Thank you Marin Families. We are delighted by the positive feedback and overwhelming demand for the Marin County Free Library’s Conscious Kids Book Kits: Talking About Race. Conscious Kids Book Kits include a selection of books along with a discussion guide to support parents/caregivers as they talk about race with their children between 0 and 8 years old. There are 8 different kits available to check out, each focusing on one of these topics: Arts & Culture, Belonging, Biographies, Celebrating & Centering Kids of Color, Gender Expressions, Immigration, Let’s Talk About Race, and Social Justice. The Book Kits grew out of MCFL’s mission-driven effort to support equity and inclusion as we deliver library services. Books and other media are a good way to teach kids about the world outside of themselves and their communities.
Since MCFL launched the Conscious Kids Book Kits in February 2020, your feedback has been consistent and encouraging of expanding the number of Book Kits available. In response we are adding more Conscious Kids: Talking About Race Book Kits, and increasing the number of digital copies of all the books available from each of the kits as well as placing the discussion guides online to support parents and caregivers as they share the books with children in their lives.
As you have commented, these kits are filled with a selection of beautiful picture books that center the stories of children of color. The COVID-19 health crisis and the recent uprisings against police violence have highlighted systemic inequity and moved many in our community to work toward racial justice. We hope that you will use the Conscious Kids: Talking About Race Book Kits as a tool to start or continue discussions about diversity, racial learning and inclusion with the children in your lives.
Why talk about race with young children?
Communities are evolving, demographics are changing, and more people in our community are taking action for racial equity. Having open, meaningful conversations about diversity and increasing cross-race exposure (including through media and books) will prepare young people to work toward a more equitable world.
Research shows that talking explicitly about race with children creates more positive attitudes about people of different races. Research also shows that even the youngest children notice race and racialized patterns in the world around them and are trying to figure out those patterns. Young children are encouraged to group things (by shape, color, etc.) and they make sense of their world by seeing how things fit into categories; denying this by insisting children are “colorblind” gives the message that the topic is taboo. Without discussions of race and racism, children make up their own, often incorrect, meaning from what they see. “Despite good intentions, when we fail to speak openly with our children about racial equity in society, we are in fact contributing to the development of their racial biases, which studies show are in place by ages 3-5” Aboud et al, as cited in Winkler, 2017). By preschool, kids are internalizing messages from the world around them BUT adults can help disrupt this process. By disrupting bias (in ourselves and others) we can make the world a more equitable place.
Check out a Conscious Kids book kit, enjoy the beautifully illustrated stories, and be inspired!
For more information about the kits and further reading, please see our Conscious Kids page.
 Erin Winkler, “Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race,” PACE: Practical Approaches for Continuing Education 3, no. 3 (August 2009): 1-8.