Talking About Race

Talking About Race

Learning about race and talking to your children about race is a vital but sometimes intimidating topic: When do you get started? How do you get started? What if you make a mistake? The titles collected on this list are meant to further readers’ understanding of race and to facilitate conversations on race.

Compiled by:
Kim B.

Younger Elementary

All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color/Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel: la Historia de por Qué Tenemos Diferentes Colores de Piel

Katie Kissinger
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 612.79 Kis)

Explains, in simple terms, the reasons for skin color, how it is determined by heredity, and how various environmental factors affect it. Recommended for ages 6-9.

Black is a Rainbow Color

Angela Joy
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Joy)

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Don't Touch My Hair!

Sharee Miller
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Mil)

Aria loves her soft and bouncy hair, but must go to extremes to avoid people who touch it without permission until, finally, she speaks up. Includes author's note. Recommended for ages 3-6

Racism and Intolerance

Louise Spilsbury
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.8 Spi)

In Racism and Intolerance, children can get answers to questions like: "What does it mean to be a racist—or intolerant?" and "How can I help?" Children will begin to understand the way others struggle with these issues and become empowered to make a difference. Recommended for ages 6-9.

Skin Again

bell hooks
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ho)

Repeating the phrase “the skin I’m in is just a covering,” this book explores the ideas that we need to look beyond skin to know one another, and to celebrate our uniqueness. Recommended for ages 3-6

Something Happened in our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice

Marianne Celano
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.8 Cel)

After discussing the police shooting of a local Black man with their families, Emma and Josh know how to treat a new student who looks and speaks differently than his classmates. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides general guidance about addressing racism with children, child-friendly vocabulary definitions, conversation guides, and a link to additional online resources for parents and teachers. Recommended for ages 6-9.

What’s the Difference? Being Different is Amazing

Doyin Richards
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ric)

Photographs and simple text celebrate friendship, diversity, and acceptance. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Where Are You From?

Yamile Saied Méndez
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Men)

When a young girl is asked where she's from, where she's really from, she's no longer as she was. She decides to turn to her dear abuelo for some help with this ever-persistent question. But he doesn't quite give her the answer she expects. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Whoever You Are

Mem Fox
(Juvenile Picture Books Nonfiction - Ej 305.8 Fo)

Despite the differences between people around the world, there are similarities that join us together, such as pain, joy, and love. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Older Elementary

Amina's Voice

Hena Khan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Khan)

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family's vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community. Recommended for ages 9-12

Black Lives Matter

Duchess Harris
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.896 Har)

What started as a hashtag in 2013 quickly grew into the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter examines the police shootings that fueled the movement, the events that led up to racial tensions in the United States, and the goals the movement has set for the future. Easy-to-read text, vivid images, and helpful back matter give readers a clear look at this subject. Recommended ages 9-12+

Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Irene Latham
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 811.54 Lat)

Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, present paired poems about topics including family dinners, sports, recess, and much more. This relatable collection explores different experiences of race in America. Recommended for ages 9-12

Count Me In

Varsha Bajaj
(Juvenile Fiction - J Bajaj)

Told from two viewpoints, sixth-graders Karina and Chris use social media to stand up to racism in Houston, Texas, after an attack puts Karina's Indian American grandfather in the hospital. Recommended for ages 9-12+

Dealing With: Racism

Jane Lacey
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.8 Lac)

Sometimes you can sort out a problem on your own. But sometimes you need to ask for help. This book helps young children to make this decision and find out about and understand racism. It features seven case studies from children who have a range of racism problems from a girl who is being left out because she is Muslim to the new boy in school from another country who is struggling to fit in. In this series, case studies combine with sensible, practical advice to help children find out what to do in difficult situations. Recommended for ages 9-12+

A Good Kind of Trouble

Lisa Moore Ramée
(Juvenile Fiction - J Ramee)

After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity.
Recommended for ages 9-12+

New Kid

Jerry Craft
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN Craft New Kid)

New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds-and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? Recommended for ages 9-12+

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Anastasia Higginbotham
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.8 Hig)

A white child sees a TV news report of a white police officer shooting and killing a black man. "In our family, we don't see color," his mother says, but he sees the colors plain enough. An afternoon in the library's history stacks uncover the truth of white supremacy in America. Racism was not his idea and he refuses to defend it. Recommended for ages 9-12.

Racism and Prejudice

Marguerite Rodger, Jessie Rodger
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 305.8 Rod)

Presents information about different types of racism and prejudice, including their history, the negative effects that they have on people, and ways of dealing with them. Recommended for ages 9-12+

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 303.4 We)

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists. Recommended for ages 9-12+

What Lane?

Torrey Maldonado
(Juvenile Fiction - J Mal)

Biracial sixth-grader Stephen questions the limitations society puts on him after he notices the way strangers treat him when he hangs out with his white friends and learns about the Black Lives Matter movement. Recommended for ages 9-12