Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Teaching Our White Kids About Racism

A Step-By-Step Guide to

Teaching our White Kids About Racism:

  { Jump to:

 1. Getting Oriented

2. Exploring Racial Diversity  } 

Like many white parents, I've spent these past few weeks teetering between hope and anxiety as I’ve watched Black America crying out for change, and I wonder what sort of future we will pass on to our children.

Will this be the year we listen? Will we finally work together to transform our policies and business practices and personal habits to dismantle the racism embedded in them? Will we finally act?

But as I tried to do better in my own life at speaking out, stepping up, calling my government reps, and otherwise supporting this 400-year cry for racial equity, I also keep coming back around to the same question:

How do we make sure our kids don’t repeat our mistakes?

I’ve had conversations with my kids about some of these issues before, but I knew I needed to do more. The problem? There's so much to say. Where do we begin? What are the most important things we need to teach our kids about race and racism? How do we talk about this in language they can understand?  How do we give this issue the emphasis it deserves rather than skimming over it? How do we teach them not only what racism is, but how to dismantle it? What am I forgetting? Are my kids too young for this? Where do I even start???  

It can feel overwhelming to talk to our kids about race. But I don’t think it has to.

Over the years, I've done a fair amount of research, both for my PhD and my novel writing, about racism, racial inequities, and the need for change. Now that I have two small children of my own, I know how important it is to teach them about this, and how important it is to start early. But I also know ... (like really really know) ... how hard it is to find time to do this, how tricky it is to do this abstractly without concrete visual aids like books or videos, and how difficult it can be to find the ideal books and videos you need for young children to springboard these discussions.

This guide breaks down the process step-by-step.

I don't want complexity or uncertainty or lack of resources to stop any of us from having these important conversations about race and racism with our kids. So I designed this as a step-by-step, conversation-by-conversation sequence that we can follow to make sure we are having all of these very necessary discussions about race with our young children.

In each section, I’ve included: (1) an intro for parents, (2) a “script” we can read aloud to our kids if we’re having trouble finding the right words, and (3) links to videos, picture books, read-alouds, and other resources we can use both to introduce the topics and to delve more deeply into them. Keep in mind that a few of the activities and conversations about skin color are geared primarily toward sighted people, so these may need a tweak or two if you and/or your child are visually impaired.

I made this for me, and I made this for us. This is a work in progress, so let me know if you notice anything that needs fixing, or if you know of amazing resources I’ve missed and should add.

Okay, now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work!

Table of Contents
You can start wherever you need, but the concepts will probably make the most sense to your kiddos if you start in Chapter 1 and work through sequentially. If you have only very young children (infants and toddlers), you’ll want to focus on Chapters 1-3: Exploring and Celebrating Racial & Cultural Diversity.

Once your kids are in Pre-K - 6, and can communicate more fully about complex concepts, you’ll be able to move onto more explicitly discussing racism, fairness, and activism (Chapters 4 - 6).

Note: I don’t have all the chapters completed yet, but you will be able to find them all linked here once I do.  <3

1. Getting yourself Oriented

(Parents-only section)

a. Individual vs. Systemic Racism

b. Is it too early to talk to my kids about race?

c. The danger of teaching kids to be ‘colorblind’

d. Optional: do a bias-check

2. Exploring Racial Diversity

a. What race am I?


b. Why do people have different skin colors?


c. Different families, cultures, & traditions


d. Learn about your family history

3. Celebrating Diversity

a. The Beauty of Difference

b. Different on the Outside, Same on the Inside

c. Diverse Communities

d. Choosing Diverse Toys, Books, and Media

e. Pointing Out Lack of Diversity

f. Dismantling Color Associations


4. Examining America’s History of Racism

a. Where Our Family Came From

b. White Settlers and Native Americans

c. Slavery

d. Abolishing Slavery 

e. Civil Rights & Standing Up For What’s Right


5. Seeking Fairness & Equity

a. What is Racism?

b. Fairness & Equity

c. Luck of Birth

d. Impact vs. Intent

e. Unintended Consequences

f. Systemic Racism

g. Racism in Current Events

h. Racism in Books, TV, and Movies

i. Racism in Everyday Talk & Action

j. When your Kiddo Says Something Racist


6. Do Something! Kid-Friendly Activism

a. Empathy Building

b. Being an Includer

c. Standing up to Bullies

d. Microaggressions

e. Civic Engagement

f. Activism: Protests, Campaigns, and Art


Let's Get Started >>


Here are some of the resources I found most helpful when compiling this guide.


Talking Racism with White Kids is Not Enough - TIME







Monday, April 27, 2020

Early Readers

Now that we're doing distance learning due to coronavirus, one of the things my kiddo has been missing during "school at home" is reading the daily home readers our school provided.

We've found a few great first readers online but I wanted more early readers that were decodable and fit the specific sounds and reading level he's doing in his phonics program.

We started playing around with silly sentences on our fridge and we had so much fun, I eventually turned a few of them into digital books. I wanted to share them with all of you, as I know a lot of us are in the same "school from home" boat. If your child is learning to read in Kindy / Prep or Year One, these ebook readers are for you!

(P.S. - that's Kindergarten and First Grade for all my U.S. folks!)

I've had a lot of fun making these, and my kiddos and I are already in the porcess of developing more! If you'd like to know when I have more available, you can sign up here:


All these are available as free .pdf files, and are formatted landscape for maximum readability on your smartphone or tablet. If you'd like a kindle or epub file, let me know!



Kindergarten Early Readers

Our school uses the Get Reading Right systematic synthetic phonics program, so I've designed most of these decodable readers to fit that phonics sequence. They are all .pdf files, but if you'd like a kindle or .epub file, drop me a message and I can probably make you one!

Short Vowels:  A  O    

If your child just started kindy, they are likely in the early stages of their phonics reading program. At our school, that's Get Reading Right's Basic Code . The first unit focuses on the letter sounds made by the consonants S  M  C  T  G  P and the short vowel sounds  A   O  and the camera words  I,  the,  was,  to,  are,  she,  the.  If they are working on those words and sounds, these first decodable books are written for them to read on their own!

Sam and Pom-Pom

I have such fond memories of the first books I read by myself, with just a few letters and sight words. It felt like such an accomplishment. Hope your kiddos like this reader!

Short Vowels:   A   I

I have one book that follows the Jolly Phonics Programme sequence of letter sounds, as I know a lot of you are using that phonics progression, and it's what I started my oldest on in preschool. For this emergent reader, your child would need to be able to read the consonants S  T  P  N and the short vowel sounds  A   I, and be learning the early tricky words  the,  was,  she. 

Anna the Ant

This book about a little ant dreaming of her name up in lights restricts itself to a very few letter sounds, so it's suitable for new readers just beginning to learn phonics.

Anna the Ant

I realize that the name "Anna" uses a schwa sound. Though common, I know schwas can be confusing for new readers, so I might change the name later. Let me know if you have ideas!

Drop me an email at     {  carissawritesthings  } { @ }  { gmail }  { .com  } if you have any trouble and I'll send you a copy!

Year One (First Grade) 
Early Readers

My child's school uses the Get Reading Right synthetic phonics program, so I wrote these books to fit with that sequence of teaching letter sounds. By the beginning of Year One, students will have already learned all the hard consonants and all the short vowel sounds, as well as a fair amount of camera words (that's "sight words" for all of you in the US!). In Year One, they focus on learning the different spellings of the long vowel sounds, starting with the long E sound. Get Reading Right has their phonics sequence and camera word lists for their Advanced Code (Year One) in the free resources section of their website, so check it out if you're curious where your child is at.

These books are all landscape-oriented .pdf files for your computer, tablet, or smartphone, but if you'd like a kindle or .epub file, email me and I can probably make you one!

Long E Sound Family

EE    EA    -Y    _E    (also:  -E_E    IE    -EY)

If your child is at the beginning of year one, they'll likely be learning the first phase of the Get Reading Right Advanced Code at school. That means a focus on the long E letter sound family.
All the early readers below focus on the various spellings of the long E sound.

Deep Beneath

I wrote this first reader in the early days of our social distancing due to COVID-19. Our beaches here in Australia had just closed. When I sat down to write my little guy a couple ee / ea sentences about an imaginary seapony, I ended up with a story about working through the grief of our newly quarantined world, and about finding joy closer to home.

Deep Beneath by Carissa Taylor

Grubby the Dung Beetle

This early reader was a special pet project between my son and I. The book is, in a way, my coming-to-terms with the fact that yes, my kid is obsessed with poo ... and you know what? Let's run with it, shall we?
... and maybe learn a little about North American animals and nutrient cycles on the way? ;o)

Due to the subject matter of the book, YMMV. Reader beware: poo puns and dung jokes abound within these pages. I also introduce the grapheme OO, which is technically out of sequence in the Get Reading Right program. But hey, if your kid is like mine, "poo" was one of the first words they learned to read and write ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Grubby the Dung Beetle

The Queen's Feast

This reader focues on the EE sound family but also is designed to incorporate many of the camera words from Units 1-5 of the Advanced Code of the Get Reading Right program.

The Queen's Feast

I had so much fun writing and illustrating these. I hope you and your kids enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed making them <3

Drop me an email at     {  carissawritesthings  } { @ }  { gmail }  { .com  } if you have any trouble and I'll send you a copy!


You can find me on social media here:
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Additional Resources:

(Online books, printables, online learning, and phonics resources.
Some are free resources, others are not)

Teachers Pay Teachers || SPELD SA Phonic Books  (these are free online books!) || Mommy Shorts: Quarantine Learning Resources || Reading A-Z: Decodable Books and Phonics Lessons ||   Spelfabet: Decodable Books list || Sound City Reading Phonetic Stories for Beginning Readers - free pdfs || Free Reading: Decodable Passages || Progressive Phonics - Beginner Phonics Books  (these free readers are for reading together)||  Starfall Academy Free Language Resources : Learn to Read|| CKLA - Common Core First Grade Decodable Readers and Tricky Spellings (free but you'll need to sign up) || Phonics Hero COVID -19 Learning || Miss Kindergarten Free At Home Learning Resources for Reading || Money Saving Mom : Free Quarantine School Resources || Learning to Read  || The Measured Mom Free Kindergarten Printables and Free Printable Phonics Books || This Reading Mama: Free Printables and Learning Activities for Homeschooling  - and Free Phonics Activities  and Phonics Books || A Teachable Teacher Free Phonics Bundles || Homeschooling Down Under : Learning to Read Books ||


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