February is Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the history and achievements of African Americans. What a great learning experience for kids of all ages! There are many ways parents can start the conversation about African American history, in February or any month of the year.

Children's Books

Below are 10 books describing histories and sharing challenges of both fictional and non-fictional characters.

  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (Ages: 3-6)
     
  • Bigmama's by Donald Crews (Ages: 3-6)
     
  • Bright Eyes, Brown Skin by Cheryl Hudson and Bernette Ford (Ages: 3-6)
     
  • The Story of Ruby Ridges by Robert Coles (Ages: 3-6)
     
  • Rosa by Nikki Giovanni (Ages: 4-8)
     
  • Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (Ages: 4-8)
     
  • Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carol Boston Weatherford (Ages: 4-8)
     
  • Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (Ages: 6-9)
     
  • Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carol Boston Weatherford (Ages: 6-9)
     
  • Who is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards (Ages: 8-12)

Family Movies

Rent one of these family-friendly movies that celebrate stories, showcase talents, and create conversations about family and racial experiences.

  • Akeelah and the Bee (Rated PG)
     
  • Remember the Titans (Rated PG)
     
  • Ruby Ridges (Made for TV, not rated)
     
  • Selma, Lord, Selma (Made for TV, not rated)
     
  • The Jackie Robinson Story (Not rated)
     
  • The Princess and the Frog (Rated G)
     
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Not rated)

Activities

Crafts and Printables

The internet has many resources that encourage kids to celebrate Black History Month. Printable coloring pages, quizzes, crafts, and activities. Googling "Black History Month kid's activities" gives you multiple sites to visit.

Cooking

Make dishes that celebrate African and African-American culture. Peanut stew, grilled Moroccan chicken, and injera (or Ethiopian flat bread) are just three examples you can prepare.

Music

The drum beats in Africa, the gospels in church choir lofts, and the jazz clubs in New Orleans — Africa's influence permeates the music scene. Many children's CDs celebrate international music both fast and slow.

Volunteer

To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' " In honor of this great leader, participate with your kids in a community volunteer project.

Community Events

Organizations in your community will be sponsoring events to celebrate Black History Month, from guest lectures to art exhibits. Check with your library, town hall, school, and museums to discover what's happening in your neighborhood.

Conversation

Parents often discourage kids from noticing different races and ethnicities for fear their observations seem racist. On the contrary, positive dialogue about physical differences is a good starting point for reiterating that such differences should be embraced and celebrated.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Black History Month, the most important aspect is dialogue. Whether you and your child read a book, watch a movie, attend an art exhibit, or listen to music, get the conversation going. Listen to their responses and ask open-ended questions.

  1. Does your child know their roots? Before kids can understand other cultures and history, they first must understand their own. Talk about your family history. Consider putting together a family tree for illustrations.
     
  2. Who are important African-American people in our history? Research pioneers and inventors.
     
  3. Why do some children have different-colored skin?
     
  4. Should kids who look a certain way be treated differently than others? Why or why not?
     
  5. Does the color of one's skin matter with regard to their achievements?
     
  6. Is the color of one's skin important when treating them nicely and forming friendships?

Children are naturally curious about the world around them. During Black History Month, take the opportunity to learn the history and celebrate the achievements of African Americans.