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What is Story Starters? 

We all want our kids to grow up with

big hearts, open minds, & helping hands.

Parents ask Story Starters... 
“How can we explain race and racism when we feel we are
still learning about it ourselves?”
“How do I know if what I’m saying to my kids will have an impact?”



Story Starters helps families answer these tough questions.

We know racial bias starts early, and avoiding conversations about race is harmful to our kids. So in collaboration with educators and researchers, we’ve developed an at-home program for families with kids ages 3 to 8. Our program supports parents who want to start and strengthen conversations about race with their children, using picture books as tools. Throughout the 8-week program, Story Starters families learn from educators, racial justice advocates, and each other.

Learn more about our curriculum in the video below.

Winter 2024 Program Details


Who: Families with kids ages 3 to 8 years old. Siblings welcome!

Location: In-person and Online! 

Program Dates:  January 28- March 24, 2024

Fee: $125 - Scholarships available upon request



Program participants receive:

  • A bundle of 6 books  

  • 5 parent guides full of research, resources, and family activities to help parents start and deepen family race conversations

  • 4 curated book lists to support further exploration and conversation

  • 2 family events and 2 parent workshops*

  • 2 Story Starters virtual office hours to connect informally  

  • A small, curated support network of current families and alumni to lean on and learn from

  • Special events to facilitate community connections

*Family events will be in-person. Parent workshops for all programs will remain on Zoom. 

Program Dates (all times listed are EST):

Sunday, January 28, 3:00-4:30pm: Program Launch*

Tuesday, February 13, 7:30-9:00pm: Parent Workshop (online)

Monday, February 26, Noon-1:00pm & 8:00-9:00pm: Office Hours

Saturday, March 2, Special Event (Details to come!)

Wednesday, March 67:30-9:00pm: Parent Workshop (online)

Tuesday, March 19, Noon-1:00pm & 8:00-9:00pm: Office Hours

Sunday, March 24, 3:00-4:30pm: Closing Family Event*

*In-person events will be held in or near Newton, MA. Location details coming soon.


Previous Speakers Have Included:


Grace Lin

Grace Lin, a NY Times bestselling author/ illustrator, won the Newbery Honor for “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and the Theodor Geisel Honor for “Ling and Ting.” Her novel “When the Sea Turned to Silver” was a National Book Award Finalist and her picture book, “A Big Mooncake for Little Star” was awarded the Caldecott Honor. Grace is also an occasional commentator for New England Public Radio, a reviewer for the NY Times, a video essayist for PBS NewsHour, and the speaker of the popular TEDx talk, “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf,” as well as hosting the two podcasts: kidlitwomen* and Kids Ask Authors. Grace is In 2016, Grace’s art was displayed at the White House where Grace, herself, was recognized by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.


Dr. Howard Stevenson

Dr. Howard Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, in the Human Development & Quantitative Methods Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Stevenson is Executive Director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC), a research, program development, and training center that brings together community leaders, researchers, authority figures, families, and youth to study and promote racial literacy and health in schools and neighborhoods. Dr. Stevenson is the recipient of the 2020 Gittler Prize, by Brandeis University, for outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and/or religious relations. He was also listed in the 2020 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings of the top university-based scholars in the U.S. who did the most to shape educational practice and policy. Since 1985, Dr. Stevenson has served as a clinical and consulting psychologist working in impoverished rural and urban neighborhoods across the country. 


Dan + Claudia Zanes 

Grammy award winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist / jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes have been making music with each other since the day they met in the fall of 2016.

The Kennedy Center commissioned Claudia and Dan to create a theater piece for young audiences.Night Train 57: A Sensory Friendly Comic Folk Operapremiered in October 2017 and has been performed several times since. Their love of songs and communal music-making lead to a publishing deal with the Quarto Group USA and the result, an award winning songbook entitled Dan Zanes’ House Party: A Family Roots Music Treasury, was released in 2018.

In late 2019 the couple - now married! - moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore and what had been a full schedule of theater, school, and festival performances evaporated with the advent of the coronavirus. When a national state of emergency was declared in March, Dan and Claudia started their Social Isolation Song Series. For the next 200 days, in an effort to stay connected and uplift others, they performed a different song every day. This series of videos currently resides in the Library of Congress.

The two continue to adapt and reinvent and sing their way to new beginnings. In addition to music making, Claudia runs her flourishing handmade skin care business called CLEO Soaps and Dan continues his work with Constructive White Conversations, a white antiracist organization he co-founded in 2011.

Program Details
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