I am raising four black boys, and with the recent state of events in our country (amongst other horrible things), I felt compelled to create a resource for my white counterparts to help them in their journey with educating the next generation on how they need to recognize their white privilege and speak out when they see racism against people that look like my four black boys – or even my little black girl. No white child is too young to begin learning about how much their life differs from those who look different from them, so here are 7 children’s books on white privilege.
Ages 3 – 7
A is for Activist “is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.”
The Skin I’m In “encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves. Written by a psychotherapist and child counselor, this book is written in simple, direct language that makes sense to younger kids. This title also features a guide for parents on how to use the book, a glossary, suggested additional reading, and a list of resources.”
Hands Up! “This triumphant picture book recasts a charged phrase as part of a black girl’s everyday life–hands up for a hug, hands up in class, hands up for a high five–before culminating in a moment of resistance at a protest march.”
The Skin You Live In. “With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose.”
Ages 8 – 12
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness. “A white child sees a news report of a white police officer shooting and killing a person with brown skin who had their hands up. “We don’t see color,” the child’s mother says, but the child senses a deeper truth. An afternoon in the library uncovers the reality of white supremacy in America. The child connects to the opportunity and their responsibility to dismantle white supremacy–for the sake of their own liberation out of ignorance and injustice.”
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. “Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this must-have collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. This remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.”
13 & Up
The Hate U Give. “Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.”
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. “In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.”
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. “Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7 when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.”
There you have it, 7 children’s books on white privilege for all ages and stages. And when you start to think about how these kinds of conversations can take away your child’s innocence, remember that mine don’t have the privilege of not having them.
And to my fellow moms of black boys and girls, remember to take care of yourself while you are out there fighting for your brothers, your uncles, your fathers, your significant others, and your sons.