Books for Talking To Your Children About Racism, Inclusion, and Empathy

I can’t stand when people say their kids “don’t see color” … that is a privilege my children will never have. My oldest daughter has noticed and been voicing her observations since she was 2 … Mommy is pink, daddy is brown, she is light brown, and her sister is a little darker than her. The list goes on and on. She started noticing these things at preschool when they started learning about differences and similarities. So even though skin color was always an easy conversation to have, racism was not. I was so scared to talk to my daughters about racism. They are almost 5 and 3.5 years old; I wasn’t sure how much they were going to understand and I didn’t want to scare them. Unfortunately because of the world we live in, them being biracial, and their father being black, we needed to have that talk now.

I’ll be honest, the first time I tried to talk to my 4-year-old about it, I crashed and burned. She didn’t understand and I was scared to dive too deep, so I put it off till I could do more research. I’ve always turned to books and this is no different. I found a few lists of great books on the subjects of racism, inclusion, and empathy, but I only had about five of them on my bookshelf at home. Since the libraries aren’t fully open right now, I went to YouTube and pulled all the read-aloud videos I could find. After watching a video, I would ask my girls how the book made them feel. We would talk about the characters and their skin tones; how they are similar or different from our family. I would ask if they could see themselves in the story and what they would do differently if anything.

The first in my list is Something Happened In Our Town by Marianne Celano Ph.D.Marietta Collins Ph.D.Ann Hazzard Ph.D. this one touches on what is happening in the news now and is a truly great read. I’ve compiled the rest of the books below and tried to separate them into different age groups, but don’t let my categories hold you back!

Preschool (2+)

We’re Different, We’re the Same By Bobbi Kates

All The Colors Of The Earth by Sheila Hamanaka

All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

Lovely by Jess Hong

Younger Elementary (4+)

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki & Stephane Jorisch

Intersection Allies: We Make Room For All by Carolyn Choi and Chelsea Johnson

I am Human by Susan Verde

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester

Older Elementary (8+)

The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Weatherford

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

I hope these stories help you open up a line of communication with your children about racism and inclusion. It is important to be the example they need, be open about mistakes, be an advocate and ally, and help them navigate their feelings they will encounter.

**This is just a small number of books on these subjects. Your local librarian can help you find more books for your age group**

Carrie is a Baton Rouge native. She is married to her favorite adventuring partner, Joseph, who she met in 2012. Together, they have two strong-willed and fun-loving daughters. She was a stay at home mom for 3 years before going to work part time as a preschool teacher’s assistant. Carrie has an associates in Environmental Science and is passionate about recycling and up-cycling. When she has the time, she enjoys reading mystery and thriller books, crafting, and playing games. She loves going on dates with her husband, especially when they are new adventures.


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