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Kids and Race: Why, When, and How to Talk About It

June 3, 2020

Talking about race with young children can feel difficult to do, but it’s important to have open dialogue between you and your child.

Experts have found that children notice race from a young age; open conversations and guidance can help them to interpret the world around them, including the messages they may be seeing in the media.  

They’re not too young to talk about race!

They're not too young to talk about race!
Caption: “Young children notice and think about race. Adults often worry that talking about race will encourage racial bias in children, but the opposite is true. Silence about race reinforces racism by letting children draw their own conclusions based on what they see. Teachers and families can play a powerful role in helping children of all ages develop positive attitudes about race and diversity and skills to promote a more just future—but only if we talk about it!” Image credit: The Children’s Community School.
0At birth, babies look equally at faces of all races. At 3 months, babies look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers.
2Children as young as two years use race to reason about people’s behaviours.
4Expressions of racial prejudice often peak at ages 4 and 5.
5By kindergarten, children have learned to associate some groups with a higher status than others.
6+Explicit conversations with 5-7 year olds about being friends with people of other races can quickly improve their racial attitudes.

These resources can help to start the conversation. 

Talking Race With Young Children 

For tips on how to have conversations about race with children, check out this article and podcast.

How to Talk to Kids about Race, and Why You Should Start Now

This Canadian article outlines the importance of talking about race early and gives some simple steps parents can take to start.

Raising Race Conscious Children 

Find blogs, books, podcasts and workshops to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young kids.

10 Tips for Teaching and Talking to Kids About Race 

This list is designed to help parents of all backgrounds talk to and guide their children about race early and often.

How to Talk to Kids About Race (Video)

This video offers some practical steps you can incorporate into your daily routine to bring up race in a positive way.

A Race Conscious Children’s Book List 

“In addition to keeping an open dialogue about racism, a way to raise children who are anti-racist is by making sure your home library has books with black people at the center of their stories.” The New York Times has put together this list of books for children at every stage, from infancy to the teen years.

The Best Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity

Books are a great way to introduce children to different kinds of stories and perspectives—there’s a reason reading is linked to empathy! Here are some of our favourite children’s books that celebrate diversity.

Here Wee Read (Instagram Account)

Be sure to follow @hereweeread on Instagram for more diverse book recommendations and tips on raising curious and race conscious kids.