Support Race Equity by Reading Books with Diverse Characters
Books offer your children the opportunity to experience new worlds and perspectives for the first time, but if you take a close look at the books your child is reading, you’ll likely see a pattern in which groups are represented the most. According to statistics compiled by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, only 14% of the kids’ books published over the last 25 years tell stories about people of color. While these numbers are improving, it is important to seek out books for your children that tell diverse stories. They are a fun way to introduce important ideas such as empathy, respect and privilege to your little ones and can help open up conversations about race as a family.
Books will likely be your child’s first exposure to America’s disturbing past, and the civil rights movement in the 20th century. While a knowledge of history is important, intentionally reading books about BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) in roles other than enslavement and the civil rights movement is also important for children.
Look for books with stories and illustrations that celebrate diversity and introduce them to different perspectives. Ask them about the similarities and differences they see between themselves and the characters in their books. If you are having trouble finding diverse stories, First 5 LA has some great book ideas here: https://www.first5la.org/parenting/articles/first-5-las-resources-for-books-for-children-on-race-and-discrimination/. If you find something you and your child love, consider buying an extra copy and donating it to your local neighborhood or school library. Helping other kids learn to appreciate and celebrate diversity is an important gift!