We are excited to introduce our new Conscious Kids: Talking About Race book kits. These kits are filled with a selection of beautiful, diverse picture books that center the stories of children of color. They are a component of the library’s commitment to equity, and we hope patrons will use this tool to start or continue discussions about race with the children in their lives.
Why talk about race with young children?
Communities are evolving, demographics are changing, but many of our institutions and policies are still mired in systemic racism and oppression. By pretending racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination are things of the past, we allow them to persist. But having open, meaningful conversations about diversity and increasing cross-racial 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 shapes, colors, etc.), and they make sense of their world by seeing how things fit into categories; denying this by insisting that 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 our 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 in 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.