Belmont Public Schools Summer Reading No Long Recommends Kindergarteners Read About ‘Whiteness’ and ‘White Privilege’

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The summer reading at Belmont Public Schools looks a little different this year from last year.

That’s because the school district is no longer recommending that elementary school children read books over summer vacation on topics like “white privilege” and “whiteness,”  as NewBostonPost previously reported

The school district did so last year in the category of “Children’s Books on Race, Culture, and Activism” on its 2021 reading list.


The titles in question don’t appear on the list. Instead, the school district breaks down summer reading suggestions by grade (K-1, 2-3, 4-5) — and the books about “race, culture, and activism” are nowhere to be found. 

Last year’s list in that category contained 80 books. One of them — listed under the category “books discussing incidents in the news” — was Not My Idea:  A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham. The book has a devil-like figure that offers the protagonist a “contract binding you to whiteness.” The recipient will receive “stolen land,” “stolen riches,” and “special favors,” but if the character signs it, the contract will cause the character’s soul to “mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones and all fellow humans of color.”

Another book on the reading list last year was Race Cars:  A Children’s Book About White Privilege by Jenny Devenny. The description of the book on Goodreads says that it “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.”

The description also says that children learn racial biases at a young age and that “Race Cars offers a simplistic, yet powerful way to introduce these complicated themes to our children and is a worthy addition to classroom and home libraries.”

A title included last year in the category “Books for young readers” was Stamped (for Kids) by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi is a left-wing Boston University professor who wants the United States to add an anti-racism amendment to the United States Constitution.

Kendi wrote in Politico in 2019 that this new amendment would have two main principles:  “Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with ‘racist ideas’ and ‘public official’ clearly defined).”

Last year’s list also included eight books in the category “Books calling for activism.” One of those books was A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. Her web site says that the book is “written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives:  families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.”

Last year the school district’s web site explained why these books were included on the recommended summer reading list.

“These books teach about some of the history of racial injustice in our country and attempt to give messages about the advocacy and anti-racist activism that we want to inspire in all our students. We prioritized sharing books that can be read by children and adults of all ages. Many of these books demonstrate how kids can be advocates and activists; many are books that inspire children to feel pride and joy in who they are, no matter what culture or background they come from.”

“We hope this list will inspire discussion and learning among our families, provide a way to better understand history, and encourage us all to better understand each other. This is just the beginning and really only a highlight of the many books we have available on these topics.”

NewBostonPost inquired about why the school district did away with these books and no longer recommends that elementary schoolers read books about race and political activism — but has not received an answer so far.

Belmont Public Schools superintendent John Phelan could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday this week.


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