Kids are seeing and thinking about race from infancy. Children as young as three make social distinctions based on race, and the optimal window for influencing children’s racial attitudes is between ages 0-8.
Talking with children explicitly about race and racism is the only thing that has been proven to interrupt problematic comprehensive racial learning experiences.
These books are excellent resources to jumpstart explicit conversations about race.
Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria remains unparalleled for exploring racial identity development. The book is instructive, powerful, and a great place to begin (or continue) your anti-racism journey.
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo is a quick but expansive read.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is a must for white folks.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob is a 2018 graphic memoir that recounts the author’s riveting conversations about race with her 5-7 year old biracial child. From Ferguson, to Trump, to the complexities of a mixed race family, she covers so much ground with honesty and humor.
Identity and Diversity
These books increase self-awareness, positive self-identities and family pride. They also move children forward in thinking expansively about humanity, giving them comfort and language for difference, and creating space for deep human connection.
These Colors Are Bananas by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin is a newer book geared toward the youngest of audiences, and it helps children begin to look at the brilliant colors of nature, and then in the end, look at the variations of human skin colors.
Other excellent titles include:
For Babies & Toddlers:
Bebes Maravillosos by David Ellwand
Baby Faces Board Books Series by Roberta Grobel Intrater
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
Mis Primeras Palabras by Christiane Engel
Yo? Yes! by Chris Raschka
Luka’s Quilt by Georgia Guback
Kite Flying by Grace Lin
Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh
Bicycles by Kate Perry
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
Elementary School and Up:
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
The Blue Rose by Linda Boyden
Critical Consciousness and Taking Action
These books help children to recognize unfairness, and have language to describe unfairness. They also give examples of adults and children acting against prejudice and discrimination.
Preschoolers and Up:
Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All by Chelsea Johnson
Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester
The Case for Loving: The Fight For Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice by Anne Hazzard, Marianne Celano, and Marietta Colins
Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
When We Were Alone by David A Robertson
Si Se Puede/Yes We Can by Diana Cohn
For Elementary School and Up:
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer by Carole Boston Weatherford
Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat
Separate is Never Equal by Doncan Tonatiuh