reading lists

7 Books About Race to Read to Your Kids

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A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist U.S.

Many parents are wondering how to talk to their kids about the protests denouncing police brutality and systemic racism in response to the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. If you are one of those parents, right now is a good time to start following black-owned bookstores, along with anti-racist educators and organizations like The Conscious Kid, Britt Hawthorne, Liz Kleinrock of Teach and Transform, and Joe Truss of Culturally Responsive Leadership on social media. Whether it’s in their Instagram stories or on their website, these people and places are posting curated anti-racist reading lists for children available to parents free of charge. To get you started, here are some of the most recommended kids’ books suggested by anti-racist educators and organizations, and black-owned bookstores (which we recommend visiting online when you’re ready to purchase).

This book, written by Malcolm X’s daughter, educator, activist, and motivational speaker Ilyasah Shabazz, tells the childhood story of Malcolm X and how racism and the love of family shaped his life.

Recommended by: anti-racist educational organization Embrace Race. [Editor’s note: Paperback and hardback versions of this book are currently unavailable, but you can purchase the Kindle edition.]

This picture book about a white child who sees the news report of a police killing of a black man offers an opportunity for white parents to discuss racism and police brutality with their children.

Recommended by: Kleinrock on her social justice reading list for kids. [Editor’s note: Paperback and hardback versions of this book are currently unavailable, but you can purchase the Kindle edition.]

Innosanto Nagara’s ABC board book infuses the alphabet with pictures and rhyming stories about fighting for social justice, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and what it means to be an ally.

Recommended by: Kleinrock, educator Brittany Smith, who also recommends supporting Newark bookstore Source of Knowledge, author Julia Alvarez, and Tomas Moniz, writer-editor of Rad Dad, a zine on radical parenting.

This illustrated book tells the true stories of 40 trailblazing black women in American history. From writers to astronauts to activists, each biography shows the ways in which these women took a stand against a world that didn’t accept them.

Recommended by: Embrace Race’s list of anti-racist children’s books. [Editor’s note: Paperback and hardback versions of this book are currently unavailable, but you can purchase the Kindle or eBook editions.]

This graphic novel is a Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner. It tells the story of an African-American boy from Washington Heights who transfers to a private, predominantly white middle school in seventh grade.

Recommended by: Embrace Race.

For readers in eighth grade and above, The Hate You Give tells the story of 16-year-old Starr Carter who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of the police and how she deals with the aftermath of his death.

Recommended by: Both the book and the movie have been widely recommended for teens and tweens as well as adults. It appears on lists from Truss and The Lit. Bar.

This book for young people, their families, and their teachers starts by defining racism and asking why it exists in the first place. Then it moves on through 20 lessons where readers are encouraged to examine their own prejudices and ignorance, take steps to be better informed, and learn ways to disrupt racism by standing up to people who use racial slurs or commit microaggressions in everyday situations.

Recommended by: Truss and Matthew Winner of The Children’s Book Podcast.

[Note: This book is currently backordered. We will be monitoring stock and will update this post as soon as the book comes back in stock.]

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7 Books About Race to Read to Your Kids