- Many parents are turning to educational literature to help kids understand inequality.
- Books like “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry, “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, and “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” by Anastasia Higginbotham can all help children learn about anti-racism.
- You can see a list of Black-owned bookstores from which you can buy these works on LitHub here.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Something Happened in Our Town” by Marriane Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
In “Something Happened in Our Town,” two children – one white, one Black – try to understand the killing of a Black person at the hands of a white police officer.
The children ask their parents questions about the traumatic incident, working to understand how and why it happened. The book is designed to teach kids about why police brutality is so common in America and how they can handle racism in their daily lives.
Written by Marriane Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, “Something Happened in Our Town” comes with a note to parents to help them discuss race and bigotry with kids.
“Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry
You might know Matthew A. Cherry’s “Hair Love” from the visual short of the same name, but the book is just as sweet as the film.
The story follows Zuri, a young girl who wants her curly hair to look a certain way for a special occasion. She enlists her dad to help her, but learning to style his daughter’s hair is a challenge. However, he’s happy to go the extra mile for Zuri.
Cherry’s short story, which was illustrated by Vashti Harrison, is empowering to anyone who’s ever doubted their natural curls, and it shows the connection between a father and daughter is universal.
“A is for Activist” by Innosanto Nagara
Innosanto Nagara’s picture book puts an activist twist on an ABC book, listing social justice-minded endeavours for every letter of the alphabet.
It has familiar elements of an educational book, like rhyming and alliterations, but every page is packed with wisdom that helps kids become aware of diversity from a young age.
“Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o’s debut, which is illustrated by Vashti Harrison, stars Sulwe, a little girl who has darker skin than all of her loved ones, making her feel self-conscious.
But one night, Sulwe takes a trip through the sky, showing her the beauty she holds. With stunning illustrations and heartfelt prose, “Sulwe” will make readers of all ages feel their worth.
“Malcolm Little” by Ilyasah Shabazz
“Malcolm Little” tells the story of a young Malcolm X, a boy who is struggling to maintain his optimism as he faces discrimination and personal hardships.
With the help of his loving family, Malcolm learns to lead with independence, finding his sense of self despite his circumstances.
Written by Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and illustrated by AG Ford, “Malcolm Little” gives readers young and old a rare glimpse at a leader in the early stages of becoming.
“The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson’s “The Day You Begin” explores what it’s like to feel out of step with others around you, whether it’s because of the colour of your skin, your hometown, or your favourite food.
The book is designed to instill confidence in young readers no matter their skin colour, reminding them that they have something wonderful to share with the world. Illustrated by Rafael Lopez, “The Day You Begin” will remind kids to accept others and make them feel like they can do anything.
“Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History” by Vashti Harrison
Part of the legacy of a racist system is the erasure of historically significant Black people, which is why “Little Legends: Exceptional Black Men in History” by Vashti Harrison is so important for kids to read.
Harrison details the history of real Black men in her picture book, writing about people like civil rights leader John Lewis and pop legend Prince. The book offers an easily digestible way for kids to see how crucial Black people are in American culture.
You can also check out the companion book, “Little Legends: Exceptional Black Women in History,” here.
“I Am Enough” by Grace Byers
As the title indicates, “I Am Enough” is designed to make children comfortable taking up space regardless of their skin colour, as well as encourage them to be respectful and loving to everyone around them.
Written by Grace Byers and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, the poetic and uplifting read will remind even the youngest of readers that their existence and experience is important.
“We’re Different, We’re the Same” by Bobbi Kates
Bobbi Kates’ “We’re Different, We’re the Same” is perfect for fans of “Sesame Street,” as the educational picture book features familiar faces from the popular show.
The picture book lists the differences between characters like Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster, but it shows readers that everyone’s feelings and needs are important regardless of what they look like.
“The Colours of Us” by Karen Katz
In “The Colours of Us,” a little girl named Lena wants to draw a picture of herself, but she’s not sure where to start.
A journey through her neighbourhood with her mum shows her that there are dimensions to having brown skin, and the many shades of blackness make the world a more beautiful place.
“The Story of Ruby Bridges” by Robert Coles
Robert Coles’ “The Story of Ruby Bridges” tells the tale of one of the youngest and most influential civil rights activists in a way children can understand.
The 6-year-old was the youngest African-American child to integrate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in 1960 Louisiana, bravely facing discrimination from her peers, peers’ parents, and the community at large to get an education.
Her story was a landmark moment, but writer Robert Coles and illustrator George Ford show the identity of the child behind the history, encouraging young readers to think of how their actions can create change.
“Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” by Anastasia Higginbotham
In Anastasia Higginbotham’s picture book, a white child wrestles with the way her family responds to learning a white police officer killed a Black man in their town. The protagonist takes the opportunity to learn about white supremacy at her local library, coming to understand the active role white people must play in ridding America of racism.
Heralded as the book for white parents and white children to read to educate themselves on their privilege, “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” forces white readers to confront the ways the American system is designed to work against people of colour.
“Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi
This fun and informational picture book provides a nine-step guide to being anti-racist that even young children can understand.
Written by Ibram X. Kendi and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky, “Antiracist Baby” gives a new generation the language they need to help create a more just world.
“I am Rosa Parks” by Brad Meltzer
“I am Rosa Parks” is part of Brad Meltzer’s series of kid-friendly biographies, telling the story of the integral role Rosa Parks played in starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1950s.
Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, the book introduces young readers to a hero of the civil rights movement.
“Voices of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer” by Carole Boston Weatherford
Carole Boston Weatherford takes a lyrical approach to the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, sharing her fight for equal voting rights with poems and collage-style illustrations.
“Voices of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer” celebrates an essential leader from the civil rights movement, and children who read it will have a better understanding of how progress was made in the United States.
“Hands Up!” by Breanna J. McDaniel
“Hands Up!” flips the narrative around the phrase “Hands up, don’t shoot,” which is often used by protesters at Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Breanna J. McDaniel’s book, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, shows a young Black girl raising her hands to reach a book, at church service, and to ride a bike. Eventually, she attends a protest and raises her hands with people in her community, standing up to forces that try to hurt people who look like her.
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