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Opening the Dialog with Your Child Through Books

July 1, 2020

Books Examining the Themes of Anti-Racism, Social Justice, and Supporting Black Voices 

Below are books we recommend reading with your children to discuss race.  

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Last Stop on Market Street 

By Matt de la Peña 
Illustrated by Christian Robinson 
Picture book, 32 pages 
Ages: 3-5  

This book’s multiple honors include being named a New York Times #1 Bestseller and 2015 Notable Children’s Book, and winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal. 

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. 

My Hair is a Garden

Written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera 
Picture book, 32 pages 
Ages: 4-8   

After a day of being taunted by classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie can’t take any more and she seeks guidance from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie. Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful. 

Black is a Rainbow Color 

Written by Angela Joy 
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes 
40 pages 
Ages: 4-8  

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Black is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive. 

Each Kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson 
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis 
32 pages 
Ages: 5-8  

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya. 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning 

By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi 
320 pages 
Ages: Teen-adult  

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 Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning 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. 

Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives. 

The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences

By Carolyn B. Helsel, Y. Joy Harris-Smith
208 pages
Ages: Teens and Adults

How do we help our children respect, embrace, and learn from those who look and think differently than they do? What are the “ABCs” of diversity that can help guide their path?

Written by two mothers and educators — one black, one white — The ABCs of Diversity equips parents, teachers, and community leaders to address children of all ages on complicated topics of race, gender, class, religion, political affiliation, ability, nationality, and sexual orientation. The authors employ three sets of ABCs throughout the book to help guide the conversations: our automatic ABCs; the ABCs of intentional engagement; and the ABCs of a more just society.

This book includes specific resources and activities for younger and older children that parents and community leaders can employ to encourage compassion and empathy. An educational and practical resource for parents, teachers, community leaders, ministry personnel, human resources directors, and librarians. Questions at the end of each chapter invite reflection and further discussion.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice

By Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP
Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
32 pages
Ages: 4-8

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

Lulu the One and Only

By Lynnette Mawhinney, PhD
Illustrated by Jennie Poh
32 pages
Ages: 4-8

Lulu loves her biracial family. But being a mix of her Mama and Daddy always brings around THAT question. Lulu hates THAT question. What are you? Her brother inspires her to come up with a “power phrase” so she can easily express who she is, not what she is.

Book includes a Note to Readers from the author, sharing her experience as a multiracial person.

The Lost Tribes

By C. Taylor-Butler
368 pages paperback
Ages 9-12

Five friends are in a race against time in this action-adventure story involving ancient tribal artifacts that hold the fate of the universe in the balance. None of these trailblazers imagined their ordinary parents as scientists on a secret mission. But when their parents go missing, they are forced into unfathomable circumstances and learn of a history that is best left unknown, for they are catalysts in an ancient score that must be settled. As the chaos unfolds, opportunities arise that involve cracking codes and anticipating their next moves. This book unfolds sturdy, accurate scientific facts and history knowledge where readers will surely become participants.

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

Written by Chris Barton
Illustrated by Don Tate
32 pages
Ages: 7-10

A cool idea with a big splash! You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice

Written By Veronica Chambers
Illustrated by Paul Ryding
224 pages
Ages: 8-12

Resist profiles men and women who resisted tyranny, fought the odds, and stood up to bullies that threatened to harm their communities. Along with their portraits and most memorable quotes, their stories will inspire you to speak out and rise up—every single day. From Frederick Douglass to Malala Yousafzai, Joan of Arc to John Lewis, Susan B. Anthony to Janet Mock—these remarkable figures show us what it means to take a stand and say no to injustice, even when it would be far easier to stay quiet.

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