You Hope The Little Black Boy Grows

I've got two boys staying with me right now--my son, and one of my beloved nephews. My son is nine, and my nephew is eight. This is our second week together, and I'm having flashbacks of my Dad, and how much he used to make us read at that age. The boys have been arguing, as boys in a small New York apartment are wont to do.

Luckily, I have powerful weapons at my disposal--Linda Brent's Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl and David Blights A Slave No More. Whenever they bring the ruckus, I just toss one at each of em, and have em read for 30-40 minutes. Then we talk.

I was once with a Jewish family, who said that they wouldn't tell their kids about the Holocaust until they were 16-17. It's a more immediate trauma, so I understand. Plus, while there are many wrong ways to raise kids, there is no right and only way. I think that's the key. It's been hilarious breaking out the books, and watching their faces sink. I remember those days.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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