Mother reading to kids on couch

Parents' Raising the Future Book Club

We're excited to be launching a new book club to encourage kids (and parents) to read more books that promote making a positive difference in the world.
By Parents Editors
July 09, 2020
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Here at Parents, we believe change starts with us. Our children are always listening, always learning, and it's our job to raise them to see the world as the wonderfully diverse place it is so they can make it even better. We also believe that educating ourselves and our children is best done together, which is why we're excited to announce a new way for us to learn: Parents' new Raising the Future Book Club.

Each month, we'll feature new books and introduce you to authors so you can learn more about their experience writing their books (and their experiences parenting). Raising the Future Book Club picks will include titles for kids and adults to read together, focusing on topics that shape our world and expand our worldview.

“If we want the world to change—and our children to be the changemakers—we must embrace stories from more than one point of view,” Parents editor-in-chief Julia Edelstein wrote recently.

We hope you'll read along with us.

Our May Book Club Pick

Stamped (for Kids)

Written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped (for kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Credit: Courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Discussing racism in age-appropriate ways is top of mind for many parents. Authors Jason Reynolds (pictured) and Ibram X. Kendi wrote the best-seller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You as a YA book. It's now been adapted for younger kids by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Ed.D. Watch Reynolds read from Stamped (for Kids) and take questions on @Parents Instagram Live on May 22 at 3 p.m. (EST). Head to parents.com/BookClub for details. Ages 7 to 10

About the Author

Jason Reynolds author portrait
Credit: James J. Reddington

Our April Book Club Pick

The Chance to Fly

Written by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Chance to Fly

The first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award, Ali Stroker writes about a musical-theater kid much like herself in the novel The Chance to Fly. Nat Beacon, the 13-year-old main character, is cast in a local production of Wicked, but not everyone is cool about her getting the part. Ages 8 to 12

About The Authors

Ali Stroker
Credit: Brigitte Jouxtel

Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and in addition to her roles on Broadway has starred and recurred in numerous television shows including Glee. Her work as a humanitarian includes speaking and performing around the world, helping people with and without disabilities through her message of "Making your Limitations into Opportunities." The Chance to Fly is her debut novel.

Stacy Davidowitz
Credit: Marques Walls

Stacy Davidowitz is the author of the Camp Rolling Hills series and coauthor of Camp Rolling Hills the Musical, which continues to have productions across the country. She is also the author of the Hanazuki chapter books based on Hasbro's YouTube series. Stacy has written award-winning plays that have been produced regionally and internationally. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, where she earned degrees in drama and acting. Stacy lives in Manhattan with her husband and twin boys.

Join Us for A Live Reading

Ali Stroker will read a chapter from The Chance to Fly on Parents Instagram Live on Saturday, April 17 at 2PM Eastern. She will take questions from theatre writer and performer Raven Snook. Can't make the event? Watch afterwards on Parents IGTV.

Our March Book Club Pick

Simon B. Rhymin'

Written by Dwayne Reed

Simon Online[2]

Reed infuses rap lyrics into the novel about a fifth-grader who picks homelessness as the topic for his class project. After making friends with a homeless man, Simon is inspired to host a musical fund-raiser for a shelter. Ages 8-12

About the Author

Dwayne Reed
Credit: Michael Hicks

Dwayne Reed is America's favorite rapping teacher from Chicago. In 2016, the music video for his hit song, "Welcome to the 4th Grade," went viral and has since been viewed nearly two million times on YouTube. When he's not writing, rapping, or teaching, Dwayne can be found presenting at educator conferences across the U.S., or loving on his beautiful wife, Simone. They're expecting their first child soon.

Thought-Starters for A Conversation with Your Child

1 In Simon B. Rhymin', Simon uses rap to voice his thoughts and opinions, and eventually to find his voice to stand up for his community. Has there been a time when it was hard to voice your opinion? How did you overcome it and did you use a different method like rap?

2 Simon uses rap throughout the book as a way to connect and bring his community together at the end of the book. How do you think music brings people together? 

3 Simon B. Rhymin' touches on topics like homelessness and bullying. It takes Simon talking to his family, friends, and educators to learn more about other people's perspectives and how we can have compassion for people who might be struggling. How would you talk about these topics with your family and friends? How can we find ways to help those in need?

4 Sunny, who helps Simon on his community project and fundraiser for the local homeless shelter, says homeless people want to be seen and not to feel invisible. What do you think he means by that? How can we make sure all people feel seen, especially homeless people? 

5 In the book, Simon's teacher, Mr. James, gives the class a project about helping their community. After reading Simon B. Rhymin' are there ways you'd want to help your community? Are there projects you're passionate about highlighting?

Join Us for A Live Reading

Dwayne Reed will read a chapter from Simon B Rhymin' on Parents Instagram Live on March 13 at 2 P.M. Eastern. He will take questions from viewers and Colby Sharp, a fifth-grade teacher and co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club. Can't make the event? Watch later on Parents IGTV.

Our February Book Club Pick

Milo Imagines The World

Written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Milo Imagines the World

Taking the subway to visit his mom in prison, Milo sketches how he envisions the lives of the other riders. He's surprised to discover that they're not as rosy as he imagined. This picture book addresses the stigma of having an incarcerated parent. Ages 4 to 8

About the Author and Illustrator

018Matt_photo credit Heather Waraksa
Credit: Heather Waraksa

Matt de la Peña is the Newbery Medal-winning author of Last Stop on Market Street. He is also the author of the award-winning picture books Carmela Full of Wishes, Love, and A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and seven critically acclaimed young-adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. You can visit Matt at mattdelapena.com or on Twitter @mattdelapena.

John-Kwiatkowski
Credit: John Kwiatkowski

Christian Robinson received a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. He is the author and illustrator of the picture books Another and You Matter, and he has illustrated many more, including Carmela Full of Wishes, the Gaston and Friends series, School's First Day of School, and The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade. You can visit Christian at theartoffun.com or on Instagram @theartoffun.

Thought-Starters for A Conversation with Your Child

  1. Milo and his sister take the subway to visit their mother. When was a time that you visited family or friends and how did you get there? 
  1. Milo describes feeling like a “shook up soda” – both excited and nervous. Is there a time when you felt mixed emotions? Happy and sad? Scared and brave?  
  2. Milo passes the time on his long subway journey by imagining the lives of those around him. When is a time that you used your imagination to pass the time?  
  3. While on the subway, Milo imagines that the boy he sees with bright white Nikes lives in a castle, but it turns out that he and the boy have more in common than he thought. Have you ever made an assumption about someone that ended up not being true?  
  4. What do you hope people will imagine about your life when they look at you? 

Join Us for A Live Reading

Christian Robinson will read Milo Imagines The World on Parents Instagram Live on February 13 at 2 P.M. Eastern. He will take questions from viewers and Lauren Bercuson Davis, a children's librarian and founder of Happily Ever Elephants. Can't make the event? Watch later on Parents IGTV.

Our January Book Club Pick

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World

Written by Malcolm Mitchell, illustrated by Michael Robertson

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole World_Cover

Retired New England Patriot Malcolm Mitchell, who struggled with reading throughout his school career, writes about a boy very much like himself. The main character, Henley, hates to read. What will he do when he gets the homework assignment of sharing a book with the class?

About the Author

Malcolm Mitchell (by Chris Stanford Photography)
Credit: Chris Stanford Photography

Malcolm Mitchell is the rookie who helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LI. He's also the founder of an initiative called Read with Malcolm, which introduces book ownership to students, and works to improve literacy in schools. Malcolm's Share the Magic Foundation promotes the benefits of reading to kids in underserved communities. As the New England Patriots Summer Reading Ambassador, he encourages summer reading. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is the author of the picture books The Magician's Hat and My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World.

Thought-Starters For A Conversation with Your Child

1. Henley lets us know that finding your favorite book isn't as easy as it sounds. Why is it so hard for him? 

2. On his way home from school, Henley visits the library and bookstore trying to find a special book. What are some of the places you go to find books?  

3. If Henley were your friend, what advice would you give him?

4. In the front of the book, author Malcolm Mitchell shares about his struggles with reading. What is something you've struggled with, and how have you been helped? 

5. Henley's mom tells him that the best stories can be found within ourselves. What does she mean by this?

Join Us for A Live Reading

Malcolm Mitchell will read My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World on Parents Instagram Live on January 10 at 2 P.M. Eastern. He will take questions from Nerdy Book Club co-founder Colby Sharp and viewers. Can't make the event? Watch later on Parents IGTV.

Our December Book Club Pick

Bookcoverimage(highres)-KamalaandMaya'sBigIdeabyMeenaHarris

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea

Written by Meena Harris, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

“No one could do everything, but everyone could do something.” That line stood out to kid reviewers who were reading this title last summer as part of the selection process for Parents annual list of best children’s books. They didn’t realize it was about that Kamala because she wasn’t yet the vice-presidential nominee, let alone elected to the office. The engaging storyline about the sisters’ perseverance in constructing a playground in their apartment building’s empty courtyard drew rave reviews and a spot on the coveted list.

meena harris
Credit: Thomas Whiteside

About The Author

Meena Harris was born into a family of strong women whose legacy continues to inspire her. Her grandmother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a cancer researcher and civil rights activist; her mother, Maya Harris, is a lawyer and policy expert; and her aunt is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Meena herself is a lawyer and entrepreneur. In 2017 she founded the Phenomenal, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes. On January 19, Meena will release her second children's book Ambitious Girl from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She currently resides in San Francisco with her partner and two daughters.

Thought-Starters For A Conversation With Your Kid 

  1. Kamala and Maya learn that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. What’s something you’re really good at?
  2. Can you think of a time when you saw something that wasn’t right and you stood up for yourself or others?
  3. The Persisters see a problem in their community and work to solve it. What’s a problem you’ve noticed and how would you fix it?
  4. Kamala and Maya start their adventure by writing a letter. Who would you write to about that problem and what would say? 
  5. Kamala and Maya work together, with their friends and neighbors. Who are the helpers in your life who help you succeed?

Our November Book Club Pick

My Rainbow

By DeShanna and Trinity Neal, illustrated by Art Twink

This picture book is inspired by the mother-and-daughter coauthors’ real-life experience. When Trinity, who is transgender, decides she wants long hair, her mom creates a beautiful rainbow-colored wig for her to wear.

Thought-Starters For A Conversation With Your Kid 

  1. Trinity’s mom says that her gender, being Black, and having autism are all a part of what makes Trinity a masterpiece. What parts of your identity make you a masterpiece? 

2. Is there something you wear, a way you style your hair, or some other way you express yourself that helps you feel confident and like you

3. After talking through Trinity’s desire for long hair, her mom supports her decision and starts to look for a solution. When was a time you felt supported by a parent, family member, teacher, or friend?

4. When Trinity’s parents aren’t able to come up with a way to help Trinity, her brother steps in and offers his ideas. Have you ever offered help to someone who needed it? 

5. Trinity’s mom stays up all night to create a wig that will help Trinity express herself. What is something you can do to help someone else feel special and loved?   

Join Us for A Live Reading

DeShanna and Trinity Neal will read My Rainbow on November 14 at 3 P.M. Eastern on Parents Instagram Live. They will take questions from Nerdy Book Club co-founder Colby Sharp and viewers. Can’t make the event? Watch later on Parents IGTV.

Our October Book Club Pick

Class Act Book Cover
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Harper Collins (1)

Class Act

Written and illustrated by Jerry Craft

A sequel to New Kid, the first graphic novel to win a Newbery Medal, Class Act also zeroes in on what it’s like being one of the few kids of color in private prep school. In this story, the focus shifts to a different character: Drew, who is now in eighth grade. Both books are the kind of realistic—yet funny—stories that Craft wishes he had growing up. “From way back when I was a reluctant reader to having kids of my own, I have always looked to find books with Black and brown kids who are just regular kids as opposed to books dealing with weighty issues such as slavery, civil rights, and police brutality,” he says. Ages 8-12

Thought-Starters For A Conversation With Your Kid 

1  What do you think it means to be a “class act?”

2  Alexandra says, “What good is having people like you if YOU don’t like you?” What do you think about her advice?

3 Why is this story best told as a graphic novel, instead of only text?

4 Drew is able to talk to his friends and his grandmother when he’s having a hard time. Who do you talk to when you're having a hard time?

5 Jordan talks about how he and Drew are alike in many ways, and different in others. How and why are they treated differently by others?

About the Author

JerrySideByHollisKingHiRes[1]
Credit: Courtesy Hollis King

Jerry Craft is the New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning author of the graphic novels New Kid and Class Act.  Craft is also the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip which won the African American Literary Award five times. He is a cofounder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Connecticut.

Join Us For A Live Reading

Jerry Craft will read the first two chapters of Class Act on October 18 at 3 P.M. Eastern on Parents Instagram Live. Craft will take questions from Nerdy Book Club co-founder Colby Sharp and viewers. Can’t make the event? Watch later on Parents IG TV. 

Our September Book Club Pick

200827-i-am-everything-good-book-cover
Credit: Courtesy Penguin Random House, photo illustration by Francesca Spatola

I Am Every Good Thing

Written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

Poetic words celebrate Black boys (“I am a roaring flame of creativity. I am a lightning round of questions, and a star-filled sky of solutions”) and address racism head-on (“I am not what they might call me, and I will not answer to any name that is not my own”). The oil-painted portraits—like a dad holding his son so he can reach the basketball hoop—are joyful, adding to the book’s universal appeal. Ages 3+

5 Questions to Ask Your Child As You Read The Book Together

  1. What are some of the good things about you?

2. What is the boy is proud of? What are you proud of?

3. Can you guess what another person is like just by looking at them?

4. Does it matter what other people think of you?

5. What do you think the boy will be when he grows up?

About the Author

Derrick Barnes author photo 2
Credit: Courtesy Penguin Random House

Derrick Barnes wrote the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten, and the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (illustrated by Gordon James), which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, and the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. He also wrote the bestselling chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys. He owns the copy-writing company Say Word Creative Communications and created the popular blog Raising the Mighty, where he "chronicles the experience of bringing up four beautiful Black boys in America." He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and their four sons.

Join Us for a Live Reading

Derrick Barnes read the book and answered questions on Parents' Instagram Live. Watch it below.

Our August Book Club Pick

Antiracist Baby Book Cover by Ibram X. Kendi
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Kokila (1)

Antiracist Baby

Written by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

How do you talk about racism with a toddler? This rhyming book gives you a jumping-off point. While its nine steps to “make equity a reality” speak primarily to parents, the bright illustrations—friends of all races playing together, families snuggling with their babies—will engage little ones. As your child gets older, you can continue the conversation. Available as both a board book and picture bookAges 2+ 

4 Questions to Ask Your Child After You Read the Book

Author Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D. suggests these thought starters:

1. Is it kind to talk about someone’s race?

Teach your child that being kind doesn’t mean we avoid seeing race; we celebrate racial differences. 

2. When you imagine a teacher, an astronaut, or a farmer, what do they look like?

You might find that your child defaults to a white person in their imagination. Explain that people from all races hold these jobs and others. Start filling your home library with diverse books that show a full range of experiences within and across racial groups. 

3. What do your friends look like? 

Help your child explicitly name the races of the people around them so they understand that it’s not taboo. This will help normalize discussions about race and remove the stigma around these conversations. 

4. Are all people treated the same?

Give your child an example of how racist behavior doesn’t always look like being intentionally “mean” to someone. It can be more subtle like when a non-Black person crosses the street to avoid encountering black teens. Understanding racism is the first step to help changing it.

About the Author

Ibram X Kendi parents book club
Credit: Courtesy Penguin Random House

Ibram X. Kendi is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News correspondent. He is the author of five books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. He lives in Boston with his wife, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist, and their 4-year-old daughter.

Join Us for a Live Reading 

Dr. Kendi read the book and answered questions on Parents Instagram Live on Friday, August 7, at 3 P.M. (ET). Watch the whole video below.