Blogger | Teacher
As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” As we move farther into 2021, it’s important that we remember that February is not simply a time for heart shaped chocolate and Valentine’s dates – it is also a prime moment to teach our young children about race, diversity, and Black History Month.
While it is always important to teach children about these topics, sometimes they can be forgotten in the mix of busy schedules and daily life. We think to ourselves, “Well, they’re learning about race and black history in school, there’s no real need for me to specifically teach it here at home.”
But honestly, many times it is these lessons that are looked over – at least until Black History Month comes along and the topics of race and diversity become central to the class’s curriculum. Even then, however, sometimes students are so worried about other aspects of their own lives that they forget to pay attention to these important and necessary lessons.
That is why these topics must not be relegated to one month a year or simply to school time – they must also be taught and instilled in the home year-round. Teaching your child about race and diversity can help them better understand the world we live in, as well as make them appreciate the things that make them similar and different from their friends. By teaching your child about race and black history, you can help create a future generation that not only acknowledges diversity, but appreciates and encourages it.
And, as I said before, while these lessons should be taught all year long and not just during Black History Month, this month is a great time to begin to instill these ideas into your children to be nurtured as they continue to grow. In order to better do that – or at least to decide on where to start – we have compiled a list of amazing books about race and diversity to read to your children at home, creating the opportunity for discussion within the safe family space.
Mama, Why Am I Black?
Written by Amos Knoll
“Mama, Why Am I Black?” is a great story to begin your discussions on race and black history. In the story, a young boy named Iskinder asks his mother “Why am I black?” This leads the family into a valuable discussion on race and skin color as Iskinder’s mother explains how he came to be and the importance of being proud of who you are.
Written by Maximo Kovak
“Colours” builds an idealic world in which racism, wars, and discrimination no longer exist. While this may seem wonderful, the beings in the “world without colours” begin to lose who they are, forgetting what makes them special. This story teaches us the important lesson that our differences make us individuals, but that we are still the same even with our different “colours.” The book also contains great games and exercises to continue the conversation – an all-around wonderful book to begin teaching your children about Black History Month.
Between the Lines
Written by Claudia Whitsitt
For older readers, Claudia Whitsitt’s “Between the Lines” serves as an amazing novel to teach older children about Black History Month. “Between the Lines” centers around three girls of different races who become friends amidst the turmoil following the Detroit Riots in 1967. A story of friendship and strength in the face of intolerance and bigotry, this book is a great story to help teach students about an important example of racism in American history.
Dinosaurs Living in My Hair! 2
Written by Jayne M. Rose-Vallee
“Dinosaurs Living in My Hair! 2” by Jayne M. Rose-Vallee is a great resource for parents teaching young children about diversity during Black History Month. Rose-Vallee’s book looks at the experiences of five friends as they discover the truth behind their differences and similarities. While their physical appearances may differ, there are many things these friends share in common – curly hair, the struggles of first grade, and dinosaurs! Parents can use this story as a starting point for talking to their children about what makes us different - as well as what makes us the same.
Written by Raven Howell
A great book for preschool age readers learning about diversity is Raven Howell’s “My Community.” This book leads us on a journey to discover the different types of people who live in our community, each with different names, jobs, shapes, and colors. Much like how the characters in the book live in harmony with the other members of their community, so can you teach your children the importance of accepting those who are different from you and creating unified communities built on kindness.
The Stump: Abridged Version - The Early Years
Written by Terry L. Braddock and Kathleen A. Braddock
"The Stump: Abridged Version - The Early Years" tells the true story of Terry L. Braddock as he relates his experiences growing up in the South Side of Chicago, where he experienced racism and saw the challenges experienced by the area during the Civil Rights Movement. Braddock’s story tells about his journey out of Chicago’s South Side and the strength and resilience required to overcome his obstacles and become the man he is today.
Our American Dream
Written by Fiona McEntee
Fiona McEntee’s “Our American Dream” is a wonderful book to kickstart your family’s conversation on race and diversity during Black History Month. McEntee wrote her children’s book to help explain the importance of a kind and accepting America that welcomes immigrants and citizens from all over the world. In McEntee’s story, the American Dream is all about celebrating immigrants and the diversity immigration brings to the country.
Sweet Neighbors Come in All Colors
Written by Lisa Beckler
Another great choice for teaching diversity to young readers is “Sweet Neighbors Come in All Colors” by Lisa Beckler. This story is based off Dick Grover’s song, and so can be treated as a sing-along story. “Sweet Neighbors Come in All Colors” shows young children the beauty that comes from diverse colors, shapes, and sizes, and does so in a way that is both fun and easy for young readers to understand as they sing along with various fruits at a farmer’s market. This song and story can be a great segue into discussions with your children about the importance of diversity and harmony.
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.