By Caroline Jones
This past Sunday, I was driving back from Maine and passing the time in traffic with the wonderful podcast “This American Life”. One of the episodes, “The Birds & The Bees”, explored the complexities of explaining all kinds of difficult issues to young children. W. Kamau Bell, a comedian and father, was one of the guests on the show, and he talked about his struggle discussing racial issues with his young, biracial daughter.
He explained, “And people ask me all the time, like, you’re black. You talk about race a lot. And have you talked to your daughter about the fact that she’s black? I’m like, no, because she’s 3 ½. I don’t want to bum her out yet. You know what I’m saying?”
So how do you talk to kids about racism? Or poverty? Climate change? Sexism? Tough conversations to broach, right?
Well, you could do what Mr. Bell did – reach for a book. His selection, The Case for Loving, The Fight for Interracial Marriage, helped him introduce the idea of race to his daughter and open up an ongoing conversation about a pretty complicated topic.
The Case for Loving is among the array of picture books addressing social issues on CLiF’s Pinterest board, which also includes books about poverty, class, climate change, war, homosexuality, and the civil rights movement
My favorites from the board:
King & King, by Linda de Haan: A grouchy old queen who is ready for retirement wants her son – who has “never much cared for princesses”- to get married. While it’s not the most nuanced treatment of diversity, I remember loving this book as a kid. It’s fun, charming, and who doesn’t love a good fairy tale?
Dinosaurs And All That Rubbish, by Michael Foreman: A few decades old, but (sadly) still just as relevant. After a man decides to build a rocket ship to visit a star (and destroys the environment in the process), dinosaurs awake from dormancy to clean everything up. A great way to talk about environmental issues…plus dinosaurs. How can you resist?
The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes: A classic, awesome book. Hits all the themes of poverty, bullying, not fitting in, and standing up for others.
So, if you’re looking for helpful books on difficult topics, we’ve got you covered. Seriously. Look no further than this Pinterest board. It’s chock full of wonderful books that are sure to start some wonderful discussions. Enjoy!