Advocacy Books

Let’s Talk About Race (Series) – Books that Get the Conversation Started

(This post is a part of an ongoing series dealing with the importance of talking about race and equity issues with young children. Click here to see the whole series.)


The resources mentioned in my previous post in this series are great for adult conversations, but how do you start the conversation with little kids? I’ve always found books to be a great resource. My girls and I can read a story and along the way ask questions about how the characters look, feel and act. When in doubt… find a book!

Books that Get the Conversation Started: Below are my favorite (child tested) books for kids ages 3-7: 

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
Recommended Age: 3-7
Reading this book is a great way to start a conversation about skin color. I love the way the author talks about all the beautiful colors of brown skin: cinnamon, toffee, french toast… It’s so good, it’ll make you hungry!

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox and Leslie Staub
Recommended Age: 2-5
My girls couldn’t get over the intricate and beautiful illustrations of people all over the world. The book celebrate our differences, while reinforcing the ways our common human experience connects us all.

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
Recommended Age: 1-4
This book celebrates different types of beauty by drawing connections to nature. Young children will especially enjoy acting out the comparisons in the book, (e.g. having hair that flows like water or bounces like lambs)

The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Recommended Age: 4-7
This amazing true story of a 6 yr. old African-American girl who integrates a New Orleans school in 1960. Sharing her story is a great way to begin conversations about equity with young children. Ruby is a role model for courage, forgiveness, and doing what’s right.

I Am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins
Recommended Age: 5-7
A great “chapter book” told by Rosa Parks. Truely, inspiring!
Check out these Websites to find even more great books!

Books that Get the Conversation Started: More resources

  • Teaching Tolerance – Though this Website is geared for teachers, it can also be a great resource for parents as well. Go to the main page to read blogs about equity and racial justice. Check out the Resources section of their Website and select the grade level you want to find great storybooks and books with activities for you to do with your child.
  • The Multicultural Classroom – This site has a GREAT list of recommended books with links to Amazon so you can buy them right away (which I of course did!).

Do you have some great books you’d like to share? Please post the book titles and authors below.

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One thought on “Let’s Talk About Race (Series) – Books that Get the Conversation Started

  1. I just met you at Jean Parker today, and I love this thread. I can’t believe that there has been no reply comments yet! Here’s my 2 cents: I think that the best books that introduce diversity and identity to younger kids are those that are absolutely not driven by any diversity or identity agenda. That is, I find that when selecting books for my daughter I tend towards books about very normal kids in normal and relatable situations, but where the children do not look like my blond little girl. Ezra Jack Keats is one of my very favorite children’s author-illustrators for this reason. We also have Jerdine Nolan’s “In my momma’s kitchen” (illustrated by Colin Bootman). While I’m not familiar with other books that he has illustrated, Colin Bootman seems to specialize in books concerning African-American identity and experience, pitched to kids in grades 4-7. I am excited to check these other books out; his illustrations are beautiful, and my sense is that he selects his projects very carefully. We also have “Pop’s Bridge” by Eve Bunting, about a white boy and his Chinese-American friend, whose fathers work on segregated crews on the Golden Gate Bridge construction project in the 1930s. It’s a bit too old for my daughter, but good for grade 2-4. It is one of the only children’s books that I know that addresses the history of race and ethnicity in San Francisco for younger children.
    Check out these links:
    http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/
    http://www.jerdinenolen.com/
    http://www.colinbootman.net/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_Bunting

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