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The Best Books For Kids About Racism For All ages

by Lisa Marinkovich
Books about racism for all ages
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Best Books For Kids That Will Spark Conversations About Racism and Racial Differences

Research shows it is never too early to talk to kids about embracing racial differences. Children begin to develop racial bias before age five. This is why books are an ideal way to spark conversations about racial bias, differences and discrimination for kids of all ages. 

The color blindness theory has been proven not to be the best approach if we want out kids to be open minded and accepting of people who don’t look like themselves.  Silence doesn’t work either. And putting off conversations about privilege and racism is never a good idea. 

Books are an ideal gateway to open discussions with kids about skin color differences. My 12 year old is reading several books this summer that are listed below. 

Talking To Children About Racism Is Never Easy

I get it, talking to children about racism and police brutality is never easy. And many parents feel uncomfortable about discussing the subject. Starting a conversations with kids does not require  a perfect script.

The good news is that books is a great way to start a dialog and answers questions your child may have. Children’s authors have written books that can help spark conversations about  empathy, black history and racial discrimination.— and keep those necessary conversations happening again and again.

It’s time to take the pledge to create positive change and be proactive and stand-up for social justice. 

Teach Your Dragon About Diversity- Steve Herman

Ages 4-6 years old

But what if your dragon is sad because he is DIFFERENT than his friends?

What if he feel bad that his skin is red, and is not like any of his friends?What if he’s worried that none of his friend has wings, tails and scales like him?What if he’s so nervous because he’s different? What should you do?

You teach him about DIVERSITY!

  • You teach him that we’re individuals and should celebrate our differences
  • You teach him the difference in appearance, gender, skin color, and beliefs do not separate us
  • You teach him that our differences make this world such a beautiful place
  • You teach him that we’re all the same inside, and should embrace diversity
  • And so much more

Ages 7-10

The A Girl Named series tells the stories of how ordinary American girls grew up to be extraordinary American women. Misty Copeland became the first African American Female Principal Dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, but how did she get there? 

Ages -4-8 years

Wearing a yellow slicker and boots on a rainy day, a child carries an open red umbrella down a city street. On each page, a sentence lightly personifies the umbrella: “It likes to spread its arms wide. / It loves to give shelter. / It loves to gather people in.” More and more folks join the child under its rapidly expanding canopy, until, in the last illustration, the umbrella arches over a park filled with animals and culturally diverse, differently abled people, all enjoying themselves and their surroundings. Well designed for classroom read-aloud sessions, this open-ended picture book creates a natural springboard for discussion.

Ages 12+

Wearing a yellow slicker and boots on a rainy day, a child carries an open red umbrella down a city street. On each page, a sentence lightly personifies the umbrella: “It likes to spread its arms wide. / It loves to give shelter. / It loves to gather people in.” More and more folks join the child under its rapidly expanding canopy, until, in the last illustration, the umbrella arches over a park filled with animals and culturally diverse, differently abled people, all enjoying themselves and their surroundings. 

The appealing watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations work beautifully with the text to tell the story. In contrast to the gray skies, the red umbrella stands out visually, creating a warm, cheerful space for those beneath it. The main attraction of this expansive picture book is neither the plot nor the concept, but the upwelling of a boundlessly inclusive spirit reminiscent of Leodhas and Hogrogian’s Caldecott-winning Always Room for One More (1965). Well designed for classroom read-aloud sessions, this open-ended picture book creates a natural springboard for discussion.

Ages 10-11

‘Lois and Wilma are proud of their father’s brand-new gold Cadillac, and excited that the family will be driving it all the way from Ohio to Mississippi. But as they travel deeper into the rural South, there are no admiring glances for the shiny new car; only suspicion and anger for the black man behind the wheel. For the first time in their lives, Lois and her sister know what it’s like to feel scared because of the color of their skin.

Ages 13+

After Starr and her childhood friend Khalil, both black, leave a party together, they are pulled over by a white police officer, who kills Khalil. The sole witness to the homicide, Starr must testify before a grand jury that will decide whether to indict the cop, and she’s terrified, especially as emotions run high. By turns frightened, discouraged, enraged, and impassioned, Starr is authentically adolescent in her reactions. 

Inhabiting two vastly different spheres—her poor, predominantly black neighborhood, Garden Heights, where gangs are a fact of life, and her rich, mostly white private school—causes strain, and Thomas perceptively illustrates how the personal is political.

The Crossover Book

Ages 12+

New York Times bestseller ∙ Newbery Medal Winner ∙Coretta Scott King Honor Award ∙2015 YALSA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults

Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars thanks to the coaching of their father, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. 

This book is a masterful mix of rhythm and heart that tells the story of two brothers navigating the deep waters of love, loyalty, and championship play. 

Ages 14+

The #1 New York Times bestseller and a USAToday bestseller! A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism—and antiracism—in America

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book  reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

Ages 14+

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides.

 These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

Ages 4-8 years old

The extraordinary true story of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate a New Orleans school–now with simple text for young readers!

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd and into a school where she changed history.

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