It’s appalling to witness the increasing prevalence of racist, violent and oppressive systemic inequalities in our society: we recognise the devastating impact these are having on the lives of Black children, families and communities in Birmingham and beyond.
We’ve gathered some useful resources designed to help children think about race, or to help parents/educators talk about race – along with others designed to support Black children at this difficult time, and those which centre Black characters and narratives. We’ve split them into resources for younger children, for older children, for parents/educators and finally a list of ethnically diverse libraries, publishers and booksellers.
We also want to use our social media platforms to amplify Black voices in UK theatre/literature for young audiences (and share ways you can support them too). In the meantime, we’re working on what we can do better to support Black voices in children’s theatre and Black children themselves, and how we can encourage the wider sector to do so too.
We’d welcome your suggestions for any of the above: just drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
There’s a lack of UK resources for younger children, so we’ve drawn these from a wider geographical area. This is a wider societal issue which sees younger Black children prevented from seeing their lives and those of their peers reflected truthfully and thoughtfully in children’s literature, drama and education activities.
ANANSI THE SPIDER RE-SPUN (3-8 years):
The Unicorn Theatre’s brilliant Anansi The Spider Re-spun adapts three classic West African and Caribbean tales to enjoy online until 27th July:
SESAME STREET (early years):
RACISM AND PROTESTING: Elmo and his dad Louie address racism to help educate children after recent protests in response to the BLM movement and George Floyd’s death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGcGXXCRrow&feature=youtu.be
COLOR OF ME SONG: What is the color of “you?” Is your skin color tan, light brown, milky white, or dark dark brown? Whatever color you are, be proud and sing along.
I LOVE MY HAIR SONG: Is your hair frizzy or wavy or straight or curly or long or short or red or black or brown? Whatever it is, you should love your hair! It’s a part of who you are. Listen to Mando sing about why he loves his hair! https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=cYMsiwjAY0w&feature=emb_title
WHAT I AM: Will.i.am sings “What I Am” as part of Sesame Street’s 41st season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyVzjoj96vs&feature=emb_title
CBEEBIES (early years):
JO-JO AND GRAN-GRAN: JoJo is almost five, and Gran Gran is her wise and loving grandmother. They live close to each other, and Gran Gran always has something fun planned to do when JoJo comes to visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000ghpx/jojo-gran-gran
MY WORLD KITCHEN: Pre-school series celebrating foods from a rich diversity of backgrounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0009138/my-world-kitchen-series-3-10-iaias-guineabissau-kansiye
STORIES + BOOKS (younger children):
PLAY AFRICA STORYTELLING (early years / infant school): Play Africa Children’s Museum is sharing lots of African storytelling videos designed for younger children on its Facebook page (they also have helpful resources for parents): https://www.facebook.com/pg/PlayAfricaChildrensMuseum/videos/?ref=page_internal
ANTI-RACIST BABY (early years): This new picture book by Ibram X Kendi tries to show children what they should be, as opposed to what they should not be, and teach them to love themselves and their people and their humanity—and humanity: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBf7WPNngqF/?igshid=w1u0je98301
SAME DIFFERENCE (4-8 years): In Calida Garcia Rawles’ story, Lisa and Lida realize their bond is deeper than what they see:
ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP (3-7 years): Nathan Byron’s storyabout a young black girl who LOVES space and not only looks up at the stars but looks up to Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFS3RGl2Zg
A KIDS BOOK ABOUT RACISM (ages 5+): Yes, this really is a kids book about racism. Inside, Jelani Memory offers a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. This is one conversation that’s never too early to start, and this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnaltG5N8nE
RESOURCES FOR OLDER CHILDREN
NEW VICTORY ARTS (7-15 years): A week of free videos and activities celebrating Juneteenth (the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the United States) as a way to educate, communicate and activate ourselves towards equality, liberation and justice. https://newvictory.org/new-victory-arts-break-juneteenth/
KIDS OF COLOUR (teenagers + young adults): A brilliant platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. kidsofcolour.com
FILM + VIDEO
INTO FILM: Resources which explore the issue of racism and anti-blackness in a way that touches on older children’s curriculum subjects, alongside mental wellbeing resources which may be a help to young black people in coping with ongoing events. https://www.intofilm.org/theme/86?fbclid=IwAR3FCG1O51hAe9kBQbXTnAsg_0pwRYKJqVc2MQPYbAGvn_FxmXuroC-k5Bo#resources
MATTER (older teens / no specific age guide: contains swearing and mild references to drugs/sex; trigger warning for discussion of racially-motivated police violence): After a feud on social media, Cole and Kim sit down to discuss the difference in saying “all lives matter” versus “black lives matter”, and end up talking about a whole lot more. https://vimeo.com/207849259
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES (age 15+): BBC dramatisation of Malorie Blackman’s renowned young adult novels, set in an alternate history where black “Cross” people rule over white “Noughts”. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p082w992
WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER NOW: ELLIS FEARON / TEDX YOUTH: Although Ellis Fearon is not from the US, from the moment when he witnessed what was happening in the “leading power of the world,” he had a conversation with his parents about the implications of those events, he knew that he wanted to make more people aware about this. His talk is about what “being black” means to him. Ellis was born in the UK and last year moved to Argentina. He is currently in 8th grade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7EZWBIPUUQ
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS / EDUCATORS
Several organisations are sharing excellent resources about teaching Black Lives Matter, anti-racism and tolerance, which are designed to help teachers, parents and carers talk to young people about race:
DC AREA 4 SOCIAL JUSTICE: Website packed with ideas, stories, videos and lessons for teaching early years and primary age children: https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/black-lives-matter/resources/early-childhood-elementary#videos
THE BLACK CURRICULUM: Organisation which creates arts education programmes for all young people aged 8-16, aiming to equip young people with a sense of identity, and the tools for a diverse landscape. They’re working towards changing the national curriculum and building a sense of identity in every young person in the UK. https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/our-work
RAISING RACE CONSCIOUS CHILDREN: Resources to help with talking to young children. http://www.raceconscious.org
SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOKS: Guidance on choosing anti-bias books for children.https://socialjusticebooks.org/guide-for-selecting-anti-bias-childrens-books/
ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: An array of helpful webinars, podcasts, tools and info to support family and classroom conversations about race. https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families
THE CHILD DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE: Teaching Black Lives Matter webinar (https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/webinars/teaching-blm) and classroom resources at https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources
LIBRARIES + BOOKSELLERS
KNIGHTS OF: Each year, there are more children’s books published about animals than Black people. Black people have historically been, and continue to be, underrepresented, misrepresented, or invisible in children’s literature. Inclusive UK children’s book publisher Knights Of do things differently, publishing brilliant children’s books by writers of colour such as Sharna Jackson and Jason Reynolds. http://knightsof.media/
DIVERSE BOOKS FOR KIDS: UK instagram channel sharing diverse stories for young readers.
NEW BEACON BOOKS: London bookshop stocking a fantastic selection of children’s books representing culturally and ethnically diverse voices. https://www.newbeaconbooks.com/childrens
BLACK CHILDREN’S BOOKS: A monthly box-scheme where you can subscribe to receive representative books and activities. https://www.imaginemestories.com/
THE CONSCIOUS KID LIBRARY:
Black male characters are even less visible, and even fewer still, are books reflecting positive and empowered depictions of Black boys. The Conscious Kid Library curated this list of 25 children’s books celebrating Black boys, in partnership with Moms of Black Boys United. These books center, reflect, and affirm Black boys, and were written and illustrated by Black authors and artists. https://www.theconsciouskid.org/black-books-matter-childrens-books-celebrating-black-boys