Lockdowns, school closings, protests, curves and uprising – there’s a lot going on right now. Kids may know more than we think they do from overhearing the news, their parents talking, or simply noticing what is going on outside in their neighborhoods. No matter how much you want to protect them, children are aware, and many of them are upset, confused and afraid.
So, how can you help them? I shared my views on ABC’s Good Morning Columbia earlier this week.
The Importance of Reading
Reading books that bring joy, positive messaging, and happiness are key. Stories transport you to a different time and place, away from technology and distractions. The quiet time is good for kids to think, learn and escape to a beautiful world. Families can spend time reading together and discussing what they learned afterwards, engaging in meaningful conversations.
You can also talk about current events by reading certain books about fairness, equality, justice, and racial differences. The most important thing is to discuss these sensitive issues in a positive and constructive way. For example, Dr. Marietta Collins, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Morehouse School of Medicine and the co-author of “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice,” gave the example of a white child asking why another child had brown skin. A parent can take this opportunity to explain what melanin is. Try to talk about how wonderful it is that the world has so many different kinds of people.
Though words and books are a good starting point, it should not be the end of your child’s education about diversity, culture or racism. “The best advice I can give parents is to be models for the attitudes, behavior and values that they wish to see in their children,” said Nia Heard-Garris, M.D., an attending physician at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
What Books To Read
Please choose books that don’t just entertain your kids. Instead, give them a good perspective of the world and prepare them for life’s challenges. Here are some books I recommend reading this summer…
Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor
An illustration book that says feeling different can be tough but different types of people make the world more colorful and wonderful. It teaches children about characters with allergies, asthma, health conditions, vision impairment, hearing impairment, learning disabilities, syndromes, or mental diagnoses.
We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street) by Bobbi Kates
This book teaches kids that others may look different on the outside, but it’s important to remember that we are all alike in the inside. It celebrates the differences that individuals have through colorful illustrations.
A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram (Releasing Aug 2020)
Meera Sriram was inspired by her hometown of Chennai, India, and wrote the #OwnVoices book. A girl explores the vibrant rainbow of delights in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her amma (mother). Endnotes explain all the items on sale and introduce readers to markets around the world.
Finding Om is a delightful children’s book that tells the story of Anu, an Indian-African girl who explores the mantra Om with her much-loved grandfather, Appuppa. Throughout this tale, Anu begins to discover methods of mindfulness that readers of all ages can learn along with her.
Beato Goes To Greenland, Israel, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil (series)
The Beato Goes To series highlights different places, cultures, wildlife, sports and lives of kids in different countries. Each book teaches important topics such as living in harmony, being good to others, respecting elders, caring for the environment, and more.