She asked, "What age is too young? How do I talk to my children about race and love for others?"
I have sat in on these types of phone calls all week. The current social climate calls for me to be invited into spaces to share and speak on this as an educator and lover of all things children, including being the author of a culturally diverse book series that focuses on inclusion of black and brown children in morally based, positive stories.
I love the heart behind the questions.
1. Buy #books reflecting Diversity.
I wrote "VIOLET AND DEREK VISIT GRANDMA", this week. This book, the fifth book in the series, acts as a tool for parents to start the conversation about police, racism, and cultural pride in their young children, to #bethechange I wish to see in the world! Little Violet is 6 and her brother, Derek, is 3. They are on their way to make cookies with grandma when Dad is stopped by the police. The conversation this moment creates, for little Violet and Derek, is priceless. There are books available, for all age groups, that will help children and adults learn more about other races. I encourage everyone to Google and create a list that is appropriate for your age group and that of all of your children. Educating yourself, as their parent, is always helpful when having what would otherwise be difficult conversations with your child. Increase your knowledge base and overall understanding as well. Implement discussion and reflection time around the table for the books everyone is reading.
2. Buy Culturally Diverse toys.
Have toys that are reflective of all different races and nationalities. This way children are normalized to recognize love for all, including people who do not look like them and have shared life experiences. Again, love for self does not mean dislike for another. Think action figures and baby dolls that are reflective of other nationalities, careers, and cultures.
3. Eat/Make foods original to another culture and share the history behind the food.
A fun activity to do would be to watch a movie about a culture you have chosen to explore for the week, have your child pick a dish they would like to make, buy the groceries, and have your child help you make a meal at home! You can also utilize the internet to look up restaurants in your neighborhood or other areas to take your child(ren) to for a delicious meal! Do not be afraid to travel outside of the borders of the neighborhood you are familiar with, within reason. That's called exploring and making learning fun for your child.
4. Travel (both nationally and internationally).
Life belongs to the traveler, the life long lover of people and all things new. Travel. As far as you can and as often as you can. It is important to expose children to other ways of thinking, being, and doing. Life hack: They will love you for this and the memories created will be ones they will look back on, as adults, with fond memories. Who doesn't love a great road trip, with meals packed, and amazing landmarks to stop at, on your way to your destination.
5. Purposely seek out playgroups and friends for your child that are culturally diverse.
Check out your local park district, YMCA, and libraries for play groups that are reflective of a culturally diverse demographic of children. If you are a person of faith, a church, synagogue, or mosque may be a nice place for your child to engage with others who do not look like them. Again, do not be afraid to travel outside of the confines of your familiar neighborhood. Become genuine friends with their parents. Allow your child to #love.
6. Tune in to what is occurring worldwide via TV.
Your child hears and sees, even if they have yet to ask you questions about social unrest. You can mute the volume on your TV and allow your child to see the images of peaceful protests. Explain to them in language they will understand, about the current political structure, laws, and disconnect around police officers, at this time. If you feel comfortable, some parents have even taken their child to watch or participate in peaceful protests. Share with them how everyone is marching, united, all across the world, because #blacklivesmatter Allow all of your conversations to be rooted in love.
I hope this helps. For any additional information, support, to book me to speak on this topic, etc, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I cannot wait for you to read "Violet and Derek Visit Grandma" with your child!! (Release Date December 2020) There are reading comprehension and parent engagement questions at the back of the book
For more books in The Violet Book Series, please visit the full website.
Each book in the series teaches a different life lesson
"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."-Thurgood Marshall