Books Can Help Families Engage in Difficult Conversations

Where do I even begin? As if parenting through a pandemic isn’t hard enough, families now find themselves struggling to comprehend the impact of the civil unrest that is occurring nationwide. The current events of late bring about strong emotions around the topics of racism, social justice, and the inequities surrounding us in every corner of our nation.  Racism is a topic that should be discussed openly, freely, and often within a family construct. Part of the problem however, is many families avoid these discussions. As I conducted background research for this article, I found a resource I want to share with you. Olubemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is a library lover, blogger and a published author. In her blog post, How to Talk to Kids about Race, not only does she recommend books for all ages around the topic of race, social justice and inequity, she also asks parents to take action in the following ways:

  1. Take Stock- examine your own implicit bias and ask yourself the tough questions. The article links to a Harvard University Implicit Bias test that will help you examine your own beliefs.
  2. Take Opportunities- do not shy away from difficult conversations within the family. The article reminds us that young children need caring adults to help them construct a positive sense of self, and a respectful understanding of others. This cannot happen without a caring adult.
  3. Be Authentic and Intentional- pick specific books to read to your children that do not only portray marginalized groups as suffering, in crisis, or being saved. Recommend books that will grow your adolescent/teenager’s understanding about race and culture. Most importantly, be intentional about growing your own understanding about race through the books you read.

If you are like me, you might feel helpless… maybe hopeless.  So why not try the action steps listed here? Even better, pick one of the books for your next book club. Go to your local library and put all of the suggested children’s books on your kid’s summer reading list. And then talk. Discuss with your family the themes in the books. Have the difficult conversations, it’s a start.

 

All the Best,
Patricia Carroll | UW-Madison, Division of Extension
Associate Professor, Dept of Family Development
Human Development & Relationships Educator, Dodge County
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