February is Black History Month, and an opportunity for kids to learn about, celebrate and honor the many achievements of Black men and woman as their story is part of the shared American history.
But how can families help their kids explore Black and other cultures throughout the entire year? Caroline Njau, chief nursing officer at Children’s Minnesota, joined WCCO to share three steps for families to continue to learn.
Watch the WCCO segment
Three tips to help kids explore Black and other cultures
Read: what should parents consider when it comes to books about Black history and culture?
The first step to exploring other cultures is through reading. Books offer a fun and easy way to introduce your children to new cultures and help them explore the experiences of people from different backgrounds.
“Buy books by Black authors or illustrators and make it part of your child’s permanent book collection,” Caroline says. “Read about Black figures and events that kids might not learn about in school.”
Your local library is always a good resource to find and learn about Black authors, they often have lists available on their websites too.
Black book and author examples
- For preschoolers: “Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dream Took Flight,” is a book about first licensed Black pilot in the world.
- For grade-schoolers: “42 Is Not Just a Number – the Odyssey of Jackie Robinson,” is an eye-opening look at the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and became an American hero.
- For teenagers: “We Are Not Yet Equal – Understanding Our Racial Divide.”
- Overall: Author Dr. Artika Tyner, a professor at St. Thomas, has written many children’s books promoting literacy, cultural awareness and leadership development.
Reflect: how can parents engage with their kids about other cultures?
Talking about race is not racist. It’s OK — and important. From a young age, children may have questions about racial differences and parents must be prepared to answer them. But, it’s important to keep your child’s age in mind.
“These conversations begin to lay the groundwork for your child to accept and respect everyone’s differences and similarities,” Caroline said.
At this age, your child may begin to notice and point out differences in the people around you (i.e., at the grocery store, at the park, etc.). If your child asks about someone’s skin tone, you might say, “Isn’t it wonderful that we are all so different!”
This is the age that is important to have open talks with your child about race, diversity and racism. Discussing these topics will help your child see you as a trusted source of information on the topic, and they can come to you with any questions.
Action: how can parents and caregivers confront their own biases?
Be a role model.
Identify and correct your own racially biased thoughts, feelings and actions. If you want your children to believe what you preach, you have to exhibit those behaviors as well. Your everyday comments and actions will say more than anything else.
Have a wide, culturally diverse social network.
Encourage your children to have diverse circles of friends, as well. This lends itself to engagement in multicultural activities and experiences.
Expose your children to other communities.
This can help them understand that there is diversity in the world that might not be represented in the community that you live in.
One idea is to shop or eat at Black-owned businesses. Right by our Children’s Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus there’s the Midtown Global Market, home to dozens of small business, many of which are black owned.