11 Children's Books About Racism And Activism To Help Parents Educate Their Kids

First on the list: “Our Home, Our Heartbeat” by Briggs.
Books to teach kids about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Books to teach kids about the Black Lives Matter movement.

When it comes to raising children who will fight against racial injustice across the world, it’s obvious that silence does not work. “Colourblindness” does not work. And putting off conversations about privilege and racism does not work.

Yet, talking to children about racism and police brutality is never easy. And many parents feel like they should head into those heavy conversations with a perfect script. Thankfully, as Dr Harold S Koplewicz, medical director and founding president of the Child Mind Institute, said in a Monday blog post on talking to kids about the current protests, questions are a good thing.

“Encourage questions — and don’t worry if you can’t answer them,” he wrote.

Then, seek out tools that can help you and your kiddo(s) grapple with systemic racism. Over the years, many children’s authors (and rappers!) have written books that can help spark conversations about racial justice, empathy and what it means to be actively anti-racist — and keep those necessary conversations happening again and again.

Here are 11 to consider.

Briggs' book was released this month.
Briggs' book was released this month.

1. “Our Home, Our Heartbeat”

Award-winning Indigenous Australian artist Briggs’ newly released children’s book is inspired by his celebrated 2015 song “The Children Came Back” featuring Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Deway. To tune was an homage-style follow up to Archie Roach’s 1990 song “They Took the Children Away”, written about Roach’s experience with one of the darkest periods in Australia’s history: the Stolen Generations. The government policies saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families and institutionalised in order to assimilate Indigenous peoples to the “white community” in hopes First Nations would “die out” through a process of natural elimination.

Illustrated by Kate Moon & Rachael Sarra, the yarn highlights “past and present Indigenous legends, as well as emerging generations, and at its heart honours the oldest continuous culture on earth”. (Grab it here)

"A Is For Activist" is for those parents who want to start their children at an early age.
"A Is For Activist" is for those parents who want to start their children at an early age.

2. “A Is For Activist”

J is for justice! X is for Malcolm X! This super simple ABC board book is a perfect first step for families who want to start talking to their kiddos about activism and civil rights from a really early age. (Available here)

This book tells the story of children who marched to protest Jim Crow laws.
This book tells the story of children who marched to protest Jim Crow laws.

3. “Let The Children March”

This beautiful book (a Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner for illustration) tells the story of the 1960s Birmingham Children’s Crusade, when kids marched to protest Jim Crow laws. (Available here)

"Separate Is Never Equal" tells the story of Sylvia Mendez.
"Separate Is Never Equal" tells the story of Sylvia Mendez.

4. “Separate Is Never Equal”

This inspiring book tells the story of Sylvia Mendez, a child with Mexican and Puerto Rican roots, who helped bring about school segregation in California a decade before it was deemed unconstitutional at the national level. (Available here)

"Sulwe" was written by Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong'o.
"Sulwe" was written by Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong'o.

5. “Sulwe”

Academy-Award winning actor Lupita Nyong’o wrote this book about Sulwe, a girl with skin the color of midnight, which helps children grapple with colorism and question what society teaches them about beauty and value. (Available here)

"Malala's Magic Pencil" was written by the Nobel Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai
"Malala's Magic Pencil" was written by the Nobel Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai

6. “Malala’s Magic Pencil”

Malala Yousafzai’s first picture book tells the activist’s own story, inspiring young readers to push for change — without waiting for permission. (Available here)

"Kid Activists" tells the story of some of history's great activists.
"Kid Activists" tells the story of some of history's great activists.

7. “Kid Activists”

From Martin Luther King Jr. to Dolores Huerta, this book tells the stories of some of history’s great activists during their childhood and helps teach them that anyone can help stand up for justice. (Available here)

This classic book encourages kids to celebrate and talk about differences.
This classic book encourages kids to celebrate and talk about differences.

8. “Last Stop On Market Street”

There’s a reason why this beautiful, slice-of-life story has won so many accolades: Using a simple bus ride to drive the plot, it encourages kids (and parents) to both celebrate and talk openly about the diversity they see in the world around them. (Available here)

"Each Kindness" teaches children the value of kindness.
"Each Kindness" teaches children the value of kindness.

9. “Each Kindness”

This lovely book teaches children to value kindness and empathy. (Available here)

"Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness" helps families teach their children to understand how to be actively anti-racist.
"Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness" helps families teach their children to understand how to be actively anti-racist.

10. “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness”

This book helps white families teach their children about racism, privilege and white supremacy so that kids understand what it means to be actively anti-racist. (Available here)

"The Hate U Give" is a heartbreaking book for teenagers.
"The Hate U Give" is a heartbreaking book for teenagers.

11. “The Hate U Give”

This heartbreaking bestseller for teenagers tells the story of a 16-year-old girl whose unarmed childhood best friend is shot and killed by a white police officer. It’s unflinching and necessary. (Available here)