Racism is a huge problem in this country.
I wish there was an easy way to solve this horrendous problem, but there is no easy answer. Each person must do what they can. One way we can combat racism in the future is to educate our children now. Here are some books about race to teach your children about racism and also hopefully lead to some productive discussions!
by Calvin Alexander, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
This picture book tells the story of Ruth, a little girl who is excited to take a road trip with her family. However, her family comes across many places that won’t serve Black people. A helpful stranger introduces them to The Green Book, which lists all the places that welcome Black customers.
by Candacy A. Taylor
To accompany the previous book, here is an adult book on the same topic. It would be great for a teenager or a parent to read, especially if a younger child is reading the picture book. This book includes testimony from real people who lived under Jim Crow laws, which helps the reader realize how Black people are personally affected by racism.
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Sylvia is a little girl in California who was denied enrollment at a “Whites only” school. Her parents filed a lawsuit and organized the Hispanic community. Their actions eventually led to the ending of segregated schools in California. This book helps illustrate why it is so important to have racially diverse schools.
by Angie Thomas
This is an excellent young adult book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The main character, a girl named Starr, is stuck in the middle of two worlds. She lives in a poor neighborhood surrounded by people of color and goes to school at a fancy suburban school filled with mostly white students. When her best friend is killed by a police officer, Starr has a lot of tough decisions to make about her life. If your teen enjoys this book, there is a second book in the series.
by Jelani Memory
This book was written as a way to introduce kids to the topic of racism. It defines what racism is, describes how people feel when they experience racism, and tells how to recognize racism when it happens. This book is praised by parents for being very honest, straightforward, and direct. If you’re not sure how to start a conversation about racism with your children, this book offers a great starting point.
by Jacqueline Woodson
The author shares the story of her childhood struggles and triumphs through poetry. She tells what it was like living with the remnants of Jim Crow laws and how she learned about the Civil Rights Movement. These poems speak out about a child finding her place in the world. The author also shares how writing let her speak out despite her childhood struggles with reading. This book is a great inspiration for other children who find reading difficult.
by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
This book follows two families as they discuss a police shooting of a local Black man. The story aims to answer children’s questions about traumatic events that happen all too often. It also aims to show a child how to identify and counter racism in their own lives. This book also includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children.
by Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
Irene, an eight-year-old girl, is removed from her First Nations family and sent to live in a residential school. Horrifically, the nuns at the school insist that she refer to herself by an assigned number instead of her name. Irene’s parents decide not to send their children away anymore, but then they must live in fear of the consequences of breaking the law. This story is based on the experiences of Dupuis’ grandmother.