Teaching Kids About Racial and Social Justice

This page includes resources and recommendations for parents, educators, and other caring adults who want to further their own learning and combat racism and teach their children about how to act as socially aware citizens. This list will continue to be updated. Here’s a starting point for your at-home educational journey in understanding racism and social justice and how you play a role in making our world a more just place to live.

Parent and Educator Resources – for Self-and Other Adult Learning:

Don’t Say Nothing by Jamilah Pitts

An article written by a black teacher about what U.S. students need to learn.

Say Their Names: A Toolkit from Chicago Public Schools

This toolkit offers suggestions and strategies for educators and parents on having conversations with young people in school and at home about race, racism, racial violence, understanding biases, and how to take action for racial justice.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Good Reads describes this book as… “Ijeoma Oluo (author) explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.”

The Missing Link In Social and Emotional Learning; Why Social Justice and Equity are Essential to Social and Emotional Learning by Shannon Wanless and Tia N. Barnes

Authors of this article write, “Social justice and equity play a role in every social and emotional experience, but the majority of our research and practice still takes a colorblind approach.” This article offers educational professionals critical ideas for ensuring that every social and emotional experience is infused with racial empathy, sensitivity and instruction.

Making the World More Just and Equitable Right at Home by Shannon Wanless

How can we review our everyday routines and rituals with the lens of our deepest values? Do those values align? Are we taking advantage of those interactions to offer practice with themes like responsibility, empathy and compassion? Wanless offers that equity begins at home.

Parenting with a Purpose; Actively Promoting Racial Inclusivity as Integral to Our Roles by Nikkya Hargrove

How can we discuss how it feels to be a minority in a crowd with our children? How can we look for opportunities to be the one to include and model the words and actions of inclusion? If we see it as a core part of our purpose as parents, we’ll become more intentional about it.

To Use In Conversation with your Children or Teens:

Black Lives Matter Movies and TV Shows Reviewed by Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit committed to reviews of all media for families and schools that designate age-appropriateness and help adults and children alike become informed about content before watching it. They use research-based approaches to their reviews and strive to be a trusted source of information about all forms of media available to children and teens. This review helps parents and educators understand what their children can learn about related to racism in the United States and beyond and at what age the material might be most effective.

How Students of Color Confront Imposter Syndrome by Dena Simmons

A powerful TED Talk about the experience of growing up black in the Bronx and then, leaving to live in Connecticut to leave the gun shots behind but encountering a more insidious and violent danger there.

Young Adult Novels:

The Poet X by by Elizabeth Acevedo

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking until she finds poetry.

Black Boy/White School by Brian F. Walker

A boy who grows up in East Cleveland is sent off to a prestigious all-white preparatory school in Maine and attempts to not lose who he is in the midst of a place and culture that refuses to accept him for who he is.

Picture Books:

The Skin You Live In

By Michael Tyler, Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko

With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities include a wide range of cultures.

A Kids Book about Racism

By Jelani Memory

Yes, this really is a kids book about racism. Inside, you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. This is one conversation that’s never too early to start, and this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic. This book helps young children learn about racism and how it hurts people and supports parents in raising this vital conversation in the preschool years.

Sites with Deep Resources Including Free Online Lessons:

Facing History and Ourselves

A nonprofit organization committed to using the lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. There are numerous free resources including lessons and discussions you can have at various ages and stages with your children. Check out:

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985

This includes four units that shed light on why nonviolence was championed by top civil rights leaders and what we can learn from their experiences. These include: “The Philosophy of Nonviolence,” “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change,” “Tactics of Nonviolence,” and “Taking a Stand; Models of Civic Participation.”

Teaching Tolerance

A nonprofit organization committed to teaching educators and other caring adults who work with children how to teach children to become active participants in a diverse democracy. They publish resources and guidance on race and ethnicity, on voting, immigration, religion, gender and sexual identity, ability, class, bullying and bias, rights and activism. Check out:

Let’s Talk! Facilitating Critical Conversations with Students – a Teacher’s guide.

National Museum of the American Indian

Check out the K-12 Distance Learning Program that offers free webinars, virtual field trips and teacher resources on American Indian culture today and history.

Check out this informative guide from Sunshine Behavioral Health entitled “Mental Health Issues Facing the Black Community.” 

© Copyright, 2020, Jennifer Smith Miller. All rights reserved.

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