Race and Racial Bullying: Books for Kids
When talking to kids about big, difficult topics like race, it can be hard to find age appropriate ways to discuss the subject. Yet it is vitally important to do so, as kids frequently encounter racism and racial bullying. (Yes, white kids also – perhaps especially – need to be having these conversations). Below are wonderful picture books and a chapter book that address race directly, including giving practical tips to kids about how to handle racial bullying. Be sure to also check out this article on talking to kids about microagressions.
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Books for Kids about Race and Racial Bullying
Ease the way through difficult conversations about race and racial bullying with these wonderful book!
Every Kid Matters is written by a clinic psychologist and college professor, who wanted to was inspired by the events of 2020 to make a difference in the lives of children. Every Kid Matters is a story of a young Black girl whose new classmates reject her because she’s different. NeeNee’s mother helps bolster her confidence and reassure NeeNee that she’s just as she’s supposed to be. From that experience, NeeNee begins to help other children experiencing similar bullying. The book helps children identify real life situations where they and their classmates encounter hateful behavior. I love that the book is sprinkled with questions that help children think about how the characters are feeling and what they would do in that situation. Best of all, the book includes a breathing exercise and positive affirmations for kids to use.
The Ouchiest Words is a new book from the author of The Yuckiest Lunch Box (read my review), another book about acceptance and self-esteem. The Ouchiest Words reminds kids that they matter and they belong, no matter what any bullies might say. Nari begins to question herself when a classmate makes fun of her Korean name and her eyes, telling her to go back to her country. Inspired by the author’s own childhood memories of bullying and the 2020 spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, the book gives kids concrete ideas about what to do when they experience bullying, especially racial bullying – how to stand up to the bullies and how to give themselves positive self-talk to counteract the harmful messages.
Eyes That Speak to the Stars is a brilliant follow up to the bestselling book Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. It addresses similar issues of microagressions, as a young boy is hurt when his friend says his eyes look different. It is a delightful affirmation to young Asian children that connects them to their heritage and empowers them to look to their future. It is wonderful modeling for any family of how to encourage children and instill pride in who they are.
The Secrets of Skin Colour is a great way to help kids understand race in clear, age appropriate terms. It teaches kids the science behind skin color and helps dispel any preconceived notions they may have. Using an anti-racist framework, this first book in the series features a diverse group of friends committed to leaning about the world and helping others. It also includes study questions so that parents and educators can keep the conversation going.
Comeback is a wonderful new middle grade novel perfect for anyone chasing their dreams. Maxine Chen has always wanted to be a figure skater, and she doesn’t mind putting in all the extra hours at the rink to make that dream come true. But soon pressures off the ice threaten to derail her progress. A bully starts to tease Maxine about her Chinese heritage, and a new ice skater arrives in town, with perfect jumps sure to lead her to victory over Maxine. Soon Maxine finds herself losing her focus and coming dangerously close to being knocked out of competition. Can she find a way to deal with these new obstacles and make a comeback? An engaging, highly relatable story from debut author E.L. Shen, herself a former figure skater, about how young people deal with real-world pressures on and off the ice. It helps children understand the effect their words have on others, and how they can handle racial bullying. The book is also a love note to the many wonderful Asian and Asian-American figure skaters who paved the way for girls like Maxine.
Also, be sure to visit my Pinterest board on talking to kids about race.