“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.” –Unknown

Family Style Social Justice Book Clubs

by Mia Sevier

Want to build a community to explore social justice issues with your kids? I am part of two wonderful groups of kids and families that explore issues together. This has been so impactful as it gave me and my kids a chance to talk about Black Lives Matter during the summer, the election, and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capital as well as other topics. It helps not to be alone with these issues! Plus we can all learn from each other too.

Here’s my guidelines if you are interested in starting a group.

1. Gather a group of similar age range children with some of their adults too.

One of our groups includes kids from ages 10-14 with about 9 active families. Another group is based on a 4th grade set of kids at the same school and includes some siblings and a few adults with about 10 active families.

a. I think smaller groups (5 or so) could work if the families have more time to lead

b. Using breakout rooms with about 3-4 kids works for larger groups so that all kids get a chance to talk with the larger group meetings

2. Discussions can center on books, or families can choose social justice themes!

a. If you choose a book – You can choose to talk about a few chapters each week (and weave in social justice figures and themes to discuss each week) or you can read a whole book and meet to discuss.

b. If you want to just focus on social justice issues, let each leading family look at calendar holidays, current issues, identity issues, or other social justice topics that are relevant. For example, a group could talk about Cesar Chavez in March, Fred Korematsu in January, BLM in February and more! We also have talked about sexism in school settings and multi-racial/cultural identity.

3. Assign a lead person, but ask children/adult teams to take turns planning and leading.

This is a great opportunity for kids to learn leadership skills along with their grown-ups. It is so impactful to co-plan a session and kids usually love leading with their grown-ups.

a. The lead family will choose themes and topics to discuss.

b. The kid gets to lead (or co-lead) with their grown-up

c. Parents can add to the discussions too as a way of supporting the kids, but the large group discussions tend to be kid-focused

d. If breakout rooms are set up for kids only, then parents have time to connect too.

e. Google documents (able to be edited by everyone) is a great tool to keep track of who is leading when. Google slides can be shared here if there are any too.

4. Decide how often and how long to meet.

Do a poll (I love when2meet) to see what time frames will work. We have done one hour weekly meetings (goes by fast…but has consistency), weekly 1.5 hour meetings and monthly 1.5 hour meetings. Each can work depending on the needs of the group.

5. Have fun as you get to know each other.

I would suggest you make it less “lecture” style and as interactive as possible. Short clips are great discussion starters as are simple slides or a book. Discussion questions or themes can work as well. My favorite first meeting activity had to do with just getting to know each other by having people (adults & kids) share the meaning, culture, and stories behind their names. We can learn so much from this! Enjoy the process.