Discrimination and racism are incredibly commonplace for the Black and LGBTQIA communities. Research suggests that one in five LGBTQIA people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months. And the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the world have only highlighted how upset and angry people are with the injustices they face daily.
You might find that the younger children in your lives don’t understand what’s happening and they may be feeding off their parents’ anxiety about it all. If that’s true for you, it may be time to start introducing them through gentler means, such as reading books and other media. To help, here are our top 10 racism and LGBTQIA books for kids, and a few other ways you can kickstart their understanding of systemic racism and teach them all about acceptance.
Top 10 LGBTQIA and black lives matter books to read
Racism and discrimination are things that are learned. They’re not natural reactions and feelings to have when you’re young. For example, babies may cry when they see someone new, but it’s only because they don’t recognise them and crying is the only way they can express their feelings. The colour of their skin has nothing to do with it.
It’s similar as they get older. Children may not be familiar with those of a different race, sexual orientation or gender identity, so when presented with it, they feel out of sorts and may react poorly. Research shows that anti-LGBTQIA bullying is quite prevalent in primary schools. As a result, Stonewall, an organisation who campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans+ people across Britain, has put together a great selection of children’s books about it. There are also multi-cultural stories and books about gender or sexuality you can encourage your school to purchase as well. These diversity and LBGTQIA collections are a great option.
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To summarise, these books, and others about race, aim to educate young people and show them all kinds of families and faces to prepare them and encourage acceptance of all. So, here’s 10 we recommend…
- Hats of Faith by Medeia Cohan-Petrolino.
This short, sweet book which talks about head coverings from around the world. It’s bright and colourful and perfect for helping familiarise babies with any unfamiliar dress.
- Baby’s First Words by Stella Blackstone
In Baby’s First Words, you’ll journey with this bouncing baby and her dads as you learn new words, sounds and things to do in this bright colourful board book.
- Rapunzel (Once Upon a World) by Chloe Perkins.
This book is part of a series which transport classic fairy tales to new, vibrant worldwide locations. It’s a great alternative to the traditional tale but keeps all the parts we love the most.
- Auntie Uncle by Ellie Royce
This is a story about how a fabulous drag queen learns to own all parts of herself. And how her accepting and loving nephew helps her along the way.
- Saturday, by Oge Mora
Every parent will be able to relate to this day-gone-wrong setup. As their plans go out the window, this mother and daughter learn and remember what the best part of their day out should be – spending time together.
- Stella Brings the Family by Darienne Stewart
Experience Mothers’ Day with Stella and her two dads in this adorable picture book. Worry, learn, accept and love alongside her and her whole family in this inclusive tale.
- Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Find out how Ivy solves a mystery and begins to accept and love herself and her sexuality after a tornado destroys her home and separates her family. It’s sweet and full of teenage angst and confusion at the same time.
- The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
This fantasy novel is all about good triumphing over evil and finding your family. Join Peregrine on her journey to acceptance and overcoming prejudice in the magical world of Bamarre.
- The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
This award-winning story follows a young mixed-race gay teen as he learns to love and be himself no matter what. It’s a brave, bold and unique coming-of-age tale that thousands can relate to.
- Chinglish by Sue Cheung
Set in 1980’s Coventry, Chinglish follows Jo as she navigates generational and linguistical barriers alongside typical schoolyard behaviour. It’s awkward, crazy and totally relatable.
How other media can help
While there are more LGBTQIA and books on racism for children to read, there are TV shows and films which can be useful as well.
While classic films and series are definite favourites, some, like Peter Pan, do share dangerous stereotypes such as the Native American Tiger Lily, so be careful with those. But there are plenty of alternative and excellent animated tv shows which have been praised and nominated by GLADD for their diverse cast and characters – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix is a great example. Others include the much-loved Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Netflix Original series: The Hollow, the wacky Adventure Time series and award-winning Steven Universe. There’s also a recently-aired programme titled, ‘The school that tried to end racism’ which is an interesting real-life look at racism in UK schools. Watching it together could help children address their own experience too.
These tv shows, films, LGBT books for kids and Black Lives Matter books to read are just a few ways you can introduce new faces, orientations and people into your children’s lives to help create that familiarity. But remember, the aim is to make them unafraid and accepting, so you shouldn’t force it – let them read and watch, then address it naturally. Hopefully, it’ll help them grow up more understanding and able to challenge racism and discrimination in the fight for equality.