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Talking To My Kids About Racism

Eva Amurri shares how she's talking to her kids about racism

The past two months have taught me that there is so much more I can be doing to be actively anti-racist and to be more actively ally the BIPOC community. I wrote a blog post in the days following George Floyd’s death where I reflected on how wrong I had been thinking that I was supporting my Black friends and family members sufficiently. I was wrong in thinking that not being racist was enough…in fact, I barely understood racism for what it truly is. Now I really see my White Privilege for what it is, and how my entire lens is effected by it. Now I see how I have been part of the problem. Now I see racism everywhere, and as such, I’m committed to learning, growing, and doing better.

Like with most long term, sustainable changes to a lifestyle, those efforts must begin at home and within our own families. One of the first things I knew I needed to do was to talk to my kids explicitly about racism and racial injustice. Even being in a position to CHOOSE how and when to discuss racism with my children is an example of White Privilege. It’s a privilege for me and for them to be able to “discuss” racism instead of experiencing it in a myriad of ways daily. When I started thinking about how I would present racism and racial injustice to my children, I felt so anxious not knowing how to start or what to say. I agonized over the correct way to talk to them, and how to present it in an “age appropriate way”.  Then I majorly checked myself. Imagine being a Black parent of a Black child, having lived through the trauma of racism and racial injustice your entire life, and then having to watch your own child experience the same.

I realized quickly that talking about very real and present issues such as racism and racial injustice will always be uncomfortable and will never feel “right”.  I will stumble, I will need to correct myself.  But this isn’t a one-and-done conversation. In order to create real change and to raise White children who are not colorblind, but who actively see and celebrate all races for who they are, who fight racial injustice when they see it, and who recognize their White privilege and actively work to repair this imbalance – these things take an ENTIRE CHILDHOOD of conversations.  It’s a lifetime of work for all White families interested in real change. We have had books on my kids’ bookshelves for years about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr – but had I explained the context for these books? Had I really made my children understand why those activists and leaders were essential and what exactly they had been fighting against? No, I had not. And that, my friends, is really embarrassing.

The first thing I said to my kids when I sat them down to have our first conversation about racism and racial injustice was that this would be an ongoing conversation. I told them that I was going to talk to them about something that we will keep talking about in our home, and that I encourage them to ask me questions about whenever they’d like.  Today I thought I would share some of the ways I’m talking to my children and teaching them about racism, racial injustice, white privilege, and Black Lives Matter – not because I’m an expert by any means – but because maybe it can serve as a jumping off point for other White families looking to do the same.

I’m also going to share the voice of an inspiring Black educator and mother, Aundrea Tabbs-Smith, who has been kind enough to share resources with us here in this space.  I’m so excited to let you know how she and I are going to continue this conversation together so that we can amplify her message and learn. Please keep reading for all the info!

Eva Amurri shares how she's talking to her kids about racism

HOW I STARTED THE CONVERSATION ABOUT RACISM

Race, Racism, and BLM

First, I asked my kids if they knew what the word “race” means.  (They didn’t)

I explained to them that race has to do with the color of a person’s skin.  We talked about the friends and family members in our lives that all have different color skin.  They told me that their own skin is “pinkish”.  I told them that for skin that is pinkish, peach, white, that this is all considered “White”.

Then I asked them if they had ever heard the word “racism”, and if they knew what it meant. (They hadn’t, and they didn’t).  I told them that unfortunately, that people with black or brown skin are sometimes treated very badly because of the color of their skin.  They asked me how. I told them that they get treated in a mean way, are made fun of, disrespected, ignored, or aren’t allowed to do or have certain things because they have black or brown skin. I told them that sometimes, they even get hurt very badly because of the color of their skin.  Then I took a moment and asked them how that made them feel to hear that.  Right away, they connected their friends and loved ones with this realization. Did their school friends and family members get treated this way? I said unfortunately, yes.

Marlowe got very scared, then, and said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I really calmly gave her a big hug and I told her that even though these are really hard things to talk about and hear about that it’s really important we keep talking about it even though it’s scary.  That’s when I told her that racism has been happening all around us for a very long time.  I connected the dots for them about the books we’ve read about Rosa Parks, MLK Jr, and Malcolm X, and the fact that they were working hard to change racism in our country.  I told them a little about segregation and the civil rights movement. I told them that it’s scary for us to hear about and see, but it’s even more scary and infuriating and degrading to live with that prejudice directed against you.

Then I told them about Black Lives Matter.  I told them that even though some things have gotten better with segregation and laws protecting Black and brown people, that the fight is not even close to over.  I explained to them that there is still a lot of violence directed towards people of color, and even by some people who are supposed to be protecting them.  I told them that the good news is that right now, as I was talking to them, lots of people were coming together to protest racism and to fight for Black lives and racial justice.  I told them that justice means Fairness.  Fairness would be people of all races being treated the same, but that they are not treated the same right now.  They said “That’s not fair mom, for some people to be treated bad and some people good.” I told them I agree, and that it’s really important to look out for racism and racial injustice so that we can know how to stand up for what’s right. I told them that the Black Lives Matter movement is happening and people are protesting all over the world trying to make it right.

Then I asked them how they think we can show everyone that we believe Black Lives Matter.  Marlowe wanted to make a sign for our house. So we got some chalk and wrote Black Lives Matter all down our fence in the front of our home. They were really excited to actively do something to show our support.  I left the conversation there for the day, but I noticed that in the next hours and days, Marlowe in particular had a lot of questions about Racism.  She even asked me about some incidents she saw on the playground where she felt one of her friends was being discriminated against.  We talked about how to offer allyship and support in those moments. I also noticed that she started “noticing” race everywhere.  Watching shows, or even driving in the car, she would point out the race of people she saw– especially kids.

CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION

Slavery, and White Privilege

A couple of weeks after our initial conversation, and right in time for Juneteenth, I decided to talk to the kids about Slavery.  Juneteenth served as a really perfect holiday to spark the conversation, and I had bought some books on Juneteenth, the underground railroad, as well as “Henry’s Freedom Box” which outlines the story of a boy named Henry who eventually escapes slavery.  Before reading these books, I talked to them about Slavery itself.  I told them that the way some Black people’s ancestors came to this country was not because they wanted to. It was because they were kidnapped from their families and homes in Africa and brought here to be slaves for white land owners.  I told them that slaves were made to live in terrible conditions, treated very badly, and even beaten. They had to do work for no pay, and were separated from their families.  We talked about the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and other topics in the progression towards Abolition. Marlowe especially loved the stories about the Underground Railroad and people working together to help slaves escape.

And then I told them that while Black people were thankfully not allowed to be slaves any longer, that the longest lasting part of slavery was something called White Privilege.  Even though the laws said that  Black people didn’t have to be slaves anymore, there were so many unfair rules that made White people have more power and choices than Black people.  We talked about segregation again, and the civil rights movement.  And then I told them that there are still ways today that White people have more privilege than Black people in many different areas.  That’s why, because we were born white, we have a responsibility to help make sure things are fair.  Nobody is being mean to us or disrespecting us because of the color of our skin, so we can have our voices heard more easily.  I told them hopefully they will see a day in their lifetime when there is more racial justice and people are truly treated equally, White or Black.

I hung up a really cool piece of art that I bought from the artist Erin Rivera that benefitted Black Lives Matter Los Angeles branch.  It’s a photograph of a brown arm and a lighter skinned arm embracing in support.  I love having it as a reminder to myself and to my kids that allyship to the BIPOC community will be an ongoing goal.

EDUCATION FATIGUE

The Need For Black Joy Representation!

A couple of months in to talking to my kids about racism and racial injustice, I noticed the kids pushing back on the books that were arriving.  They didn’t pick them when we selected books at bedtime, and seemed not to want to read them.  I asked Marlowe why, and she looked really sad.  She told me “These books are just so sad, Mama, I don’t like reading them because they remind me that these Black kids and people are hurting all the time.” And that’s when I realized my big mistake. I had made my anti-racist education so focused on injustice that I was failing to show them Black Joy! I was reinforcing a stereotype by showing just one side of the Black experience without showing the beauty of Black culture and Black history…that has roots in a splendor all its own! That’s around the time when I sat down to chat with Aundrea Tabbs-Smith about my interest in raising anti-racist kids and about furthering the conversation.  She is a huge proponent of normalizing Black Joy for young kids and had some great suggestions.  Introducing…Aundrea!

Aundrea Tabbs-Smith is an early childhood site director, a Mama of two, and supporter of revamping elementary school education to include more diversity, and to center BIPOC voices. She also has an awesome service where she creates “Book Baskets” to diversify private libraries with books for kids written by BIPOC authors.  These baskets can be for babies, little kids, or even for certain age groups that you specify in your order. You can order a basket for yourself, or gift one, but I highly recommend DONATING one! If you purchase one and write “donation” she will gift a book basket to a Black/Brown family who could use the support.   

When I spoke to Aundrea about wanting to update my kids’ library to reflect more Black joy, she had a great list of suggestions that are all written by BIPOC authors. Many thanks to Aundrea for supplying this list!

Eva Amurri shares how she's talking to her kids about racism

Black Joy by Black Authors

Created by Aundrea Tabbs-Smith

 

Preschool – Kindergarten…

Hey Baby!

by Andrea Pippins

Follow a baby throughout the day, from napping to snacking to playing–and everything in between! High contrast, lively illustrations combine with gorgeous, colorful photographs to showcase the warmth and tenderness between a mommy and her baby. This affectionate look at babyhood is sure to appeal to new parents and grandparents, who will recognize their own little one in the pages.

Baby Says

by John Steptoe

The legendary Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author and illustrator John Steptoe shares the story of a baby who desperately wants to get his older brother’s attention.

Baby Blessings

by Deloris Jordan

This touching story from bestselling author Doloris Jordan celebrates the blessings new parents wish for their babies all through their lives. With a strong emphasis on the bonds families share, the inspirational text is accompanied by exquisite art from renowned illustrator James E. Ransome. From infancy to adulthood, there is always a place for Baby Blessings.

Looking for Bongo

by Eric Velasquez

Where could Bongo be? Help a young boy find his beloved toy–and figure out how he got lost to begin with.The boy knows Bongo was right there with him this morning–but suddenly, Bongo is missing. He asks his whole family if they’ve seen the stuffed toy. “Yo no sé,” says abuela, “I don’t know.”

Please, Puppy, Please

by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

In page after page of tail-wagging fun, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, Beacon Award-winning producer Tonya Lewis Lee, take a close-up look at what happens when a couple of high-energy toddlers meet their match in an adventurous pup who has no plans of letting up.

Gator, Gator, Gator

by Daniel Bernstrom

In Daniel Bernstrom’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree, a fearless little girl takes off in search of a giant gator–but she’s not going into that swamp alone! No way! She wants YOU, the reader, to come along.

Peeny Butter Fudge

by Toni Morrison

There is no one like Nana in the whole wide world. She is the best. Nana knows how to take an ordinary afternoon and make it extra special! Nap time, story time, and playtime are transformed by fairies, dragons, dancing, and pretending — and then mixing and fixing yummy, yummy fudge just like Nana and Mommy did not so many years ago….Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and her son Slade tell a story of what really goes on when Nana is left in charge!

There’s a Person on Top of My Bed

by Nick Sampson

When the lights turn off, the things that go bump in the night come out to play. But is it fear that they aim to bring or is it simply a misunderstanding? We’ve heard this story so many times before, but this time it’s from a different perspective.

Hey Black Child

by Useni Eugene Perkins

Six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier brings this classic, inspirational poem to life, written by poet Useni Eugene Perkins.

On the Ball

by Brian Pinkney

Owen loves playing ball. But it doesn’t always “love” him back. And after a particularly disastrous day on the field, Owen is benched. He is feeling so low that he doesn’t even notice the ball rolling through a hole in the fence until it’s gotten away. In his effort to get it back, he discovers that he has more skills than he realizes.

Hands Up

by Breanna McDaniel

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.

Violet’s Music

by Angela Johnson

Bright, lively, and lyrical, this is a book for kids who march to a different drummer. Violet’s Music sings to us that the right friend is always out there-as long as we keep looking and hoping, and above all, staying true to ourselves.

First – Second Grade…

The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

The Magic of We

by Danielle Anderson Craig

The Magic of We is a children’s picture book by Danielle Anderson-Craig and illustrated by her friend and fellow teacher (they taught at same school!), Carly Dooling. It is a tender tale of blossoming friendship in which two children meet and are transported into a world where the ordinary becomes fantastic and the known becomes surreal as their shared experience creates unlimited imagination and play.

Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hait

by Tina Olajide

Emi is a creative 7-year-old black girl with a BIG imagination. In this story Emi shares a positive message about her Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair and what she likes most about it.The vibrant illustrations and fun story teach basic natural hair care techniques and tips in a playful and memorable way.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

by Nikki Grimes

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep. From tigers to squirrels to snakes, the little boy dodges around his bedtime, until he is tired enough to finally sleep. His imaginative animal friends weave their way through the illustrations, eventually joining him in curling up for the night.

B is for Breathe

by Melissa Boyd

From the letter A to the letter Z, B is for Breathe celebrates the many ways children can express their feelings and develop coping skills at an early age. Fun, cute, and exciting illustrations, this colorful book teaches kids simple ways to cope with fussy and frustrating emotions. This book will inspire kids to discuss their feelings, show positive behaviors, and practice calm down strategies.

Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO

by Tamara Pizzoli

Meet Tallulah. She’s the Tooth Fairy CEO. Tallulah knows practically everything about being a tooth fairy. How to collect teeth. Dispense money. Train other fairies. And it’s all in the Teeth Titans Incorporated Employee Manual. But when something happens that’s not covered in the manual, what’s a fairy to do?

I Am Every Good Thing

by Derrick Barnes

I am a nonstop ball of energy. Powerful and full of light. I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader. The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Nikki and Deja 

by Karen English

Newsy news is not just regular news. It’s news that’s interesting and exciting. Nikki and Deja know that there’s plenty of newsy news happening on their block and at Carver Elementary, just waiting to be reported. Luckily, Nikki has her special pen and notepad, Deja has the use of Auntie Dee’s computer, and they both have lots of ideas. Before long, the Fulton Street Newsy News Newsletter is born. At first, everyone wants to read what the girls have written. But after just one issue, some unexpected problems arise. Will Nikki and Deja’s plans to become celebrated journalists succeed?

Welcome to the Party

by Gabrielle Union

Reminiscent of favorites such as The Wonderful Things You’ll Be by Emily Winfield Martin, I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, and Take Heart, My Child by Ainsley Earhardt, Welcome to the Party is an upbeat celebration of new life that you’ll want to enjoy with your tiny guest of honor over and over again.

Happy Hair

by Mechal Renee Roe

Girls will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating the diversity of beautiful black hair. From a cute crop to pom-pom puffs, adorable illustrations of girls with gorgeous braids, blowouts, and bantus grace each page, side by side with a call-and-response affirmation that will make girls cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote self-esteem for girls of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every girl know “You are made beautiful!”

Bippity Bop Barbershop

by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

by Floyd Cooper

Max and the Tag Along Moon

Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all. Where did the moon go–and what about Grandpa’s promise?

Hair Love

by Matthew Cherry

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.

Saturday

by Oge Mora

In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

by Derrick Barnes

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair–a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

The Noisy Classroom

by Angela Shante

Featuring the honest and delightful humor of debut author Angela Shanté and the bold, graphic imagery of debut illustrator Alison Hawkins, The Noisy Classroom encourages those with first-day jitters to reevaluate a scary situation by looking at it from a different angle and to embrace how fun school can be, even in nontraditional ways.

Ana and Andrew Series

by Christine Platt

Ana & Andrew are always on an adventure! They live in Washington, DC with their parents, but with family in Savannah, Georgia and Trinidad, theres always something exciting and new to learn about African American history and culture.

Makanaka’s World

by Christine Mapondera

This story takes children on an adventure to Morocco. The main character Makanaka, is invited to a soccer game by her friend Nadia in Morocco. Fari the parrot, and Makanaka quickly take off for Casablanca. But when they arrive, they discover that Nadia has a problem. Someone has taken her team’s soccer ball Can Makanaka and Fari help Nadia’s team solve the mystery?

Full, Full, Full of Love

by Trish Cooke

For the youngest member of an exuberant extended family, Sunday dinner at Grannie’s can be full indeed — full of hugs and kisses, full of tasty dishes, full to the brim with happy faces, and full, full, full of love. With a special focus on the bond between little Jay Jay and his grannie, Trish Cooke introduces us to a gregarious family we are sure to want more, more, more of.

Thinker My Puppy Poet and Me

by Eloise Greenfield

Thinker isn’t just an average puppy–he’s a poet. So is his owner, Jace. Together, they turn the world around them into verse. There’s just one problem: Thinker has to keep quiet in public, and he can’t go to school with Jace. That is, until Pets’ Day. But when Thinker is allowed into the classroom at last, he finds it hard to keep his true identity a secret.

The Big Bed

by Bunmi Laditan

From Bunmi Laditan, the creator of the Honest Toddler blog, The Big Bed is a humorous picture book about a girl who doesn’t want to sleep in her little bed, so she presents her dad with his own bed–a camping cot!–in order to move herself into her parents’ big bed in his place. A twist on the classic parental struggle of not letting kids sleep in their bed.

Black is a Rainbow Color

by Angela Joy

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

I Am Perfectly Designed

by Karamo Brown

In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.

Not Quite Snow White

by Ashley Franklin

Not Quite Snow White is a delightful and inspiring picture book that highlights the importance of self-confidence while taking an earnest look at what happens when that confidence is shaken or lost. Tameika encourages us all to let our magic shine.

Little Me Wants to Be

by Michelle Lockett

Little Me Wants To Be is a series of children’s books highlighting representation, career exposure, and education of real professionals of multifarious backgrounds across all industries—and the endless possibilities thereof, in success and happiness, of what you can be. It centers on the idea that what we BEcome is constant and ever-evolving as we are growing and maturing. Yet, in order to BEcome, we must simply BE. We must cultivate success in what the children can become by identifying who and what they can be.

Grandma’s Records

by Eric Velasquez

Join Eric Velasquez on a magical journey through time and across cultures, as a young boy’s passion for music and art is forged by a powerful bond between generations.

Bedtime Bonnet

by Nancy Redd

Bedtime Bonnet gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family.

The Night is Yours

by Abdul-Razak Zachariah

This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength.This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.

Just Like Me

by Vanessa Brantley Newton

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that’s just for them.

Jaden Toussaint Series

by Marti Dumas

Giant Afro. Even Bigger Brain. Jaden Toussaint is a five year-old who knows it all. I mean, really knows it all. Animal Scientist. Great Debater. Master of the art of ninja dancing. There’s nothing Jaden Toussaint can’t do. The only problem is that grown-ups keep trying to convince him that, even though he’s really smart, he doesn’t know EVERYTHING. The thing is…he kind of does. This time our hero must use all his super-powered brain power to convince the grown-ups that he needs more screen time.

Miami Jackson Gets It Straight 

by Patricia C. McKissack

Miami Jackson can’t wait for school to end. But who ever thought five days could be so long? His teacher is leaving for Ghana, his arch-enemy, Destinee Tate, is on his case, and now Miami’s keeping secrets from his best friend, String. Summer can’t come soon enough!

Third – Fourth Grade…

The SupaDupa Kid

by Ty Allan Jackson

Javon Williams was just a normal kid until a freak accident gave him amazing superpowers. The only problem? The neighborhood bully, Hoody, acquired his own superpowers and is using them to terrorize the city! Javon attempts to save the city by becoming…The Supadupa Kid!

Dragons in a Bag

by Zeta Elliot

When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel 

by Nikki Grimes

Dyamonde Daniel may be new in town, but that doesn’t stop her from making a place for herself in a jiffy. With her can-do attitude and awesome brain power she takes the whole neighborhood by storm. The only thing puzzling her is the other new kid in her class. He’s grouchy – but Dyamonde’s determined to get to the bottom of his attitude and make a friend.

Serafina’s Promise 

by Ann E. Burg

Serafina made a secret promise
to go to school and learn to read
so she can become a doctor
with her best friend, Julie Marie.

But following her dream isn’t easy-
endless chores, little money
and stomach-rumbling hunger
all test her resolve.

When an earthquake hits
and separates Serafina
from friends and family,
she encounters her biggest test of all.

Serafina made a secret promise.
Will she survive to keep it?

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby 

by Derrick Barnes

Brought to you by Newbery Honor author Derrick Barnes, eight-year-old Ruby Booker is the baby sis of Marcellus (11), Roosevelt (10), and Tyner (9), the most popular boys on Chill Brook Ave. When Ruby isn’t hanging with her friend, Theresa Petticoat, she’s finding out what kind of mischief her brothers are getting into. She’s sweet and sassy and every bit as tough as her older siblings. She sings like nobody’s business; she has a pet iguana named Lady Love; her favorite color is grape-jelly purple; and when she grows up, she’s going to be the most famous woman animal doctor on the planet. She’s the fabulous, oh-so-spectacular Ruby Marigold Booker!

Season of Styx Malone

by Kekla Magoon

Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town.Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. Styx promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade–exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets–secrets so big they could ruin everything.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

by Kwame Mbalia

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia’s epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

The Jumbies

by Tracy Baptiste

Corinne La Mer claims she isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters made up by parents to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest, and shining yellow eyes follow her to the edge of the trees. They couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger at the market the very next day, she knows something extraordinary is about to happen. When this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, danger is in the air. Severine plans to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and to save her island home.

Eva Amurri shares how she's talking to her kids about racism

Photographs by Julia Dags

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18 Comments

  1. Tai says:

    Oooh, you MUST check out The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It’s a picture book about a little black boy who puts on his snowsuit and plays in the snow. It has gorgeous illustrations and it’s one of my favorite books that celebrates Black joy. Just fun in the snow: no suffering, no racism, just being a kid. Please take a look! Thanks for becoming an ally!

    07.21.20 Reply
  2. Dana says:

    This is a fantastic post. Thank you very much for sharing these resources.

    07.21.20 Reply
  3. Erin Dutka says:

    Thank you for sharing this list of books. I just added a bunch of them to my classroom’s wish list. I’m committed to diversifying my classroom library.

    07.21.20 Reply
  4. Guyfromthe76gasstation says:

    I have many black friends, I love to listen to Rap/Hip-Hop/R&B music. I would never disrespect anyone because of the color of their skin.

    I have two teenage children.

    I sometimes wonder what my life will be like in ten years when I become a grandfather. I do not want to be a grandfather to biracial children.

    If that makes me racist, then I guess I am racist.

    07.21.20 Reply
    • Tai says:

      Enjoy being racist.

      When you say you don’t want biracial grandkids, that’s disrespecting someone because of the color of their skin…so don’t say you would never do that. You just did.

      Your Black friends deserve to know you are racist–you owe it to them to tell them you don’t want biracial grandchildren.

      It’s unfortunate that you cannot love Black people as much as you love to consume our music.

      07.22.20 Reply
      • Alexa says:

        Tai, I might remind you of the following:
        Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr.

        07.22.20 Reply
        • Tai says:

          Thanks so much. Please use your love and light to help the man above with his racism.

          07.23.20 Reply
          • Alexa Cato says:

            I invite you to do the same.

            07.24.20
  5. Sue says:

    Eva, much of what you described to your children as racist behaviors are prohibited by law and any attorney or decent teacher will attest to it. I don’t understand why you would think that instilling terrible GUILT in your children is psychologically a good thing. I disagree. It simply either creates or adds to awful anxiety in such youngsters. Why would a mother want to do that? In addition, will you be sending them to the public school in the nearest Inner city? That’s where they would really experience racism of a different variety, and not what took place over 20o years ago either. I think it’s foolish to sacrifice your children to what will be a TRENDING POLITICAL FOCUS to the November election. How about simply teaching them to treat ALL PEOPLE with equal dignity and that ALL LIFE MATTERS?

    07.22.20 Reply
    • Emily Jean says:

      Whoa! Take the judgement somewhere else. You could learn a thing or two about “unlearning”, Sue.

      07.23.20 Reply
      • Ann says:

        Sue I see your point .. this sounded way too in depth for young children to grasp the children are 6 and 3? I have kept it simple with my son .. people look different and experience different things and we treat all people the same I felt that was age appropriate for a five year old. Going so deep into just yet is not going to grasp In his mind. Also I agree these children live in the whitest most privileged areas in America their experience will be so different.

        07.27.20 Reply
  6. Annie says:

    What a wonderful list of books!! Thank you for sharing. Such an important post for our kids!

    07.22.20 Reply
  7. Emily Jean says:

    I love how open and honest you are with your kids and your audience! And thank you for the reminder about celebrating Black Joy! Those book recommendations are awesome! I’m excited to read the next book for your anti-racist book club!

    07.23.20 Reply
  8. karen p koffler says:

    Thanks for sharing these great resources. I am also so pleased that you are describing the actions you are taking with your own children, including the course corrections. The authenticity is appreciated.

    07.26.20 Reply