Books & Beyond

Social Justice for Kids

By Anna B.
May 29, 2020

Parenting is hard. Having big discussions, even with other grownups much less kids, can feel daunting. Navigating what to share, how much detail and all of the other decisions can make you feel like it’s easier just not to talk about it. But kids know stuff happens. They hear it from friends, hear their grownups talking, see videos online and more. Opening that conversation can lead to your child being a better informed citizen, with an understanding of history, better social/emotional knowledge and the empowerment of knowing they have a voice, even at their age.

For an idea of what these conversations can look like, read this fantastic article from School Library Journal that highlights local librarians at Multnomah County for their work on talking about race with preschoolers. Yes, preschoolers! Amazing books like Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Hands Up! by Breanna McDaniel can help parents start the conversation of injustices past and present.

Wanting to talk about what to do about it? Try Ilene Cooper’s The Golden Rule or Dave Egger’s Her Right Foot (I cry so much reading this one–happy tears, promise!). Follow that with We are the Change, an amazing collection of 16 award-winning children’s book artists illustrated the civil rights quotes that have inspired them.

For grade school and middle school age kids, Taylor Worley, another Oregon librarian, compiled this incredible list of social justice books that includes both fiction and non-fiction titles. There are so many excellent titles on this list, but I especially appreciated Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Hudson.