Resources for conversations about race with children
The following resources are listed to support conversations about race and racism with children of different ages.
In Australia it is important to discuss the specific issues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face. These are over and above the racism that other people of colour in Australia face so resources specifically exploring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and experiences are listed separately.
There is still a disparity in positive representations of people of colour. It is important to do some research before showing movies and programs to children as some are less constructive than others – just because they deal with relevant topics or have people of colour in main roles, does not mean they will send the messages you are looking for.
Films and TV
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander films
This is a list of films inspired by, or made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Each one can be clicked on for a full synopsis, however the descriptions do not include a rating, which will need to be found elsewhere, and will be necessary before viewing with children.
Films about or staring people of colour
Common Sense Media has a list of movies appropriate for children, which explore issues of racism in the US. The films listed are for children 8 and above.
For younger primary-aged children, Disney’s Moana was created using an expert panel of Pacific Islanders who guided the representation of their cultures. A number of the actors who voice the characters are also Polynesian.
Princess and the Frog is another Disney film with a strong princess of colour. The film is set in the South of the USA and has the flavour of New Orleans in the music and cultural references. There are some supernatural themes that could frighten some children.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s books are showcased in this list by Readings. The range includes books that deal with racism, identity and belonging, as well as books about other topics but with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander main characters.
By Lisa Bullard, Illustrated by Brandon Reibling
A fun book about a little boy thinking through what is special about him. Not explicitly about race, but the character is of colour and presented in a positive and empowering way. Activities at the back can support using this book to discuss the messages.
The Skin I’m In: A first look at racism
By Pat Thomas
This book explicitly defines and discusses racism. There are some big concepts that are simplified for the age group, but it is a useful book to begin discussions with older primary-aged children. There are also activities at the back to support this.
The Colors of Us
By Karen Katz
This is my family’s favourite! A little girl walks around the neighbourhood to discover all the shades of skin people have and what they remind her of: cinnamon, French toast, amber, honey or peaches. My kids love going through this book to match their skin tone to the delicious descriptions. It is a celebration of skin colour.
Lila and the Crow
By Gabrielle Grimard
A little girl begins a new school and is immediately bullied for her different ethnicity. She finds courage and is empowered by her connection to a crow. There is a lot that can be unpacked in this story about both racism, bullying and bystander behaviour.
You can listen to this story HERE
The Skin You Live In
By Michel Tyler, Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko
This book is fun to read as it has a great rhyming rhythm. The positive messages about skin colour are affirming for all kids. There are also lovely descriptions of skin colour, like warm cocoa dream and marshmallow treat. There are strong messages about not using skin as a separator, but instead find joy in our differences.
I Like Myself
By Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow.
A fun and exuberant book that will encourage anyone to accept themselves. It is not explicitly about race, but provides a positive representation and is accessible to lots of children.
Commonsense media lists books for both 9+ and for teenagers:
Books for teens
Other resources for parents can be found here: