Recent events, such as police violence and Black Lives Matter protests, have left children with many questions about the world in which they live. No one is born racist, yet it’s clear that racism persists in our society. It might seem like these concepts are too difficult for young children to grasp. Unfortunately, children can be exposed to racism at an early age. Therefore, it’s crucial we raise our kids not simply to be aware of racism but to become anti-racist themselves.
Here is a list of books to help you educate your child about African American culture, racism, and activism:
Board books for babies and toddlers
- A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. This board book is written for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. Age range: 3 - 7 years.
- An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing. This board book introduces complicated concepts surrounding social justice to the youngest of children. Age range: Baby - 5 years.
- Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, this board book introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Age range: Baby - 3 years.
- Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison. This beautifully illustrated board book edition of “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” showcases women who changed the world andis the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams. Age range: Baby - 3 years.
- Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne. This board book with bright playful art is for all the littlest progressives, waking up to seize a new day of justice and activism. Age range: Baby - 3 years.
Fiction books for kids
- A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory. Inside this beautiful book, you’ll find a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. Age range: 5 - 9.
- Ana and Andrew book series by Christine Platt. Ana & Andrew are always on an adventure! They live in Washington, DC with their parents, but with family in Savannah, Georgia and Trinidad, there's always something exciting and new to learn about African American history and culture. Age range: 5 - 8 years.
- Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd. This book gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family. Age range: 3 - 7 years.
- I Am Enough by Grace Byers. This book about an African American girl is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another. Age range: 4 - 8 years.
- I Believe I Can by Grace Byers. This book is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves. Age Range: 4 - 8 years.
- If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement by Gwendolyn Hooks. Follow along with the two girls as they find themselves in the middle of a civil rights demonstration, and find out how the fight for equality changed the country forever. Age Range: 7 - 9 years.
- Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters. Age Range: 4 - 8 years.
- Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter. An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history in this picture book. Age range: 5 - 9 years.
- Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue. Here is an inspiring story, based on Ron McNair's life, of how a little boy, future scientist, and Challenger astronaut desegregated his library through peaceful resistance. Age range: 6 - 8 years.
- Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o. From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. Age range: 4 - 8 years.
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. This poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. Age range: 6 - 9 years.
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. The book reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. Age range: 5 - 8 years.
Non-fiction books for kids
- A Child's Introduction to African American History: The Experiences, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country by Jabari Asim. A comprehensive, entertaining look at heroes, heroines, and critical moments from African American history -- from the slave trade to the Black Lives Matter movement. Age range: 8 - 12 years.
- Enough! 20 Protesters Who Changed America by Emily Easton. Change takes courage. Introduce your young activist to America's most influential protesters in this lushly illustrated picture book. Age range: 5 - 8 years
- I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer. We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer. Age range: 5 - 8 years.
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. This book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Age range: 8 - 12 years.
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison. This beautifully illustrated book brings to life true stories of black men in history. Age range: 8 - 12 years.
- The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson. Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. Age range: 5 - 10 years.