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Something Happened in Our Town (Ages 4+ years)

by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard:


This book explores two different families’ approaches to speaking with their children about a policeman shooting an unarmed Black man. The first family is White, the second Black, and both sets of parents explain the history of racism and its prevalence in current society to their young children. They also tell their children that there are ways we can all work to change the patterns of unfairness towards people of color, and these messages are put to the test when a new student joins the childrens’ classroom the next day—a boy named Omad who doesn’t speak much English and comes from somewhere far away.

Using this book as an educational tool:

A lot is going on during the course of the story, so it might be helpful to just let your child ask questions once you've finished reading. There might be things they don't understand or want clarified. Other things you might want to draw your child's attention to are the treatment of the different characters in the book and the examples their parents give to explain things like bias and discrimination. Ask them what they think of how Josh and Emma's parents talk to them about race, and what they think of these examples. Encourage empathy by taking a closer look at Omad—how might he have felt when none of the other kids picked him to play? Do you think it was scary for him to be somewhere new and still be learning the language? Finally, ask them to consider what it would feel like to be treated differently because of their appearance or self-presentation. Would they feel upset? Would that seem fair?

The physical copy of the book has resources for parents and caregivers at the end, which could also be helpful in facilitating these conversations, so if you're feeling lost, check that out too!


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