From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Discrimination

Highlighting the value of diversity reminds kids they can learn from everyone’s experience.

Aug 10, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Discrimination

Aug 10, 2022

It isn’t easy to explain to children that people are sometimes discriminated because of their age, weight, gender, skin color, sexual orientation, income, or neurodiversity. But parents shouldn’t avoid having such conversations: The earlier that you do, the more aware your child will be.

Children begin noticing differences between themselves and others quite early on, and they can also see when certain groups are treated differently from others. By having open discussions around differences and the value of diversity, your child will be better prepared to learn from others and able to spot discrimination when it occurs.

For children who may experience discrimination, these conversations are even more important. Being a target of discrimination can change how children feel about themselves and stop them from applying themselves. It’s important to help your child respond to discrimination if they are a target.

Above all, make sure your child knows you are available to discuss concerns or fears they have. Use discussion time to correct misunderstandings or to highlight what steps could have been taken to make a situation more inclusive.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of books, articles, and tips that make starting a conversation with your child about discrimination easier and informative. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

Books Featuring Examples of Discrimination

The bravery of Ruby Bridges paved the way for civil rights action in the American South. In Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges, readers hear from the woman herself, who at only 6 years old defied mobs of segregationists to became the first Black child to integrate her then-all-white school in New Orleans. 

For teenage readers, Does My Head Look Big In This? is a debut novel that charts the reactions 16-year-old Amal gets when she decides to begin wearing hijab full-time. Despite the objections she receives, Amal sticks to her decision. It's an inspiring read for this age group, no matter their beliefs.

Articles Featuring True Stories of Discrimination

Discrimination can have far-reaching impacts. “He Fought for Native Rights” in Junior Scholastic magazine recounts how, in the 19th century, Native Americans were forced to attend boarding schools in an attempt to “Americanize” their ways. In these cramped quarters, where disease spread easily, students were expected to learn English and assimilate into a new culture on land they had once moved freely upon.

In “The School that Stood Up to Hate” in Scholastic Action magazine, a California school and the community around it respond to hate graffiti found on campus. Experts weigh in on how students and the public can come together to combat hate incidents, including outreach by tolerance and diversity groups, and organized protests that promote art, inclusion, and love.

Your Hair, Your Right?” in The New York Times Upfront, a Scholastic publication, examines how the law protects individuals from discrimination. The stereotyping of Black Americans based on the texture or style of their hair has received a swell of attention in recent years, with lawmakers in a growing number of cities and states taking action to stop it. 

In 2019, California and New York became the first states in the country to pass laws that classify the mistreatment or targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle at school, work, or in public spaces as racial discrimination.

This means schools and businesses in these states can no longer ban certain hairstyles associated with Black people (though the laws apply to everyone). “Students and employees can file discrimination lawsuits if they believe they’ve been singled out because of their hair,” the article says.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on discrimination and other must-discuss topics. If you’re planning to talk with your child about other complex topics and seek tips or book recommendations, we invite you to visit our Tough Topics hub. You’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Recent topic additions include:

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