Children’s and YA Books about Race

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup by Katrina Michie
So you’ve realized your kids aren’t too young to talk about race, so now what? Michie has rounded up some resources for you to start.

Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice: a list for parents, caregivers & educators from the Oakland Public Library
“Awake youth of the land and accept this noble challenge of salvaging the strong ship of civilization by the anchors of right, justice and love…” — Ella Baker

31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance by The Conscious Kid
Beyond addressing issues of race and racism, this children’s reading list focuses on taking action. It highlights resistance, resilience and activism; and seeks to empower youth to participate in the ongoing movement for racial justice. Children not only need to know what individual, institutional, and internalized racism looks like, they need to know what they can do about it.

Anti-racist Kids’ Books by White Whale Bookstore
These are some of the books we’ve carried in-store that can help families initiate conversations about race and racism. These books were chosen with young children in mind (ages 2-7) with a few that veer toward the upper end of that, and some board books best for the younger set.

Slavery, Resistance, and Reparations from Social Justice Books
More than 60 books, arranged by age group, recommended for the classroom and as background reading for parents and teachers on the history of slavery and resistance in the United States. Or try their collections on Civil Rights, Black History, and Reconstruction.
(Before sharing these books with children, you might also want to read Considerations for Early Childhood and Early Elementary Educators on Slavery and Resistance.)

American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo
Are you looking for best books by or about American Indians? First Nations? Here’s a collection of links to posts on American Indians in Children’s Literature and elsewhere that’ll help you find ones selected by Native people (me, and other Native people, including members of the American Indian Library Association! This page will be updated, so come back and visit again!

Where are the books about Black Kids in Nature? by Andrea Breau
This listicle begins with an interesting analysis of what’s missing from this list. Check out the whole website, including their searchable database.

A Young People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn with Rebecca Stefoff.
A young adult version of Zinn’s landmark A People’s History of the United States, bringing to U.S. history the viewpoints of workers, people who are enslaved, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in books for young people.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
This young adult adaptation of the New York Times bestselling White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide is essential anti-racist reading for teens. Including photographs and archival imagery and extra context, backmatter, and resources specifically for teens, this book provides essential history to help work for an equal future.

A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff.
An adaptation for younger readers of Takaki’s classic multicultural history of the United States, A Different Mirror.

The March trilogy is an autobiographical black and white graphic novel trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement, told through the perspective of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. The series is written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and illustrated and lettered by Nate Powell.

Books Recommended by my Mom Friends

Who Was Harriet Tubman?, by Yona Zeldis McDonough, is included on this whole list of books about Harriet Tubman from the National Parks Service.

I Am Harriet Tubman, by Ute Simon and Grace Norwich, is part of the Scholastic “I Am” series. There’s also one for Rosa Parks and MLK, and there is a discussion guide for grades 3-6. And look for Harriet Tubman and others in the “I Am” series on the PBS series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.

The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom, by Emily Arnold McCully, tells a story of slavery at the birth of the United States.

Not My Idea by Anastasia Higginbotham.
“We don’t see color,” the child’s mother says, but the child senses a deeper truth. An afternoon in the library uncovers the reality of white supremacy in America. The child connects to the opportunity and their responsibility to dismantle white supremacy – for the sake of their own liberation out of ignorance and injustice.
Higginbotham’s visually unique series is called Ordinary Terrible Things and there is also a book on death, one on divorce, and one about sex.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, by Kadir Nelson, is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award. Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.

Award-winning books by Renee Watson: “Jade’s narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson’s story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world.” –starred review, Publishers Weekly

And of course, if you’re able, buy from Black– or minority-owned bookstores! Many of them will ship to your door.

My friend says this list is missing a crucial bookshop — Hakim’s Bookshop in West Philadelphia, one of the oldest Black-owned bookstores in the country, currently owned by Hakim’s daughter. It and Harriett’s are both owned by women.