Race Cars is a children’s book about white privilege created to help parents and educators facilitate tough conversations about race, privilege, and oppression.
Written by a clinical social worker and child therapist with experience in anti-bias training and edited by a diversity expert, Race Cars tells the story of 2 best friends, a white car and a black car, that have different experiences and face different rules while entering the same race.
Filled with bright, attention-grabbing illustrations, a notes and activities section at the back helps parents, guardians, and teachers further discuss these issues with children.
Why is this book important? As early as 6 months old, a baby’s brain can notice race-based differences; children ages 2 to 4 can internalize racial bias and start assigning meaning to race; and 5- to 8-year-olds begin to place value judgments on similarities and differences. By age 12, children have a complete set of stereotypes about every racial, ethnic, and religious group in society. Our guidance is especially crucial during this impressionable time.
Race Cars offers a simple, yet powerful, way to introduce these complicated themes to our children and is a valuable addition to classroom and home libraries.
About the Author
Jenny Devenny, LCSW is a psychotherapist, author, illustrator and native New Yorker currently living in Los Angeles with her husband and son. She is dedicated to providing anti-racist psychotherapy to children, adolescents and families and has experience facilitating groups and workshops on racism and white privilege. Jenny is passionate about helping adults, specifically white adults, have meaningful conversations about race with the children in their lives and believes that if we want to dismantle white supremacy we need to start with our youngest. This is her first book. Find her on Instagram: @jennydevennylcsw.
Charnaie Gordon is a Diversity and Inclusion Expert, author of A Kids Book About Diversity, blogger, podcast host, and digital creator. She also serves as a member of the National Advisory Board for Reading is Fundamental for their Race, Equity and Inclusion (REI) initiative. More than anything else, she cares about connecting people with great books they'll love. In her world, books are an absolute necessity. Charnaie is passionate about instilling a love of reading, lifelong learning and curiosity in her kids. She hopes to inspire others to do the same with their children. Find her online at hereweeread.com and @hereweeread on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
"This book offers an unflinching exposé of white privilege and racial injustice in the form of an allegorical tale easily understood by elementary school students. The discussion notes feature questions that can jumpstart important conversations with children about racism, white privilege, and how to fight racial injustice in their own lives."—Marianne Celano -- New York Times bestselling co-author of 'Something Happened in Our Town: A Child'
"Race Cars is an engaging and compelling book about White privilege. Many White parents, in particular, struggle to discuss race with their children, and they fail to understand their children's developing biases and perceptions. Devenny's book can help kickstart those critical conversations and is an excellent aid for parents working to raise anti-racist children."—Dr Erin Pahlke (Ph.D) -- Associate professor of psychology at Whitman College.
"Race Cars is an engaging and creative book that offers kids a look at how policies and practices, along with people in powerful positions, can reproduce unequal hierarchies, opportunities, and outcomes. The authors provide an excellent guide for parents to use as they engage in meaningful discussions about racism and inequality with their kids. This book is a great tool for helping young people understand structural racial inequality—and the importance of challenging it!"—Margaret A. Hagerman -- Associate Professor of Sociology, Author of White Kids: Growing Up with Priv
“Edited by diversity and inclusion expert Charnaie Gordon, this narrative, an extended metaphor about two race cars that’s written in lengthy blocks of text, introduces white privilege and systemic prejudice to young readers. After Chase, a black car, is the first nonwhite vehicle to place first in “the world-famous, annual race-car race,” the offended committee—made up entirely of older, male white autos, save for Grace, a white car who, differentiated by pink tires, is “the only girl”—adds obstacles to subsequent races for nonwhite cars, enabling Chase’s best friend, Ace, a white car, to place higher. But when Ace attempts the route meant for “all other cars” and gets lost, Grace finally speaks up. Author-illustrator Devenny’s prose is accessible, if sometimes didactic, as when explaining why a group of white cars don’t initially speak up: “They were afraid of change and did not want to lose their space at the table.” Densely spaced paragraphs paired with spare, stamplike digital art amplifies the educational feel, but this white privilege primer is an easily digestible resource that could benefit those building lesson plans on the topic. Front matter includes an author’s and an editor’s note; back matter includes discussion questions and notes for adults.” —Publishers Weekly
"Race Cars is a courageous act in dynamic print! It surfaces complex dynamics of race, privilege, and power using a highly accessible, sustained metaphor that captivates even as it challenges. By the end of the book, our youngest readers will have a deeper understanding of the costs of both unfairness and fairness…Teachers will return to this book, again and again, to help students unpack its timeless truths."—Jason Craige Harris, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at a K-12 school
“Race Cars is a wonderful tool for anyone desiring to develop a new sensibility for discussing white privilege with children (or anyone!) Devenny gives readers a simple and direct approach to the inequities of our systems in society. Well-designed tools such as these create more opportunity to shift bias before they become ingrained in our children.”—Tanisha Sabine Christie, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
"In a society where whiteness is the norm and acts of white violence against people of color are rampant in our country, this is the time to address white privilege with our children. This book is a tool to help you approach those conversations."
—Teach For Change