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Social Justice

We are heartbroken by the trauma occurring across our country in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. As a children’s museum, we want to speak to parents at this moment.

We often help children cope with traumatic events by referencing the advice of Fred Rogers to “look for the helpers.” In times like this, it may be difficult to know who the helpers are. So, with respect to Mr Rogers, today let’s be the helpers.  For many children in our community right now, connecting to the world around them feels scary. It feels frustrating and confusing. But it is our job as adults to help our kids navigate the scary and learn to be helpers.

We have created a page on our website filled with free resources for families about racism, trauma, violence, and the historic context of activism. This is just our small piece of the puzzle. To the black and brown families in our community – we are here for you. We will help you help your children through this.

Talking with your childrenFor EducatorsFor Kids For Adults

Resources for talking with your children:

Embrace Race was founded in early 2016 by two parents (one Black, the other multiracial Black/White) who set out to create the community and gather the resources they needed (need!) to meet the challenges they face raising children in a world where race matters.

Specific Embrace Race Articles of Interest:

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breona Taylor. What do we tell our children? by Alia Dastagir for USA Today

Living With the Bear – Constant exposure to violence via social media is certainly harming our students, and we can learn to recognize the signs to give them the support they need.

The Children’s Community School Social Justice Resources – Do you want to talk to your young child about issues of social justice, but don’t’ know how? You’re not alone—most adults find topics like race, gender, and class difficult to talk about with children. But if we don’t find ways to talk about it, children will learn whatever they glean from unspoken messages, and that doesn’t often work out very well. 

Interview with Howard Stevenson – Howard Stevenson is a clinical psychologist at Penn GSE, studies racial literacy and racial trauma. He works with educators and families to help them understand the emotions that racial incidents can bring about, and how to reduce their negative effects on health and wellbeing.

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup

Talking Race with Young Children, a Conversation with NPR and Sesame Workshop

Resources targeted to educators:

A series of articles from the Teaching Tolerance website. Included here are resources such as “Don’t Say Nothing”, and “Black Lives Matter at School”

Download the free resource guide Racial Justice in Education

A 10-part Youtube series of video “primers” for anti-racist white educators, created by two National Education Association activists. The videos focus on topics such as “Listen”, “Learn”, “Space”, “Accountability”, and “Act”.

Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters by Jamilah Pitts. This deep dive gives educators the background, tools, resources, and language to understand the Black Lives Matter movement.

Let’s talk. A Teaching Tolerance Guide to Facilitating Critical Conversation with Students. This guide offers classroom-ready strategies you can use to plan discussions and to facilitate these conversations with your students.

Resources for kids:

Celebrating Diversity

I Love My Hair – Sesame Street video featuring Mando and Segi (English & Spanish)

A list of books from Books for Littles about racial diversity which will give you an easy place to start destigmatizing difference and celebrating racial diversity.

The Color of Us by Karen Katz – Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades. Through the eyes of a little girl who begins to see her familiar world in a new way, this book celebrates the differences and similarities that connect all people.

Teaching about Racism and Activism 

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Mariette Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP – This book follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein – A week of protests left many shops boarded up after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. This inspirational book documents the art that volunteers and artists created on those boards, conveying messages of hope for healing.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting by Andrea Davis Pinkney – This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter. ages 7-10.

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey – Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family’s new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found that Black travelers weren’t treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to Black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws. Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth’s family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome Black travelers. With this guidebook – and the kindness of strangers – Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma’s house in Alabama. Ruth’s story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of Africa American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact. Ages 7-11.

Dealing with Emotions 

JR Martinez and Elmo: Feelings, A Sesame Street Video

Books with Protagonists of Color

A 2018 study by the School Library Journal showed that 50% of all characters in children’s books were white. 27% were animals. Populating your child’s bookcase with books featuring people of color as protagonists is an important step in combating the narrative of white domination. Here are a few of our favorites!

Preschool

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A classic tale of joy and discovery in fresh snow.

The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. Nana shows her grandson the city as they travel by bus.

I Am Enough by Grace Byers. The main character celebrates herself in this poetic picture book.

Grades K-2

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Jabari is scared to jump from the high diving board. This book helps kids understand how to confront and deal with fear.

Princess Hair by Sharee Miller. A beautiful, joyous celebration of all girls’ hairstyles and hair textures.

The Katie Woo series by Fran Manushkin. Early rider chapter books featuring a stylish and spunky heroine in relatable adventures.

Grades 3-6

The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdich follows an Ojibwe family through Minnesota in the mid-late 1800s.

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. A sweet story of friendship and adventure. 

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. A Newberry-Medal winning novel about an orphan’s search for home.

Grades 6 and up

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor

For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington. A black girl in a white family finds her voice.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. An award-winning piece of historical fiction that tells the story of a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s.

Books and podcasts for adults:

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And other conversations on race by Beverly Daniel Tatum PhD

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – With a focus on deschooling one’s self, decolonizing education, and exploring radical self-expression, this podcast both challenges and informs us to push past coercion and fear, and walk toward a model for living with children that centers community, addresses social justice issues, and believes in trusting and respecting children and ourselves. 

Podcast: Fare of the Free Child by Akilah S. Richards.