Essential Books on Race & Inclusion for Kids
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.
To encourage these important conversations on race, we’ve put together a list of books on the topic for you and your kids.
Here are some free e-books about race and inclusion to start a conversation about systemic racism with your child.
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.
But what can we do as individuals to amplify the voices of people of color and help our friends of color?
Undoing systemic injustices – in both America and beyond – may seem overwhelming and impossible. However, there are several steps we can all take as individuals to begin the process; these steps include signing and sharing petitions, expressing our solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter on social media, and listening to people of color’s voices.
Another important step is to educate ourselves and our children about America’s history in regards to race.
In this age of globalized information, children are asking more and more questions about race as they have access to more and more information at their fingertips. 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.
But how can we start this politically charged conversation with our children?
Worldreader’s free library provides children’s storybooks, authored by Africans and African Americans, that can help spark this discussion.
Here are a few of the books available on the Worldreader app (access through your mobile phones or tablet). We hope these books help you start a discussion about race with the children in your lives.
Why is Nita Upside Down? By Roxana Bouwer, Sarah Bouwer, Emma Hearne
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.
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Skin We Are In By Sindiwe Magona, Nina G. Jablonski
“All people will be happier and the world will be a better place when we all understand that colour doesn’t change who we really are.”
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.
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My Special Hair By Candice Dingwall
“My special hair is full of love. With love my hair is crowned. It grows and grows and grows until I spread it all around.”
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.
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Ebony Sea By Irene Smalls
“She saw the whips, the chains, the beatings. She saw the joys of the Johnkankus, the cornshuckings, the starlight walks, the faces of her unborn children […] She wanted to go home.”
Ebony Sea is a storybook rendition of the tragic story of Igbo Landing, an account of Ebo Africans walking off an American slave ship into a river and drowning themselves. This tragic story, which demonstrates the cruel extent of the country’s treatment of African slaves, is gradually being brought to light by the African American community; having been notably referenced by Beyoncé in her “Love Drought” music video and Killmonger during his death scene in Marvel’s Black Panther. Smalls’ Ebony Sea brings this awareness to upper elementary and preteen children, setting them a foundation for conversations about America’s history regarding race.
👉🏾 Read it