One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to teach and mold our children. In today’s age and fast-paced world, what we teach our children is becoming ever more important. This article is a review of Antiracist Baby, which is a baby board book by Ibram X. Kendi.
- This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Published in 2020, Antiracist Baby illustrates a nine-step guide to antiracism. Although the book is geared toward infants through three years old, it’s an excellent guide for all ages.
Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism.Ibram X. Kendi website
I bought this book for my daughter in the midst of 2020 and the Black Lives Matter movement. I was looking for some literature on the issue of racism for myself when I stumbled upon this book. (Click image to check Amazon prices.)
Initially, I was drawn to the bold illustrations and the bold title Antiracist Baby. In reading it with my daughter, the content and message are very upfront and powerful. After taking a look at other critics and reviews, it may be too powerful for some.
Here is my review of Antiracist Baby.
Introducing critical conversations at a young age
My daughter is currently 22 months old, so I don’t expect her to fully understand the issues surrounding racism or how to be an antiracist. I do expect that owning this book and continuing to read it will spark questions and conversations on the issue of racism as she gets older.
Antiracist Baby gives children and their parents easy-to-read steps to be antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi encourages children to “celebrate all our differences” and “use your words to talk about race.”
This book is a tool that parents can use to introduce these critical conversations to their children.
Children are smart and they know so much more than we give them credit for. Even though my daughter doesn’t have the vocabulary to discuss these issues yet, she is soaking in the words and the pictures. It’s definitely a start.
Initially, the book has had more of an impact on me than it has on her.
In 2020, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, people were constantly asking, what can I do? How do I help? Where can I be involved? How do I understand the issue of racism in America?
Growing up Native American and on the Navajo reservation, I understand the far-reaching impact of institutionalized racism. It is silent, it is invisible, and it will remain intact if we don’t do anything about it.
As someone who has experienced racism personally, teaching my daughter about issues of racism and how to be antiracist in a world that is so full of injustice is absolutely important to me.
- Additional reading: 12 unique Navajo culture books for children
People love it or they hate it
In my decision to write a review of Antiracist Baby, I did take a look at some other reviews online.
Honestly, I was a little shocked that the top United States reviews on Amazon were so negative. Was I really shocked though? Reviewers touted this baby board book as “stupid ideology” and “poison.” Others said the book was “racism disguised as antiracism” and that it furthered “radical ideologies.”
People who loved it said it was a “perfect anti-racism primer for young minds” and that it was “adaptable to a range of ages.”
The general message that I got from these reviews is that many people are not ready to have these important conversations. In fact, there is active resistance to addressing these issues.
Many reviewers wanted content to the effect of treat everyone the same and love everyone around you. While I understand that those are basic tenets that we should all live by, simply loving and respecting your neighbors doesn’t actively defeat racism.
Racism is very alive and well in America. Everything that we, as a nation, have tried up until 2020, including treating everyone the same and being kind to others has not worked.
Antiracist Baby offers actionable solutions to real-life issues of racism that we are still facing today. For that, I would definitely recommend it for parents and their children.
Breaking down my first impressions
I can understand the powerful impact this book has on the first read. When I read it, I was a little shook. The message is powerful.
I’ll admit, I started converting “antiracist baby” to “baby” because it made it easier to read. Or so that’s what I said to myself.
But I had to dig deep and ask myself why I was doing that. It was almost like I was recoiling from my own fear of having these conversations.
I had to work through the emotions that I was feeling as a parent and understand where they were coming from. Why was I afraid? What did I truly believe? How do I confront racism, as scary as it might be for me? In the world we live in today, how do I start to teach my toddler about these issues?
My other impression during the first read was that it felt confrontational. The book has the power of holding parents accountable for what they teach their children and that’s what struck me the most.
I was being introduced to something new that evoked feelings of wonder, fear, awe, and inspiration. As a parent, I can’t say that I’ll always have the right first impression or always have the right answers but I can certainly rise to the challenge in dissecting and understanding my own belief system.
Review of Antiracist Baby
I hope you found this review of Antiracist Baby helpful. If you’re thinking about introducing conversations about the issue of racism to your children, this book is perfect.
Are there other books you recommend that introduce children to the issue of racism?