Browse all articles

Reflecting on Black History as a Family

Reading and watching stories that celebrate our culture helps us remember and see ourselves.

Celebrating Black excellence can -- and should -- happen year-round. But February is a special time to tap into the inspiring achievements and legacies of our ancestors and present-day history makers. Reading and watching these stories encourages us to reflect with our family on all we've overcome and the bright future that lies ahead. As you take time this month to enjoy movies, shows, and books that honor our Black experience, consider these tips to nurture your child's heart and mind.

Using Screens (and Books) as a Mirror

Research shows that media representation is extremely important to how kids understand their own ethnic and racial identity.

  • Despite a checkered start in Hollywood (no to blackface, yes to Hattie McDaniel!), from the very beginning Black people have found a way to tell our own stories and make our voices heard. While there's much more work to be done, we know that helping our children find movies, TV shows, and books where they can see themselves in the characters has a positive effect on their self-esteem.

  • A child's imagination is an essential part of their social, emotional, creative, and academic development. Exposing them to Black contributions in STEM, arts and culture, sports, and beyond opens their mind to a world of possibilities.

  • The beauty of our Blackness comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Connecting to Afro-Latino heritage and kinfolk across the African continent gives your child an inclusive view of Black history and leaders in America and across the diaspora.

Navigating Images of Racial Violence with Care

Our past is a complicated mix of triumph and tribulations. Although Black history does not begin with slavery and the injustices of racism, these harsh realities are part of our story and still live with us today.

  • When watching or reading real and fictional accounts of tragic events, keep in mind your child's ability to understand and process these difficult images and facts. Consider finding age-appropriate books and movies to introduce and discuss these topics, and be aware that triggering images can sometimes be more traumatic for Black and Brown kids.

  • Check out ratings and reviews in advance to know what to expect from a movie or TV show on sensitive subjects. And, when possible, watch together with your child to share the experience and explain what they're seeing.

  • Be prepared for tough conversations about racial violence, and remind them of the everyday heroes and activists who persevered and fought bravely in the name of justice.

Make It a Celebration!

Black history is made every day. Stories on screen and in books give kids of all ages opportunities to learn about the accomplishments and traditions of Black people.

  • Finding those moments of Black girl magic and Black boy joy lets your child know they matter, and that our stories are worth telling.

  • The idea of remembering where you've come from to know where you're headed is familiar to many. Storytelling through media is a great way to pass down our collective knowledge and values from generation to generation.

  • Have fun as a family discovering and learning together. Seek out online activities and stories to spark conversations about Black history, including your own family's history.

While some may argue that history is debatable, it's certainly not erasable. It's right here in black and white, and full color, for all to see and, most importantly, to share with our children. It empowers them and us all to forge a better future. Find more movies, TV shows, and books to enjoy with your family as we observe, learn, and rejoice.

Jasmine Hood Miller
Jasmine Hood Miller is the director of community content and engagement. With a background in media and marketing, she joined Common Sense in 2010 and has successfully helped produce dozens of events that share Common Sense's mission and resources with families and educators across the country and raise vital funds to support these efforts. She leads content strategy focused on the unique media and tech concerns of BIPOC families, writing parent advice as well as sharing our impact with our supporters. Jasmine holds a BA in Communications from Temple University, is a former board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), and considers herself an image activist. When she's not trying to find fun ways to keep her three young sons happy and healthy, Jasmine enjoys spending time with family, traveling with her husband, being a plant (and fur) parent, and trying to remember that exercise is a form of self-care.