It's never too soon to talk to our children about race.
Starting conversations about diversity early is a really important step towards creating a more equal society for their future. It might be difficult or uncomfortable at times, but it's crucial that we have these important discussions with our children from an early age so that they can grow up free of prejudices and take this awareness forward with them into the next generations.
It has been said that books offer 'mirrors and windows' into the world around us, and this is a beautiful analogy for the importance of seeing diverse protagonists as well as those who we find familiar. Rather than telling our kids we "don't see colour", we can teach them to honour our differences, how other children might have different experiences because of them and why every identity should be celebrated in its own right. Diversifying our family's bookshelves and reading about racial identity with children is a great way to normalise these topics in our households and can really help explain racism to kids in an accessible and educational way.
With the help of some amazing external resources - which we have outlined below - we've put together a considered and curated list of 60 children's books about race that we have found really helpful when talking to our own kids. We've covered each age bracket and included lots of recommendations that the Kidadl team has received from our own community, but as ever we'd love to hear your feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep scrolling for some key pages to bookmark as resources, as well as an overview about what each book is about. This is just the start, but it's a great place to begin.
We'd like to credit the resources below for providing such wonderful guidance for this list. These places are a great way to continue educating ourselves and our children and keep such important conversations going.
Promoting positive identity development in young people and wider access to children's books centring around underrepresented groups and leading POC characters.
Striving to raise a braver generation who are informed and thoughtful about racial identity.
Encouraging courageous interracial dialogues to help transform beliefs and racial equality worldwide.
A comprehensive guide to instilling anti-racism in our children and our households.
A wonderful list of social justice resources to help when explaining racism to your kids.
To see this diversification reflected in our children's schooling, change.org are petitioning to introduce texts on racism and more POC writers into our GCSE reading lists.
For more ways that you can help support and donate to this movement, head to Black Lives Matter.
Books serve as 'windows and mirrors' into the world around us.
Little People, Big Dreams series
Introducing our youngest activists to the world's most powerful figures and civil rights movements. We particularly recommend Maya Angelou: My First Maya Angelou by Leire Salaberria and Lisbeth Kaiser.
The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism by Pat Thomas
Celebrating difference and making the issue of racism as easy to understand as possible.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
A powerful tale from 1962 of an African-American boy discovering snow for the very first time.
A Poem For Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
One hundred years later, Pinkney celebrates this tale from Ezra Jack Keats in a dedication to its main character.
Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Peña
Exploring urban life through honesty and emotive illustrations.
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
This beautifully rhyming picture book perfectly answers the need for wider representation of girls of colour, female scientists and courageously curious kids.
Look Up! by Nathan Bryon
An awe-inspiring story of little Rocket with big dreams that will send you to the stars.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson
An inspiring true story of Florence Mills, navigating the knowledge of her parents' former slavery through the power of song.
We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
Sorell honours a Native American community in this heartwarming story that will develop young children's understanding of racial roots.
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Tell the story of Rosa Parks to your youngest kids through this beautifully illustrated picture book.
Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange
A wonderful nonfiction picture book that honours the tale of leading civil rights figure Coretta Scott King.
When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson
A curious young girl learns all about her grandmother's cultural difference.
Preaching To The Chickens by Jabari Asim
A funny and inspiring glimpse into the childhood of civil rights pioneer John Lewis.
Don't Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
Start early teaching your little ones about the importance of consent and not 'othering' their peers.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
A young girl feels like an outsider at school until she discovers the power of storytelling.
Lovely by Jess Hong
We are all different, and that's lovely.
Let It Shine: Stories Of Black Women Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Teach young children the inspiring stories of these ten African-American female freedom fighters.
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Ashley Bryan helps parents talk to kids about racial history through this powerful picture book bringing the lives of 11 slaves to life.
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
A young girl and her family fight for desegregation in Californian schools.
The Colors Of Us by Karen Katz
A look at skin colour from the perspective of seven-year-old painter Lena.
Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester
Encouraging all children to tell their stories and listen to one another's.
Race Cars by Jenny Devenny
A springboard for parents to start talking to kids about race and navigate difficult conversations about white privilege.
My Hair Is A Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
A touching story about self-acceptance, self-love, and the importance of being kind despite our differences.
When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Eight-year-old Olemaun reminds us of the importance and power of reading.
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers
Introduce young children to the powerful tale of American abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
An accessible and emotive telling of one woman's journey from slavery to freedom.
That’s Not Fair! by Carmen Tafolla & Sharyll Teneyuca
The true story of a Mexican-American girl confronting her injustices in the 1920s.
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford
Discover the roots of Hollywood's first black director.
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford
Weatherford's picture book celebrates the life of pioneering African-American actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne.
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up To Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz
A touching biography from the daughter of one of America's most influential figures.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
School basketball legend Josh tells his family's story entirely in verse.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Three girls learn all about their family during the poignant summer of 1968.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
A gripping story about finding your feet in face of school-life difficulties and a traumatic past.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her childhood through the beauty of verse.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
An emotional tale of survival during Hurricane Katrina.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
A picture book full of poems that tracks the work of historian Arturo Schomburg.
I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer
The true story of eight-year-old Irene as she is removed from her First Nations family and sent to a residential school.
Something Happened In Our Town by Ann Hazzard, Marianne Celano, and Marietta Collins
One black family and one white family discuss the police shooting of a black man in their community.
Voice Of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford
Poems and illustration celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a pioneer of equal voting rights.
Ruth And The Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
A thought-provoking story of one black family's car trip from Chicago to Alabama in the 1940s.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Introduce your children to 40 women who changed the world through beautiful illustrations.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo
A Chinese-American girl fights to become a movie star in the early 20th century against all odds.
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
The gripping story of a Jewish family sheltered by Danish neighbours during the Holocaust.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Andrea Davis Pinkney
A celebration-in-pictures of how four college students' peaceful protest became a key moment in the fight for racial equality.
The Boy And The Wall by the Aida Refugee Camp
A bilingual book written and illustrated by children of a Palestinian refugee camp.
Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers
Two Harlem friends navigate the transition from high school to college.
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Malorie Blackman imagines an alternative society where racial history and prejudice is reversed.
Tyrell by Coe Booth
A gritty novel about the struggles of urban reality for 15-year-old African-American Tyrell.
This Side Of Home by Renée Watson
A poignant coming-of-age novel about sisterhood and friendship in the face of institutionalised racism.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A classic must-read about life in a small Southern town during the American Great Depression. Although To Kill A Mockingbird is a really valuable text, it's important to note that it explores race through the lens of a white author and white narrator.
All American Boys by Brendan Kiely & Jason Reynolds
Two teens grapple with an act of violence that throws their community into racial tension.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
A powerful book based on a series of real-life shootings of African-American teenagers.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
The shooting of a young black boy throws a town into uproar.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
A graphic novel exploring racial stereotypes as Chinese-American Jin Wang faces an isolating start to his new school.
Out Of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
Following the love affair of a Mexican-American girl and African-American boy in 1930s Texas.
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
A striking novel of one young man's search for answers after his brother dies at the hands of the police.
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
This dual-narrated murder mystery questions how far race relations have really come in modern history.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
A young black girl prays for beauty in a society that refuses to see hers.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Inspired by Black Lives Matter, this thought-provoking story follows what happens to a young girl after witnessing the shooting of her friend at the hands of the police.
This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew
Arts writer Kimberly Drew shows us how art and activism are intrinsically and importantly linked.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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