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20+ Children’s Books That Discuss Race and Racism

Books are a powerful tool for learning about diverse perspectives. While we might think of these types of books as being for older people, no one is too young to engage with texts that start important conversations about race and racism. If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle—anyone that regularly interacts with children—there are a myriad of great children’s books filled with vibrant and engaging illustrations that cover these topics in a way that is accessible for kids. But where do you start? In a now-viral Twitter thread, educator Brittany Smith shared her favorite books to have in her classroom.

Smith’s selections both educate on and celebrate diversity. Some cover historical figures, such as the book Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. Others broach topics that have profound effects on children. Maddi’s Fridge raises awareness about poverty and hunger while My Family Divided is based on actor Diane Guerrero’s personal story of her undocumented immigrant parents’ deportation.

Scroll down for Smith’s picks. And for even more suggestions, visit Twitter to see what other people recommended in their replies.

Educator Brittany Smith shared her favorite children’s books dealing with race and racism.

 

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X written by Ilyasah Shabazz and illustrated by AG Ford
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcom X written by Ilyasah Shabazz and illustrated by AG Ford

 

Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn

Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters written by Andrea Ddavis Pinkney and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn

 

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

 

My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera

My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera

 

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

 

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock by Aslan Tudor and Kelly Tudor

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock by Aslan Tudor and Kelly Tudor

 

My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero and Erica Moroz

My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero and Erica Moroz

 

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Frané Lessac

 

I Am Not a Number written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland

I Am Not a Number written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland

 

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

 

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story written by Reem Faruqi and illustrated by Lea Lyon

Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story written by Reem Faruqi and illustrated by Lea Lyon

 

The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by Rafael López

The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by Rafael López

 

The Whispering Town by written by Jennifer Elvgren and illustrated by Fabio Santomauro

The Whispering Town by written by Jennifer Elvgren and illustrated by Fabio Santomauro

 

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

 

When I Was Eight written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

 When I Was Eight written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

 

Happy in Our Skin written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia

 Happy in Our Skin written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia

 

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity with Empathy written by Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Donna Farrell

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity with Empathy written by Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Donna Farrell

 

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

 

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett

 

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo and Lin Wang

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo and Lin Wang

 

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

 

Maddi’s Fridge written by Lois Brandt and illustrated by Vin Vogel

Maddi's Fridge written by Lois Brandt and illustrated by Vin Vogel

 

Sulwe written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Sulwe written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison

 

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

 

Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All written by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi and illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith

Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All written by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi and illustrated by Ahsley Seil Smith

 

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali and illustrated by Hatem Aly

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali and illustrated by Hatem Aly

h/t: [BuzzFeed]

All images via Brittany Smith/Twitter.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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