Resources for Talking About Race

A few weeks ago I published this post I’m Rinso White/I’m In-vis-i-ble about the anxiety I have about talking about race with my kids.  In the post I mentioned we’ve used some resources to spark conversations about race (racial constructs).  Here’s what we’ve used:

People Colors are colored pencils and crayons in an array of colors so that light beige isn’t the only “flesh tone” option.  To be sure, these are colors that would be included in a large collection of crayons but they’d have other names.  I like having this package to share with my girls.  These are available from Lakeshore Learning Store.

M and R named the people colors for family members.

My kids’ preschool has a great collection of dolls and they all get play time.  Like the sign says, “THIS IS A PARTY!”


The Colors of Us by Karen Katz provides a useful frame for comparing different skin tones to delicious foods and spices and also talks about the primary and tertiary colors that compose different skin tones.  Some have observed that this book utilizes some heavy-handed stereotypes and I’m not sure why Katz chose or overlooked that aspect.  It was still useful for us.

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler has wonderful rhyming and cadence.  This was really fun to read.


Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman questions race and gender assumptions in the story of a girl who loves adventure and wants to play Peter in her classes’ production of Peter Pan.


Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad? by Sandy Lynne Holman is the story of a boy who has noticed that the color black has a lot of negative associations in our culture.  Evil superheroes wear black, black cats bring bad luck, the child who doesn’t fit in is the “black sheep” etc. IMG_8548

His grandfather introduces him to the beauty and power of the color and his heritage.  This one was very helpful in generating discussion topics for us and the girls asked lots of questions about it even days after reading it.


Sandy Holman’s book was inspired by the wisdom and pride of her grandfather.

For Adults:

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman Their chapter “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race” is easy to read and understand and helps bring more awareness to the problem of most white parent’s silence around race.

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.  I’m so glad I found this book recommended on White Mom Blog.  Dr. Tatum shares conversations about race she had with her young son and then goes on to discuss a number of aspects and challenges of racial identity development in our culture.  It’s insightful, engaging, and very readable.

(By the way, none of these authors or manufacturers have endorsed this post.  Special thanks to our public library where we found all of the books mentioned in this post.)

What would you add? What has been helpful in creating conversation with your kids or even friends about race?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s