Booklists | June 15, 2021

5 Essential Books on Race and Inclusion for Kids


Book Covers

Racism is widespread and enduring. Basically, it exists everywhere – whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not. The only real way to fight racism is consequently to begin with ourselves. And books provide invaluable starting points for us to do that. 

Reading books about race and inclusion is especially important for children. Studies have shown that we begin forming biases towards race as early as 3 years old. So, you can imagine how important reading books about race and inclusion is for children. It helps kids reflect on their own identity while shaping their attitudes towards others and towards diversity

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests, curfews, and a looming uncertainty have sprung up across the US. America as a nation is waking up to the deep-rooted injustices that have plagued our country since its very founding.

It is important for adults to give them the context behind these protests, as well as make them aware of the systemic prejudices that they and their peers of color may be facing. Here are 5 books available on the BookSmart app to help you start a discussion about race with the children in your lives.

Why Is Nita Upside Down? Cover

Why is Nita Upside Down? by Roxana Bouwer, Sarah Bouwer, and Emma Hearne

Published by Book Dash

Ages 6-8

Sometimes, we fear that others won’t accept us because of the things that make us unique – whether we look different to others, think differently, or have other interests. The reality is that everyone of us is different in some way, and that is our strength. This short picture book is a celebration of dark-skinned bodies of all kinds.

► Read it in English here.

► Leer en español aquí.

Molly, by Golly!

Molly, by Golly! by Dianne Ochiltree

Published by Calkins Creek (Astra Publishing House)

Ages 6-8

Here is the story of Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11 who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history.

► Read it here.

Skin We Are In Cover

Skin We Are In by Sindiwe Magona and Nina G. Jablonski

Published by New Africa Books

 Ages 6-8

In Skin We Are In, Uncle Joshua explains to his inquisitive nephew Njabulo the science of skin tone and how it does not affect what someone is on the inside. He also explains the danger of attributing certain characteristics to race, recounting to his nephew about how these ideas led to European colonization, from which dark-skinned people still suffer under to this day.

Read it here.

My Special Hair Cover

My Special Hair by Candice Dingwall

Published by Book Dash

Ages 6-8

This children’s picture book is about an African girl celebrating her frizzy hair and empowering children of all hair types to feel proud of their own hair.

► Read it here.

Ground Breaking Scientists

Groundbreaking Scientists by J.P. Miller

Published by Crabtree

Ages 9-12

Read about the men and women who have improved our lives through science including Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, astronaut Mae Jemison, inventor George Washington Carver, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, and many more.

► Read it here.

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