The Story Starters approach to using children’s literature for conversations on race, racism, and social justice is based on two core ideas:
“Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” by Rudine Sims Bishop
“Books helps us to understand each other by helping to change our attitudes towards difference. When there are enough books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all of our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what make us all human.”
The Danger of a Single Story, TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“The consequence of the single story is that it robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult and it emphasizes that we are different rather than how we are similar.”
In our time together, we will learn how to help our children look for "windows and mirrors" in all the books we read, and how to avoid “the single story” about a person of any race, ethnicity, or culture. The most important thing is for parents to model a willingness to engage in curiosity and conversation about race.
At Story Starters we believe these conversations don't have to happen in isolation. We will connect with other families and build a community. We will ask ourselves some tough questions: How is my family currently navigating conversations about race? And how can we do it more intentionally? We celebrate our successes and we will talk about our challenges.
At Story Starters, we will spend most of our time noticing and being curious. We will learn how to be curious in an appropriate and respectful way. We will look for connections between ourselves and others. We will start with basic facts (like how we get our skin color) and vocabulary. The key is for kids to know that it’s okay to notice and to talk about race. Conversations about racism with young kids often focus on fairness, a concept with which most kids are already familiar. We then expand the conversation to include justice and how and when we can be upstanders as opposed bystanders. Fluency with race and systems of privilege develops with practice and experience over many years; Story Starters is a launching pad.