As a Black mother to a Black son in America, there is a time in my life that I will have to sit my child down for the talk. No, the talk won’t be about the birds and the bees or the importance of putting the toilet seat down after he’s done using it. This talk will be about how to navigate and survive as a Black man. Whether this survival has to kick in during a random traffic stop or when he is jogging through a neighborhood, I will have to talk to him about how to stay alive and not be seen as a threat. My conversation with my child about race, racism, and discrimination is not optional, as it is my duty to protect him.
However, for non-POC who are raising children, it can feel like a hefty topic to approach and, because of that, it can be put off. As we watch one headline after another unfold and pour into our everyday, ignoring the subject no longer becomes an option.
Talking to your children about what racism and discrimination are, why tolerance is necessary, and how we got here can help to create a much needed dialogue around current events as they happen. The next generation should not have to fall victim to being shot while going on a store run, being killed while playing with water guns, being seen as a threat during a bird-watching session, murdered in their own homes, or crying that they can’t breathe beneath the knee of an officer.
To help start the conversation in your home, we have rounded up books that you can read with your preschooler, big kids, and teens.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.