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Multicultural Children's Literature & Racism Resources: Home

This guide is an incomplete, ever-growing, urgent compilation of sources to help kids and teens understand racism. Please contact me if you see problems, have suggestions or questions.

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January 27: Multicultural Book Day

The last Friday in January is now celebrated as Multicultural Children's Book Day. Started in 2014 by the non-profit Multicultural Children's Book Day, their mission is to "not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these books into classrooms and libraries". You can find free resources, teaching tools, booklists, downloads, and a year-around initiative to get multicultural and diverse books into the hands of young readers. 

Statement

Silence is complicity. In the name of educating children in a democracy,  research has shown that it's increasingly important to talk to kids about systematic racism, their civic role involved, and above all, just being kind. 

This guide is a compilation of selected sources to help kids and teens understand racism.  We have several children's and teen books to address racism and other related subjects. The term "racism" is a logical place to start looking for titles in the library search box, but automated indexing and search functions are far from perfect. There are many other relevant titles that are not indexed with "racism" and require some creative thinking. Contact the Curriculum Collection Librarian for recommended titles or other assistance.

Other online recommendations of titles can be found in the resources below. If you see a title and want to know if Murphy Library or the UW shared library system has the book(s), just copy/paste the book title (only the book title) in the Murphy Library search box. 

The library system is now open for curbside pick up. Please follow the instructions on this page. 

Contact me if you see problems, broken links, or have suggestions and/or questions (Teri Holford, Curriculum Collection Librarian. Email me at tholford@uwlax.edu). 

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How to talk to kids and teens about systematic racism?

First of all, talk! Talk often. Converse, exchange, and especially listen. 

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Here is a 10 min podcast from NPR's Life Kit.  How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race. This podcast is an interview with Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.

Another 20 min podcast from NPR Life Kit, Talking Race With Younger Children, on how to handle conversations about race, racism, diversity and inclusion, with very young children. 


Here is a 30 min podcast from NPR's Life Kit on how to help teach kids how to be kind: Kindness Can Be Taught. Here's HowScarlett Lewis of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement; Jennifer Kotler Clarke, vice president of content research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop; and Thomas Lickona, author of How To Raise Kind Kids share tips for teachers, librarians, parents and everyone who works and lives with children and teens. 

Kids are not too young to learn and talk about society's issues. A good place to start with resources and recommendations can be found here, published by Pretty Good (they create infographs to make information easier to understand). See the link to the infograph about child development above here. 


Here is a 25 min podcast from NPR's Life Kit on What To Say To Kids When the News Is Scary. Child development experts share what parents, teachers and other caregivers can do to help prepare and protect kids from "scary news", whether it's fighting overseas, a school shooting, wildfires or a global pandemic. As the publishing industry follows their research, many picture books are being published that can help children start to understand and process. 


EVENTS

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Raising Antiracist Kids: Empowering the Next Generation of Change Makers (recorded video link here

A conversation between Ibram X. Kendi (Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC, author, historian activist among many other accomplishments) and Derecka Purnell, writer, lawyer, activist. 


Sesame Street teamed up with CNN to offer town hall sessions for kids on the pandemic. See link here for previous town halls on the pandemic and here for the town hall on racism, the current nationwide protests, embracing diversity and being more empathetic and understanding. 

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Animated Children's Books

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This Oscar-winning short film is an animated version of a children's picture book, Hair Loveabout a dad trying his best to help his young daughter with her hair. 

 

Other sources for kids and adults

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A visual information literacy guide for taking action as a responsible information consumer and creator. Leslie Mac #DigitalActionInterrogation 


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NPR How to Talk to Your Kids About Black Lives and Police Violence: News article dated June 4, 2020. Contains a list of resources. 

Antiracist resources for K-12


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Performative Allyship articleWhat is it? Why does it hurt more than it helps? What can we do? A short video for a start. 


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Get Comfortabe With Being Uncomfortable (TedTalk by Luvvie Ajayi)


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Understanding Systematic Racism in the U.S. 


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Wild Words (a site for writers) offers a list here of 20 literary sources for more advanced readers and adults, a few titles for children (probably cross-listed with the sources on this guide) and a list of black-owned bookstores.

 

Online sources to talk about racism with kids

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The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. You can read more about the members of The Brown Bookshelf here.

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The Conscious Kid is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to equity and promoting positive racial identity development in youth. It supports organizations, families, and educators in taking action to disrupt racism in young children, and promote access to children’s books centering underrepresented groups and authors. Examples: a series of picture books that start critical conversations with authors, academics and activists, picture books celebrating black boys, or picture books celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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Juneteenth A list of 10 picture book titles by Colors of Us, a site devoted to multicultural children's books. Multicultural books titles broken by groups and age, multicultural toys and multicultural clothes, plus a blog. 


Diverse BookFinder is a tool to help identify titles of picture books focused on Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) and published since 2002. Included are critical analyses, discussions, highlights and trends in the publishing industry, news and views. 


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Embrace Race was created in 2016 by two parents, and now is a multiracial community of parents, teachers, experts and other caring adults. The original following goals are: to nurture resilience in children of color, to nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes, to raise kids who think critically about racial inequity, to support a movement of kid and adult racial justice advocates for all children. They offer resources of all kinds (webinars, action guides, articles, lists of titles, etc) and a community to share and explore.

Here is a link to a compiled list of 31 titles. 

Here is a link to a pdf entitled "Building a Diverse Children's Library in 25 Books".


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Dottir Press is offering free pdfs of their books on harder subjects. Click here to learn more. Contact the Curriculum Collection Librarian at tholford@uwlax.edu for assistance or questions. 


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Feminist Books for Kids (Read Good Books, Raise Good Humans) is a site created by a mom with young sons. Under the tab "Books" is a breakdown of titles by board books, picture books, chapter books, and YA books. There is also a FaceBook group. Here is a link with 9 recommended titles for independent readers about police brutality. 

Here is a link to a pdf entitled "Build a Diverse Children's Library in 25 Books".


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Just Us Books, Inc is an independent press in existence since 1990 that publishes Black interest and multicultural books for children, teens and young adults. 


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School Library Journal offers a list of anti-racist resources and reads for all ages. See the link here. 

They also published a list of 15 titles on inequitity, equality and organizing for young readers. See the link here


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Social Justice Books, a project from the non-profit Teaching for Change, offers selected lists of books and resources on social justice, multiculturalism and teaching for change for kids, parents, educators. Here is a guide for selecting anti-bias books, based on "ten quick ways to analyze children's books for racism and sexism (updated from 2013).


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Teaching Tolerance is a non-profit educational organization that designs teaching tools that create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. Teaching Tolerance emphasizes social justice and anti-bias, which encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Classroom resources, professional development, and articles for discussion are found on this site.

Here is a direct link to resources about race, racism, and police violence. 


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Today's Parent published a list of 30 books to help you talk to (younger) kids about racism. See the link here


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Videos: Although there are many videos online, here is a list of videos to explain systematic racism to kids, examples below:


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We Need Diverse Books is a site dedicated to books where all children can see themselves reflected. 


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13th A 2016 documentary film about the history of systematic racism in the U.S. prison system. Watch the entire film for free here. 


There are many other online resources to help start the conversation for children, tweens, teens, parents, educators and anyone interested in the next generation. A compiled list from another Murphy Library guide can be found here. Check them out!