The program “Talking With Kids About Race: A How-To Workshop” drew 150 seated attendees as well as dozens of people sitting on the floor and spilling out the door. Moderated by Children’s Librarian Meredith Steiner of the San Francisco Public Library, the event featured a panel comprising author and 2018 Coretta Scott King Book Award recipient Renee Watson; Kirby McCurtis, administrator of the North Portland branch of Multnomah County (Oregon) Library; and Allie Jane Bruce, children’s librarian at the Bank Street College of Education, New York, and cofounder of the blog Reading While White.
The panel discussed how to handle several real-world scenarios, such as a white teen touching a black girl’s hair without asking, two boys slanting their eyes and mocking Asian culture, and children asking why police killed an unarmed black person. The speakers shared how they would address each scenario, as well as tips for talking to administrators and fellow coworkers about implicit bias.
Attendees were given the opportunity to discuss how to handle a hypothetical situation in which a child asks for a ballerina book and is given Firebird by Misty Copeland, only to be told by her grandmother that “that book is not for you,” since its main character is not white. The grandmother then requests a “more all-American book.”