Learning about consent

In the last few days I've been thinking about how many books we have at home featuring children of colour. I mean not necessarily books talking about racism, but rather including characters with different skin colours.
The answer is not enough.

What I found out is that young children don't understand racism, it's not something they have in their mind unless an adult models racist behaviour. 
I remember that some time ago, when my daughter was about 4, we were reading Rosa Parks' biography and I asked her  to describe the skin colour of her school friends, and she struggled to answer. She just wouldn't remember it more clearly than the colour of their eyes.

I thought that was great.
So instead of telling her stories about who did, and does see skin colour diversity as something that defines us and our rights, I started to integrate our home library with positive and familiar stories about children sharing her own problems and feelings.
The truth is that Western culture dominates the publishing industry as well, from fiction for adults to children's illustrations.
Not only children of colour have less opportunities to see themselves in the books they read, but also white children are less exposed to diversity while reading. 
For us, reading means first of all learning about reality, and in most books 'reality' does not include people of colour.

So what we can do is to start diversify our reading and supporting those publishers that promote BAME authors and illustrators like Lantana Publishing or that have chosen to tell stories of black heroes of the past, like Quarto Kids
I'd also recommend that you follow the account @booksfordiversity and browse their fantastic selection of books.
I have a lot to catch up and learn.

Don't touch my hair! is a book about consent, aimed at normalising the need for physical boundaries and at giving children the language to define them.
Aria loves her hair. It's soft and bouncy and grows up toward the sun like a flower.
But so many curious hands can't resist touching her curls and she doesn't like it. She tries to escape but she feels lonely. She will eventually speak up and manage to deal with people's interest and intrusiveness with grace and courtesy, discovering the pleasure to break boundaries as well, which comes with consent.
Don't touch my hair! [November 2019]
by Sharee Miller
English-language edition published by Little, Brown and Company, Books for Young Readers US
Reading age: 3+
Themes: Consent, Identity, Kindness

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