At Arts For Life, we believe the arts play a vital role in empowering people to find their voices and to become catalysts for change.
Art and activism have always gone hand-in-hand, and we feel it is our work to share creative resources that will inspire, educate, and help heal our communities, so that we may co-create a common understanding of equity and justice together.
To that end, we wanted to share a list of resources for kids that specifically address the connection between activism — or direct, vigorous action in service of achieving social or political change — and art. We hope that these resources will inspire and empower young artists to create art that helps them express their thoughts and feelings about issues they care deeply about.
For Ages 3-6+
Full of unique and multidimensional characters, Sesame Street has always been a trailblazer of the educational TV world, never shying away from addressing difficult social issues. In this short video, Elmo’s dad, Louie, explains protest, racism, and equity, in a creative and age-appropriate way.
For Ages 6-12
This was a live virtual event that took place on June 4, 2020, and was hosted by the Brown Bookshelf. The rally was led by acclaimed authors Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jason Reynolds. This two-hour recording features inspiring words and music from writers, poets, and musicians, all addressing systemic racism and calling people to act in support of racial justice. The first hour is specifically designed for kids, and the second hour is designed for parents and caregivers. It’s a wonderful, uplifting, and empowering resource in helping both kids and adults know how they can actively participate in racial equity work.
From the Tate Modern Museum, this is a hands-on activity that guides kids step by step through making a poster to support a cause they care about. It Includes some super cool downloads from designer Jan Bajtlik, author of AlphaDoodler, to inspire creative letter-making. We love this activity because it equally emphasizes art technique and activism.
For Ages 13+
is a book written by Kimberly Drew and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. It’s part of the Pocket Change Collective series, a collection of books written by activists and artists addressing social justice issues.
This is What I Know About Art is all about reminding us that art is for everyone, and that finding passion in creating can often inspire activism. Kimberly Drew says: “art and protest will forever be bound together. And the beautiful thing about art, like activism, is that it allows us space to be curious and learn.”
This is a video collection designed for grade 6-12 teachers to introduce kids to artists who create work that inspires conversations about problems around the world. We suggest watching these short videos together, with both adults and children, and using the discussion questions to deepen understanding. It would also be cool to create a collaborative piece of art inspired by the work of some of the artists featured!
Do you know of a resource that might be helpful to other families? Share it in the comments below!