Since I announced my upcoming book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World (pre-order on Amazon or Waterstones), I’ve been invited onto a variety of platforms to discuss race relations. One question that comes up again and again is what media parents can use to help them talk about race with their children.
I believe stories are the best ways we can learn, connect and grow as humans. Lately, you can find lots of anti-racist reading lists being shared widely across the internet and social media. Books are brilliant and I will be posting some more reading recommendations soon. But another thing that you can do together as a family is watch TV and movies that engage with race and racial justice.
We watch tons of shows with our boys in a variety of genres. We seek out stories that put Black and Brown characters at the heart of the narrative. Every now and then, we’ll watch a documentary or series that’s purely educational. However, for the most part, we pick things that are fun for every age group and that normalise diversity. Here are some of our favourites as well as a few shows, movies and documentaries on our watchlist:
What to Watch with Your Kids to Spark a Conversation about Race
WATCH WITH YOUNGER KIDS (AGES 0-7)
Bino and Fino (U)
Nigeria’s first cartoon for kids is a loveable learning resource on African culture. Available in 10 languages.
Doc McStuffins (U)
An African American family takes the lead in this animated show about a 6-year-old doctor in training.
JoJo and Gran Gran (U)
The UK’s first animated series centred on a Black main character and her family.
Motown Magic (U)
Soul legend Smokey Robinson is executive producer on this animated show about 8-year-old Ben who brings the streets to life with his magic paintbrush and the music of Motown.
Nella the Princess Knight (U)
She’s a knight AND she’s a princess who also happens to be of mixed heritage. Sweet animation.
Niko and the Sword of Light (PG)
It’s refreshing to see a dark-skinned hero, voiced by African American actor, on this animated adventure series.
Groundbreaking when it launched in 2011, this cartoon follows Rastamouse and his reggae-playing, crime-fighting crew.
Sesame Street (U)
The classic puppet show has always been ahead of its time on issues of race, diversity and inclusion.
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants (PG)
Hilarious show about two friends, George and Harold, who turn their head teacher into an undies-wearing superhero.
Remake of the classic musical with Quvenzhane Wallis as foster kid Annie and Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks.
Hair Love (U)
Oscar-winning animated short about a dad learning how to style his daughter’s Afro hair (pictured).
Kirikou and the Sorceress (PG)
Stylish animation set in an African village and inspired by a folk tale.
Filled with brilliant songs, this Pacific islander animation features one of Disney’s few darker-skinned heroines.
The legend of a Chinese warrior princess is being remade in a live-action film with an all-Asian cast.
The Princess and the Frog (U)
Heroine Tiana is Disney’s first Black princess.
Ruby Bridges (PG)
The true story of a brave little 6-year-old, one of the first students to attend an all-White school in the Deep South.
The Snowy Day (U)
Adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’ beautiful picture book starring a Black boy named Peter who goes on a snowy walk.
The adventures of a Sudanese boy called Maki and his friendship with an internationally famous giraffe.
Lively Disney animation that cleverly explores themes of prejudice and stereotyping.
A Kids Book About Racism
Author Jelani Memory reads from his sweet, punchy and poignant book for ages 5+.
How I Teach Children About Race (Kindergarten and First Grade)
US teacher Naomi O’Brien talks through some of her lessons and helpful resources on race education.
How to Change the World (a work in progress) by Kid President
You should watch everything by the awesome Kid President (pictured). This is a great place to start.
Sesame Street: Elmo’s Fur and Whoopi’s Hair
Adorable video to encourage your kids to talk about differences.
WATCH WITH OLDER KIDS (AGES 8-12)
Avatar: The Last Air Bender (U)
Absolutely fantastic adventure animation set in Asia, based on characters inspired by Inuit, Japanese, Chinese and Tibetan culture.
The highs and lows of a Black upper middle class family in a White neighbourhood. Sometimes cringe-worthy but often crack-you-up hilarious and lots of good conversation starters.
Set in a Peckham barbershop, the UK’s most successful Black sitcom was filled with memorable characters.
Everybody Hates Chris (PG)
Fun and feisty comedy series based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock.
Family Reunion (PG)
Likeable sitcom about an African American family leaving the big city and moving in with grandparents in the US South.
Fresh Off the Boat (PG)
America’s first sitcom featuring an Asian-American family at its centre, based on comedian Eddie Huang’s memoirs.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (12)
Classic comedy series about a streetwise teen (Will Smith) who moves in with his aunt and uncle in ritzy Bel-Air.
The Hollow (PG)
Mind-bending animated series about three friends who get caught in an alternate reality.
Kim’s Convenience (Guidance)
Enjoyable multicultural sitcom from Toronto, revolving around the Korean-Canadian owners of a grocery store.
Meet the Adebanjos (PG)
Culture-clashing comedy following a Nigerian father raising his kids in Britain.
Raising Dion (12)
A Black single mother discovers her 7-year-old son (pictured) is a superhero.
The Unlisted (PG)
Engaging Australian sci-fi drama centres on twins of South Asian descent and their family.
Akeelah and the Bee (12A)
A young Black girl competes for a spelling bee competition with help from her mentor (Lawrence Fishburne).
Black Panther (12A)
Marvel’s stunning Afrocentric superhero movie set in Wakanda, a fictional country that has never been colonised.
The Great Debaters (12)
Denzel Washington stars in the true-life tale of a Black professor who inspired the creation of his college’s first debating team.
How Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and changed American history.
Hidden Figures (12)
Based on the untold true story of three African American female scientists at NASA who were space race pioneers.
Queen of Katwe (PG)
Lupita Nyong’o stars in the affecting tale of Phiona, a chess prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda.
Powerful film about Jesse Owens, who defied racial barriers and Adolph Hitler himself, to become a track and field legend.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (PG)
Miles Morale is our pick for the best Spiderman ever in this multidimensional take on the comic book hero.
Sister Act 2 (PG)
Hugely enjoyable musical sees Whoopi Goldberg return as Sister Mary Clarence, this time helping to turn around the fortunes of an inner city school.
Soul Man (PG)
Dated yet still funny comedy about a White boy who pretends to be Black to get into Harvard. Lots to chew on.
Sugar Cane Alley (PG)
Vintage coming of age drama set in Martinique under French colonial rule.
A Ballerina’s Tale (PG)
Intimate glimpse into the life of Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.
Former first lady Michelle Obama reflects on her life and dreams.
4 Little Girls (PG)
Spike Lee’s deeply affecting doc about a racist terror attack on an African American church during the Civil Rights era.
The School that Tried to End Racism
Inspiring Channel 4 series (pictured) has gained critical acclaim.
When We Were Kings (PG)
Riveting look at the historic Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Mobutu’s Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo).
WATCH WITH TEENS AND ADULTS (13+)
Black Lightning (15)
A retired superhero gets back into action in DC Comic’s all-Black superhero series.
Chewing Gum (15)
The eye-opening exploitations of Tracey, a virgin from Tower Hamlets. Michaela Cole created and starred in a show that you’ll love if you’re a fan of Fleabag.
Dear White People (15)
The life and times of Black and Brown students at an Ivy League college.
Awkward Black Girl creator Issa Rae stars in this singles comedy/drama exploring life and love in LA.
Living Single (PG)
The one about friends living together in New York City that came out before Friends.
Self Made: Inspired by The Life of Madame CJ Walker (15)
The tale of a washerwoman who built a beauty empire to become America’s first self-made female millionaire.
This Is Us (13+)
The most wonderful (and most weepy) drama series centred on a White family and the Black son they adopt as a baby. The episodes addressing race are beautifully handled by writers who reflect the diversity in the cast.
This brilliant HBO series (inspired by the graphic novel) kicks off with the bombing of Black Wall Street, a true life event in US history.
When They See Us (15)
Ava DuVernay’s devastating docudrama (pictured) about Black boys falsely accused of assaulting a White woman in Central Park.
The Wire (15)
Gritty, groundbreaking drama set on the drug-riddled streets of Baltimore’s inner city. Some critics call it the greatest TV show ever.
A Bronx Tale (15)
Italian American coming of age movie based on Chazz Palmienteri’s stage play with an endearing interracial romance at its heart.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (12)
Quvenzhané Wallis stars in this acclaimed drama about a girl and her dad trying to survive in a sinking world.
Spike Lee’s entertaining take on the true story of an African American police officer who infiltrated the KKK.
Do The Right Thing (15)
Racial tensions spill over onto the streets of Brooklyn one hot summer in Spike Lee’s classic comedy-drama (pictured).
An Australian teen (Noah Taylor) falls for a Ugandan exchange student (Thandie Newton) in this charming period piece.
Get Out (15)
A Black man visits his White girlfriend’s family but things are not what they seem in Jordan Peele’s award-winning comedy horror.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (PG)
Sidney Poitier’s portrait of a Black man dating a White girl was earth-shaking for its time.
The Hate U Give (12A)
Powerful adaptation of Angie Thomas’ YA classic about a teen girl who witnesses a police shooting.
If Beale Street Could Talk (15)
Romance and institutional racism are at the forefront of James Baldwin’s tale, adapted for the screen.
Just Mercy (15)
A young Black defence lawyer tries to prove the innocence of his client on Death Row.
Two families, one Black and one White, try to find their way in 1940s America.
Remember the Titans (PG)
Denzel Washington is the coach in this rousing movie about a newly integrated high school football team.
Poignant musical drama inspired by real African teens rising up against apartheid in South Africa.
Drama based on Martin Luther King’s epic march for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery.
Soul Food (15)
A young boy watches his family come together and fall apart in this stirring ensemble drama.
I Am Not Your Negro (12A)
Samuel L Jackson narrates this stirring look at the lives and legacy of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and. The film uses the words of author James Baldwin who was a contemporary of all three.
Powerful and insightful doc by Ava DuVernay that looks at racism in the US justice system and the school to prison pipeline.
LA 92 (15)
Fly-on-the-wall footage amps up this flashback to the LA riots. The riots were triggered by the acquittal of White police officers caught on film beating African American Rodney King.
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (15)
Deeply affecting look at the events that led to activist Sandra Bland’s death in police custody.
Take Your Knee off My Neck
Following the killing of George Floyd by police in broad daylight, Black British filmmakers explore racism in the UK in a series of shorts.