Talking about Racism with Middle Schoolers

By Chris B. RSS Fri, August 18, 2017

Children will be returning to school in a few weeks. For middle schoolers, this means new teachers (and possibly new schools), new backpacks, and new school supplies. It also opens up the possibility of new questions for caregivers. This is a time in children’s lives where they are becoming more cognisant of the world around them through conversations with their classmates, apps, and social media platforms. These questions may make your children anxious or concerned; the questions may also distress caregivers who may struggle to explain abhorrent ideas and beliefs to children who are beginning to develop better reasoning skills and who are broadening their sense of self.  

With every difficult conversation, the first rule is always the same: remember to breath. Take a deep breath. It may seem challenging to find the correct words to use or difficult to maintain composure while discussing horrendous acts, but you can get through it.

More importantly: You are never alone. Reach out to friends and family for support. And when in doubt, ask your librarian for help. (Don’t be embarrassed; we get a lot of tough questions and we’re here to help you.)

Talking it over with your librarian can help direct your to some fantastic resources to help you have a productive and reassuring conversation.  For example, there are a lot of great places to look online to help foster conversations about inclusion, being sensitive to the needs of others, and positively responding to hate. A few that I like include:

How to Talk to Your Kids about the Violence in Charlottesville
The Los Angeles Times spoke with mental health experts about the best ways to talk to children about tragedies and racial violence. This article is a compilation of their tips.  









The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. Their link above provides useful resources for discussing terrorism and acts of hatred with children.

Resources for Responding to Acts of Racism and Hate
The Connecticut Education Association has compiled a list of resources for talking with children about hatred and racism; this is their list.



Resources for Responding to Hate
This list of resources was compiled by a librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia and includes links to websites, booklists, and video workshops.  



Talking to Kids about Racial Violence
A blog post from the New York Times that addresses having difficult conversations about Racial Violence.  



Talking to Middle Schoolers about Charlottesville Violence and Racism
The National Education Association’s neaToday article that provides suggestions for talking to different ages about the Charlottesville tragedy.


Teachers Share Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Hate Rally in the Classroom
This article discusses how teachers are proactively using the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum tag used on Twitter.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

Leave this field empty

Add a Comment to Talking about Racism with Middle Schoolers

Email is kept private and will not be displayed publicly
Comment must be less than 3000 characters