Books & Tips for Talking With Children About Race

Talking with your child about race is never easy but it is necessary because racism can thrive when you don’t. 

Before teaching your children anything, you first should take a moment and ask yourself the hard questions. As an adult, you need to understand your own biases before helping your child learn theirs. Once you do have that understanding, you will be able to better perceive your child’s thoughts and feelings.

It is also important to understand your child’s age and development level. You have no reason to hide anything from them, but you also don’t have to go into great detail and cause unnecessary stress if it’s beyond their comprehension levels.

Try the following techniques when talking to young children about race and use the provided book list as an easy way to broach this difficult topic.

Tips for Talking About Race

Take every opportunity that comes up to communicate with your child.

No matter what was said, don’t just simply shut down the conversation. Ask questions to understand their thinking. 

Be authentic and set an example for your child.

Your child can pick up on your intentions and you should be authentic about how important this topic is with them. You want to help your child understand but more importantly empower them with the knowledge to work towards racial equality. 

Acknowledge your child’s thoughts.

Yes, we do see different colors of skin but remember to frame the focus on cultural diversity and the importance of everyone being different. You want to help your child navigate their curiosity. Focus the conversation on how diversity makes us stronger and how a mixed society is extremely important for the world. 

Many children need more than just a frequent conversation about a topic to fully understand the concept. Visuals are always helpful and below are a few books that can help explain things to your child and help you drive a structured conversation with them. 

Books About Race for Young Children

lovely by jess hong

Lovely

Author: Jess Hong

A really simple read for children to understand we are all different and it’s lovely!

we're different, we're the same and we're all wonderful by sesame street

We’re Different, We’re the Same and We’re All Wonderful!

Author: Sesame Street

A book that reminds us we all might look different on the outside but on the inside we are all the same.

where are you from by yamile saied mendez

Where Are You From?

Authors: Yamile Saied Méndez and Jaime Kim

This book will have even the youngest readers exploring their identity. 

alma and how she got her name by juana martinez-neal

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Author: Juana Martinez-Neal

This story is an easy read that where a little girl learns where she is from through her name.

the skin i'm in by pat thomas

The Skin I’m In

Author: Pat Thomas

This easy to understand book helps explore emotional issues and has a helpful series to help your child become more comfortable with differences in skin colors and racial characteristics. 

the day you begin by jacqueline woodson

The Day You Begin

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

This book helps address feeling different and what it’s like to step up and embrace it.

same, same but different by jenny sue kosteck-shaw

Same, Same but Different

Author: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

A fun book with pen pals who are different but yet very similar.

all are welcome by alexandra penfold and suzanne kaufman

All Are Welcome

Authors: Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

This book helps your child build an understanding that no matter what, they have a place.

I Can Do Hard Things

Author: Gabi Garcia

A great book for children to work on being mindful of their actions.

whoever you are by mem fox

Whoever You Are

Author: Mem Fox

This book teaches children to accept differences and see similarities.

the colors of us by karen katz

The Colors of Us

Author: Karen Katz

This book shows the world through a little girl’s eyes and how she sees differences and similarities in people.

something happened in our town

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice

Authors: Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard

A story that answers questions about traumatic events and helps your child counter racial injustice in their own lives.


Remember that you are the most influential person in your child’s life and your child learns from you. If you aren’t sure how to approach something then ask questions yourself — seek out a friend, a teacher, or a counselor until you find answers.

Have any other books or tips you’d recommend? Please share in the comments below!

Ria Simon

Ria Simon in the Community Ambassador at Himama. Prior to starting at Himama, Ria was an Early Childhood Educator and worked 6 years in the classroom. She taught all ages but mainly preschoolers. Ria lives in Toronto with her husband. In her spare time, she enjoys time with her niece and nephew and being on the water.

3 comments

  • Jennifer says:

    This is a great post. Do you by chance have this list as a document without pictures? I would love to share it with our librarian but this format isn’t super feasible for him. He’d need a list of the books with just the title and author. Before I create my own list, I thought I’d see if you had already created

    • Michael Keshen says:

      Hi Jennifer, unfortunately we don’t have a ready-made list but hopefully it won’t take too long to copy and paste the books.

  • Lyn says:

    Great list! Sadly, many of the books are out of print and difficult to find. Bummer!

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