25 Books That Can Help Parents Talk to Kids About Race
Crisis on top of crisis is what we are facing right now. And as parents we want to protect our kids from the disturbing realities of our world while also making sure they grow up to be good/woke citizens who are respectful of all cultures and races. Babies as young as 3 months have shown to look more at faces that match their caregivers and by age 2 they are using race to reason about people's behaviors.
These books can help you navigate that fine line between teaching them right from wrong, anti-racism from racism, while shielding them from what they developmentally might not be ready for. We can do better to build a more equitable world and it starts with talking to our kids openly about race. These books show that it's never too early or too late.
0 - Preschool Age
This board book from National Book Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi offers up simple language that parents can use to start conversations about racism even before kids can talk.
An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing
This A to Z book simplifies complicated concepts related to social justice. A is for Ability, B is for Belief, C is for Class...you get the picture.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
In this NY Times bestselling picture book kids go to school in patkas, hijabs, yarmulkes, and baseball caps and *all* are welcome.
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
This sweet story covers themes like friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity with illustrations that show kids of all cultures swimming, hugging, and eating birthday cake.
A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
Here's a simple and clear way to explain what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens written by an African-American dad of six.
The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson
"There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you." National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson teaches kids how to be brave in situations where they might feel like an outsider because of how they look or where they're from.
Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester
This book will spark conversations about people's differences and introduce race as just one of many chapters of someone's story.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano PhD, Marietta Collins PhD and Ann Hazzard PhD
This award-winning book follows a black family and white family as they grapple with a police shooting of a black man in their community. The story helps to answer kids' questions about such traumatic events, and bring awareness to racial injustice in their own lives.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni retells the story of Rosa Parks' courageous act to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus and the history that followed.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
This NY TImes bestseller by actor and activist Grace Byers is about believing that you are more than enough, respecting others, and being kind to one another because "we are all here for a purpose."
Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson
This Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration takes you to 1963 Birmingham, Alabama when thousands of African American kids volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech.
We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders with Introduction by Harry Belafonte
Civil rights quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and more are illustrated by 16 award-winning children's book artists to inspire a new generation of activists.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Another NY Times bestseller, this book introduces kids to 40 iconic black women in American history, including abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson and poet Maya Angelou.
Skin Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry
From the author of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine compares all shades of skin to different foods, helping kids to appreciate their skin color but value what's on the inside more.
Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renee Watson
From Caldecott Honor illustration winner Christian Robinson (we also love his Last Stop on Market Street) and acclaimed author Renee Watson, this story of Broadway great Florence Mills is one about following your dreams but also standing up for what's right. Florence, who was born to former slaves, chooses to promote works by black performers while demanding their civil rights.
Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Two poets, one white and one black, explore race through the lens of their childhood in this story that inspires conversation about common experiences.
I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët
This word-free book by a husband and wife team illustrates how a child feels when witnessing a classmate getting bullied, then shows how kindness can make someone an ally without them having to peep a word.
This Is How We Do It by Matt LaMothe
We love this book for teaching kids to appreciate different cultures and traditions while reflecting on how we have similar experiences as children.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli
This NY Times bestselling book tells the stories of100 brave women of all colors who did something amazing in history, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.
Middle School and Up
This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
Educator and activist Tiffany Jewell asks what is racism, where does it come from, why does it exist, and how can you disrupt it? Older kids will learn about ways people of different races, from indigenous Americans and Australians to Caribbean immigrants, have been oppressed, and will start to understand their own attitudes about race with 20 introspective activities.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
This Newbery Honor book tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. But rather than treat them to a trip to Disneyland, mom sends the girls to a day camp run by the Black Panthers where they get a lesson on race in America.
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
Written from the perspective of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the center of the 1992 LA riots, this book, due out in Fall 2020, explores the evolution of that historical moment within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
In his NY Times bestselling memoir Trevor Noah shares his incredible journey from apartheid South Africa, where he was born a crime because of his mixed race, to the set of The Daily Show.
Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, & Identity by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi
After authors Guo and Vulchi realized that they were graduating high school without any real discussion about racism, they decided to defer their college admissions for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country and offer up ways to affect real change.
To help fight racism in America, we suggest donating to these organizations:
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
This William C. Morris Award Winner, Coretta Scott King Honor Book and #1 NY Times bestseller follows 16-year-old Starr Carter who balances two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the rich neighborhood where she goes to school. When her friend, unarmed, is fatally shot by police an all too familiar story ensues.
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.