Racism Explained to My Daughter

The classic anti-racist book—written as a letter from the writer to his daughter—from the prizewinning author

“Perhaps the most significant aspect of this book is the courage and forthrightness with which Ben Jelloun initiates a conversation about a subject that most parents would just as soon avoid.” —Educational Leadership

Winner, 2000 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award
Winner, 1998 United Nations Global Intolerance Award

When Tahar Ben Jelloun took his ten-year-old daughter to a street protest against anti-immigration laws in Paris, she asked question after question: “What is racism? What is an immigrant? What is discrimination?”

Out of their frank discussion comes this book, an international bestseller translated into twenty languages. Ben Jelloun has created a unique and compelling dialogue in which he explains difficult concepts from ghettos and genocide to slavery and anti-Semitism in language we can all understand, and adds an all-new chapter for this edition. Also included are personal essays from four prizewinning writers and educators who themselves are parents: Patricia Williams, David Mura, William Ayers, and Lisa D. Delpit.

Elegant and sensitive, Racism Explained to My Daughter is for all parents and educators who have struggled to engage their children in discussions of this complex issue.

Carol Volk translated Ben Jelloun’s novel Corruption. She lives in Washington, D.C.


“Helps young people appreciate the complexity of racism.”
“Comprehensive and easy to read.”
Quarterly Black Review
“A must-read. . . . Clear, powerful, and right on target.”
“Ben Jelloun’s lessons and tools for discussion are invaluable.”
New York Daily News
“Easy to read and provocative. Rare should be the library that does not have it.”
Library Journal
“An excellent tool to fight racism. Everybody should read it.”
Le Monde des Livres

Books by Tahar Ben Jelloun


Tahar Ben Jelloun

The Last Friend
A Novel

Tahar Ben Jelloun

Islam Explained

Tahar Ben Jelloun

This Blinding Absence of Light
A Novel

Tahar Ben Jelloun

Goodreads Reviews