Talking to your Kids

How to Talk to Your Kids About Racism

Photo of two people reading a book to a young child

Race is a complex but necessary topic we should be considering to discuss in our homes, and especially with our children. We know that many families are beginning to have these difficult conversations with their kids. The Family Care Office has compiled a list of resources to help support discussions about race and equality with young people.

Online Articles

  • In this interview, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the bestselling books Can We Talk about Race? and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, discusses how Black and non-Black parents can talk about race, racism, and protesting to their young children.
  • In this Parents article, find advice from leading experts on how to empower your children to lead actively anti-racist lives at every stage of life.
  • Check out this article from EmbraceRace that discusses what to look for when choosing “good” picture books featuring diverse, BIPOC characters.
  • This article from YaleNews discusses the role of silence, self-reflection, and privilege when talking about race with your children, and offers several resources you can use to start conversations about race in your home.
  • In this article, Dr. Aisha White explains how exposing your children to Black art can not only spark conversations about race, but also encourage children to resist race-based negativity.
  • This PBS article explains how children’s books can be used to talk about race and racism, and offers specific tips on how to discuss these topics during storytime.
  • In this essay from Khama Ennis shares what many Black parents already know: The big talk that many parents have to have with their kids isn’t about sex — it’s about racism. And, she notes, white parents need to make sure that talk happens early, too. Please note that The Washington Post allows free access to a limited number of articles per month, after which you may be asked to pay for a subscription.
  • Carl James, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Education, discusses How Should Parents Talk to Their Kids About Anti-Black Racism

Videos and Podcasts

  • In the wake of the police killing of a Black man in Minneapolis, Camille Williams Taylor, Director of Education of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, explains how to respond to kids’ questions about racism and fear in this episode of Ontario Today on CBC Listen.
  • In this YouTube playlist, find videos of authors, experts, and parents, discussing how to have challenging conversations about racism with children.
  • Listen in on this valuable podcast with Dr. Jennifer Harvey about what the parents of white children, in particular, can do to ensure they are not raising white children who are quick to call the police on Black, Indigenous, and POC.
  • Tune into this podcast with child psychologist Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith about what conversations we should be having with children of colour about policing, violence, race, safety, and justice.
  • Taking place in the aftermath of the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, EmbraceRace co-founders Andrew Grant-Thomas and Melissa Giraud moderate a discussion between child psychologist Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, educator Dr. Sandra “Chap” Chapman, and a group of parents, teachers, and other caregivers concerned about Black and brown children.
  • Check out this PBS webinar on YouTube — featuring fellow parents, educators, and child development and trauma experts — about how you can talk with young children about racial injustice. Explore questions such as: How can parents of Black children continue to instill confidence and pride in young kids while also explaining the racial inequity and barriers that continue today? And, how can parents of non-Black children help young kids understand their role in confronting anti-Black racism?

Educational Resources

  • This EmbraceRace article shares resources that will help you add more diverse books to your children’s ever-growing library. It includes several ways to access e-books for kids online, websites and databases to help you find diverse books, and tips for creating an anti-bias children’s book collection.
  • Check out this EmbraceRace action guide for talking about racial injustice to children.
  • The So Get Me podcast is produced by the Grammy-nominated children’s hip hop group Alphabet Rockers, and is created for families of all backgrounds who want to work towards racial justice. In their music, the Alphabet Rockers encourage kids to practice intervening when they witness exclusion of any kind in school or out in public, including racism and prejudice.
  • U of T Librarians have assembled a reading list related to anti-Black racism, Black history, life and culture in Canada, race and health equity, and education against anti-Black racism.
  • The OISE Library has prepared a guide to help parents and teachers find the resources they need to speak to children about race and racism, and how to educate with an anti-Black racism lens.
  • Created and run by parents of color, The Conscious Kid is an educational non-profit to help parents understand and navigate the dilemmas of race, equity and education. You can follow them on Instagram for regular posts.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian partnered to produce a website full of resources for talking about race that caters to a variety of audiences. There are also sections that specifically deal with antiracism and parenting, providing valuable information and guidance for families.

Talking to your kids about racism can be a hard endeavor, but you can help by implementing these lessons early in your own homes in order to promote an environment of inclusivity and diversity.