I'm reading the book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children and found the chapter "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race" to be really interesting. We have the same conversations that most families are probably having with their young children about race, and communicate our values strongly. But the chapter really encouraged me to initiate more discussions on race and racial differences because the thought that kids learn by our example is not always the case.
I knew a great way to start the conversation with a 4 year old would be through children's books and a great resource for those is always the librarian at your local public library. We stopped in and got several great recommendations. The one we're enjoying most as a family is Unicef's book Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World.
My daughter loves learning about the different children from all over the world - what they eat, where they live, what they like to do, etc. It creates a perfect opportunity to discuss differences in race, appearance, language, family units and more. It is also eye-opening for her to see how different people live and that not all families have water readily available or electricity in their home (which means no TV and no Caillou!).
I asked my daughter if she wanted to make a page for herself like the ones in the book, and she couldn't have been more excited. I'll be ordering her a copy of the book for Christmas since she can hardly put it down and the library won't let us keep it forever. A fun book to check out from the library or buy and a great way to start some conversations.
About the book:
A delightful, attractive look at children from around the world. The authors spent two years meeting and photographing youngsters from every continent and more than 140 countries. The volume is divided by continent, which is introduced with photos of children, their names, and nationalities. Then a double-page spread features pictures of each child's food, eating utensils, housing, school, friends, and family. The text gives the young people a chance to comment on their favorite games, friends, and hopes for the future. The final section includes excerpts from the Kindersleys' travel diary. This book is factual, respectful, and insightful. It provides just the right balance of information and visual interest for the intended audience.