How to Talk to Children about Diversity
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
When we introduce new families to Berkeley Hall, we like to point out that our school is one of the most diverse independent schools in Los Angeles. An impressive 51% of Berkeley Hall students are from non-majority backgrounds while 6% of our students are not from the US.
This is a key aspect of our identity as we strive to create the kind of community we want our world to be. We are proud of the way our classrooms are enriched by the variety of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives of our students. As a community, we are always working towards building relationships of awareness and trust.
Our school’s emphasis on diversity ties in with Berkeley Hall’s overarching mission to empower children to fulfill their unlimited, God-given potential. Our goal is to support our students as they grow into the fearless scholars and conscientious citizens we know them to be. In the context of diversity and inclusion, we encourage our Bobcats to stand up for what is right; they are thoughtful, accepting of everyone, and willing to learn.
That said, we recognize we have a long way to go when it comes to addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in America, as evidenced by the racially-charged events of the past recent years. In learning communities like ours in LA and all around the nation and the world, there is much discussion and reflection on how to respond to the troubling issues that are before us.
We believe that the best way we can create a world free of racism is by educating ourselves and our children, and by cultivating conscientious citizenship. Not only will an open dialogue help our youth process what they see on the news and hear from friends, it will ensure their ability to think and speak about these events with sensitivity and understanding.
As a K-8 school, we know that with very young children it may be difficult to have in-depth conversations about race. But it’s never too early to make sure there is equal representation in our community, through books, entertainment and media in a child’s learning environment. Taking intentional steps we believe will lead to individuals with strong moral integrity who are willing to engage in positive change.
To help our community take these steps, we would like to share the following information with you. Whether you’re interested in doing some research on how to have these conversations with youth, looking for children’s books with equal representation, or interested in learning for yourself, there are plenty of resources available!
Here’s a list of resources to get you started:
This resource is trusted by many who are interested in getting the inside (parent-approved) scoop for books, movies, games, etc. Users can run customized searches on their website to find a plethora of recommendations related to talking to children about race. Here is a selection:
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup
So you’ve realized your kids aren’t too young to talk about race. Now what? We’ve rounded up some resources to help guide you.
NPR: Code Switch (Fearless Conversations About Race)
Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. They explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we're all part of the story.
Rachel Cargle created this course on Patreon to provide resources and critical discourse to aid in unlearning. She believes in knowledge leading to action and uses the platform to provide education and inspire meaningful action.
Whether you are the parent of a 3-year-old curious about why a friend’s skin is brown, the parent of a 9-year-old who has been called a slur because of his religion, or the parent of a 15-year-old who snubs those outside of her social clique at school, this book has helpful tips. It is designed to help you teach your children to honor the differences in themselves and in others — and to reject prejudice and intolerance.
Understanding Race and Privilege
Across the nation, children of all backgrounds are experiencing a time in which discussions about race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and culture are at the forefront of their everyday lives. Many people avoid these discussions because they fear that conversations about race, bias, and racism lead to feelings of anger, guilt, discomfort, sadness, and at times disrespect. We live in a time where we can no longer avoid these tough conversation.
Author Jason Reynolds helps young people understand what led to the protests we’ve seen over the past two years and what children can do to build a less divided society.
Traumatic Events: What do we tell our children?
Should we talk to children about tough issues? How?
Smithsonian: Talking About Race
Talking about race, although hard, is necessary. Here are some tools and guidance to empower your journey and inspire conversation.
20 Picture Books: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace, and Do Good
Parents and other caregivers are seeking resources to help them hold children through recent waves of racialized violence, which were exacerbated by the tensions and vulnerabilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of scholars, writers, and parents have developed this book list to help engage the broad range of emotions and needs of diverse children in our multiracial society and spark conversations.
YouTube Readalong: A Kid’s Book About Racism
Yes, this really is a kid’s book about racism. Inside, you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. This is one conversation that’s never too early to start, and this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic.
Why Your White Kids Need Books Featuring Children of Color
The idea of an inclusive bookshelf isn’t anything new, but with the persistent violence against those in diverse communities, white parents of white children have an important role to play.
This is an independent, online store that will help you enrich your bookshelf with thousands of diverse and inclusive book recommendations for kids and adults.
NYT Anti-Racism Books for Kids
The New York Times provides a curated list of anti-racism books for kids of all ages.
NYT An Antiracist Reading List (for adults)
The New York Times provides a curated list of anti-racism books for adults.
TEDX: Talking About Differences
When her 3-year-old son told her that a classmate said his skin was brown because he drank chocolate milk, Dr. Tatum, former president of Spelman College and a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, was surprised. As a clinical psychologist, she knew that preschool children often have questions about racial differences, but she had not anticipated such a question. Through conversations with her preschool son, followed by talking to teachers, colleagues and parents, she came to realize it is what we don’t say and don’t discuss with our children that find their way into racist dialogue and thinking.