On January 20th, Inauguration Day, as I sat with both of my young girls in my lap, I had tears in my eyes. I was elated to see a Black and Asian-American woman sworn into one of the two highest public offices in the United States. It was something I did not think I would see in my lifetime. I hoped for it, sure, but did not think the day would actually come.
It occurred to me though, that while Kamala Harris becoming Vice President is historic because of her gender, it also so because she is a woman of color. Additionally, the current cabinet is the most diverse in American history. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit on, the day was certainly historic. As I explained my happy tears to my preschooler, with the baby in my arms, it occurred to me that Black History Month was coming soon.
What a great opportunity to re-invigorate our family’s learning about and celebrating Black History Month through stories, history, and culture.
I wasn’t sure where to start, so naturally, I took to Google. I had a desire for my kids to go deeper than my typical default of coloring pages. Those certainly have ways of starting a conversation, but I wanted something more substantial that would have a lasting impact on my three and a half-year-old.
I found a wealth of information, sorted through it all, and distilled it into four categories: play, read, listen, and watch. Here is a list of the four ways we’ll be celebrating Black History Month with our preschooler. The baby will benefit too but in her own way.
Play “Red Light, Green Light.”
Did you know that the traffic light was invented by a Black American? After witnessing a terrible traffic accident, Garrett Morgan invented the three-color traffic light in 1920. Try engaging your toddler in the game and using it as a springboard for discussion on the history of the item. From there, you could explore the history of slavery and the civil rights movement, both of which Morgan was alive for.
Reading lots of books.
Over the past year, I made it a point to diversify my children’s library. For the entirety of 2020, I only added only books that feature main characters of color or are authored by people of color. Three of our favorites have been “Hey Cat!” by Ezra Keats, “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi, and “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont. I just ordered “The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez and I can’t wait to crack into it with my kiddo. For more options, check out Marley Dias’ 1,000 Black Girl Books.
Listen to music and talk about the artists.
We listen to a lot of music in our house. We have daily dance parties in the kitchen. Throughout Black History Month (and beyond) I plan to feature Black artists on our speakers. If you’re looking for a good place to start, The Charles H. Wright Museum has an eclectic Spotify playlist that will satisfy any and all musical tastes.
Watch movies that tell Black stories.
As much as we listen to music, we also watch a lot of TV. Particularly as the pandemic and stay-at-home orders have stretched on. This month, we’ll be intentionally exposing our preschooler to movies that feature Black characters and stories. One of my personal favorites is “Loop,” a Pixar animated short. We’re planning on checking out “Soul” for our next family movie night.