Many parents worry about shielding their children from issues of race and racial differences. But at some point, children are bound to learn about the realities of injustice. Research has shown that awareness of race and differences begins quite early. You, as the parent, have the power and responsibility to start the conversation with your children, allowing it to be transparent, frank, and helpful.
Knowing where to start, what to say, and how to say it can be extremely confusing depending on the age and maturity of your child. We put together this age-by-age guide of books, TV shows, podcasts, and movies that you can read and watch with your children to facilitate age-appropriate education and conversation about race.
For young children: Ages 0-6
In the early years, it's your job to create compassion and tolerance. Let the information your child consumes be abundantly diverse. We recommend a few great children's books, movies, and television shows to get started:
For school-aged kids: 7-12
By this time, your children have better working knowledge of the world around them and a basic understanding of current events. Combined with their access to internet and mobile devices, it's at this stage where you have to help them understand what they will undoubtedly see and hear. We recommend giving your children the tools to make sense of these events in the form of the following books and movies, and talking about how they relate to the media they consume.
For young teens: 13-16
At this point, your child is ready to confront real issues at hand. They start generating their own opinions and even feel compelled to act. It's also at this age that they become mature enough to read important literature about race, including To Kill a Mockingbird, which is a requirement in most school systems.
Young teens prefer to consume information digitally, so an audio version of these books might be more palatable. We also recommend podcasts to listen to together.
The Color Purple (book & film)
Code Switch (podcast)
For older teens: 17+
As budding adults, your kids are ready to have complex and tough conversations relating to race. They are likely finding their own information online and on social media, making it more difficult to navigate and make sense of. Though you cannot control what they consume, you can offer recommendations and talk about them as a family.
Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap (Season 1, final episode)
Finally, the work doesn't stop with our kids. As a parent and adult, you must continue to educate, learn, and grow yourself around issues of race. And not just to be a role model for your children, but for the good of humanity.
The Underground Railroad (winner of the Pulizter prize)