• Holly Blakey

A Children's Book Club to Raise a More Compassionate Generation

In the spirit of continued learning, no matter the time of year and no matter your age, I'm pleased to share the blog-stage with Rebecca Clayton, who has kindly contributed her time, knowledge, and heart to this special blog post. Big thanks to Rebecca for her work to create connection, community, and greater knowledge.

I discovered Holly’s Instagram account last year. I follow several organizational experts to get ideas and inspiration - Holly is my favorite! When I was decluttering my closet and swapping out my plastic hangers for velvet ones, I reached out to Holly to get her advice on what to do with the plastic hangers. To my surprise and delight she replied and advised me to donate the hangers or check to see the recycling parameters in my area.


Fast forward a few months, I again reached out to Holly in June of 2020 shortly after George Floyd’s death. I wanted to see if she would be open to sharing the Sesame Street and CNN Town Hall on Racism, as well as a few supplemental resources, with her audience. She said yes!


These were the same resources I used as a member of the race and equity committee for a public charter school in Washington, DC. I choose to serve in this volunteer role to help improve the educational outcomes and economic prospects of disadvantaged students, the majority of whom are Black.

Like many people, Black and non-Black alike, I was searching for a way to use my skills to offer more support to the Black community. With a degree in African American History from Spelman College, a HBCU (Historically Black College or University), and experience marketing to families, it felt natural and purposeful to make my impact by helping parents and caretakers raise a more kinder, empathic and compassionate generation of kids. With this mission in mind and a team of wickedly talented designers and illustrators, I started Talk Race Together.


Talk Race Together is a free learning club for families to talk race, build community, and stay hopeful - together! I started the club in August to coincide with Back-to-School – a time of year when we dive deeper into learning and exploring new subjects and topics. Every month there will be a new topic related to Black issues, history, or culture and a curated list of resources to learn more about the topic of the month. To help facilitate family discussion in an age-appropriate way, there are three age-specific book clubs: one for adults, teens, and kids. Each of the book clubs is named after an important, but often overlooked, Black woman in history.

The Book Club for Kids is named after Phillis Wheatley. Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped from West Africa at the age of eight and sold into slavery in 1761. She became the first African American and third American woman to publish a book of poems. You can read more about the life and legacy of Phillis Wheatley here.


In addition to correlating to the monthly topics, the Book Club for Kids picks are meant to humanize Black life by gaining a richer understanding of the experiences and perspectives of Black kids and families. It is my hope that White and non-Black kids will fall in love with these Black characters not just because of their Blackness, but because of their bravery or curiosity or kindness. A greater love for Black characters, will hopefully manifest to a greater love for the Black community.


Here’s what the Phillis Wheatley Book Club for Kids has coming up for 2020! We hope you’ll follow along and #ReadWithUs!


August

Theme: John Lewis & Voting Rights

Book Club for Kids Pick: We March by Shane W. Evans


September

Theme: Rethinking Policing

Book Club for Kids Pick: Keeping You Safe: A Book About Police Officers by Ann Owen


Hispanic Heritage Month

Book Club for Kids Pick: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña


October

Theme: School-to-Prison Pipeline

Book Club for Kids Pick: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman


November

Theme: Thanksgiving - We Gather

Book Club for Kids Pick: Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell


December

Theme: Kwanzaa - African American’s African Roots

Book Club for Kids Pick: A Story A Story: An African Tale by Gail E. Haley


Rebecca xx


Please visit @talkracetogether on Instagram to learn more and for links to all the resources. You can reach me at rebecca@talkracetogeher.com


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