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Talking about Race with Children

An array of book covers featuring books mentioned in this post

A great deal of research has been done concerning how young children become aware of race. It all points to a very clear fact: kids pick up on racial differences during the very first years of life. Our librarians have pulled together a list of books that are helpful for having conversations about race and culture. They are a starting point and will hopefully be a support for our Henrico families.

Unfortunately, bias toward one race has also been observed in children younger than three. For this reason, it is incredibly important for parents and caregivers to help children make sense and celebrate the physical differences that make up people from the start. Keep reading to the bottom for additional resources on talking about race with children.

Picture Books

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
Woke Baby by Mahogany Browne
Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
I am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown
We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty
The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson
We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Jane Kates – Also available on OverDrive.
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry – Also available on OverDrive.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o – Also available on OverDrive.
ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us by Dorena Williamson
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
Whose Knees are These? By Jabari Asim
Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs
When We Were Alone by David Robertson – Also available on OverDrive.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi – Also available on OverDrive.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson – Also available on OverDrive.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad – Also available on OverDrive.
Mr. Pig’s Big Wall by Glenn Hernandez


Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers – Also available on OverDrive.
Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh – Also available on OverDrive.
Lizzie Demands a Seat! Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights by Beth Anderson
Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson – Also available on OverDrive.
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
Who We Are!: All About Being the Same and Being Different by Robie Harris

Chapter Books and Graphic Novels

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods – Also available on OverDrive.
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
Indian No More by Charlane Willing McManis
The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus – Also available on OverDrive.
New Kid by Jerry Craft – Also available on OverDrive.

You can find some of these books and more titles on Hoopla.

Here are a few additional resources we find helpful and informative when preparing to talk about race with children:
Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News
Mental health-driven advice from the experts at the Child Mind Institute

Talking Race With Young Children
A podcast from NPR, featuring conversations with Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race

Equity & Diversity
Our Henrico County Public Schools have a wide variety of information available through their Department of Equity & Diversity.

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