It’s Never Too Early: To Discuss Race and Diversity with Children!
February is Black History Month! It’s the perfect opportunity to teach the little ones about race and diversity. Below you will find at-home activities and book recommendations focused on black history, achievements and diversity.
- Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
- Bright Eyes and Brown Skin by Cheryl Willis Hudson & Bernette G. Ford
- Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney
Put non-breakable mirrors and brown, black, white and red paint near the art area. Using the colors, ask the children to create their own skin tone for self-portraits.
- The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
- Our Legendary Ladies Presents Harriet Tubman by Megan Callea
- The Story of Rosa Parks by Patricia A. Pingry
- We March by Shane W. Evans
Ask the children what the word “brave” means. Read any of the books above and discuss how the main characters were brave. For example, discuss why it was brave for Rosa Parks to select that particular seat on the bus.
- Black Inventors for Kids!: Amazing African American Inventors Who Changed History by Ian D. Fraser
- What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Label African-American inventions, such as an ironing board, lawn mower (play, of course), fire extinguisher, dustpan, baby buggy, guitar or mailbox. Call out each invention.
Then ask the children to find and bring them back to the group. Ask, “How is it used?” and “Why is it important?”
Other famous African-American inventions include potato chips, golf tees, stainless steel pads, horseshoes (plastic), a pencil sharpener, a hairbrush and an ice cream scooper.
It’s Never Too Early: Book Recommendations to Discuss Race and Diversity with Children. Parents and families can use books as conversation starters.
- “I Am Perfectly Designed,” by Karamo Brown, is a book that celebrates love who you are, exactly as you are.
- “All Are Welcome,” by Alexandra Penfold, celebrates diversity.
- “The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences.”
- “I am Enough,” by Grace Byers, is a book about respecting others.
- “An ABC of Equality,” a board book introducing complicated concepts surrounding social justice to young children.
- “What’s the Difference? Being Different is Amazing,” by Doyin Richards, which distills diversity and acceptance (for ages 2-10).
- “A Is For Activist” by INNOSANTO NAGARA. This board book introduces the letters of the alphabet with terms related to social justice, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and other causes activists support (ages 0-3).
- “Sulwe,” by Lupita Nyong’o, is a picture book about a little girl who learns to embrace her unique self.
- “All the Colors We Are” by Katie Kissinger. This book can help children build positive identities as they accept, understand and value our rich and diverse world.
- “Let’s Talk About Race,” by Julius Lester, is a book that helps children ages 4-8 understand the similarities between people of different races, religions and cultures to help them connect with them and push past biases and stereotypes.
- “I am Jackie Robinson,” by Brad Meltzer, is a picture book that offers readers an inside look into his life growing up and playing ball and all of the challenges he faced (for ages 4-7).
- “You Matter,” by Christian Robinson, is an impactful picture book about seeing the world from different points of view.
The book recommendations have been compiled from news articles and educational websites. The books are not endorsed by the Maryland State Department of Education.