Celebrating Black History With Children
During Black History Month, communities across America commemorate the history of people of African descent, and they pay tribute to the many achievements of Black individuals. Perhaps the most important community members to get involved in this annual celebration? Our children.
Today’s need for greater racial equity and inclusion requires kids to be exposed to diversity at a young age. To uplift all voices that have an impact on our country, it’s critical that Black history is studied and celebrated—not just in February, but throughout the entire year. African American history IS American history, and when kids understand the fuller picture of the past, it will help them understand the fuller picture of today.
Parents Magazine spoke with two educators from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture—Anna Forgerson Hindley, director of early childhood education and Candra Flanagan, director of teaching and learning—to get their tips on teaching children about Black History Month. Here are some creative ways to celebrate as a family.
Get Creative with an Art Project
- Make a Handprint Heart Use construction paper in various skin tones, trace your child’s hand multiple times, and cut it out. Cut a large heart out of butcher paper. Glue the hands in the shape of a heart using the butcher paper as a guide. As a final step, make a wreath with your child’s handprints to celebrate diversity.
- Create a Collage Children of all ages love to create collages. Using magazines, internet print-outs, books, or newspapers, allow children to cut out, position, and paste images of African American influencers on a piece of poster paper. After viewing clips and reading stories about each figure, children can also look for other items of significance and arrange and glue them near each person.
Cook a Special Dinner Together
Research and cook traditional cuisines from predominantly Black countries. Families may enjoy cooking a meal together and exploring a variety of African dishes from South Africa, Nigeria, Haiti, Jamaica, and traditional Southern America.
Look at maps and discuss where different spices and certain specialty dishes come from. Parents and kids can work together to choose recipes, shop for ingredients, and even prepare the food. Talking about the histories of these dishes also offers a great dinner conversation with your children, and it’s a unique way to teach kids important life skills about cooking.
Volunteer or Donate as a Family
Consider donating funds to national organizations—like Black Lives Matter, Equal Justice Initiative, or Center for Policing Equity—or local organizations in your area dedicated to addressing inequality.
Read a Book That Celebrates Black History
Many children’s books celebrate Black history in ways kids of all ages can understand. Here are a few favorites
- Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson
- A is for All the Things You Are by Anna Forgerson Hindley
- Come Look With Me: Discovering African American Art for Children by James Haywood Rolling, Jr.
- A Child’s Introduction to African American History by Jabari Asim
- I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
- The Undefeated By Kwame Alexander
- Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
- Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
Watch a Series Together
Put screen time to good use this February by carving out one night each week to watch an episode from one of these series for kids that explore Black culture:
- View the Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices series on Netflix
- Watch Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS, especially the episodes on George Washington Carver, Zora Neale Hurston, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Wilma Rudolph, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens, and Ella Fitzgerald.
To read a bit more about the history of this month including an examination of the associated colors and a list of additional resources, read the full article HERE.