A Guide to Children’s Books About Racism

It starts at home. As parents, we’ve all seen this phrase and know it to be true. We know the earlier and more often we talk to our children about racism the better. This includes offering resources — like books —  to help our children begin to understand this systemic problem. Below is a list of recommended children’s books about racism. These titles can help you start or further these difficult, yet essential conversations at home.

Children’s Books About Racism


A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin

Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome by Lisa Tompkins

Young Children and Grade School

An image of several book covers about race for children

A Family Is A Family Is A Family by Sara O’Leary

A Kid’s Book About Racism by Jelani Memory

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! Celebrating Diversity with Empathy by Maria Dismondy

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange

Different Is Awesome! by Ryan Haack

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson

Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

I’m Like You, You’re Like Me by Cindy Gainer

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi

Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Little Legends:Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Lucy’s Umbrella by Sara Madden

Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt

Malcom Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Be Malcom X by Ilyasah Shabazz

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown

Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman

My Daddy, Martin Luther King Jr. by Martin Luther King III

My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss and Hope by Diane Guerrero

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters by Barack Obama

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders

People Aren’t Socks by Liza Dora

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim

President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston

Princess Hair by Sharee Miller

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Seeds of Change:Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Johnson

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Skin Like Mine by Latashia M. Perry

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Something Happened In Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard

Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman and Roger Roth

That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Tenayuca

The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan

The Boy and The Wall by Palestinian refugee children in the Aida Refugee Camp

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Favorite Daughter by Allen Say

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford

The Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair by Barbara Meyers and Lydia Criss Mays

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

The Peace Book by Todd Parr

The Princess and the Fog by Lloyd Jones

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray

The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah

The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

Uniquely Me by Trace Wilson

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged! by Jody Nyasha Warner

We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

We Are Together by Britta Teckentrup

We Came to America by Faith Ringgold

What’s Cool About Braille Code School? by Gracie Benedith-Cane

What I Like About Me by Allia Zobel Nolan

What’s The Difference? Being Different is Amazing! by Doyin Richards

When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson

Winter Candle by Jeron Ashford


An image of tween book titles about racism

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Playground by 50 Cent

The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock by Aslan Tudor, Kelly Tudor and Jason Eaglespeaker

The Iowa City Public Library also offers another great list of antiracist books for middle grade readers.

Teen and Young Adult

Black Lives Matter by Sue Bradford Edwards and Duchess Harris

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This Side of Home by Renée Watson

We encourage you to keep learning and seeking out resources, including this recommended list of books for white parents talking to white children about race.

Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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