Reading about race with kids


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 23rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. A year ago, a book titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You became a number one New York Times and Amazon bestseller.

Today, WORLD book reviewer Emily Whitten tells why Christian families should be wary of this book, and she recommends some better ones.

EMILY WHITTEN, REPORTER: Ibram X. Kendi is a professor at Boston University and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. In 2016, he became the youngest person, at 34 years old, to win the National Book Award for his adult book, Stamped from the Beginning.  

The 2020 version for teens, titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, was written by Jason Reynolds, an award-winning kids’ book author. It’s been embraced by the National Council of Teachers of English, which offers a curriculum guide for schools. This May, another version of Stamped launches for ages 6-10. And Kendi plans a documentary and an animated series for kids on Netflix. 

Even if you haven’t heard of Kendi yet, you may have heard his key term, “antiracism.” He explained it during a 2019 appearance on CBS This Morning.

KENDI: White nationalists and supremacists today say they’re not racist. And so, we’re really thinking about a term in which people are denying they are racist. But antiracist, in contrast, has a meaning. A meaning of somebody who views the racial groups as equal. Someone who is pressing for policies that create racial equity.

Equality and equity sound great, but Kendi goes on to define the terms in anti-Christian ways. Take the source of racism. Instead of seeing racism as part of Adam’s fall and impacting every people group, Kendi describes racism as uniquely European. As he summarizes American history, he demonizes groups like the Puritans, calling the Great Awakening a “racist Christian awakening.” 

In a recent WORLD roundtable discussion, senior writer, Janie Cheaney, described Stamped for teens this way.  

CHEANEY: I have no problem with realistic history of the United States. We have a lot of sins in our past and we’ll always have sins. But the way it’s presented, I don’t see that it could have any other effect, but teaching children to hate their country. 

Instead of Stamped, I suggest Christian families check out a few other books. 

First, Trillia Newbell’s book, Creative God, Colorful Us. In over a hundred pages of playful fonts and colorful illustrations, Newbell teaches kids, ages 6-12, about the Creation of the human race in God’s image. And she explains in simple language that racism, along with all our selfish behavior, comes as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden. But when we trust Jesus and follow Him, He makes us part of His colorful family. He also helps us love one another better. 

In a 2021 YouTube interview on the Keith and Kristyn Getty channel, Newbell described the inspiration for this book, and her previous kids’ book dealing with race, God’s Very Good Idea.

NEWBELL: It really started as I taught a Sunday School lesson about the Imago Dei, the image of God. As I was teaching, I taught about the image of God and our adoption into the family of God…

Bible verses and discussion questions make Creative God, Colorful Us an excellent pick for family devotions or a Sunday School curriculum. One suggestion because of current culture—as you read, make sure kids know that LGBTQ sins aren’t part of the Created differences and diversity Christians should celebrate. Rather, they’re part of the fallenness God helps us overcome.

The second resource I’ll mention today is Thomas Kidd’s 2019 textbook titled American History. Kidd is a historian and professor at Baylor University. He’s also a professor of Church History at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kidd wrote his textbook to counter two extremes.

KIDD: It’s pretty simple, a Christian perspective that is able to be critical of American history from a Chrsitian perspective, and doesn’t ignore the more difficult issues about American History, including obviously slavery, but also isn’t trashing America and everything about…

When it comes to a history of America’s founders, including the Puritans, Kidd presents the good and the bad.

KIDD: English Puritans came to Massachusetts to try to set up godly churches and godly government but they’re not perfect. They certainly did not believe in religious liberty in modern terms. And they also had terrible conflicts with Native Americans neighbors that were partly their fault. They also owned Native American and African slaves. I have no problem being critical of the Puritans as long as we don’t assume we would have done better in their shoes. 

Families with older teen homeschoolers might use Kidd’s book as a history textbook. But the writing is more geared to college level, so for most teens, the book might be a good supplement or reference book. I do think Christian families would appreciate Kidd’s focus on lesser known Christian heroes like Lemuel Haynes, an African American who fought in the Revolutionary War.

KIDD: He objects to slavery in a really pioneering way. And he uses the logic of the Declaration of Independence, if God has made all people equal, then we shouldn’t have slavery. That’s a very early Christian argument like that… 

WORLD Magazine regularly provides reading suggestions for kids and teens in its book review pages. You can find those reviews online at worldmag.com. I also include a list of some of our favorite kids’ books on race and history in the transcript of this segment at worldandeverything.org. 

I’ll close today with a musical version of one of those books, God Made Me and You by rapper Shai Linne. In this song, Linne and a chorus of children echo part of the Westminster Confession of Faith—a 17th century Christian catechism passed down by men and women who often got it wrong on race. That makes Linne’s song a striking example of the forgiveness and unity God has in store for His sinful, forgiven, colorful family.

SONG: [God Made Me and You] LYRICS: for our joy and for His glory, God made me and you. God made me and you. 

I’m Emily Whitten.


(Photo/Thomas Kidd) American History, cover

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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