Discussing Race with Children
Some frequently asked questions
This is by far the concern we receive the most, especially from white parents. Countless studies have proven that children recognize and respond to racial differences as early as 3 months old. By 3 years old, most children choose playmates based on race (Phyllis Katz). It is natural for children to categorize people, and the easiest categories for them to rely on are visible ones -- gender, age, and, yes, skin color. While race might not have a meaning to these children, they certainly recognize differences in skin color.
When we as parents don’t actively explain to our children why most princesses and superheroes have white skin or why people with dark skin tend to be overrepresented in the poor parts of town, we leave them to create their own stories to make sense of these disparities. Maybe, your child might think, princesses and superheroes are white because white people are inherently more beautiful or powerful. Maybe, your child might think, poor people are Black and brown because they don’t work as hard. Without intervention, the stories children tell themselves can form a foundation for future prejudice that reinforces racial injustice.
This is a concern we hear often. Parents of all races are afraid to say the wrong thing, to sound ignorant, or to bring up a topic and then not have all the answers. This is particularly true of parents who feel they still have a lot to teach themselves about racial injustice before they can hope to teach their children. But as is true of most of our obligations as parents, we will never have all the answers. The important thing is that we start.
Ripple Reads was created with the express purpose of making it easy for families to discuss racial justice with young children. Beyond just recommending great books, we also pair each book with a mini-curriculum created by the experts who run the Center for Innovation in Race, Teaching, & Curriculum at the University of Texas. This mini-curriculum explains key themes and provides age-based discussion questions. The magazine included each month also shares kid-friendly activities and challenges to reinforce what you’ve read and discussed. If you do happen to say the "wrong" thing despite all of this support, we encourage you to model a growth mindset, admit you've made a mistake or don't have the answers, and commit to learning more.
No. We understand the impulse to shield your children from harsh truths, but we also hope that you'll push yourself to be honest about the history of slavery and segregation that shapes present racial disparities. Dr. Keffrelyn Brown, one of the two experts whose research guides our work, has conducted decades of research confirming that only when the role of race in our world is discussed and understood can we truly work toward racial justice. At Ripple Reads, we have one mission: advancing justice. We know that in order to achieve this mission, we have to provide even the most hesitant parents with all the guidance they need to confidently address tough topics with their children.
Some frequently asked questions
Ripple Reads is a book and magazine subscription that helps families have meaningful, age-appropriate conversations about race and justice. Our vision is to raise the next generation to dismantle racism once and for all.
Every other month, we send our families one hardcover picture book, one magazine with key themes, discussion guides, interviews, advice and more, and smaller goodies, like a bookmark or sticker. The hardcover books are typically based on a 2nd - 3rd grade reading level, but we encourage families to read the books together regardless of their child’s reading level. We select these books in consultation with Dr. Keffrelyn Brown and Dr. Anthony Brown, the co-directors of University of Texas’ Center for Innovation in Race, Teaching, and Curriculum. The magazines feature interviews on race and parenthood, an advice column on raising justice-minded children, reflection space for adults to reflect on their own experiences with racial identity, and more great content.
Families love Ripple Reads because our expert-crafted curriculum helps them have important conversations and raise children who will stand up for justice.
Ripple Reads is appropriate for children and adults of all ages! The books we send are picture books typically geared toward an early elementary reading level, but we have found the children of all ages engage with the stories. This is particularly true when the books are combined with the discussion questions we include each month, which are tailored for "all ages," "pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade," and "3rd grade through 5th grade."
We strive to ship all orders within 3 business days after your order is processed and payment is received. Once your order is shipped, the average delivery time is 4-8 business days, depending on the distance between your address and our distribution center. If you are in Canada the average delivery time is 2 weeks.
You will receive an email with a tracking number when your order is shipped.
Each Ripple Reads kit costs $19.95/month plus a small fee to help cover shipping. You are charged when you join and then on your bimonthly billing anniversary, until you pause or cancel your membership.
At this price, Ripple Reads is able to break even on the fixed costs associated with the materials and shipping. Every person involved in producing Ripple Reads has donated their time and earns no income from sales of Ripple Reads. Any future profit will be reinvested into marketing Ripple Reads and our Scholarship Fund so we can reach more families.
You can cancel your subscription at any time by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or signing into your account yourself to cancel, pause, or skip deliveries.
We currently ship to addresses in the continental United States and Canada. Please note due to Covid-19 and an attempt to keep shipping cost low, our lead time to ship to Canada is approximately 2 weeks. If you have several friends who are interested in becoming members and you're located outside of the continental United States, please email email@example.com and we can try to work out special group shipments.
We don’t accept returns, but you can cancel your membership at any time if you are unsatisfied for any reason. You can cancel by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or signing into your account to cancel, pause, or skip deliveries.
If you receive a book you already own, we are confident that you'll still receive value from the accompanying curriculum, which will help you engage more deeply with the book. However, if you are unsatisfied with receiving a book you already own, simply send us a picture of the duplicate books, promise to donate one copy to a friend or library, and we'll credit your account $10.
Yes! If you’d like to send a gift, complete the checkout process as usual, inputting the gift recipient’s address as the shipping address. Then, email your receipt to email@example.com and let us know how many months you want to pay for the gift. We’ll email you back with a custom note you can print or send electronically to inform the recipient of their gift.
Yes, Ripple Reads is an initiative of The Notley Fund, a U.S. nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.