TAMPA, Fla. - Racism, LGBTQ rights and gender inequality are just a few of society's controversial topics, but one group of parents are not afraid to broach those subjects with their children.
They're using children's books to teach social justice lessons.
At first glance, it looks like your typical story time: Young children, seat pillows and books with plenty of pictures.
“I think it’s great to get young children involved in things that promote literacy but also to have them think about people other than themselves,” said Erica Richardi, who organized the group.
Once a month, the group focuses on a specific theme. Racial justice, women and girls, environmentalism, and bullying are also up for discussion.
LEARN MORE HERE: Social Justice Storytime
The most recent topic, civil rights, was personal for Kerri Ali, who brought her five-year-old daughter, Iris, to her first group story time.
“She doesn’t look like me, necessarily as her mother, but we are both valuable people to this world and she makes that known by her interactions with other people and just being aware," Ali said.
Such conversations may be difficult for some families to access, Richardi said.
“It’s difficult for some families who don’t have a lot of resources to have access to these things and I think especially for children who grow up in white families and white households, they really need exposure at a young age so they can learn to empathize with other groups,” she said.
After story time, coloring offered some stimulation for the little ones.
“You throw a bunch of stuff at kids and you hope that something sticks,” Richardi said.
The group's next story time is October 18 with a focus on foster families.
Interested? Learn more about the group here.