12 Powerful Anti-Racism Books for Kids By Age
No matter your kid's age, there are informative books to help them learn about Black history, racism, and how to be anti-racist. Here are a dozen to add to your library and go beyond just celebrating Black heroes.
The reckoning with systemic racism sweeping the globe is just one reason why it is important that during Black History Month and beyond, we read books with our children that do more than celebrate Black heroes.
To raise our children to be anti-racist, the books we read with them should help them:
- Embrace our common humanity.
- Understand the roots of the rhetoric, systems, and structures that have and continue to keep racism and injustice alive.
- See the role each of us can play in changing the narrative and dismantling those structures.
Below is your age-by-age guide to some great books that further these goals.
All the Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger
This wonderful bilingual (English and Spanish) book teaches young children the simple, scientifically accurate reasons for our different skin colors. In changing the way children learn about skin color and giving them correct language to explain it—you'll probably start to hear the word "melanin" a lot—we help them start to distinguish fact from myth as they encounter stereotypes associated with skin color.
To buy: All the Colors We Are, $7,97; amazon.com.
Dummy Ducky Learns Diversity: An Anti-racist Children Story About Racism, Prejudice, Respect, Equality, Inclusion and Love by Jasmin Li
A fun and memorable way to introduce (and talk about) the idea that love and respect is owed to every living being, regardless of skin (or feather) color. It can spark meaningful anti-racism conversations with young children.
To buy: Dummy Ducky Learns Diversity: An Anti-racist Children Story About Racism, Prejudice, Respect, Equality, Inclusion and Love, $7.98; amazon.com.
For Ages 4-8
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
This book helps children understand that at our core, we are exactly the same. It gives them age-appropriate tools and ideas to help them embrace, rather than fear, difference.
To buy: Let's Talk About Race, $7.99; amazon.com.
Something Happened in Our Town (A Child's Story About Racial Injustice) by Marianne Celano
This book follows a Black and white family as they talk about a police shooting of a Black man in their neighborhood. While telling the truth about the roots of racial injustice, it helps children process this traumatic event (and others they will undoubtedly see in the news). Most importantly, it helps them identify and take action to counter racial injustice in their own lives and includes guidelines for parents and other adults for discussing race and racism with children.
To buy: Something Happened in Our Own (A Child's Story About Racial Injustice), $14.89; amazon.com.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
This true story about the first African American child to integrate a New Orleans school helps children understand the hatred and lies that shaped the way white Americans viewed (and in some cases, still view) Black Americans. The bravery, fortitude, and faith this 6-year-old possesses as she risks her life every day to get an education is also an inspiring example for young children.
To buy: The Story of Ruby Bridges, $6.99; amazon.com.
For Ages 8-12
Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A. by Arlisha Norwood
These inspiring biographies of Black leaders and role models from Ancient Africa to modern times helps children and their parents understand how much of Black history we do not learn in school and sheds light on the places and circumstances that nurtured these trailblazers.
To buy: Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A., $13.49; amazon.com.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
This New York Times bestseller chronicles the conversation among six kids who meet without adults every week in what they call "ARTT" (a room to talk). In that room, as they share their lives, troubles, and aspirations, readers have insight into the systems and structures that impact people of color in our society. The narratives spur great conversation with adults.
To buy: Harbor Me, $12.19; amazon.com.
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things) by Anastasia Higginbotham
Meena Harris, lawyer, children's book author, and Kamala Harris' niece, called this book "an honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice." Children will see that although they did not create racial injustice, they can play a real role in creating a more just world.
To buy: Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things), $18.95; amazon.com.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
A family takes a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama, in the summer of 1963 to visit their grandma. But they are heading toward one of the darkest times in our nation's history—when the Ku Klux Klan bombs the 16th Street Baptist Church there, killing four little Black girls. Children will learn about white supremacy, the Civil Rights Movement, and the strength of family to navigate tragedy.
To buy: The Watsons Go to Birmingham, $8.99; amazon.com.
- RELATED: 9 Anti-Racist Children’s Books to Teach Kids About Diversity
For Ages 12 and Above
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds
A wonderful book that inspires young people to stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives and take actions to create an anti-racist future. It helps readers grasp how race has been used to gain and keep power and how it separates and silences. It helps them understand why we feel the way we do about race and why racism still lingers.
To buy: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning, $8.99; amazon.com.
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work (Empower the Future, 1) by Tiffany Jewell and Aurélia Durand
Each chapter in this book builds on the previous one and helps readers learn more about themselves, social identities, the history of racism and racial oppression and how racism has been resisted by individuals and movements. Readers learn what to say/how to respond when they hear microaggressions and racial slurs and how to find the courage to exercise their power to interrupt and disrupt racism even in their own families.
To buy: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work (Empower the Future, 1), $5.87; amazon.com.
This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal: Over 50 Activities to Help You Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work (Empower the Future) by Tiffany Jewell and Aurélia Durand
This journal companion to This Book Is Anti-Racist, allows readers to dive deeper into the work of becoming and being anti-racist through activities that center around identity, self-care, history, family, privilege, expression, values, art, and lived experiences. By prompting readers to do things like, "discover how diverse your universe is by writing down the races and ethnicities of the people in your life" or "write a letter to your future self to share your dreams and how you are growing into your anti-racism," the journal is a toolkit for inner work and positive actions.
To buy: This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal: Over 50 Activities to Help You Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work (Empower the Future), $7.92; amazon.com.