Discussing racial injustices with kids and educating them on inequality can be intimidating. Race and racism are complex topics that can feel scary, but science tells us it’s important. Research shows babies as young as 3 months old can recognize racial differences and children as young as 4 years old can develop racial and gender biases. This underscores the value of discussing race and racism with kids as a reality of their world. The American Psychological Association advises that discussing racial differences “can help kids appreciate diversity and better recognize discrimination when they see it.”
Help starting the conversation
A way to jump into a courageous discussion about racial justice is to share stories and books together. One study found when 8 to 11-year old kids were read storybooks about the value of diversity, they were later able to identify examples of racial bias in other storybooks. Children who were initially read stories that downplayed racial differences altogether were later significantly less likely to be able to recognize racial bias in the second round of storybooks.
Books are an amazing way to introduce kids to tough topics. These books can help you articulate big ideas on justice, race and equality. You can also share stories that reflect your own experience or give your kids windows into other people’s experiences. Take a look at Early Childhood Learning Coordinator Sherry Hess’s booklist for inspiration!
The Circle: Family Storytime & Conversation
Share stories and engage in conversation as a family during Circle time to build positive racial identity, leadership skills and compassion. While we share stories and talk, families in the Circle partner with facilitators from the library and the YWCA of Northeast Kansas to build positive racial identity for children in our community. CIRCLE stands for compassion, integrity, raising leaders, community and civility, literacy, and equality. This will be a safe, supportive learning environment that is family- and kid-friendly! We will share a story together and have small group Circle conversations that connect.
On Mon, Dec 5, 6:30-7:30pm we will read Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena. While Milo and his sister travel to a detention center to visit their incarcerated mother, he observes strangers on the subway and draws what he imagines their lives to be. This program is offered in collaboration with YWCA Northeast Kansas. Register today to hold your space!