8 Best Books About Race For Kids Update 05/2022

Parents and educators frequently feel unprepared to discuss race with their children. Race and racism are such difficult and hurtful subjects to discuss. The good news is that there are a plethora of useful children’s books about race and racism that we may use to initiate discussions with children of all ages. This topic includes a variety of race-themed children’s books, ranging from picture books through middle-grade and young-adult novels.

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Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas

For families and classrooms with preschool and kindergarten-aged children, this book is a must-have. It covers a wide range of issues, beginning with recognizing and accepting your unique skin tone. Children also learn about why we have varying skin tones, as well as some of the racial designations that people use to categorize all those different hues of skin.

What makes this book for young children distinct is how it explains how racism was fueled by a made-up concept of race. The writers discuss racism as a means for white people to gain power, rather than as a means for individuals to be cruel. The book provides children with relatable examples of racism that are likely to occur in their daily lives. Finally, youngsters are taught to speak up against racism, change unfair norms, and learn. (Suitable for children aged 3 to 7)

All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color by Katie Kissinger and Chris Bohnhoff

Preschoolers are frequently intrigued and perplexed about the origins of their skin tone. This multilingual English/Spanish picture book explores how melanin, our ancestors’ origins, and the sun influence our skin tones. The images depict a diverse range of families and children with various skin tones.

Note that the book does not discuss race or use racial designations. We spoke about the numerous racial classifications society uses (Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, and Arab) and where each group’s ancestors came from when I used this book at our children’s Peace Camp. (Suitable for children aged 3 to 6)

Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien

The same characters appear in this sequel to I’m New Here, but the story is told from a new perspective. Jin, Fatimah, and Maria shared their experiences adjusting to a new school in the United States in I’m New Here. Jesse, Jason, and Emma must figure out how to welcome their new classmates despite language hurdles and, at times, discrimination in Someone New. (Suitable for children aged 3 to 6)

Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel and Shane W. Evans

When race conscious adults hear the phrase “hands up,” they are likely to think of the words “don’t shoot,” which have been chanted at numerous Black Lives Matter rallies. Author Breanna McDaniel considers how “hands up” not only signifies activism, but also many everyday activities in the life of a young Black girl. Her hands go up when she plays peek-a-boo, stretches up to the kitchen sink, and begs her siblings to pick her for a game.

The book’s final scene depicts her yelling “hands up!” at a rally, where marchers hold their signs high, emblazoned with slogans encouraging us to raise our hands and voices for justice. (Suitable for children aged 4 to 7)

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Skin Again by bell hooks and Chris Raschka

In seminary, bell hooks’ writings on race and feminism had a major influence on me, so I was excited to see that she’d authored multiple children’s novels. Two children, one black and one white, are featured in this short book. “The skin I’m in looks fine to me,” we’re reminded. It will provide you with one small piece of information that will assist you in tracing my identity. However, the skin I’m in will always be just that: a covering. It is unable to communicate my narrative.”

The story encourages children to get close so that we can be honest with one another and know who we are. As a white parent, I use this book as part of a collection of race books, but not by itself. It should be read in conjunction with other novels that examine racism in greater depth. This wonderful book can remind us that race does not tell us everything about a person, especially when my child mirrors society’s racial prejudices. (Suitable for children aged 4 to 7)

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

There are a number of race-themed children’s books that deal with the tragic legacy of Indian boarding schools. This is the best narrative for extremely young readers that I’ve found.

When a little Cree girl spends the day with her grandmother, Nókom, she has a lot of questions about why she does the things she does. Why does she dress in such bright colors? Nókom informs her that when she was a girl, she had to wear black clothes since she was sent to a school far away from home. When the kids were alone, though, they would roll around in the fallen leaves to make them colorful again.

Each question reveals a different aspect of Canada’s tragic history of boarding schools for First Nations peoples, but in an age-appropriate way for young children. When the children were alone, Nókom always shared a way in which they opposed their oppression and remembered who they were. (Suitable for children aged 4 to 8)

Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller

There are a number of excellent children’s books on race and hair. This one appealed to me because it conveys an important message to both Black girls who are proud of their hair and non-Black children who must learn not to objectify their peers. Aria adores her soft, bouncy hair, which she describes as “growing up toward the sun like a flower.” Others admire her hair as well, but it doesn’t always make her feel wonderful. They keep touching her hair without her permission. She considers all the different ways she may hide her hair, such as swimming underwater. A curious octopus wants to touch it even there!

Finally, Aria chooses to speak up for herself and express her true feelings when people touch her hair without her consent. (Suitable for children aged 3 to 7)

Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell and Don Tate

Children are surrounded by negative associations with the color black in society. Because young children are tangible thinkers, they are more prone to associate Black people with these stereotypes.

From a warm and pleasant night to the braided locks of a regal monarch, Black All Around celebrates the gorgeous color black. Black is loving, imaginative, artistic, and nurturing to a young girl and her brother as they play. (Suitable for children aged 3 to 7)

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