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4 Organizations That Can Help Parents Teach Kids To Be Themselves

three small children sitting together
Teaching kids to value their own identities helps them value those of other people.
These kid-centered social justice organizations are a great place to start talking to kids about embracing who they are.
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Anti-bias education is a way of teaching that supports children and their families as they develop a sense of identity in a diverse society. It helps children learn to be proud of themselves and their families, respect a range of human differences, recognize unfairness and bias, and speak up for the rights of others.
From "Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves" by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards

Grown-ups play a very important role in supporting young children as they make sense of the world around them. Children deserve to feel seen, valued and heard at home, in school and in their communities. We can nurture children's identity development by providing ample opportunities for them to explore who they are in liberation-centered ways. Identity involves things like (but is not limited to) gender identity, different abilities, family structure, race, ethnicity, culture, religion and economic class. If you're looking for resources that can help you start talking about identity development, these kid-centered social justice organizations are a great place to start:

1. Reflection Press. Reflection Press is a people of color, queer and trans-owned independent publisher of radical and revolutionary children's books and works that expand cultural and spiritual awareness. Their books and materials center Indigenous communities and people of color and have a holistic, nature-based perspective that goes beyond the Western Hemisphere. Reflection Press offers a wide variety of children's books and resources that challenge the gender binary, such as:

By Maya Christina Gonzalez and Matthew SGWith captivating illustrations, this early years reader teaches kids to practice and use inclusive pronouns.

By Juan A. Ríos VegaThis is a tale about a boy named Carlos who travels to Panama's countryside with his family. Once there, he's eager to join his cousins as the fairies on the Queen's float, but finds out boys are not allowed. Thankfully, his brilliant abuelo has an idea.

  • Playing with Pronouns card deck. My 5-year-old loves this game! Playing with Pronouns offers multiple ways to engage with young learners (like making connections, practicing empathy, critical thinking, the alphabet and sight word recognition, etc.) all while encouraging them (and grown-ups) to expand their ideas of gender beyond the binary.

2. Raising Luminaries. Ashia Ray (they/she) is a multiracial Autistic disability rights educator and the head custodian (and founder) of Raising Luminaries. Raising Luminaries is a movement where families and early childhood educators can go to find books, resources and discussion guides on topics ranging from celebrating disabled heroes, antiracism 101, diverse family constellations and radical body positivity. My family found Raising Luminaries around three years ago when our daughter was just 2 years old. As a white family raising a white daughter, Raising Luminaries has been more to us than just a place to find inclusive kids literature. It has been helping us unpack our own biases, dismantle whiteness in our home and leave our children with the legacy of a solid understanding of who they are and their role in dismantling systems of oppression.

3. EmbraceRace. This organization was founded by two parents, Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, in early 2016. Their mission is to create a community and gather resources to meet the challenges of raising kids in a world where race matters. EmbraceRace offers many resources for families such as webinars to support parents in their own identity development, as well as action guides that support parents in speaking about challenging topics like structural racism with their children.

4. The Conscious Kid. If you're interested in learning more about racial literacy or want book recommendations to counter anti-Blackness, The Conscious Kid has you covered. This organization is committed to supporting educators and caregivers as they take action to disrupt racism. They've even taken their role a step further by mobilizing their large community of social media followers to provide relief to families experiencing housing and food insecurity during the pandemic.

Bonus. National Association for the Education of Young Children's Understanding Anti-Bias Education: Bringing the Four Core Goals to Every Facet of Your Curriculum by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards.

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