Lately, I have been thinking about how to best teach young children about tolerance and social justice. Their brains are hard-wired to take notice of difference and to generalize and categorize. From what I have seen, kids start to start to pay more attention to gender around age 2 and start noticing differences in race and ethnicity around 3 or 4. It is important that we provide context for those observations. I’m on a quest to find good books that teach children about acceptance of those who are different than they are and taking care of the earth and each other.
So far, I’ve used The Lorax and The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss, and The Big Orange Splot by Manus D. Pinkwater as teaching tools at story time. When we make up stories I try to integrate characters that challenge traditional gender roles, are of different ethnicities and have special needs. How does your family discuss race and gender? What tools or books do you use? We’d love to know.