Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice Book Poster Image
Powerful story helps guide talk of bias, shootings.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Filled with examples, conversation points, definitions, and other resources for parents and children to discuss racial bias.

Positive Messages

You have the power and responsibility to see and respond to racial bias and prejudice, and you have the tools to address it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The parents in the story are truthful, direct, and loving.

Violence & Scariness

The premise of the book is a police officer shooting a Black person.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Something Happened in Our Town approaches racial bias and injustice with direct language appropriate for readers of all ages, discussing feelings, actions, and historical truths in a way that seeks lasting solutions. The book shows two families, one Black and one White, reacting to the news that a police officer shot and killed a Black man in their town. The children talk through situations in their own lives where they have seen racism and prejudice, and their parents model excellent questioning and listening. Authors Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard all have PhDs and experience in community advocacy efforts focused on children's behavioral health and social justice. The extensive guide at the end of the book is invaluable, providing concrete examples of language to address racial bias with children, vocabulary and child-friendly definitions, and sample parent-child questions.

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What's the story?

SOMETHING HAPPENED IN OUR TOWN follows two families, one Black and one White, in the aftermath of police shooting a Black man in their community. The families' discussions, questions, and answers focus on how children process traumatic events, and aims to help children identify and counter racial bias. At the end of the story are guidelines for discussing race and racism, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues for parents and caregivers.

Is it any good?

The simple, direct language the authors use in the story and the appendix of resources makes this a phenomenally good resource for families to talk about racial bias. Something Happened in Our Town offers a gentle, age-appropriate account of a troubling, all-too-real situation kids may hear about in their community or on the news. Clear language about the police killing of a Black man provides the terminology, discussion questions, and children's perspective on the impact of racial bias. The clarity of ideas and the emphasis on growth and responsibility, coupled with the tools to start and continue important discussions, make this book an essential read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about racial bias they've seen in their school or community that is similar to that discussed in Something Happened in Our Town. What have you seen, and how did you feel when it happened? What made those events memorable for you?

  • Do you think jokes about skin color are funny? Why or why not?

  • How can something you say hurt another kid's feelings? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of racism and empathy

Themes & Topics

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