We Need Diverse Books . . . But Are We Willing to Discuss Them With Our Kids? — A Fuse #8 Production

For my birthday my husband picked me up a copy of the bestselling book NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  To be frank, I hadn’t heard of it.  Though its been called “The Freakonomics of child rearing” and lauded by reviewer after reviewer it’s from the world of adult books.  I traipse there but rarely.  Still, I’m great with child (ten days away from the due date, in fact) and this promised to be a fascinating read.  Covering everything from the detrimental effects that come with telling a kid that they’re smart to aggression in the home I settled down and devoured it with pleasure.  In doing so, one chapter in particular caught my eye.  Chapter Three: “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race: Does teaching children about race and skin color make them better of or worse?”

Culling several studies together, the book makes the point that while, “Nonwhite parents are about three times more likely to discuss race than white parents; 75% of the latter never, or almost never, talk about race.”  Studies that required that parents do so with their young children saw white parent after white parent balk at the idea.  There’s this notion out there that children are little innocents and that pointing out race will somehow taint their race blind worldview.  Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who has ever had a kid will know that they like to categorize themselves and their friends into groups.  Race is the easiest way to do so, so from a very early age the children will be prone to “in-group favoritism”.

–Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist

Read the rest of this interesting article here and check out the picture book list Elizabeth put together at the end highlighting useful books for caregivers to use to discuss race, religion, and alternative lifestyles with young children.

The CBC Diversity initiative was founded in 2012, as part of the Children’s Book Council’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in literature for young people.