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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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+
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?
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.
Derrick Barnes read the book and answered questions on Parents' Instagram Live. Watch it below.
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 book. Ages 2+
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.
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.
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.