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It seems like there's always a new event that is making us wonder when and how to start talking to our children about race and tolerance. But, you might be overwhelmed by the idea: How do I start the conversation? What if I say the “wrong" thing? Can a very young child even benefit from these kinds of discussions?

The answer is a resounding yes, so if you're wondering when the “right" time is to begin having these talks—it's now, mama.

Having honest and open discussions about race, tolerance and acceptance from a very early age can set the stage for a much broader and deeper understanding of these issues as your child grows.

Here are 20 books that can help spark these conversations.



Skin Again by Bell Hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka

skin again book

This poetic ode to celebrating our differences is a gentle way to introduce young children to the concepts of race and identity.

$9.49

Beautiful Beautiful Me Book by Ashley Sirah Hinton, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley

beautiful beautiful me book

A beautiful children's book celebrating diversity and reminding kids of all colors how beautiful they are.

$17.50

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

separate is never equal

An inspiring story about one family's efforts to desegregate California schools in the late 1940s. A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.

$15.19

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

henrys freedom box

The stunningly illustrated, heart-wrenching tale of a slave who mailed himself to freedom.

$14.03

The Color of Us by Karen Katz

the colors of us

A celebration of the many shades of skin color, as told through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl trying to paint a picture of herself. Perfect for introducing the concept of race to even the youngest readers.

$6.79

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

strictly no elephants

A sweet lesson in tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion for even the youngest readers.

$15.58

Martin's Big Words by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

martins big words book

A beautiful, accessible introduction to the life and words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Winner of the 2002 Caldecott Medal.

$7.54

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall

red a crayons story

A funny, clever story that will help little ones down the path of finding joy in staying true to who you really are.

$11.98

One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez

one family kids book

A playful look at diversity and the many ways to form a family.

$10.98

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

a is for activist

A primer for social justice perfect for even the littlest activist.

$9.97

Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

let's talk about race book

The perfect conversation starter for any discussion about race, this lively picture books celebrate what makes us different yet all the same.

$7.48

We March by Shane W. Evans

we march kids book

A critical moment in the civil rights movement— the 1963 March on Washington—told in clear, concise prose.

$6.98

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

the other side book

A longstanding classic about bridging the racial divide between two young friends, told through powerful prose and gorgeous watercolor illustrations.

$13.37

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

a poem for peter book

The inspiring story behind the groundbreaking classic A Snowy Day, the first mainstream book to feature an African American hero.

$13.29

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

be who you are kids book

The ultimate celebration of self and a vibrant, playful reminder to be proud of who you are and where you come from.

$10.96

The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

beekle book

A charming, endearing friendship story that reminds us all there's a place for everyone in this big, wide world. Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal.

$12.40

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

the youngest marcher book

The story of the youngest known civil rights protester in history will teach children that you're never too small to stand up for what you believe in.

$15.29

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

I like myself book

A silly, joyful celebration of being true to who you are. Catchy rhyming text makes this a perfect read-aloud.

$6.59

The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson

last stop on market street book

This bus ride through a busy city showcases people of different skin colors, ages, and classes, and takes readers on a journey that will help them appreciate the beauty all around. Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal and the 2016 Caldecott Honor.

$10.49

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch

amazing grace kids book

Ideal for sparking conversations about race and gender with young children, the story of spirited Grace remains as important today as it was when it was first published 25 years ago.

$13.73

Malala's Magic Pencil

malalas magic pencil

Malala's Magic Pencil, the first picture book from Nobel Prize winning Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. It depicts the story of her childhood for a young audience.

$12.92

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This is cause for celebration, mama! You are one month into this exciting new adventure, and those precious cuddles certainly help compensate for the lack of shut-eye. (Mostly, at least.)

Although it's only been a few weeks since you officially met your latest love, you're probably already amazed by how quickly your teeny snuggle bunny is growing and changing. Unlike those first few days when your sleepy newborn's eyes were rarely open, your baby is likely now eagerly studying objects within a few inches of their site and reacting to sounds. Their favorite sights and sounds of all? The people in their family.

After months of pregnancy, the extreme physical accomplishment of delivery and possibly the initiation of breastfeeding, your body needs time to recover. As you go, remember that while your baby may always be on your mind, it's healthy for you to make space for self-care, too.

While you continue to adjust, here are our favorite items to keep in your tool kit (for you and baby) at the 1-month mark:

To get sweet dreams while room sharing: Ingenuity bassinet

bassinet

Experts recommend sharing your bedroom—but not your bed—with your baby for the better part of the first year. If space was already at a premium, a compact bassinet is the perfect solution.

$129

To free up your hands: 4moms mamaroo swing

mamaroo swing

You may not want to take your eyes off your adorable baby, but life does actually require you use your hands every now and then to take care of things around the house. If your checklist includes tasks in the same room, a soothing swing can help keep baby content for a few precious minutes.

$219.99

To get through marathon nursing sessions: Boppy nursing pillow

nursing pillow

Whether from the breast or bottle, it can feel like feeding baby is your full-time job right now. Make it less of a workout with backup from a nursing pillow, which can take on a second-life as a support for your sitting baby in just a few short months.

$39.99

To start your bath-time routine: The First Years newborn-to-toddler tub

infant tub

Bath time is an important element in most nighttime routines—starting from the very first days! Focus more on the hands-on bonding without worrying your baby will slip and slide around a great big tub with a bath that is just their size.

$18.99

To celebrate baby’s first milestone: Cloud Island muslin blanket and frame set

milestone blanket

One month of life is a big milestone, both for your baby and you! Documenting how quickly your baby is growing each of these early months is a gift you will love looking back on for the rest of your life.

$21.99

To help with postpartum recovery: Frida Mom recovery kit

frida mom postpartum

Labor and delivery is a major event, mama—and our bodies are firmly still in recovery mode at the 1-month mark. If anything, life is probably only speeding up right now, so be sure to take care of yourself.

$49.99

To conquer early morning wake-up calls: Stars Above robe

stars above robe

Chances are that your baby has taken the place of an alarm clock. When the wake-up call comes too early, it helps brighten the morning a bit by having a comfy and cute robe to slip on.

$29.99

To get some letdown backup: Up&Up nursing pads

nursing pads

As you may have learned by now, breastmilk doesn't only flow on demand. Should you decide breastfeeding is your path, nursing pads will give you the protection you probably didn't anticipate you needed so you don't leak through a shirt. (Don't worry: This will ease as your supply is established!)

$7.56

To hydrate: Simple Modern pink water bottle

water bottle

It is always a good idea to drink more water—but especially now! Make it easier on yourself with a water bottle you actually like carrying around. Bonus points for being able to open it up for a drink with just one hand.

$19.99

To snack one-handed: Good & Gather snack bars

Good and Gather

You know when the baby last ate. But, what about you, mama? Keep some tasty nutrition bars on hand to simplify snacking when time and free hands are limited commodities.

$4.29

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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