Talking with children and teens about race and racism

Difficult conversations are happening in our country, states, cities and homes about race, racism, and anti-racism. These are not topics only for adults though. Talking with teens, tweens and younger children is important. Research has shown that children as young as six months notice race [Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race by Erin N. Winkler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsi-Milwaukee, PACE Vol. 3-No. 3,  2009 HighReach Learning Inc]. 

If you are unsure how to start and continue talking with your children as they grow, there are books to share and websites with resources to help. Several of these also discuss how you can be a model since actions often talk louder than words.

Teaching Young Children About Race is a guide for parents and teachers from Teaching for Change has articles, webinars and action guides about how kids learn about race, seeing and talking about differences, using picture books to have meaningful conversations, and more.

Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History & Culture shares reflection questions, videos, and links to other resources.

Teaching Tolerance was created for educators, but parents may also find it useful to discuss race and ethnicity, and rights and activiism among other topics.

Talking to Children about Racial Bias from the American Academy of Pediatrics includes how parents can confront their own racial bias and a doctor's story of his encounter with racism as a 7-year-old.

12 Kids Books About Racial Justice, Diversity, and Equality

A local Girl Scout created a short video as part of her Silver Award project to share her favorite books for children about racial justice, diversity and equality. A list of her book picks is also shared below.






I was just talking to my husband and my co-worker about how/where I can find books to talk about race, activism, and social justice to my young children, and here you guys have this and many other resources for us. Thank you so much for this, It is greatly appreciated!
I read this book many years ago and it was the most important thing that I have ever read about race. In it, he recounts the various groups that are on the island: natives, white missionaries, Japanese, I think Chinese, and maybe more—the islands are a big melting pot. The overarching theme was that as these groups intermarried, racial identities were lost, and that produced both a physically more beautiful person, but also one that was, by their mixture, a bigger human being, superseding arbitrary boundaries imposed by ethnic identity. His ideas on race were inspiring and made me believe/hope that one day we would all have so many racially diverse antecedents that we all wind up nice looking people, some shade of brown. We still have a chance of that in the US if we honestly acknowledge that most “Blacks” are, in fact, mixed race, and that we don’t create so much animosity amongst ourselves that we wind up in many fractious identity factions, apart and miserable.