Unprecedented times: a global health crisis; a domestic crisis that demands true and lasting reform. Black Lives Matter. And now more than ever, all lives are changing. How do we discuss these very real challenges with our young children? How do we help them understand why people are marching in the streets? We discovered an ample reading list on diversity geared toward younger children. These authors reach kids via words and ways that entertain, educate, and enlighten. According Erica Tempesta’s June 4 article in the Daily Mail, a pre-K teacher from New Jersey named Brittany Smith started a Twitter thread on kids’ books discussing race, racism, and the need for diversity–both in and out of the classroom. Most notably, Smith suggests titles that speak to all people, not just those of color. It’s a list that speaks to inequality, injustice, and disparities based on culture, creeds, and skin color. And like all beloved children’s books, the message is illustrated through words and art.
Top on her list is ‘Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X,’ written by Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcom X’ s own daughter. Shabazz examines her father’s childhood and the obstacles faced and conquered on his way to becoming an historic champion of racial justice.
Reports Tempesta: “a number of the books on Smith’s list profile historical figures, including Andrea Davis Pinkney’s ‘Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters’ and Carole Boston Weatherford’s ‘Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library.’”
Addressing the topic of the day, “’Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice,’ by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard follows a white family and a black family as they discuss a police shooting of a black man in their community, ‘” shares Tempesta.
“Given today’s climate and our fight for justice, I want parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and anyone who regularly comes in contact with children to be aware there are resources that can help start the conversations of race and racism,” shared Smith.
Also in the ‘books kids will understand category,’ Smith mentions a myriad of titles featuring multicultural characters on topics ranging from the Holocaust and poverty to deportation, and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests: “’There’s a misconception that they’re too young and don’t understand, but they do!’ They just don’t always have the tools to express it.‘”