Old School Cool: Raising Strong Black Kids

What’s better than a little “Old School” wisdom?  We asked BIH staff to share some of their favorite parenting advice, games, and books that have been passed down through their generations. From classic games like Double Dutch and Monopoly, to timeless stories about the mischievous ways of Curious George, these familiar favorites have taught us valuable lessons and helped us connect with our families. When it comes to parenting, it always helps to look back at the past to see how to move forward in the future! This blog post is all about how those “old-school” ways can still help us raise strong, confident Black children today. Read below what our BIH staff enjoyed from their own childhoods.

We asked the following questions: 

  • What is some old school parenting advice that you have gotten/heard or that you stick by to this day?
  • What toys and/or games did you grow up with?
  • Are there any books or book series you really enjoyed or that were popular when you were a child?       

Here are their answers! 

Staff member: Barbara Greer, Family Health Advocate

Parenting advice:

  • Respect your elders.  Because if you are blessed, you will live to become one.
  • Be kind, but not foolish
  • You don’t have to prove you are smart, let other people prove you are.
  • A smart person knows that there is always someone smarter
  • Be thankful for everything you have because there are kids who wish they have just a fraction of what you have. Or that you take for granted.
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses because you don’t know what they must do or go through to get or keep the things they have.
  • Love yourself because you can’t make someone else love you.
  • Never call a girl/woman out her name and never answer if someone calls you out your name.
  • Don’t try to force people to stop calling you names. Just don’t answer to any name you don’t want to be called.
  • Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone.


Board games: Pay Day, Monopoly, Checkers

Barbie (although I colored her brown because they didn’t have Black Barbies in my day), Jacks, Dodgeball, Softball, Hide and Seek, Mother May I?, Double Dutch and Jump rope games like Miss Mary Mack

Carrie, anything by V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic), Scholastic Book Club Books, and all Dr. Seuss books

Staff member: Donna Rose, Mental Health Professional

Parenting advice:

  • Don’t talk to strangers
  • Make sure you have on clean underwear; you never know if you will be in an accident.
  • Come home before the street lights come on
  • Say “yes ma’am” or “no sir”

Dodgeball/kickball, Jacks, Tetherball, Hide/go/seek, Pick up stix, Etch a sketch, Yo-yo

Comics (Archie, Nancy and Sluggo, Superman, Little Lulu). National Geographic

Staff member: Alex Henley, Community Outreach Liasion

Parenting advice: 

  • Sit up straight when you are eating at the table
  • Always double check and lock your doors 
  • Come in when the streetlights come on
  • Say your prayers before you go to bed

Connect 4, Monopoly, Operation, Simon, Checkers, Red Light/ Green Light, Hopscotch, Double Dutch, Ring Around the Rosie, Tag, Yo Yo’s, Jacks, Rubik’s cubes, Ms. Pac-Man, Go Fish, UNO

Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Charlotte’s Web, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Bears, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk


Staff member: Tiffanie Gammon, Mental Health Professional

Parenting advice: 

  • Always cover your baby’s head when going outside
  • Pack extra (it’s better to have than not) 
  • Use sunscreen
  • Don’t let everyone touch your baby (or kids)

Barbies, Uno, Sorry, Trouble, 4-square, double dutch, War card game.

I know why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is one of my favorite books, and it has always come to mind from childhood. It had a life-long impression. Dr. Seuss’s books were two other favorite reads, in addition to the little bible time stories. They felt personal and intimate, like they were just for me.