As a white American, talking about Black history in our country can feel complicated. I want my kids to know about and celebrate Black history, but knowing how to tell the whole story, including slavery, emancipation, civil rights and racism, is overwhelming.
I’m happy to say I’ve found there are many approaches to talking about Black history in age appropriate ways for littles. It’s very important that we teach our children to celebrate and honor Black Americans even when our shame, guilt and ignorance make us feel uncomfortable.
In this Round-Up, I offer resources for celebrating Black History Month with your family. I encourage you to not shy away because you may feel unprepared to talk about topics like slavery and racism. While researching for this column, I myself am encouraged to express gratitude and appreciation for the amazing contributions Black Americans made, and continue to make, to our country despite the oppression they face. I hope you do, too.
PBSparents offers several suggestions to connect kids with Black history, such as reading books about Black Americans, cooking soul food, experiencing the performing arts (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be at UC Berkeley during the month of April), learning about the history of Jazz, and seeking out elderly friends to experience ‘living’ black history.
In an article on Huffpost, the author challenges us to celebrate Black history year round. Look beyond the struggle and expose our kids to Black role models. Tell stories of everyday Black Americans, stories of resistance and joy. There are also some good children’s book recommendations including this one, that we just got and is very well done.,
Dr. Beverly Tatum, author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race,” shares her wisdom around talking about race on Scholastic.com. She insists that when discussing the difficult history of Black people in the United States., it is absolutely necessary to make sure children understand that change is possible. Hope is essential. She recommends several good children’s books to start the conversation.
Robin Muldor-Engram, a former teacher and librarian suggests one major way we can learn about Black history year round and spark discussion is by ensuring our kids have access to more books which “accurately depict the unsullied experiences of Black Americans.” Her point: We need more diverse books. Such a simple but profound concept.
Finally, speaking of books, Red Tricycle offers this list of 21 Black History books for kids of all ages.
Feel free to share any resources you’ve found helpful. Until next time!