A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory A clear, straightforward approach on how to introduce a complex and heavy topic to your child, A Kids Book About Racism will help you start a much needed conversation. Written to make a difficult conversation more digestible for little minds, your child as young as 6 can begin to understand what racism is, how it makes others feel, and why it happens.
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan I tried to explain slavery to my own 7-year-old, and despite my best effort, I fumbled through it and didn't have answers to many of his questions. In a gentle, very powerful way, Freedom Over Me utilizes actual slave auction and plantation documents to create a picture of what putting a dollar amount on a human really meant. Along with creating a picture of slavery, the author also parallels beautiful poetry that represents the very human dreams of each individual. As slavery is a major part of the nucleus that is the racial biases and injustices in this country, helping your child understand the roots of the story is invaluable.
White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein Drinking from a water from a public fountain is hardly seen as a privilege today. However, back in the ’50s and ’60s, a Black child quenching his thirst at a "Whites Only" fountain was essentially a death sentence. White Water tells the tale of Michael, a boy that simply wants to drink cold, clean water on a hot day. When he sips from his designated "Blacks Only" fountain, the water tastes awful. Glancing over at the other fountain, he wonders if the "Whites Only" fountain serves of better, more refreshing water. If it is for white people, it must be better than the fountain he has access to, right? It's only when he sneaks over to take a few sips that he realizes there is actually no difference between the fountains or the water — and much like racist constructs that rule the Deep South, the separate but unequal dogma is man-made.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara It is never too early to teach your child about equality, tolerance, and civil rights. A is for Activist is a vibrant board book written to start the process of awareness for your little one. With upbeat alliteration and rhymes, you can use this board book to teach your child the basics of equality.
Teach Your Dragon About Diversity by Steve Herman When it comes to teaching your child about race, approaching the topic with a blanket of color-blindness can do more harm than good. However, the alternative of addressing differences between people based on skin color and ethnicity could feel counter intuitive. Teach Your Dragon About Diversity simplifies this complicated topic of tolerance and diversity through the medium of dragons. Instead of ignoring our differences and the aspects of us that make us individuals, this book calls the reader to teach their dragon that our variances of color, race, gender, and more is what makes us unique and special — but it doesn't have to be the catalyst for superiority or discrimination.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia For the first time in 7 years, Delphine and her two little sisters are going to go visit their mother who moved across the country for a radical political movement. It is the summertime in the late '60s, and racial tensions are as steamy as the long hot days. The news and the media portray the Black Panther Party as violent and harmful to everyone, including Black people. When Delphine and her sisters get to California, their mother thrusts them into learning about with the Black Panther Party is really all about. During this one crazy summer, the girls learn self-pride, how to advocate for themselves, and the importance of fighting against injustice.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes Twelve-year-old Jerome is dead. He was shot and killed by a white police officer who mistook his toy gun for a real one. Now that he is a ghost, Jerome is able to watch the turmoil, protests, and pain that unfolds after his death. It's a lot to process, even for a ghost. He soon meets up with Emmett Till, a boy who was killed decades earlier by the Ku Klux Klan for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955. Emmett helps Jerome process everything that is unfolding in the aftermath and how historic racism and prejudices led to the events that caused his death. Weaving together dangerous historical displays of racism and current events, your child will be able to gain a better understanding of why these things continue to happen.
Breakout by Kate Messner Nora Tucker is ready to jump headfirst into her summer break. But instead of long days in the pool and popsicles for breakfast, Nora and everyone in her upstate New York town are on a sudden lockdown thanks to a couple of inmates breaking out of the local prison. As Nora and her friends figure out how to stay safe in the midst of a breakout, the Black families in the town endure microaggressions and outright racism from their neighbors. With reflections on race, lack of diversity, and our broken prison system, your middle-grade reader will have a list of topics that they'll want to discuss.
New Kid by Jerry Craft Jordan Banks would love to go to art school, but his loving parents have something else in mind. Instead of spending his days sketching and drawing, Jordan makes the long daily hike from his Washington Heights apartment to the ritzy Riverdale Academy Day School. Told through fantastic graphics, readers will go on the journey of diversity and classism, and see how Jordan Banks learns how to navigate his new school while staying true to himself.
Blended by Sharon M. Draper Isabella is biracial with a white mom and a Black dad. While her parents are divorced and in new relationships, she spends equal time with both of them. Being a child of divorced parents already makes Isabella feel like she is constantly divided between her father's wealthier lifestyle and the more modest life of her mother. However, being biracial is another struggle for Isabella to cope with as she is constantly bombarded with questions of who she really is. When she is pulled over with her soon-to-be stepbrother Darren and a cellphone is thought to be a weapon, shots are fired and Isabella's life becomes that much more complicated. Understanding race, diversity, and discrimination when you are comprised of two different backgrounds can be confusing for a child. Reading Isabella's story can be both relatable for your own child and help them build empathy for others.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis The Watson kids are restless and getting into a bit of trouble, especially the eldest son. Instead of hanging out in Michigan, the family decides to head down to Birmingham, Alabama to visit their grandmother. Unlike the north, the Deep South in 1963 is a boiler room of racial tension that is just about ready to explode. During their time there, the Watson family witnesses some of the most horrific displays of racism in America's history. Understanding the bloody, difficult, and tense past of America is a major piece to the puzzle when it comes to grasping where we are now. Reading about the Watson family will give your own child a keyhole view into the past and help them shape an understanding of the origins of racism.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone Despite being an honor student, staying out of trouble, and making an effort to escape his less-than-desirable neighborhood, Justyce Mcallister is still struggling. Between the harassment from cops, ridicule from his old neighborhood friends, and contempt from his current classmates, it feels like nothing he does is pushing his life forward. Justyce turns to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help guide him to the answers of what to do next. When Justyce and his friend Manny are driving through town with their music cranked up, an off-duty white cop can't resist pulling them over for driving while black. In the midst of it all, shots are fired and, as the dust rises and falls, it is Justyce that is left holding the blame. By highlighting the innocent, smart person that Justyce is, your own young reader will be able to make a connection between the headlines of slain Black people and, instead of seeing them as just a headline, see them as actual people.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas There are many teens who straddle two worlds. In one, they are surviving in poor neighborhoods that don't have consistent access to important resources. In the other, they are navigating glitzy private schools where they are a part of a 1% diversity quota. This is the life of Starr until she witnesses her childhood friend being killed by a white officer, despite being unarmed. As the media gets a hold of the story, she watches as her loving and sweet friend's memory transforms into that of a criminal and street thug. During all of this, she has to figure out if she should speak up, putting her family at risk, or keep her mouth shut as her friends memory is dragged through the mud. A story that will promote understanding, empathy, and insight to situations that your own teen has seen play out repeatedly, The Hate You Give is a must-read.
Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi Watching the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and George Floyd and many others play out in the media and the racist overtones of each could have your teen feeling confused and wondering where this all began. Stamped is a readable history of racist ideas in America for teenage readers. Through incredible research, your reader will go on a journey of where it all started and why after centuries, racism still lingers in our everyday.
This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell If you asked your child how they would dismantle racism, what would they say? It's a big question that many adults don't even have the answer to. This Book is Anti-Racist will give your child both a deeper understanding of racism and tangible ways to be the change that they want to see. Through a world view, Jewell informs readers how racism has touched many parts of the world from America to the indigenous people of Australia. By the end of this book, your child should feel informed and like they have the confidence to stand up to racist adults and peers that they may encounter in life.