Library Blog

Talking About Race with Young Children by Haneen

Group of smiling kindergarten kids

Hello, library community! Like many of you, I’ve watched the news and social media coverage over the protests sweeping the nation. I’ve seen videos of officers and protesters walking hand and hand, kneeling together in hopes towards social justice and racial equity. The Library truly is “For the People,” so what can we do for you?

The Library has resources to help us have those difficult conversations with our children, let’s talk about race. Children are not color blind; therefore, we shouldn’t be color silent. Many parents feel uncomfortable talking about race, or afraid they may be wrong, so they shy away. But doing so reinforces racial prejudice by letting kids come to their own conclusions. Experts say there is nothing wrong with observing someone’s skin color, it’s only wrong if the conversation is being devalued.  Time and time again, we hear, children learn best through play. Let’s do that! Let’s have a conversation about race through play.

Where do I start with my child?

Books: Pick books that include black children and other races. Allow the book to serve as window for your child to learn more about the lives of others and their cultures. We created a list of books to share with young kids (even babies!) that will help start a conversation about race and skin color.  There are also links to online resources to help guide your conversations.  Lists of award-winners will lead you to books that authentically portray different race experiences.  Find all of these resources here.   Request titles online or by calling 330-259-3399.  Curbside pickup is available!

Toys: Take a look at your child’s baby doll collection, do they only look like your child? The next time you are toy shopping, pick a doll that is a different race. Same goes for puzzles.

Arts: Did you know multiple brands sell crayons that represent people’s skin colors? Use them, that is real life.

Cooking: Pick up a carton of brown and white eggs from the grocery store. See if your child observes the two colors. Acknowledge that, yes one egg is white and the other is brown. Now crack those eggs open, are they not the same? Just like people, we look different from the outside, but we are the same on the inside.

Play: Try this Shades of Color activity shared by @happilyevermom on Instagram.  Use cold coffee and milk to create different shades of color. Build a positive awareness and explain how skin comes in different shades, and all skin is beautiful. Shades of skin can be light or dark, or anywhere in between.

Children model what they see. We must do our part. Focus on fairness, inclusiveness and push back on stereotypes. How often do our kids throw us for a loop and ask questions out of nowhere? Don’t be afraid to put a pause in the conversation. Explain that you’d like to explore that question together. Visit the library’s resources online, chat with a librarian, search for information. Learn together!