Here in Tennessee, our state legislature just approved a ban on teaching critical race theory on schools. That means that teachers are not allowed to address the issue of systematic racism when they teach US history. They aren’t allowed to talk about white privilege, or they could lose funding for their school.
If you’re frustrated and angry, too, know you’re not helpless. There are some great resources you can use to supplement what your kids are learning at school. In fact, as a homeschool mom I’ve been searching for a diverse US History curriculum for my kids, and this is one you can use whether you home school, have kids in public school, or are enrolled in private school.
Yes, parents, you do have the right to ask your kids to do additional reading beyond what their school requires! You can make it fun, too. Start a family “read aloud” time at night. Watch the 1619 Project together.
More like this: How to read Pride & Prejudice along with the BBC miniseries
My son is taking US History at our homeschool co-op next year, using a faith-based curriculum that I haven’t fully vetted. I’m a little concerned there may be hints of Christian nationalism to it, so I’m going to supplement with additional reading. It’s just a few pages, maybe a chapter a week—not too much for someone at his reading level.
To start, we’re going to have him read Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibraim X. Kendi over the summer, to give him background on the Black perspective before the course starts. Some of his friends will be reading it too, and we’re bribing them with pizza and a book group discussion. Totally not above that.
Then, he’ll be reading these books alongside the curriculum he’s using at his co-op:
- Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States
- Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror for Young People
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (there are many variations in this series of A ____ People’s History of the United States)
- Anton Treuer’s Atlas of Indian Nations
More like this: A free biography unit study for tweens
These books come from the fantastic, detailed reading plan that’s in the new, downloadable high school-level US History curriculum that Delina at Woke Homeschooling has created. It has two tracks (regular and advanced) along with video suggestions to watch. It can be a stand-alone curriculum, or used to supplement another course. Delina comes from a Christian perspective, and she even includes prayers of lamentation in the middle school version, to help kids process the difficult parts of our history. I’ve been using the middle school version this year, and have been really pleased with what it’s added to our history discussions at home.
Even if your kids aren’t homeschooled—perhaps even especially if your kids aren’t homeschooled—I highly recommend buying this guide and reading through these books with your kids as they study our nation’s history. And since it has action points asking them to write an elected official, raise money for a cause, pressure your local leaders to change a policy, and more…maybe the kids who study this will help lead the effort to get better curriculum in Tennessee schools in the future.