In the book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World (out in September!), I have a chapter called Books Will Save the World. I believe stories are the essence of life (every life is a story after all) and also the best way to teach anybody about what it means to be a human being. So if you want to raise a kinder, anti-racist child, simply reach for one (or more) of these 55+ Books about Race, Diversity and Equality and share it with your little one.
I’ve handpicked books that will help you and your child look at the world through new eyes, books that centre Black and Brown characters, and books (mostly) by Black and Brown authors. There’s still so much work to do in trying to rebalance an unjust and unequal society, but listening and learning from stories is an excellent place to start. Use these books as helpful tools to guide those necessary conversations.
50+ Inspiring Books about Race and Diversity that Every Child Should Read
New Books on the Block (2020)
Curly Kyla by Sophia Mayers (Conscious Dreams Publishing) [Ages 5-9]Richard Blackwood’s sister Sophia, owner of Afro Impressions Hair Salon and Global Hair Academy in Camberley, Surrey, penned this lovely book to spark conversations about diversity and self-acceptance. (pub. Jul 2020)
Exploring London with Ama and Neri by Pelena Cosme (Independently Published) [Ages 3+]Two adventurous sisters discover London Zoo, where Ama has to help Neri find something she’s lost. The first in a series is a call to action by author and mama Pelena, after studies showing Black and ethnic families are less active outdoors than White families.
The Amazing Zoe Defeats The Germie Germlins by Valene Campbell (Zou Zou Media House Inc) [Ages 5+]Starring a sparky Black girl named Zoe, this lively picture book teaches children how to manage COVID-19 anxiety in a fun way.
Uncle Gugi’s Wedding (Nielsen) [Ages 7+]A British-born girl travels to a wedding in Nigeria and learns about her African culture and customs. 10-year-old Keona Maduforo illustrated and co-authored this book with her mum Uju Maduforo (shout out to my namesake!).
Lilly and the Magic Comb by V V Brown
After smashing its target on Kickstarter, this self-funded book will be published this December. It’s about a little girl whose imagination can take her anywhere thanks to her incredible magic comb. (pub. Dec 2020)
Jacopo Jacopo on Lockdown by Phina Oruche (Independently Published) [Ages 9+]Actress Phina Oruche sets her second children’s book in the summer of 2020, exploring issues arising from the Black Lives Matter movement and aimed at inspiring young boys like her son to read more.
Books for Younger Readers (0-7)
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o (Puffin) [Ages 3-7]Gorgeous and personal tale by the Black Panther actress on colourism and learning to love the skin you’re in.
Look Up by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Puffin) [Ages 2-5]A young girl dreams of being an astronaut in this charming, award-winning tale (pictured up top).
All The Colours We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Colour by Katie Kissinger (Redleaf Press) [Ages 3-6]Great conversation starter on skin tones and why humans look so different.
The Ghanaian Goldilocks by Tamara Pizzoli [Ages 3-10]A folksy, funky twist on the classic fairytale.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers (Harper Collins) [Ages 4-8]Brilliantly empowering picture book on kindness and self-acceptance.
Saturday by Oge Mora (Little Brown Books for Younger Readers) [Ages 4-8]Beautifully illustrated day in the life of a mother and daughter coming to terms with a series of setbacks.
Books to Help you Raise an Anti-Racist
A Kids Book about Racism by Jelani Memory (A Kids Book About) [Ages 0+]Brilliant book about anti-racism from the fantastic A Kids Book About series.
Woke Baby by Mahogany Browne and Theodore Taylor III (Roaring Book Press) [Ages 0-3]Why every baby should be a woke baby.
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X Kendi (Kokila) [Ages 0-3]NYT bestselling author translates the message of How To Be an Antiracist for the littlest learners.
This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell (White Lion Publishing) [Ages 11-15]Award-winning book for kids and teens on anti-racist themes, illustrated by Instagram wonder Aurelia Durand.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You (A Remix) by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi (Little Brown Young Readers) [YA]Two major authors come together for this guide aimed at slightly older kids.
Books for Little Activists
No! My First book of Protest Board Book by Julie Merberg (Downtown Bookworks) [Ages 0-5]Learning to say ‘no’ is a child’s first form of resistance.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (Seven Stories Press) [Ages 0-5]A simple alphabet book looking at protest and social justice.
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers (Chronicle Books) [Ages 3-5]An inspiring call to action for all ages.
F is for Feminism by Carolyn Suzuki (Ladybird) [Ages 4-7]Great book for all genders to explore woman power.
If You’re Going to a March by Martha Freeman (Sterling) [Ages 4-7]Timely book about rising up for what you believe in.
Books about Black Lives Matter and Civil Rights
Something Happened In Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard (Magination Press) [Ages 4-8]A Black family and a White family react after a police shooting.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia (Harper Collins Children’s Books) [Ages 8-12]Follow three sisters on a summer trip in one of the most pivotal seasons in American history.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books) [Ages 10+]Lyrical novel about growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s in America.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Orion Children’s Books) [Ages 11+]Heartbreaking story from the perspective of a 12-year-old Black boy shot by police.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Simon & Schuster) [Ages 13+]After a brush with police, a troubled young Black boy begins a journal to Dr Martin Luther King.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker Books) [Ages 13+]A teen girl witnesses a police shooting and becomes part of a community uprising. Essential reading.
Books Celebrating Equality and Diversity
Sesame Street: We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates (Random House) [Ages 3-8]The wonderful Sesame Street exploring diversity and common ground.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold (Knopf Books) [Ages 4-8]Inviting, beautifully illustrated and with a strong message that’s so relevant to our times.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Walker Books) [Ages 4-9]He’s Black and he’s gender diverse and he’s fabulous. Inspiring tale.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Puffin) [Ages 5-7]Celebrating the impact of some leading figures.
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad (Andersen Press Ltd) [Ages 6-8]Two sisters prepare as one starts her first day at school, wearing her hijab for the first time.
Books about the Multicultural Experience
Looking for Lord Ganesh by Mahtab Narsimhan (Lantana Publishing) [Ages 3-7]A young girl prays to a Hindu god for guidance at her time of need.
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki (Kids Can Press) [Ages 3-8]Suki wears a kimono on her first day at school as a tribute to her grandmother.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan (Lee & Low Books) [Ages 4-7]A simple guide to learn and appreciate the hijab and why women wear it.
Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B. Robert (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) [Ages 4-7]A lyrical picture book celebrating Ramadan for Muslims and introducing its beauty to non-Muslims.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (Dragonfly Books) [Ages 5-8]A young Korean girl starting school in America learns to take pride in her ‘foreign-sounding’ name.
Books Encouraging Kindness and Empathy
I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde (Abrams Books) [Ages 4-8]Delightfully illustrated picture book about humanity and how we’re all connected.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Hodder Children’s Books) [Ages 6-11+]One of The Times 100 Best Books of all time, a moving and wordless tribute to displaced people.
I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia (Skinned Knee Publishing) [Ages 5-11]Helpful words and messages for young kids.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf (Orion Children’s Books) [Ages 8-11]Thoughtful and moving tale of what it’s like to be an outsider.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Corgi Children’s) [Ages 9-11]Truly inspirational story adapted for the hit movie about a boy with a facial abnormality.
Books About Special Needs and Special Feelings
Amazing by Steve Antony (Hodder Children’s Books [Ages 3-5]A joyful celebration of friendship, kindness and embracing difference.
Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Children’s Books) [Ages 5-7]A sweet story about what to do when your anxiety grows out of control.
All Dogs Have ADHD by Kathy Hoopman (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) [Ages 7+]Informative and cheerful follow-up to All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome.
El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet Books) [Ages 8-12]Fun and empowering graphic novel that chronicles the author’s own hearing loss at a young age.
Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider by Ade Adepitan (Piccadilly Press) [Ages 9+]Special Olympian Ade continues his series about a boy who loses the power of his legs but gains a lot more.
Books for Older Kids (7+)
Jaden Toussaint: The Greatest by Marti Dumas (Plum Street Press) [Ages 6-11]Introducing Jaden, a 5-year-old with a super-powered brain and ninja moves.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by (Rick Riordan Presents) [Ages 9-12]Paranormal fantasy that draws on African-Caribbean folk tales like the Anansi legend.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Knights Of) [Ages 10+]Ghost is a sprinter with natural talent. But can he stay on track?
Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Andersen Press) [Ages 10+]A novel in verse about twin boys Josh and Jordan who, at 12, are kings of the basketball court.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Scholastic) [Ages 11+]When Lara Jean’s secret love letters are mailed, life gets out of whack.
Books for Teens/Young Adults
Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children’s Books) [Ages 11+]Moving story about 12-year old Mira, dealing with the loss of her beloved grandma.
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Penguin) [YA]Two star-crossed teens fall in love in Blackman’s series exploring racism with fresh eyes.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Penguin Random House) [YA]Acclaimed story about an Iranian teen in America feeling caught between both worlds.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Children’s Books) [YA]Bestselling NYT author Tomi mined her Nigerian heritage for this fantasy epic, first in a trilogy.
Un(arranged) Marriage by Bali Rai (Random House Children’s Books) [YA]One young man’s struggle for acceptance against cultural peer pressure.