In the wake of recent protests which erupted around the country, an urgent need to humanize the daily experience of BIPOC in the United States can no longer be ignored. The following racial justice books for kids help increase an educator’s knowledge base. Plus, they can serve as discussion prompts with kids and teens for lesson modules on race and anti-racism.
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Hand’s Up! by Breanna J. McDaniels
“Black joy” beams out from every page in this colorful picture book. It showcases the different ways a black girl may lift her hands high as a positive gesture in everyday life.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
An illustrated account of how the Montgomery bus boycott was actually foreshadowed nine months before Rosa Parks’ infamous stand. Learn about fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin who declined to give her seat to a white woman on a bus in Alabama.
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
Written by Newbery Honor Book author Julius Lester, this book serves as a visual guide for young readers on how skin color makes one unique but is not the only characteristic that defines who we are.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
The historical context of segregation in a Southern town is explored through a budding friendship between an African-American girl and her Caucasian friend who lives in the “white” part of town.
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
This nonfiction picture book tells the true story of Sylvia Mendez. She and her family won the right for her to attend a “whites only” public school in California nearly a decade before Brown vs. Board of Education happened.
We March by Shane W. Evans
One of the most memorable moments of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement is depicted in folk art style illustrations. This iconic march starts at the Washington Monument and ends with Martin Luther King Jr. advocating for equality and racial unity at the Lincoln Memorial in the “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
Two teens must navigate the ignorance and violence surrounding their blooming friendship as segregation slowly unravels in this YA book.
This Is My America by Kim Johnson
A Black teenager has less than a year to find a way to get her father released from Death Row. All this as her older brother also suddenly finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
Told through black-and-white photos, the book tells a true-life narrative of four Black youths that participated in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
A seventh-grade student learns about the Black Lives Matter movement. But she soon becomes aware that not everyone at her school agrees with the new information and perspectives she’s discovering.
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
The plight of undocumented workers is explored through a childhood lens in this middle-grade book about a Mexican migrant family who find work and refuge on a farm in Vermont.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
A 12-year-old boy wrongfully shot by local law enforcement meets other “ghost boys” in the afterlife. Police brutality also cut their lives short.
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
After two kids experience a racially-motivated hate crime, they use social media to inform and elicit support from their community at large. The hashtags they’ve created #WeBelong, #IamAmerican and #HateHasNoHomeHere” start trending online.
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How To Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
Racial oppression—and what tweens and teens can do to rise against it—are explored in a series of real-life profiles. These everyday heroes chose to battle injustice in a life-changing way.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
A nonfiction resource for teens and young adults. This book provides context for the systemic racism that still exists in the United States. Also, it clarifies what anti-racism policies and organizations look like in action.
Do you have any racial justice books for kids you love? Share in the comments below.