As parents, we all want to raise good humans. Part of the process of raising good human beings is finding a way to navigate difficult—even painful—topics with our kids. They need to hear from us, both out loud and by example, what we know to be right—and what we know to be wrong.
Unfortunately, we don't always have the choice to put off tough conversations until "the time is right," or until we think our kids are "old enough," as African-American parents and parents of children of color already know. Nationwide protests for racial justice are a powerful reminder that parents of all backgrounds need to be pro-active in raising children to understand racism and discrimination, and helping our kids to be a force for positive change in the world.
Want to raise an actively anti-racist child? Here are some resources that can help, tailored to every age group.
Resources for parents
Parents, it all starts with you. It's important for us parents to keep educating ourselves about how to advocate effectively for others, as well as how to talk about race and racism with our kids.
Talking race with young children is a 20-minute podcast from NPR featuring Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for Social Impact at Sesame Workshop and a co-author of the Sesame Workshop Identity Matters Study, and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? It's a great place to begin.
The Children's Community School of Philadelphia created a great list of resources for parents to accompany their viral infographic showing how children's attitudes toward race and difference develop, age by age.
Doing Good Together offers a wealth of resources for parents for teaching young children about race, getting involved in the fight for racial justice, teaching tolerance and diversifying your kids' bookshelves, toy boxes and Netflix queues.
Anti-racism resources for white people, a widely-shared Google doc, lists videos to watch, articles to read, podcasts to listen to, social media accounts to follow and books to read that can form a solid foundation for understanding racism in America.
75 things white people can do for racial justice is a deeply-researched, frequently-updated document curated by Medium contributor Corinne Shutack that provides a checklist of action items to help fight back against racism.
Resources for toddlers + preschoolers
When it comes to younger kids, play, storytelling and modeling the behaviors we want them to emulate are the best ways to teach any subject—and that especially includes celebrating difference and rejecting racism.
The Brown Bookshelf promotes African American children's book authors and illustrators.
The Conscious Kid, an advocacy group that works to raise awareness through literature, offers book bundles focused on racial and social justice for children ages 0-3 (and beyond).
Brightly, a website created by the publisher Penguin Random House to help support children's books, has a guide to diversifying your child's bookshelf—and why you should.
No Time for Flashcards, a resource for early educators, suggests a list of toys for toddlers and preschoolers that help reinforce positive relationships with people of all backgrounds, from a plush basket of snuggly dolls with a range of skin tones to a crayon pack and coloring book that encourage kids to celebrate the diversity of the world.
Resources for elementary school kids
As kids grow, hearing stories that reveal a wide range of perspectives and seeing their parents and caregivers "walking the walk" continue to be the best teaching tools. As parents, we should also engage our elementary-school-aged kids in regular conversations about racial discrimination.
Common Sense Media offers a guide for parents to help us use movies, television and streaming media as tools for learning about racism and starting conversations about racial justice and inequality.
Coretta Scott King award-winning children's books from the past 10 years are listed and reviewed by age group (from 2 to teen, but most are for kids ages 5 to 12) on the Common Sense Media. They also maintain a list of award-winning children's books about the African-American experience.
31 children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance are listed by Embrace Race, a community and advocacy site for parents.
Here Wee Read offers curated selections of picture books, chapter books, graphic novels and middle readers available from the independent online bookseller Bookshop, with collections ranging from graphic novels about African American characters to picture books about the Harlem Renaissance.
The Zinn Education Project offers films, articles, digital media collections and more interactive resources about racism and racial identity for kids from kindergarten to teen—filter by age group to find resources tailored to your child's age.
Resources for teens
Teenagers tend to be acutely aware of injustice in their schools, their social circles and their world. At this age, they want parents to offer guidance on how to be active allies for causes they believe in, and they need resources to help them navigate the challenge of racism as independent critical thinkers.
The guide to allyship, an "evolving open-source guide" for helping people outside of the African-American community "become a more thoughtful and effective ally," has helpful discussion guides and resources.
Anatomy of an ally, from the educators' organization Teaching Tolerance, offers a checklist of ways teenagers (and adults) can listen, check in, support and stand up for peers facing racial injustice.
Buzzfeed has a well-curated list of videos, books, podcasts, conversation starters, social accounts and places to donate that can help white teenagers become educated and active on behalf of racial justice.
Be the Change! is a program for teenagers developed by the Unitarian Universalist Church but intended for use by youth from all religious and cultural backgrounds. They've also curated a great collection of streaming videos to help teenagers educate themselves about race and identity.
At every age, our kids are looking to us to help guide them—both by giving them the learning tools they need to thrive and by showing them through our own example what is right. We hope these resources can be a starting point for your family in the lifelong effort to be friends, allies and advocates for all people.