It’s June 1st, 2020. In just five short months, the world has experienced a global pandemic, deadly wildfires, terrorist attacks, lockdowns, and now blatant misuse of power and cold-blooded racism.
I am doing my part in muting social media posts on my channel so that the voices that need to be heard the most can come through loud and clear to everyone else. This next week will be dedicated to educating myself and my family, actively listening, and taking a stand the best way I know how. Let us teach our children right from wrong, teach them the beauty in diversity, and never stop spreading the message of love, inclusivity, and kindness.
Here is a list of 15 books that you can read with your children – topics vary from acceptance to peaceful co-existence, to racism, and more – each spreading the words and actions we all want for our future.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated 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. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books.
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts
A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over in a new place while keeping family and traditions close. When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea — mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him — and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden. Lyrical prose and lovely illustrations combine in a gentle, realistic story about finding connections in an unfamiliar world.
All the Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger
Young children are curious about why people have different skin colors, and too often teachers are tempted to brush this curiosity aside in the name of a glib “We’re all the same.” The book teaches valuable suggestions to get children thinking imaginatively and un-selfconsciously about skin color.
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham, Charles Waters
Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this must-have collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation.
If a Bus Could Talk by Faith Ringgold
If a bus could talk, it would tell the story of a young African-American girl named Rosa Parks who had to walk miles to her one-room schoolhouse in Alabama while white children rode to their school on a bus. It would tell how the adult Rosa rode to and from work on a segregated city bus and couldn’t sit in the same row as a white person. It would tell of the fateful day when Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man and how that act of courage inspired others around the world to stand up for freedom. In this book, a bus does talk, and on her way to school, a girl named Marcie learns why Rosa Parks is the mother of the Civil Rights movement. At the end of Marcie’s magical ride, she meets Rosa Parks herself at a birthday party with several distinguished guests. Wait until she tells her class about this!
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi
Now that she’s old enough, Lailah is excited about fasting for Ramadan. But will her classmates and teacher understand why she’s not eating lunch?
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
Layla’s Head Scarf by Miriam Cohen
Layla, the new girl in first grade, is hesitant to participate in school-day activities because she is afraid that her headscarf makes her look too different from her classmates. But as the day progresses, and the curious first graders learn more about Layla’s culture, they help to make her feel more comfortable in her new school.
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
A book about what makes each of us special, helping children learn, grow, discuss, and begin to create a future that resolves differences.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol – can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her.
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
A white child sees a news report of a white police officer shooting and killing a person with brown skin who had their hands up. “We don’t see color,” the child’s mother says, but the child senses a deeper truth. An afternoon in the library uncovers the reality of white supremacy in America. The child connects to the opportunity and their responsibility to dismantle white supremacy–for the sake of their own liberation out of ignorance and injustice.
Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds
If you have a brilliant idea… say something! If you see an injustice… say something! In this empowering new book, Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. This timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better.
The Skin I’m in: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas
This book encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin colour and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves. It explores emotional issues and discusses the questions such difficulties invariably raise among kids of preschool through early school age. The book is written in simple, direct language that makes sense to younger kids. Each title in this series also features a guide for parents on how to use the book, a glossary, suggested additional reading, and a list of resources
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmonies, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose.
Who We Are!: All About Being the Same and Being Different by Robie H. Harris
Accessible, humorous, family-filled illustrations; conversations between Gus and Nellie; and straightforward text come together to help children realize why it’s important to treat others the way they want to be treated and the way you want to be treated — whether a person is a lot like you or different from you, a good friend or someone you have just met or seen for the first time.
Please leave any comments with any other books you’d recommend!
Love, peace & unity in diversity