These 6 kids books on race and racism might help you start the conversation about how everyone is equal with your kids. Because it’s an important conversation to have!
6 kids books on race and racism
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a whites-only school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite the nuns’ efforts to force her to do otherwise. When she goes home for summer holidays, her parents decide to never send her away again, but where will she hide and what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of Jenny Kay Dupuis’ own grandmother, Je ne suis pas un numéro is a must-read book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.
by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.
by Vashti Harrison
This beautifully illustrated board book edition of instant bestseller Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History showcases women who changed the world and is the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams.
by Lucy Falcone and Jacqueline Hudon
Modeling the text of the poem, First They Came, about the abuses enacted by the Nazis on a variety of groups including the Jewish people — and about the many who did nothing to protect the innocent — author Lucy Falcone has written, I Didn’t Stand Up. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a bystander who doesn’t stand up for the innocent targets of school bullies simply because he views them as different from himself.
Many of the above books hit on the following topics:
- race and racism
- residential schools
- standing up
Read more book recommendations
Why you should read kids books on race and racism like these…
Because current events can be scary for kids. And they might not understand the news. Also, they may have experienced race issues in their everyday lives but didn’t know how to recognize it or how to express it.