Teaching Kids About Black History
Last month, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Every year this happens just a couple of weeks before February, the month where we recognize and celebrate Black History Month.
During Black History Month, schools, libraries and communities around the country and world highlight amazing things that Black people have accomplished. This month is also a dedicated time to teach and revisit history, and learn more about past and current issues.
2020 made it clear that a single month is not long enough to cover everything that needs to be learned. Our children of all backgrounds and colors should know the history that has been frequently highlighted in just this one month.
There are so many excellent resources and people who can help us understand elements of Black History. Here are some suggested resources:
- Beyond slavery and civil rights: What parents need to know about Black History Month Award-winning journalist Kimberly Seals Allers consulted with Black parents and experts to compile these ideas and suggestions
- Teaching Black History for kids – from the University of Illinois A compilation of resources for parents and teachers
- Teaching Kids about Black History – from PBS - An article by Nefertiti Austin which includes tips from children’s book author Cheryl Willis Hudson about how to connect your kids with Black history
National Geographic Kids has this informative page about how Black History month came to be and what it honors.
- Teaching Tolerance has put together an age-appropriate guide for grades Kindergarten through five to introduce ideas that are difficult for kids. This page covers how to introduce the key concepts necessary to understand the historical significance of slavery and shares resources for how to teach them.
Here are some ideas to teach your kids about Black history this month:
Virtually visit a Black history museum: During the COVID-19 pandemic, going to museums is not advisable, however many museums have started offering virtual tours.
Here is a list Black History museums you can explore from home -- including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Discover Marley Dias’s compilation: As a little girl, Marley realized that she was not seeing people like her often so as a 6th grader, she started a mission to compile all the books with Black girls as main characters.
Listen to Blues and Jazz: These are just two genres of music that are uniquely American and created by Black Americans. See how many different instruments your kids can identify. Talk about famous musicians and their influence on American culture even today.
Explore Black poetry and literature: On inauguration day, the first National Youth Poet Laureate recited her poem, The Hill We Climb. Amanda Gorman has added to the rich canon of African-American writing. Teach kids about how poetry and storytelling has inspired people to change and make the world better. If they don’t already know them, introduce your kids about the works of, and impact of other powerful Black artists such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.
Create a Hope Box: The book Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes is a great children’s book describing the life of the 44th president of the United States and how he made history and created hope for so many around our country. Teach kids about hope in today’s Black history and help them to create a box that they can put hopeful statements and affirmations throughout the year.
Check out this week’s FREE printables. An African-American Heroes themed word search!
Let your family’s exploration of this history spark a desire within. Our kids are the future and the more they know about our history, the better they can make this world for their generation and their children.
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