These books can help young children learn about race

Digital Originals

Teachers say one of the best ways for children to learn about race is through stories. Claude Monique Viard is a pre-k teacher at a public school in New York City. Here are four books she recommends.

“So this book is called We’re Different, We’re the Same and it’s a Sesame Street Book”.

“What I love about it is that it points out differences, which I think is really important for children to recognize the differences.”

“They show all the different skin and the children will say ‘oh this one looks like mine. Oh this one looks like yours.”

“I think it’s really wonderful to go through the body parts and how they are different but how they function in the same way. That reinforces that whole idea of us as people.”

“So this is Jefferey’s Outer Space. It’s written by Daniel Stewart.”

“I really like this book because I think it’s important for children to see a black protagonist.”

“You know how when they go to outer space, they always bring the American flag and make their mark. I like this because I feel it also affirms them as being American and being black.”

“It just gives them a great sense of dreaming. I could be an astronaut if I wanted to. And for other children to not just see white astronauts.”

Another of her book choices is “Ada Twist Scientist” by Andrea Beaty.

“The protagonist is a black girl and she loves science. Ever since she was a little girl, she always did science experiments.”

“First of all, it promotes science for girls in general, which is great. And then it promotes science for black girls which I think is really important.”

“This is ‘This is the Earth’. It’s by Deirdre Cummings.”

It’s a story that talks about respecting people’s differences.

“I have a brain and so do you. You don’t have to think what I think. I don’t have to think what you do. But it talks about living peacefully.”

At the end of the book, there are questions for the reader that encourage discussions. They include…

“Do you think it helps us be more peaceful when we learn about other cultures and other people? So there’s great engaging questions, especially for older children. So I feel this is great for pre-k kids but it’s also great for lower and upper elementary.”

Claude Monique says actively reading books about diverse groups of people can help break down barriers.