Play Africa is committed to being an anti-racist organisation. We have compiled this list of resources which focus on talking to young children about race and identity. We hope these resources will be useful to parents, educators, and children as we explore how to end racism, racial discrimination and racial bias. Together we are working to build a more just and equitable South Africa and a better world.

Though some of what is being described in these resources might present differently in a South African context, the patterns are similar globally and we hope you can still find useful lessons within them. Our hope is that this resource list can continue to be co-created with you, South African families and educators. Do you have a favorite book, curriculum or article about how to talk about race and positive self-identity with children? What resources do YOU think should be included in this list? Many of these resources are developed outside South Africa — Your perspective is important to us! Let us know what we’re missing at info@playafrica.org.za. Let’s build our “Talking About Race” resource library together!

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Parents

You Should Talk To Your Child About Racism – This is How You Can Do It

News24

This article begins by addressing WHY it is important to talk about race in a very racialized society, and then give suggestions on HOW to have the conversations, such as being aware of your own bias and considering your child’s age.

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South African Stories That Teach Kids About Race in a Positive Way

Parent24

Reading stories with your child is often a good way to open conversations about topics that may otherwise seem daunting. In this article are suggestions of South African stories that address race, as well as where to go to find these stories.

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Why Is It Important for Black Parents to Talk About Racism?

Parent24

This article begins by explaining racism in the South African context and then continues to explain why this makes it important for Black parents to speak to their children about race.

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How to Respond to Race Questions From Your Children

Parent24

Questions about race and difference are bound to arise. Here are a few possible questions children may ask at different ages, as well as some suggestions for how to answer.

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From What Age Do You Speak to Your Children About Racism?

IOL

This article tells the story of parents who were nervous to talk to their multiracial chidren about race, but ultimately decided they needed to get past the awkwardness and do it.

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25 Alternatives to the “How Was Your Day?” Parent Question

ADL

Instead of asking your children, “How was your day?,” maybe you can ask, “Did you help anyone today? Did anyone help you?” This article provides a list of alternative, thought-provoking questions to ask your child about their day in order to engage them in deeper conversation.

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Talking to Your Kids About Racism

Unicef

“Being silent cannot be an option.” This article describes how adults can talking about racism to children of different ages and suggests that we make sure to celebrate diversity.

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The White Parent’s Guide to Raising Anti-Racist Kids

Parents

“One way to ensure that everyone’s commitment to dismantling racism is ongoing is prioritizing raising anti-racist children.” In this article the author suggests actions parents can take to make sure that children are aware of systems of racism and proactively work against them.

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10 tips for teaching and talking to kids about race

embracerace

This list of tips for teaching and talking about race is meant to provide support for families that are committed to racial equity. Some of the tips include knowing and loving who you are, and preparing for a marathon, not a sprint.

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How White Parents Can Talk to Their Kids About Race

NPR

This audio recording of a radio interview (as well as a summarized transcript of the interview) is directed at white parents and why it is so important for them to talk to their children about race from a young age.

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Educators

Creating an Anti-Bias Library

Social Justice Books

Social Justice Books has put together suggestions for how to ensure that your classroom library represents authentic diversity and anti-bias values.

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Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance has developed four free professional development modules focusing on critical practices in anti-bias education. The modules each take about an hour to complete and focus on instruction, classroom culture, family and community engagement, and teacher leadership.

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Let’s Talk! Facilitating Critical Conversations with Students

Teaching Tolerance

This useful guide from Teaching Tolerance focuses first on how to create a classroom environment where students are successfully able to engage in critical conversations. It then provides step-by-step support for teachers as they actually engage in these conversations with students.

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How Should I Talk About Race in My Mostly White Classroom

ADL

It is important for all children to talk about race, no matter what their own race is or the racial composition of their classroom. This article includes tips and strategies for talking about race and racism specifically in classrooms with mostly white students.

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Teaching About Race

Teaching for Change

An excerpt from a full length book about anti-bias education with young children, this guide provides educators with strategies for teaching about physical similarities and differences and how to foster critical thinking and respectful relationships.

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What Anti-Racism Really Means for Educators

Teaching Tolerance
The author of this article suggests that anti-racism work in schools must be thought of in holistic, practical ways. This includes looking critically at the staff of the school, the curriculum, and much more.

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Children

Differences

CBC

In this heart-warming video, children are asked about what makes them each different, why this should be celebrated, and how we should treat people who are different than ourselves.

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Hair Love

This award-winning animated short film beautifully depicts the relationship between a black father and his daughter, Zuri, as he tries to style Zuri’s hair for an important day.

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Color of Me Song

Sesame Street
“Different colours, different shades. It’s part of being human, it’s how we’re made!” Guests on Sesame Street sing a song celebrating the color of their skin. From caramel to walnut, “That’s the color of me!”

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Becoming an “Upstander”

Sesame Street

Big Bird really wants to be in the “Good Birds Club,” but no matter what he does he is not accepted. He’s too big, too yellow, and his feet are too big. Luckily, his friends help him realize that the “good birds” are being bullies, and he likes himself just the way he is. Together they start a new club that includes everyone – the “I’m Happy to Be Me Club!”

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We’re Different, We’re The Same

Sesame Street

Gordon reads a story, We’re Different, We’re the Same, that points out how even though each of us is different, there are many things about us that are also the same. We all have different noses, but they are all used to breathe, sniff and sneeze! Our skin colors may be different, but it always tells us when things are hot or cold and keeps our muscles and bones inside our bodies.

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A Kids Book About Racism

A Kids Book About
Jelani Memory reads his succinct, pictureless book explaining what racism is, how it makes people feel, and how to tell when it is happening. He also points out why difference is actually really (really, really, really) good.

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General Resources

You Can’t Not Talk To Kids About Race

Mail & Guardian

“Honesty is the best tool with children…it is important to have these conversations often.” Examples from across South African contexts are used as examples of why it is importat to talk to children about the humanness of all people from a young age.

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10 Tips on Talking to Kids About Race and Racism

PBS

Karen Tao, a psychologist who focuses on multiculturalism, put together a list of tips on talking to kids about racism based on her own experience as well as conversations that she has had with many parents.

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How to Talk Honestly With Children About Racism

PBS
“Children are never too young to be exposed to diversity.” This article asserts that we must have confidence in ourselves, and in children, to have critical conversations. Tips for how to do this include practicing what you’re going to say ahead of time, using story books, and more.

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Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books

Social Justice Books

This is a very straightforward, detailed explanation of how to analyze children’s book for bias as you chose what to read to children.

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How To Talk to Kids About Race

The Atlantic

This video provides practical tips on why it is important to begin talking to children about race from a young age. Some practical suggestions from the video include using books and movies to prompt discussions, as well as bringing children to real sites where historical events occurred.

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Why We Need to Go Beyond Not Seeing Color – Even For Little Kids

Parents
This article includes six different ways of describing why it is important that people move past the idea of racial “color-blindness.”

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Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race

National Museum of African American History and Culture

There is a common myth that children do not notice race and are “colorblind,” which often leads adults to think that talking about race will confuse them or put ideas into their heads that they wouldn’t have otherwise thought. This is untrue, though, and this article explains why.

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Bias

National Museum of African American History and Culture

All human beings have bias, either consciously or subconsciously. Once we are aware of what our own biases are, we can begin to work towards challenging and overcoming them.

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How Kids Learn About Race

embracerace
With this resource, you can watch a video recording or read a transcript of the same conversation between two researchers and the founders of embracerace on what shapes how children learn about race. Four common myths are debunked, and ideas for ways we should be engaging with children on race – based on research – are shared.

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Reading List

Title

Author

How to access or purchase the book

I'm the Color of Honey
Maimouna Jallow
All The Colors We Are
Katie Kissinger
Akiki Learns Healthy Habits
Fatumah Abdullah
Strictly No Elephants
Lisa Mantchev
The Other Side
Jacqueline Woodson
Wanda
Mathabo Tlali and Sihle Nontshokweni
I Have Brown Skin and Curly Hair
Karen Theunissen
Kantiga
Mabel Mnensa

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