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Confronting Racism with Kids


Parents and caregivers have many difficult jobs, but talking about hard things with kids can be one of the most challenging. These discussions do not happen once, but over and over again as children grow. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. The following books and resources can help you begin. 

e-Picture Books

Also available in: print

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. 

Also available in: print | e-video

The true story of how a community came together to make a change. In the summer of 1963, due to demonstrations and public protests, the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. 

Also available in: print

Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages all took a stand against a world that didn't always accept them. These leaders all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Cover of Book Something Happened in Our Town

Something Happened in Our Town by Marietta Collins, Marianne Celano, and Ann Hazzard (on Hoopla)


This book follows two families as they discuss the police shooting of a Black man, and how past racism and its structures persist today. Includes resources for parents and educators, including discussion guides.

The undefeated by Kwame Alexander

This poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. This title is also available through OverDrive and the Libby app.

e-Chapter Books

Also available in: e-book | audiobook

A collection of art, essays, letters, poems, and stories celebrates standing up against prejudice and racism, and includes entries by such authors as Kwame Alexander, Kat Williams-Garcia, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jason Reynolds.

Also available in: print

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times best-selling Nic Stone and an 11-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn't always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren't always what they seem — his G'ma included.

Brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. 

This book is anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell
Also available in: e-book

With this book, be empowered to actively defy racism and xenophobia to create a community (large and small) that truly honors everyone. Find hope in stories of strength, love, joy, and revolution that are part of our history, too, with such figures as the former slave Toussaint Louverture, who led a rebellion against white planters that eventually led to Haiti's independence, and Yuri Kochiyama, who, after spending time in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII, dedicated her life to supporting political prisoners and advocating reparations for those wrongfully interned.

Woke Book Cover


Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne and Elizabeth Acevedo (on OverDrive and Libby)

Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

Ghost boys [electronic resource] by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Also available in: print | e-audiobook

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Genesis begins again by Alicia Williams

Thirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family's troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is. This books is also available through OverDrive and the Libby app.

A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism—and antiracism—in America. This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. This book is also available through the CloudLibrary app.

Black lives matter by Sue Bradford Edwards
Also available in: e-book

Black Lives Matter covers the shootings that touched off passionate protests, the work of activists to bring about a more just legal system, and the tensions in US society that these events have brought to light.

Also available in: print

A powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family. By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie."

Online Resources

  • We Need Diverse Books - a website dedicated to promoting literature that allows all children to see themselves in stories. Includes booklists, book recommendations, and many ways to get involved.
  • The Brown Bookshelf - a website focused on promoting Black writers for young children. Full of book reviews and deeper information on Black authors, as well as a summer program with activities. 
  • Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History and Culture) - a free portal designed to help foster informed conversations about race.
  • American Indians in Children's Literature - a website dedicated to fighting stereotypes of Native American groups in literature. Includes book recommendations, thoughtful discussions of why some books are problematic, and more.
  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners - for over 50 years, this award has lifted up the voices of African-American authors and illustrators. Find these books in our catalog.
  • Teaching Your Child about Black History (PBS) - an overview of small but concrete actions you can take to help your child understand the long history of African-Americans in the United States.
  • The blog A Fuse#8 Production, from School Library Journal also has a lengthy list of anti-racism resources for all ages.