If you’re looking for a way to talk to your children about race and racial inequality (or just learn more for yourself), books are a great way to start. However, reading shouldn’t be the end of the conversation! Just like with any other difficult subject in life, this should be an ongoing discussion with your kids and teens. It’s never too early to broach the subject, as research shows children as young as two notice differences in race. They begin to form their own impressions, and if we’re not having open conversations with them about it, their beliefs can get negatively skewed, even if we don’t mean for them to. Children interpret our silence and discomfort as indicating something is bad or wrong.
Below, I’ve listed book recommendations for all age groups, from 0 to adulthood. Clicking the picture will take you to the Amazon page for each book. I have not personally read each and every source, but they have all come recommended by colleagues. I will be making my way through this list myself!
Children Ages 0-3
A is for Activist – Innosanto Nagara
Bright illustrations and rhymes introduce young children equality, community, and activism.
Antiracist Baby – Ibram X Kendi
Board book on building a more equitable world.
Children Ages 4-8
The Colors of Us – Karen Katz
Seven-year-old Lena learns that brown comes in different shades.
Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o
A celebration of black girls and their unique beauty. Beautiful illustrations!
Something Happened in Our Town – Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
When a Black man is shot in the community, two families (one Black, one white) discuss what it means in developmentally-appropriate ways. Very timely source written by psychologists, and includes notes on talking to kids about racism.
All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold
Best-selling picture book that imagines a school where children of all races, backgrounds, and traditions are welcomed with open arms.
Young, Gifted, and Black – Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present – Jamia Wilson
Celebrates the achievements of 52 Black icons.
Woke – A Young Poet’s Call to Justice – Mahogany L Brown with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood
Collection of poems by women of color that inspire preteens to speak out.
New Kid – Jerry Craft
Story of a Black boy who is one of only a few kids of color in a new school. Illustrates microagressions (both well-intentioned and not) that the student experiences from his peers and teachers.
A Good Kind of Trouble – Lisa Moore Ramee
Follows a young Black girl as she learns to navigate the world of racial injustice and find her voice within the Black Lives Matter movement.
Teenagers 13 and up
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Very timely story about a teenager who sees her best friend killed by a police officer.
It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, shares tales of his life growing up as biracial in South Africa. Good mix of humorous and serious in exploring race and identity for middle and high schoolers.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man – Jason Reynolds
This time, the supervillain is one who has existed for hundreds of years, spreading racist beliefs and intentional microagressions. Miles as Spider-Man fights the embodiment of white supremacy.
This Side of Home – Renee Watson
Black twin sisters disagree as their neighborhood experiences gentrification – one likes the modern additions to the community, while the other is saddened by the loss of her heritage.
Adults and Parents
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor – Layla Saad
This is a 28-day guide aimed at helping white readers confront their privilege
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a letter to the author’s teenage son, covering the feelings and realities of being Black in the United States.
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Fiction novel about a young girl growing up in the years following The Great Depression.
The above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of what you spend without it costing you anything extra. I only recommend books that I honestly see value in, whether or not you purchase it through these links. If you’re uncomfortable using the affiliate links, you can visit http://www.amazon.com and type the book you’re searching for.