5 Books To Help You Talk To Your Child About Race

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In the wake of that penalty shoot-out and the ensuing racist abuse directed at Marcus Rashford, Bukano Saka and Jayden Sancho on Twitter, racism is once again front and centre of our TV screens and our minds.

As Rashford’s nervous strike hit the post, my ten year old put his head in his hands and started to cry. I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to console him, about to tell him all wasn’t lost, that we could still win the match. He looked up at me and said “Mam he’s going to get such bad racism because of this.”

I was speechless with a mix of pride at his empathy, but sadness at the fact that what he was saying was absolutely right. We all knew it would follow.

I’ve sometimes been accused (by my husband mainly) of laying it on thick with my three boys when it comes to anti-racism. I know not everyone feels as comfortable knowing how to talk to your child about race. But you know what; my hypersensitivity to it has worked. They know there is no place for racism in our family, and that there is no such thing as casual racism. They’re engaged and interested and I know that equality and diversity are more than on their radar.

Nevertheless it can be a tricky subject to broach, and we’re all caught up in a maze of political correctness where we want to be sure to use the right language, but still sound like a parent rather than a manifesto! Sometimes you need a bit of extra help when it comes to talking to your child about race or other big topics, and a bedtime story can be the ideal time to introduce the topic.

These five books are great for getting the conversation started with your youngsters, allowing for curiosity, questions and learning to happen naturally.

What If We Were All The Same? by C.M Harris

What If We Were All The Same! embraces all of our beautiful differences. A great conversation starter for little ones to illustrate how boring life would be if we were all the same! Filled with bright illustrations and funny rhymes, this book discusses topics like friendship, empathy and kindness.

This Is How We Do It by Matt LeMothe

This book looks at a day in the life of seven children from around the world. Although it’s aimed at ages 4-6; my 8 year old (Year 3) son introduced me to this book and he absolutely loved it. It opened his eyes to the privilege he was born into and provided a great spotlight on different cultures and traditions from around the world.

Coming To England by Baroness Floella Benjamin

Any book written by the absolute Queen of 80’s kids TV was always going to be good, right? Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant – Floella’s experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy. This is a true story with a powerful message: that courage and determination can always overcome adversity.

Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez

A beautiful picture book for younger readers that can be read again and again. With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds, especially anyone who ever felt that they don’t belong.

What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions by Nikesh Shukla and Claire Heuchan

One for the teenagers (it’s aimed at age 10 plus), this is currently winging it’s way to my house for my eldest to read. I came across this one on Instagram and the reviews say that if you are struggling to know how to talk to your child about race, this book is just the one to help you answer the more awkward questions . It explores the history of race and society, giving context to how racist attitudes come into being. It looks at belonging and identity, the damaging effects of stereotyping and the benefits of positive representation. The authors talk about how to identify and challenge racism, and how to protect against and stop racist behaviour. When you feel the time is right to talk to your older child about race, this book might be a great place to start.

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