RIGHT NOW is the time to read books to help your kids explore black history. Right now is an opportunity to begin a real honest discussion with your kids about issues of race and tolerance for people who don’t look like them physically or who practice different religions.
Most of us who call ourselves Americans have ancestors who didn’t arrive on Plymouth Rock, and after they made their way over here, they suffered the consequences of being different. So it’s really incumbent upon us parents to teach our kids to celebrate diversity.
Unfortunately, if we don’t gently cultivate their understanding and appreciation for other cultures and races early on, it will ultimately affect the type of adults our kids become. Now which one of us needs that on our conscience?
You may be asking yourself: Why is it important to read books to help your kids explore black history month ALL YEAR LONG? Here’s my answer: Because it’s vital our kids learn to embrace and cherish every valued human being with whom they share this planet, regardless of their color, religion or sexual orientation.
And rather than just provide them with lip service (which I can assure you goes in one ear and out the other), sometimes kids need visuals and the opportunity to be immersed in events which will both overtly and subliminally instill within them an appreciation and affinity for the pursuits and contributions of others.
As Americans, black history is essentially our shared history. Creating opportunities for our kids to become more cognizant of the similarities, as opposed to the differences, they share with others is simply another way for us parents to bridge the racial divide, not only for our generation but for future ones as well.
So take a bit of time to explore any or all of the following books and remind your kids that color and race know no bounds. These books are chock full of interesting facts about African-Americans and chock full of fun, too.
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic I Have a Dream speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience.
This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.
Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice the true heart and soul of our nation.
Perks of reading these books with your kids: Quality time with kids fact-finding and educating on contributions made by African-Americans throughout American history, which they might not have known or wanted to know more about.
And in addition to Books To Help Your Kids Explore Black History Month all year long -To those of you grieving, struggling, & suffering: I feel you, I see you, I am angry with you, & I support you.
For those of you feeling helpless/privileged: being aware of your discomfort & sitting with it is a good place to start. If you want to do something but you’re feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to begin, here is an amazing resource for self-education to share with your kids. It’s OK if it feels like “not enough” right now. Anti-racism is lifelong work. So just get started.