The best books for kids (and parents) on anti-racism

Sara Blanchard and Misasha Suzuki Graham Author Of Dear White Women: Let's Get (Un)Comfortable Talking about Racism
By Sara Blanchard and Misasha Suzuki Graham

The Books I Picked & Why

So Much!

By Trish Cooke, Helen Oxenbury

So Much!

Why this book?

This is a book meant for young readers – but in our family, this is a book that we’ve read for years, even though the kids are now reading on their own. Fundamentally, this book is about a party that the extended family is throwing for the father – but the book, told in a repetitive, song-like style, pulls you into the family’s growing excitement as the family members arrive, each with their own special relationship to the baby of the family, and wait for Daddy to come home. This book was not only important to Misasha’s family to have her boys see kids, and families, that looked like their own, but also is important for kids of all color to see Black families and Black kids doing normal everyday things, and having human relationships where they play together, fight together, and most importantly, love together. Through this book we can see the ties of humanity that link us all – and that’s why this is a book for the whole family, regardless of age.


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The Day You Begin

By Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

The Day You Begin

Why this book?

We’ve all been that kid at school – the one who doesn’t quite fit in, the one who didn’t have the same summer vacation as the rest of the class, the one who’s eating something that the kids say “smells funny.” But how do you react when kids are being made to feel different because of fundamental characteristics – race, ethnicity, immigration status, socioeconomic levels, and how do you teach your kids to react? This book is beautifully told and illustrated, and each page provides another opportunity to have open conversations about difference, being upstanders, and true diversity and inclusion. In workshops that we’ve done, both parents and kids have taken lessons away from this book – indeed, it’s truly “the day you begin” to think about others through a more informed, empathetic lens.


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The Undefeated

By Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson

The Undefeated

Why this book?

It’s a poetry picture book, but it works for basically any school-aged child - even high school - because of how the author writes about Black life, struggles, and triumphs over time. Every time we read this book as a family, we learn something new - either about a point in time in history, about an important person, or about how we can think about our world and our communities differently. Plus, we love the author Kwame Alexander!


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Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

By Colin Seale

Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

Why this book?

At first glance, you might not see why we think it’s a book for parents that addresses anti-racism. But digging deeper, you’ll see that one of the things we advocate for is developing the skills for introspection - to ask ourselves the tough questions, to challenge our own beliefs and assumptions, and think critically about the information that constantly surrounds us. Those skills are a fundamental part of our own anti-racism practices. Unfortunately, critical thinking is not a skill that’s been well taught, or evenly taught, throughout the schools in our country - so it’s important for each of us to help ourselves, and our children, learn this most foundational skill to succeed in the 21st century.


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The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

By Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

Why this book?

While this isn’t a light read, this is an excellent book for those who want to be better informed in order to have conversations with people who don’t quite get why racism is so bad for us as a country - including how it is bad for White people. The economist author opens with a really tangible example of community pools, which in some cities - in the face of integration to allow Black and White neighbors to swim together - were closed down and paved over so that no one could swim. This act of racism left entire communities without a central place for coming together and reduced the quality of life for everybody in town. This book is for those who are looking to more deeply understand how racism hurts not only those with Black or Brown skin, but has also hurt White people, and our entire country, as well.


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