I’m not going to lie. I am no expert. There are many people out there who have a world of knowledge on how to support the Black Lives Matter movement. It isn’t me. However, I do know I want to make a difference. I am an educator and I will do what I do best, educate. I am doing this by researching and finding resources to learn about racism. This post will give teachers and parents some tools to use when educating ourselves and our children. As educators, we are always learning and I am taking this time to learn alongside you. I hope you find something useful!
Articles to Read as A Teacher
Though this article is aimed at teaching kids about prejudice from the parental perspective, we know that as teachers we sometimes step in and support the role of parents for students. This article aims to teach parents (or their helpers, educators) how to talk to children about prejudice through different age brackets, from preschool to teens, so it’s useful for any teacher.
Talking to Kids About Race by Heather Greenwood Davis
An article aimed at helping adults successfully navigate racial discussions with their own children, but a valuable tool for educators, too. Instead of avoiding or shying away from racial conversations because it makes adults uncomfortable, we have to learn how to model loving, respectful dialogues about differences.
It’s Not So Black and White: Discussing Race and Racism in the Classroom by Dr. Beverly Tatum
Dr. Beverly Tatum shares advice for teachers on dealing with the sensitive topics of slavery and race in history and our classroom, acknowledging discomfort, and providing concrete examples of how black resistance and white allies helped to end this travesty.
A scholarly article for those of you who want to hear what future teachers of color want to see a change in the educational arena and share their perspectives on breaking the cycle of racism in the classroom.
An article that discusses the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War. In a time of great unrest and horrible injustice, the system went to work for the African American community, yet we often focus on the white backlash instead of the incredible achievements of newly liberated African Americans. This article includes links to other useful resources for yourself and to share with students.
Why Black Lives (and Minds) Matter: Race, Freedom Schools & the Quest for Educational Equity by Tyrone C. Howard. (Paid access or free through many libraries)
Addressing the issue of increasing police presence in schools and how it impacts students of color.
Discussions about race can intimidate even the most experienced teachers because one wrong discourse can have intense ramifications. However, avoidance and silence allow disparities to continue. This article is full of helpful ways to make space and create powerful change in your classroom for yourself and your students.
Jocelynn is my friend, neighbor, and fellow educator. She shares her son’s feelings and how students thrive when a classroom environment makes them feel like they belong.
Jocelynn also just came out with this blog post about why it is important to create a culturally responsive classroom. She explains why incorporating this type of pedagogy would be beneficial in your classroom.
Books to Read as Teachers
Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School by Mica Pollock
Which acts by educators are “racist” and which are “antiracist”? This book explores effective ways for educators to discuss difficult issues of race with students and colleagues. It is loaded with invaluable information and answers challenging questions about race in school.
A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota edited by Sun Yung Shin
This book compiles essays of authors, educators, and artists who are in the minority in Minnesota where there is an increasingly diverse landscape. Help broaden your perspective and share a few of the short essays with your students in upper grades to spark discussion as well.
Teaching for Black Lives Teaching Guide. Edited by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, Wayne Au.
Decades of oppression have dehumanized African Americans. This book helps teachers expose this, denounce it, and celebrates the ways students can embrace collective action and activism.
Readings for Diversity and Social Justice by Maurianne Adams, Warren Blumenfeld, Carmelita Castaneda, Heather W Hackman, and others
An anthology of trusted authors and readings who discuss current issues from a wide variety of populations that suffer from marginalization, injustice, and social discrimination.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Dr. Beverly Tatum
This book looks at ths psychology of racism, separation, segregation, and how to address it in our schools.
The History of Institutional Racism in U.S. Public Schools by Susan DuFresne
This book examines the system of policy making that has created division and inequality in what should be something free, equal, and enjoyable for all. More important than this troubling history is how active and aware teachers can take steps to make a lasting change.
Books to Read With Your Students
Although there are descriptions for some of these books, I also include the places we found them and where to go for more extensive lists at the bottom of this post. There is a world of knowledge at our fingertips.
We March by Shane Evans
This colorful and bright picture book will help children understand the 1963 march on Washington D.C. and show the value of commitment, justice, and peaceful protest to bring about change.
The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism (First Look At…Series) By Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker
This simple picture book provides a first look at racism and how to accept everyone for who they are, to love the skin they are in!
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes
A beautifully illustrated version of Langston Hughes I,Too poem that is simple enough to help young children grap the injustice of the past and the difficulties and successes of today.
Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch
Grace is a young African American who can’t wait to play Peter Pan in the school play- except that her classmates think she shouldn’t get the part. She’s not a boy, and she’s not white. Grace’s family help her stand up for her dreams and teach her that she can be anything she wants!
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
A story of the Latinx community and the children who were denied access to a “whites only” school in California- ten years before Brown v. Board of Education. This fundamental fight paved the way for broader desegregation across the country.
Middle Grades (3-5)
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This book is about a 12-year-old boy who is shot by police after they mistake his toy gun as a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the aftermath of his death and watches how his family and community react to his brutal and unjust killing.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
This valuable book was written by child psychologists and looks at the viewpoints of two children, one white and one black who hear about a police shooting in their town. Their classmates and community are caught up in conversations and questions about the matter. Together, they learn about the history of racism and resisting it.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins by Carole Boston Weatherford
This picture book explains the injustice of segregated establishments and the rights that were won by dedicated citizens who took a stand, by sitting down!
Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside by Kenneth Braswell, Joe Dent, and Julie Anderson
In this graphic novel, a family explains to their children why people were protesting outside of their home last night. The text uses references of Martin Luther King Jr.’s protests and the history behind marching in protest to help explain why their community wants to protest injustice.
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph
An inspiration and captivating picture book for the youngest readers who will love watching Gordon show the world that black students in the 1930s were not only destined for menial jobs. He became one of the most celebrated photographers in Hollywood, but also captured the world of segregation in film.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage By Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
Our classes and communities are hopefully full of loving and blended families, but it wasn’t possible when Mr. and Mrs. Loving first wanted to get married. This book can help kids understand how even something we take for granted was a hard fight, but that love triumphs.
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren, illustrated by Fabio Santomaur
This story deals with one Danish town’s desire to help and protect a Jewish family and hid them from the Nazis. The story deals with race, compassion, and caring for those who are being marginalized and hurt by society, a way to help students understand how important it is to help each other now.
Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Though this story is fictional, the Green Book was not. The Green Book, short for the Negro Motorists’ Green Book, produced by Victor Green, offered a list of places that would service black families in the time of Jim Crow laws. Students will get a first-hand account, through Ruth’s eyes, of what it was like trying to take a family trip in the summer when hotels, eateries, and gas stations would turn away people because of their race, and feel her relief when her family learns of the Green Book that will help them travel safely.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
A beautiful picture book that discussed the work of Arturo Schomburg, a man of Puerto Rican and African American heritage who made it his life’s work to curate and create a library of works by African authors. Where is our heritage, he asked. He provided an answer. His collection is still in the New York Public Library. It will help students realize how far they have come, from a time when black artists and authors were not a part of public life, to a time when black literature is a major part of most curriculums.
Upper Grades (6 and up)
Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe
A juvenile nonfiction account of the horrific murder of Emmett Till in 1955, a young African American teen who was accused of whistling at a white woman. The horrible crime changed the Civil Rights Movement in America. The book contains many primary source documents and photos. Students will likely find common parallels with events in today’s world, showing how far justice has come and showing where it still needs to expand.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia
Why: These charming and realistic characters help students see the world in 1968 as Black Panthers, black poets, and Civil Rights in California transform the way three young black girls will live their lives when they return home to New York.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (and others in the Series) by Mildred Taylor.
Set in the 1930s in the American south, racism and systemic injustice are facts of life for the Logan Family, but they want to change the world they live in, starting with their community.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
The story of police brutality aimed at a black student as witnessed by a white student is compelling as it switches viewpoints between Rashad, a black ROTC student who “must” have been stealing, and Quinn, the white student who knows Rashad is innocent but doesn’t know how important it will be to take a stand until the whole nation is in an uproar.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
An epistolary novel, a young black man in high school experiences catharsis by writing to the late Martin Luther King Jr. about the world he’s now experiencing in the 2000s, and how it all just got turned upside down. Justyce is off to an Ivy League university in the fall, but none of that matters when he’s arrested and has to ask would he have been in this position if he was white?
We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration From Civil Rights Leaders by Harry Belafonte
Though Belafonte is the author on record, this book illustrates the inspirational messages of many Civil Rights leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ANOTHER GREAT BOOK LIST!!! 3O GREAT BOOKS TO HELP YOU TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT RACISM
Places Where You Can Learn More
This website explains how white parents can use media to raise anti-racist kids.
This website talks about how to undo racism and white supremacy.
An organization that aims to help us create a generation of thoughtful, informed, and racially aware children and youth.
Were you aware that black motorists relied on this guidebook to travel safely? Whereas we may turn to our Zagats guide and tourism book to find the best food and the most fun, African Americans in the time of Jim Crow were looking for ways to simply reach their destination without discrimination. A valuable resource to read to inform yourself and your students about former facts of daily life in a segregated world.
The NEA has a toolkit on race and diversity, including useful articles, strategies, and links to other resources for teachers navigating this difficult topic.
A specific niche of the NEA Justice site, this site is devoted to pursuing social justice for those who are marginalized in a variety of ways, bringing awareness and resources into your classroom and school community.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has a list of resources and curriculum to integrate into your program.
You can also learn from some wonderful social media accounts from teacher leaders on Black Lives Matter. If you found at least one helpful tool, I am happy. Let’s learn and ROCK this together!