Talking to Your Kids About Race:
Beyond the Golden Rule
Talking to your kids about race should begin with the Golden Rule, but it certainly does not end there. There are times when you must explain things that are painful and unfair— racism, sexism, stereotypes, hate. These conversations can be tricky, and sometimes you may not have answers.
By teaching tolerance, you can help your kids develop strong character — showing good manners, being fair and honest, showing respect for others, showing good judgment, having compassion for others, and exercising self-discipline.
Here are some anti-racism resources for parents to help you get started. PrettyGoodDesigns.com did much of the research and legwork on this information. We adapted it.
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- Talking Race with Young Children, by NPR and the Sesame Street Workshop.
Articles for Parents & Caregivers
- “How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism,” by ParentToolKit.com
- “Your Age-by-Age Guide to Talking About Race,” by parent.com
- “Talking to Children About Racial Bias,” by healthychildren.org
- “The 1619 Project” by the New York Times
- “7 Things to Do When Your Kid Points out Someone’s Differences,” by Rachel Garlinghouse of The Mighty.com
- “Talking With Children About Racism, Police Brutality and Protests,” by Laura Markham of AhaParenting.com
- “6 Things White Parents Can Do to Raise Racially Conscious Children,” by Bree Ervin of everydayfeminism.com
- “100 Race-Conscious Things You Can Say to Your Child to Advance Racial Justice,” by raceconscious.com
- “How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids,” by CommonSenseMedia.com
- “Resources for Parents, Uplifting Youth Through Healthy Communication About Race,” by apa.org
Resources for Teachers & Educators
- Teaching Tolerance: Race & Ethnicity, by tolerance.org
- Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen, by the U.S. Dept of Education
- Beyond the Golden Rule, by tolerance.org
- Talking about Racism and Violence: Resources for Educators and Families, by nea.org
Books for Adults
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
- A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature by Jacqueline Goldsby
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- Biased by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt
Books for Kids
- The 2018 Ultimate list of Diverse Children’s Books, by hereweeread.com
- No White Saviors: Kids Books About Black Women in U.S. History, by booksforlittles.com
- 22 Picture Books to Inspire Conversations about Diversity, by HarperCollins Publishers
- Let’s Talk About Race, by Julius Lester
- Children’s Books that Tackle Race and Ethnicity, by nytimes.com
Movies & Documentaries
- Amazing Grace (2006). (PG) A biographical movie about Abolitionist William Wilberforce’s campaign against the slave trade in the British Empire.
- American Experience: The Abolitionists. (PG) A three-part miniseries that tells the story of Douglass, Garrison, and their abolitionist allies Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke turned a despised fringe movement into a force that changes the nation.
- Becoming. (PG) A Netflix documentary following Michelle Obama on her book tour.
- Belle (2013). (PG) The story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race daughter of a British Royal Navy Officer, and her involvement in the legal case of the Zong massacre.
- Harriet (2019 film). (PG-13) Based on the true story of Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery and then worked to free hundreds more.
- The Hate U Give. (PG-13) A film based on the Y.A. novel offering an intimate portrait of race in America.
- The Help (2012). (PG-13) An aspiring writer tells the story of an African-American maid’s work for a white family during the 1960s. Expect smoking, the “N” word once, plus scenes of an abusive marriage and a miscarriage with blood.
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Academy Award-winning film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, who defends a black man accused of raping a white girl.
- Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992. (NR) A documentary that looks at racial tensions in Los Angeles in the decade before the riots over Rodney King’s death.
- Loving (2016). (PG-13) The true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose interracial marriage would end with a historic 1967 Supreme Court decision. Expect to hear the “N” word and the word “bastard” about a child. Recommended for ages 12 and older.
- March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (2008). (G) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sister narrates the remarkable day Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and of the man who went on to inspire the nation.
- Marshall (2017). (PG-13) Based on a true story, Marshall follows future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, as he defends a black man from sexual assault charges against his white employer.
- The Prince of Egypt, (PG), Former Prince Moses frees the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah of Egypt.
- Promise Kids Kingdom: Deal with it! Series Lesson 6 – Handling Conflict. (G) In this important lesson, children’s pastor Lance Lee of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery shares keys on how we can disagree with others without fighting with them.
- Selma (2014). (PG-13) Chronicles the Selma to Montgomery marches led by Civil Rights activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. A watershed moment in U.S. history.