal
- This is Our House – by Michael Rosen
Toys and play resources:
- Lakeshore Learning
- I Never Forget a Face Memory
- Children of The World – 36 Piece Jigsaw Floor Puzzle
- Sign Language Blocks
- The Helping Game
- A Day at the Barbershop Memory Game
Educational Resources for Parents:
- Love Anyway: Talking to Kids About Race
- Additional children’s literature that incorporates identify, diversity, and social justice
- Extraordinary Kids Project inclusive coloring book
- Discussion guide for parents and caregivers about race with children of different ages
Race: A socially constructed way of grouping people based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. The ideology of race has become embedded in our identities, institutions, and culture and is used as a basis for discrimination and domination (source).
Ethnicity: The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition (source).
Privilege: The unearned social, political, economic, and psychological benefits of membership in a group that has institutional and structural power (source).
Microaggressions: “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership” (source).
There is no formula or perfect way to talk to kids about race. The most important thing is to make an effort toward inclusivity in your home and social circles. We hope that these resources are a way to jumpstart your comfort in broaching this complex topic!