Updated every few months – last updated, Jan. 2023
The good news is that it’s never too early or too late to talk about race, racism, and white privilege with kids.
Like talking about any important and complicated issue, research shows that it’s helpful to have many conversations instead of trying to have one big talk. This is similar to having ongoing conversations instead of one big “birds and the bees” talk about sex. There is age appropriate information for each stage.
Lots of well-informed people and organizations have already given these topics lots of thought, so we’ve put together a list with resources for parents, caregivers, and teachers of younger children, older children, and teens.
Some of the resources are great for families of all races while others are intended to help white parents or white children learn about their privilege. We encourage you to explore and decide which resources are a good fit for your family.
We plan to continue updating this page! We are trying to keep this list short enough that it’s easy to take in, but there is definitely room for a few more items. Contact 4SC coordinator, Ilana Gerjuoy if you have suggestions for additions or changes.
TALKING ABOUT RACE
For families with younger children
Talking to Young Children About Race and Racism from PBS kids. Check out the video with Daniel Tiger, Arthur, a diverse group of parents and children, and Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman! This page also has supportive articles for parents and caregivers about race, racism, and how to talk with children.
Talking Race With Young Children Short podcast from NPR and the Sesame Street Workshop that offers accessible tips for talking with young kids.
Talking Race With Young Children (part 2)
from NPR, this resource includes a 20 minute radio story and several quick tips in print and additional resources on the page.
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup
by Katrina Michie, a whole bunch of already curated resources, including book lists, tips for talking with kids, and more!
For families with older children and teenagers
10 tips for teaching and talking to kids about race
from EmbraceRace in partnership with MomsRising. As the description says these tips are designed “to help parents of all backgrounds teach and talk about race.”
Look Deeper: Race
an online course developed by PointMade Learning to complement their film, “I’m Not Racist … Am I?”, which was screened locally by CTC’s Racial Justice Workgroup in October 2020. It divides the documentary into eight chapters, each accompanied by lessons, interactive exercises, and reflection questions. (The PointMade website offers additional products and services for purchase and some free resources, as well.)
Talking To Teens About Race and How (And Why) To Talk To Kids About Race
These articles from psychologists at Momentous Institute (which focuses on social-emotional health), are aimed at white parents looking for tips for talking with their teens and kids about race.
Local resource for youth of color: Stand Up! is a support and advocacy group for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) youth in Franklin County, ages 9-21. Click on the “get involved” button on the Community Action Youth and Workforce Development Programs page to fill out an enrollment form for Stand Up! (and other programs).
For families with children and youth of a variety of ages
Participate in an Embrace Race Webinar
Embrace Race has a series of webinars on a variety of racial justice issues, many of which are aimed at parents and caregivers who want to learn more and raise racially conscious children.
Talking About Race
from the National Museum of African American History & Culture. This is a comprehensive resource with sections for Educators, Parents and Caregivers, and People Committed to Equity to encourage and help guide conversations and self-reflection.
Here’s How W. Kamau Bell Talks About Race With His Kids.
W. Kamau Bell is a black comedian who is married to a white woman and has mixed race kids. He hosted the CNN series, United Shades of America. An episode link at the top of page isn’t accessible, but the rest of the page is live so keep scrolling!
10 Tips for Reading Picture Books with Children through a Race-Conscious Lens
by Megan Dowd Lambert (based in Western Mass) from EmbraceRace. These tips draw upon the Whole Book Approach, which the author created in collaboration with Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books by Louise Derman-Sparks from Social Justice Books, A Teaching for Change Project. This thoughtful guide invites readers to recognize and assess stereotypes, invisibility of certain groups, values, and more.
A relatively short, curated list of books for kids to help start conversations about race.
by Jessica Grose, editor of The New York Times’s Parenting section. She consulted with people whose work focuses on issues related to race and racism to create this list. It has a couple of recommendations by age from toddlers through teen years. The ones for younger kids feature black characters, and the ones for older kids and teens address racial injustice directly.
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America
Book for adults raising or educating kids by Jennifer Harvey
Information about the book and how to order it here. This book “offers age-appropriate insights for teaching children how to address racism when they encounter it and tackles tough questions about how to help white kids be mindful of racial relations while understanding their own identity and the role they can play for justice…Ideal for parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about and cares for children.”
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
Book for teens by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.
Reynolds, currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, remixes and distills Kendi’s National Book Award-winning book, “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” for teen readers. It has become a best seller and a book that teens say they relate to and want to discuss! Locally, Four Rivers Charter Public School used Stamped for an opt-in book club recently.
This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work (link to Goodreads options for buying it)
Book for older kids and teens by Tiffany Jewell, a Western MA author
The book is designed to equip young people with the tools they need to be actively antiracist. Interview with the author here. This book has become very popular with families, kids, and teens.
Anti-Racist Book List
A list of books about race, racism, and white privilege with options for adults, teens, older kids, and young children from Brain Lair Books, a black- female- owned independent shop that is “dedicated to developing empathy and building a community centered around the discussion of inclusive books.” You can order online directly from here!
Also, you can contact your local, independent bookstores and they will order books for you! Most have curbside pickup or will ship to you. Let us know if you have another place to add in Franklin County or the North Quabbin.
World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield
Federal Street Books, Greenfield
Roundabout Books, Greenfield
Boswell’s Books, Shelburne Falls
Montague Book Mill, Montague
Don’t forget your local library! Libraries are in the process of re-opening and you can order library books online through the Western Mass Library System, CWMARS. It’s free and so awesome.
MOVIES and TV SHOWS
A few movies and TV shows to start conversations:
“The Hate U Give” (2018) – Based on the young adult novel of the same name, about how a Black high school student responds during the months after she sees her close friend, another Black teen, shot and killed by a white police officer.
“When They See Us”(Netflix series) – about the false convictions of the “Central Park 5” for a terrible crime they did not commit. Based on a true story.
“Hidden Figures” (2016) Also good for younger audiences and celebrating achievement. About Black women who worked as “human calculators” doing math for NASA that helped to send astronauts safely into space.
“42” (2013) Film about baseball player Jackie Robinson. (praised as inspirational, criticized for not being hard hitting)
“Self-made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix series) – “An African American washerwoman rises from poverty to build a beauty empire and become the first female self-made millionaire. Based on a true story.”
“The Grace Lee Project” (2005) Grace Lee, the director and filmmaker travels the country interviewing other women who share her name to see how they fit or defy stereotypes of Asian-American women.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018) For younger audiences – the first major superhero movie starring an Afro-Latino actor.
Spelling the Dream (2020) is a (Netflix) documentary “that spotlights four kids at the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, the country’s most prestigious spelling competition.” The film does not specifically tackle racial justice issues but highlights and celebrates children of color, many of whom are South Asian, and their families.
22 Best Movies Celebrating Latinx And Hispanic Culture To Watch In 2021 “Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month—and every month!—with a movie marathon.” BY CLARIBEL RIVAS for Women’s Health Magazine (Online), August 2021
Comedian W. Kamau Bell uses humor, his personal experience growing up Black, and a social justice lens to discuss race and racism in TV shows, podcasts, books, and other media. His website has his latest offerings.
Learning More About Microaggressions
this post on our website offers a brief introduction to microaggressions, and links to resources for learning more from the CTC Racial Justice Workgroup and other sources.
Empowering Educators Digital Series – free resources designed to support educators in helping their students engage in effective, courageous conversations about race and social justice. Created in response to educator needs, the Empowering Educators series includes a guidebook, instructional videos, and other pedagogic resources informed by leading anti-bias and antiracism experts: Britt Hawthorne, Tiffany Jewell, Liz Kleinrock, Cornelius Minor, Catherine Wigginton Greene, and Christine Platt. Also has lots of great info for parents, caregivers, and others who work with children and youth.
7-Day Bias Cleanse from MTV’s Look Different sends an email every day for seven days with daily activities that help users to work on their biases. When you sign up, you can choose to work on racial bias, anti-LGBTQ bias, or gender bias (or all three).
Other resources from EmbraceRace, including webinars, articles, and action guides.
Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) has many resources for educators and others interested in discussing race, including lesson plans, curricula, articles, and more.
We Are Teachers has resources for educators on a variety of topics, including White Teachers Need to See Color. Here’s Why. and How Teachers Are Talking with Students About George Floyd, Protests, and Racism.