For those of you with little ones at home, Netflix Kids is probably already a regular feature in your life. And for everyone, a regular feature in 2020 is the (much-delayed) push for the eradication of racial biases and inequality. Now Netflix has launched a virtual book club for your kids that shares stories by black authors in the sweetest way. Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices has celebrity readers read books for kids, written by black authors, all of which can spark kid-friendly discussions about race, equality, and compassion. It highlights literature for young readers that will leave them feeling inspired and proud for having brown skin, or with increased empathy and understanding even if they don’t. Here are some of the show’s Antiracist kids’ books that definitely need to be in your shelf too.
ABCs for Girls Like Me by Melanie Goolsby
This adorable book teaches the alphabet, while also highlighting the accomplishments of contemporary black women. It lists the names of influential women from A-Z and includes figures like Serena Williams, Michelle Obama and Misty Copeland.
This is a great inclusion to your book shelf if you’re looking to encourage strong, black women as role models for your child, and leave her feeling inspired.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
Ever struggled to get your kid excited to get a haircut? Problem solved. This gorgeously illustrated book was hailed as one of the best books of 2017 but numerous publications, including Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times – and it’ll turn getting a haircut into a super exiting event.
This read aloud book is a great one for young boys, and celebrates self-esteem and confidence. It teaches young boys not only to love and respect themselves, but also to take care of themselves – and it all begins with a fresh cut.
I am Enough by Grace Byers
Hailed as a lyrical ode to loving who you are and being kind to others, I am enough uses positive affirmations to teach kids that we’re all here for a purpose, and not one of us is more important than another. It includes a fantastically diverse depiction of girls, which will have your kids recognising images of themselves or their friends, and has been raking in positive reviews on Amazon.
It’s a must read if you’re teaching your child to value empathy and compassion for people of all shapes, sizes and colours – and also love and compassion for themselves. It contains messages that arm the youth with a positive self image and an appreciation of diversity, and those lessons have never been more important.
I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown
Karamo Brown, the Culture Expert of Netflix’s hit series Queer Eye has blessed us with this stunning illustrated message of loving who you are, just as you are. In the book, a boy and his father take a walk through the town, and discuss the ways in which they, and all of us, are perfectly designed.
It’s a tender and inspiring tale, and one that can spark some great discussions with your own kids about their own perfect design. Not to mention, the illustrations by Anoosha Syed are beyond adorable.
Booklist has referred to this kids’ book shelf essential as “A beautiful narrative of what it means to be connected to the unconditional love of a parent”.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
This New York Times bestseller teaches a valuable lesson about self-esteem. Sulwe has skin the colour of midnight, much darker than the rest of her family. All she wants is to look like everyone else, until she takes a magical journey through the night sky which changes her opinion.
This anti-colourist tale is the first book by Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, but it sends the valuable message to children of all colours that you don’t need to look like anybody else to be beautiful. For any child (or parents) who has ever been made to feel unworthy for their looks, this one is a must-read.
Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester
This picture book is a great way to start talking to your children about race, and it’s a great tool to start discussion both at home or in a classroom setting.
It teaches kids that our lives are all stories, and that race is merely a chapter in those stories – and not one that needs to define our whole life. Lester himself says Lester says, “I write because our lives are stories. If enough of those stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details”. His writing is accompanied by striking illustrations by Karen Barbour which truly serve as a celebration of our differences.
Children of any colour will find value in this book and the lessons it carries and if you’re looking to build up a nice collection of antiracist kids’s book, this one is not to be missed.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
This tale tackles the relatable struggle (for kids and adults alike) of feeling scared and alone because you’re different. Whether its how you talk, what you look like, or where you’re from, taking the first steps to connect with people who are different can seem super daunting.
Somehow, though, we do it anyway. The Day You Begin reminds us that we all feel like outsiders from time to time, but that when we’re brave enough to reach out to others, they might just meet us half way.
Each child feels alone until they reach out to others and share their stories with them, and this book encourages kids to do that no matter the differences they may face. It’s heartwarming and inspiring, and very worthy of a space on your kid’s book shelf.
Picture books are a wonderful way to spend time with your kids, while also sparking important discussions. Not to mention, kids who are read to when they’re younger often grow up to have a love of books themselves, which will benefit them in the long run.
Diversify your collection and build your antiracist kids’ book shelf by including some of these wonderful books, and make bed time a celebration of difference. It’s a sure way to plant the seeds of kindness and compassion in your little ones and make the world a kinder, more beautiful place.