Big Deal Media

K-12 Technology

Aug 03, 2020 2020-08-03

Digital Learning • Learning Support

Paintings and Picture Books That Serve As Catalysts for Talking About Race

Finding the right words to discuss race and racism with children can be challenging, but images can help. An article written by members of the Youth and Families team in the Art Institute of Chicago offers ideas about how to use picture books and artworks to talk about race and affirm children’s identities. The article, entitled “Art as Catalyst,” suggests three ways to approach talking with children about race and racism: “Introducing Identity and Race”; “Digging Deeper into Systemic Racism, Past and Present”; and “Celebrating Identity Through Art Making.” For example, Vincent and Tony, a painting by Alex Katz, can be paired with Sheila Hamanaka’s picture book All the Colors of the Earth, which introduces racial diversity by poetically describing different skin colors and the movement of hair. The very young can begin to grasp ideas about race and identity through the book’s colorful images and rhythmic text. Digging deeper, Walter Ellison’s painting Train Station offers a starting place for a conversation that connects contemporary manifestations of systemic racism and oppression to a historical moment, the Great Migration. Train Station can be paired with Jacob Lawrence’s picture book The Great Migration: An American Story, which combines the 60 panels of Lawrence’s Migration series with poetic text that explores the experiences of those who took part in this massive resettlement.

Arts Reading/English/Language Arts Cultural Awareness Social Studies

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