Library uses ‘Zootopia’ to discuss prejudice
DARIEN — Talita Moss wasn’t expecting an afternoon movie outing to see “Zootopia” at the library with her son to turn into a discussion on prejudice.
“As an immigrant and a woman, I can relate to the movie,” said Moss, who came to the United States from Brazil. “It’s amazing, because it applies so much.”
Giggles and gurgles filled the Louise Parker Berry Community Room at the Darien Library on Monday, Aug. 1 as parents brought children of all ages for a screening of “Zootopia,” an animated comedy about a bunny and a fox working to solve a crime in a big city. However, the humorous film, which explores stereotypes and prejudice, made leeway for a discussion with the kids following the film, about how it feels to be stereotyped in the real world.
Claire Moore, the head of children and teen services, and Krishna Grady, the children’s program coordinator, said they try to do programs like this frequently, to help teach parents how to have difficult conversations with their children.
Moore said the program was inspired by current events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and shootings of black men by police officers.
How do you talk to kids about racism, sexism and other stereotypes in the world?
Amanda Romaniello, licensed professional counselor at Mental Health Services of Fairfield, said that sometimes concepts like prejudice can feel abstract to children, so it’s important to use real life incidents to teach them about it.
“Use real life situations,” she said. “Find those teachable moments, because sometimes, it’s too out there for a conversation with kids.”
“In light of recent things that have been going on, it’s difficult for parents to talk to kids,” Moore said. “What do you say? How do you say it?”
Moore added that certain media can be a starting point to talk to kids about difficult, hard-to-comprehend subjects, like racism, sexism or bias.
“I think films, books and music can help you have a meaningful conversation with kids about these things,” said Grady.
After showing the film, Moore and Grady, along with Amanda Romaniello, a professional counselor, talked to kids and parents about stereotypes. The women shared their own experiences of what it was like stereotyped, as well as touched upon different stereotypes that characters faced in the film. Parents also received a handout with questions about the movie that related to empathy, prejudice and stereotypes.