Dr. Lara Pence is a licensed clinical psychologist, Spartan’s Chief Mind Doc, and the mom of two biracial sons. In an effort to help you educate and inform your children about racial injustice and oppression, Dr. L independently put together a list of six books that help to start the conversation about social justice. Additionally, if you would like to share your story or resources, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of being a Spartan parent means leaning into the tough moments. You are a Spartan parent because you know that it’s what you do as a parent, in the difficult moments, that contributes most to raising a resilient kid. And right now is no different.
We must ALL lean into the difficult conversations around race, racial injustice, and the oppression of people of color in this country. At Spartan, we believe that there are no threats, only opportunities — and this is a BIG one. Round-the-clock news footage of COVID-19 has been replaced by images of protestors, social justice warriors, and, yes, riots. Kids will undoubtedly be curious. When your kids ask what’s going on, as they inevitably will, it is necessary that you tolerate your own discomfort around the topic and engage.
I’ve put together a list of incredible children’s books that can help you with your language around this issue. It’s less important to get it right and more important to start somewhere. So start here, and then move forward!
The Stone Thrower (Jael Richardson)
The Premise: “African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and [college], he would never play professional football in the United States.” LEARN MORE
More More More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories (Vera Williams)
The Premise: “The stars of three little love stories — toddlers with nicknames like “Little Pumpkin” — run giggling until they are scooped up by adoring adults to be swung around, kissed, and finally tucked into bed. Quirky watercolor drawings and colorful text feature multiethnic families, and young readers will rejoice in seeing the center of all the attention: the wiggly, chubby, irresistible toddlers.” LEARN MORE
What’s the Difference? Being Different Is Amazing (Doyin Richards)
The Premise: “What’s The Difference? introduces children to race relations by teaching them not to be colorblind, but to recognize and embrace the differences of the people they encounter in life. LEARN MORE
A is for Activist (Innosanto Nagara)
The Premise: “A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.” LEARN MORE
Rosa (Nikki Giovanni)
The Premise: “50 years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus, Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.” LEARN MORE
Child of the Civil Rights Movement (Paula Young Shelton)
The Premise: “Paula Young Shelton, daughter of civil rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history.” LEARN MORE
What Else Are We Reading?
Currently on our list: Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance. What are you reading right now? Let us know!