As parents with little children, you may feel it's important to shelter your young from the harsh goings on in the world, and you're not wrong. Children don't need to be exposed to the harshness and confusion related to protests, riots and looting. But from a young age, there are things you can do to help your children of understand and think about the human experience no matter where you are from or what you look like. It's important to build empathy in children by exposing them to the world in measureable ways they can handle. Through books and reading together, you can encourage acceptance and empathy for the experiences of others unlike ourselves. Empathy is a work in progress for everyone, but it is the first touchstone in learning how to love, and not hate, others, says Alison Gopnik, PhD., coauthor of The Scientist in the Crib (HarperPerennial).
Here are 10 recommended books to help you in talking with your kids about people and differences in the world around us.
- Anti-Racist Baby – Babies. Written by Ibram X. Kendi, a best selling anti-racist author, find 9 easy steps for building a more equitable world.
- The Undefeated – Ages 6 – 9. A multi-award-winning book, find stunning poetry and illustrations highlighting Black history and Black futures. Understanding Black history is essential to understanding American history, and this book serves as a great tool for acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of African Americans.
- The Skin I'm In — Ages 4 – 7. Part of an easy-to-understand series of books for younger children, and written by a psychotherapist and child counselor, this book promotes positive interaction among children and adults.
- Be Kind – Ages 3 – 6. A sweet and thoughtful book that teaches how to treat one another with respect, kindness and thoughtfulness.
- We're Different, We're the Same – Ages 3 – 7. Sesame Street does the heavy lifting and drives home the truest point of all: although we may look differently on the outside, on the inside we are ALL the same.
- Brown Girl Dreaming – In poetry, the author shares what it was like to grow up in American as an African American in the 60s and 70s.
- Skin Like Mine – Ages 1 – 12. A celebration of diversity among children.
- Hair Like Mine – Ages 1 – 12. Sometimes we don't like what makes us different, but it is what makes us unique and special.
- A Kids Book About Racism – Ages 5 and older. Learn what it is, how it feels and how to spot it when it happens.
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? – Young adults and older. Conversations about race in America.