Start the Conversation!

The videos, activities and resources on this page are designed to help parents, caregivers, teachers, and anyone who has a young person in their life begin challenging conversations about big topics with their young people. Our goal is to create content that makes complex themes/issues accessible to children, while giving their grown-ups tools and language to start a conversation.

In an interview with Embrace Race, child psychologist, Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, said: 

“What I encourage all people to do, all grown folks responsible for taking care of kids, is to first begin with the assumption that we do have to talk about what’s going on. That not talking isn’t an option. In part because kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They’re seeing and noticing the world around them even if they’re not watching the news and they’re seeing and they’re understanding our distress and they’re going to make sense of it. So I start first with the premise of you have to talk about it.” 

         – Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith

There are a lot of big things happening in our world and talking about them with our little ones is not easy! But they are conversations that have to happen and “Starting the Conversation…” offers a place to begin. 

Start the Conversation: Civic Duty

The Presidential election is around the corner and all over the news. Talking to our young people about government, politics and civic duty is a big conversation, so let’s start now.

What Can a Citizen Do?

In this video, Teaching Artist Caitlyn McCain reads What Can a Citizen Do? By Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris and explores the concept of civic duty. Explore different ways a citizen can help their community.

What Can a Non-Citizen Do?

In our last video, we explored different ways a citizen can help their community. But, what if someone isn’t a citizen? What can a non-citizen do? In this video we explore ways a non-citizen can help their community.

Resources for Grown-Ups/ Next Steps:

Are you ready to continue this conversation?

Before watching with your young person,  jot down a list of the people, issues and topics you are thinking about in preparation for the 2020 presidential election. Who are the people, communities, and issues that you are taking into consideration? Who/what has been left out? What things do you want your young person to understand about government, voting and civic duty?

After watching the video, talk with your young person about the election. Do you have a voting plan? Share how you are voting this year or why you can’t. Ask your young person what things they think are important to think about when voting.  Share some of the things that you reflected on prior to watching the video. Ask your young person (people) what they think about those things?

If you can, vote with your young person!

Start the Conversation: Race, Racism, and Black Lives Matter

You Matter: A Conversation for BIPOC Children 

In this video, Teaching Artist Psacoya speaks directly to her young BIPOC community and delivers the message: You Matter. Throughout the lesson, children are encouraged to reflect on some of the big things that they are noticing in our world and identify their feelings about them. This conversation explores race and racism and gives young BIPOC the opportunity to acknowledge the pain that racism causes, while also celebrating their identities. This celebration culminates in a read aloud of Christian Robinson’s book You Matter and a theatrical repetition of the phrases: I Matter. You Matter. We Matter. Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter: A Conversation for White Children 

In this video, Teaching Artist Sam Leichter encourages young people to talk about the things that they are noticing in their world. Why are people holding signs that say Black Lives Matter and marching in the street? What is Racism? And how does it make you feel? This conversation encourages young white people to explore the idea that racism is not removed from themselves. This very big idea is explored through Anastasia Higginbotham’s book Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness and the lesson ends with a brainstorming session centered around the question: How can we as white people help to change our society?

Resources for Grown-Ups/ Next Steps:

Are you ready to continue this conversation? 

Children learn from what is modeled by their grown-ups. How can you model anti-racism? How can you model making hard choices, using your voice to stand up for what is right, and loving yourself ? How can you  normalize making mistakes, learning from them, admitting when you’re wrong and asking for help? Journal about some of these ideas and how they might connect to race, racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

A Kids Book About Racism Read Aloud

Below is a read aloud video of Jelani Memory’s A Book About Racism where you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens.