Talking to your kids about racism is never easy. It’s an important subject matter that needs to be done with seriousness, thoughtfulness and sensitivity. If your children have experienced racism at a young age, they may not even know what is happening and opening that world to them can be a scary proposition.
These seven books on racism make it easier to have an open dialogue with your kids while giving them the tools to be empowered if they need to stand up for themselves.
A Kids Book About Racism
Published in 2019, A Kids Book About Racism contains precise definitions of racism and how it affects various individuals. Author Jelani Memory takes a minimal and direct approach to teach children about racism by incorporating shorter sentences and filling the book's pages with solid colors. The book's cover is direct and eye-catching—there is no question that this book is meant to introduce children to a challenging subject. Memory writes, “this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic [of racism].” The recommended age is six years or older, and it is recommended that children read this book with a grown adult.
Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
By bestselling authors Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You was published in 2021 and adapted by Sonja Cherry Paul from the original novel, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. The novel is meant to give children a complete timeline of racism and how the past has affected American culture and society today. The story also contains introductions to prominent civil rights figures through illustrations by Rachelle Baker. The back cover of the book reads, “RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word. But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.” Stamped (For Kids) comprises multiple chapters recommended for children in grades 2 through 8.
Anti-Racism Starts With Me! A Coloring Book for Kids
Kadeesha Bryant’s coloring book, Anti-Racism Starts With Me!, allows children to learn statements against racism while also letting them express themselves while filling in intricate shapes, flowers and other designs with colored pencils, crayons or markers. Bryant encourages parents or adult figures to use words on the pages to guide a discussion about racism with their children. Some examples of anti-racist phrases on the pages include, “The only thing that should be separated by color is laundry” and “Strong people stand up for themselves. Stronger people stand up for others.” Bryant also points out that there is one race that matters most: "the human race." This interactive book is recommended for kids of all ages and their parents.
Vivid colors, meaningful illustrations and powerful words are what make Antiracist Baby one to add to your reading collection. The book has nine essential steps for understanding the world and racism, and how individuals can create a society of equality. The book's first page, shaded in cool turquoise, has illustrations of various people and a sign that says, “climate justice is racial justice.” The first few sentences read, “Antiracist Baby is bred, not born. Antiracist Baby is raised to make society transform.” The picture book also includes thought-provoking discussion prompts to foster conversation with your kids.
Stand Tall is an illustrated novel that focuses on a boy named Buster and the aftermath when he is called a racist name at school. The book shows how he receives help from his mom and dad, who work to teach Buster and his sister Bean about racism and build their confidence. Stand Tall is meant to help parents, teachers and students manage and heal from racist behaviors and experiences. Akande based the book on her children experiencing racial abuse in the U.K. The book is recommended for children ages 3 to 10 years old.
A Door Made for Me
A Door Made for Me is a 2022 picture book based on author Tyler Merritt’s experience with racism as a child. Readers are transported into the world of a young Black boy impacted by a racist comment and the wisdom he receives from his grandfather. The picture book works as a discussion guide for children and their parents or adult guardian. In addition to racism, the book focuses on blind prejudice, acceptance, emotions and more.
All Are Welcome
Prioritizing diversity, acceptance and kindness at school is the takeaway from All Are Welcome, a 2018 picture book. The sentences and illustrations display children of various ethnicities and backgrounds learning together, playing together and simply being together. The faculty and adult characters in the book are also of various ethnicities and identities. The book's back cover reads, “In our classroom safe and sound. Fears are lost and hope is found.” The 44-page picture book is recommended for all ages and classrooms.