The stories I was read as a child in the ’80s were written in the ’50s and ’60s. Stories of wholesome, all-American white families, in which mom is equipped with an apron and a broom, confined to her activities in the kitchen while dad sits in a chair and reads the newspaper. Some books like Little Black Sambo or A Cricket in Times Square were outright racist, but for the most part the diversity and inclusion I as an American hold dear are simply completely unrepresented in their pages.
All the mothers in the kitchen and dads in wing chairs reading news papers present a fantasy world where white, four-person families encounter no people of color, no economic stress, no social worry. Just comfortable, perfect, unattainable living. As such kids consume books and see the fantasy world as normal and themselves and the world they live in as the aberration.
My daughter is only a year old, but I put a lot of thought into wanting her to experience and understand the world as it is, not a false idealized memory of what it once was. That’s why I was happy to come across this list of books to help kids understand the fight for racial equality from ReadBrightly.
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich gives 11 suggestions, divided by age, beginning with The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson, a book about segregation. Also included on the list are We March, by Shane W. Evans, about the 1963 March on Washington, Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh, which talks about school segregation, and Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, which covers the Voting Rights Act.