Talking to Kids About Racism

Perhaps our most primal parental instinct is to protect our kids.

As they grow from pre-school to elementary to middle and high school, parental protection looks different. When they’re little, we can manage their environment. As they grow older, we have less control and yet we can continue to have influence. It is important, especially when something painful or scary is happening, we can take time to teach and to shape values.

So how do we talk with our kids about racism?

At each stage and age in our kid’s lives, no matter your background or experience there is an opportunity for all parents to have conversations with their children about race. The context will vary, depending on our personal experiences with race and racism. It may be uncomfortable at first, and yet often for some families of color it is not a choice since our children learn about it by confronting racism in their everyday lives.

Here is Sound Discipline’s curated list of tools and resources to help you engage in this conversation. We hope to help you facilitate your child’s sense making and moral development, and to help your whole family determine how you can express your anti-racist values.

Articles, Guides, Podcasts, & Videos

Talking About Race for Parents and Caregivers, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Talking to Children About Racial Bias, American Academy of Pediatrics

How to talk to kids about racism: An age-by-age guide, Today’s Parent

8 Tips for Talking to Your Child about Racial Injustice, PDF from EmbraceRace

Talking Race with Young Children, Podcast from NPR

A Black Psychologist’s Guide to Talking With Your Children About Race and Police Violence, video from the Root

Current Events and How to Discuss Them, with Dr. Kristin Carothers, Facebook video from Your Teen for Parents

Helping Your Child Cope with Media Coverage of Community Racial Trauma: Tips for Parents, video from the Disaster and Community Crisis Center, University of Missouri


Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracist Baby, by Ibram X. Kendi

Children’s Book Lists

31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance, EmbraceRace

Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners, categorized by age group, Common Sense Media