February is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the achievements of African-Americans in our country’s history. This year, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History has chosen the theme “Civil Rights in America” to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This law outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin in employment decisions and public accommodations, including restaurants, motels, hotels and theaters.
Talking about discrimination and race with kids can be tricky for parents and caregivers. Some of us hope that if we don’t point out racial differences, our kids will grow up with a sort of colorblindness and resistance to race-based stereotypes. However, research has shown that what this actually teaches kids is that race is a taboo topic, off-limits to discussion. In the well-researched book “Nurtureshock,” journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman recommend talking about skin color much like we talk about gender. People come in different colors, and it doesn’t matter if their skin is peach or brown, they can still be doctors, teachers, soccer players or judges.
There are a number of great books to introduce school-aged kids to the history of the fight for racial equality in the United States in an age-appropriate way. Here are just a few that I recommend. Continue reading