26 Books That Teach Young Kids About Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality
It is incumbent upon white Americans to be stronger, more active, and more consistent allies in the fight for racial equality. White parents, in particular, must ask ourselves how we can raise children who will be part of the solution to the racial inequities and injustices that pervade our society. Children perceive race before they're even a year old, so our work in raising antiracist children needs to start at the very beginning. We need to introduce our children to the concepts of representation and inclusivity early and often, and one easy way to do this is by thoughtfully choosing the books we read to them.
The lack of representation and inclusivity has long been an issue in children's literature. A 2019 study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that more children's books featured animals as main characters than depicted Black, Asian, Latinx, or Indigenous characters. Unfortunately, it's much harder to find children's books that are widely representative than it should be. We know that it's incredibly important for people of color to see themselves represented in media, but it's also very important for white children to see characters unlike themselves, too.
Here is a list that we've compiled for books that we recommend parents read to their young kids, starting from birth. Some of these books are examples of the type of representation we want to see more of in children's books, and others teach valuable lessons of inclusion and equality. And we want to be clear — this is just one small step that parents can take. There are so many things that white parents can do to become better allies. We should read books and educate ourselves about race in America. We should talk to our kids about race and white privilege. We should model antiracism for our kids by thinking critically about everyday choices and actions we make. We should recognize that this is just the beginning of a long conversation, and that our efforts toward raising antiracist children should be an integral part of our everyday lives.
Ages 0-2: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes ($8) is a playful and rhythmic book that celebrates babies from around the world.
Ages 0-2: Peekaboo Morning
Peekaboo Morning ($7) is an adorable peekaboo book that babies and toddlers will love to play along with.
Ages 0-2: Dream Big, Little One
Dream Big, Little One ($8) celebrates 18 trailblazing Black women in American history, all in the perfect bedtime story.
Ages 0-2: How Do You Say I Love You?
How Do You Say I Love You? ($7) teaches your child how to say "I love you" in 10 different languages — and celebrates cultures associated with those languages along the way.
Ages 0-2: A Is For Activist
A Is For Activist ($11) is not your standard alphabet book. Teach your child the ABC's, alongside lessons about activism, justice, protest, and equality.
Ages 2-4: We're Different, We're the Same
The world would be so boring if everyone was the same. We're Different, We're the Same ($5) celebrates our differences, while reminding readers that deep down, we're all alike.
Ages 2-4: Ada Twist, Scientist
It's easy to celebrate a book that features a young Black girl who loves science. Plus, Ada Twist, Scientist ($17) is very fun and playful to read.
Ages 2-4: One Word From Sophia
One Word From Sophia ($17) is a great example of the type of families we'd love to see more of in children's books.
Ages 2-4: Where Are You From?
Where Are You From? ($17) is a book for anyone who has ever been stumped by the question, "Where are you from?" It's a powerful book on self-acceptance and identity.
Ages 2-4: Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Sofia and her abuelo inspire young change-makers everywhere as she navigates the local government to make changes in her town in Sofia Valdez, Future Prez ($17).
Ages 2-4: Last Stop on Market Street
Last Stop on Market Street ($17) follows a boy and his grandma as they travel to a soup kitchen by bus and meet interesting and unique people along the way.
Ages 4-6: The Day You Begin
The Day You Begin ($17) teaches kids how to navigate a world when they don't feel like they fit in.
Ages 4-6: Sulwe
Sulwe ($17) is a beautiful story that aims to teach Black girls — and everyone — that dark skin is beautiful.
Ages 4-6: This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World
Take your kids on a journey around the globe in This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World ($17).
Ages 4-6: One Family
One Family ($17) is beautiful in its simplicity. The book celebrates how all families are a little bit different.
Ages 4-6: Let's Talk About Race
Let's Talk About Race ($7) is another celebration of what makes us unique, while striving to spark conversation between you and your child.
Ages 4-6: Beautiful
Every girl should have Beautiful ($16) on their bookshelf. It celebrates all the qualities that make ALL girls beautiful — independence, strength, uniqueness, and fun.
Ages 4-6: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Ages 4-6: Mae Among the Stars
Learn about the first African-American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison, with Mae Among the Stars ($7).
Ages 4-6: I Am Human: A Book of Empathy
I Am Human: A Book of Empathy ($14) celebrates acceptance and compassion. Like the other books in this series, the illustrations are inclusive.
Ages 4-6: Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice
Something Happened in Our Town ($15) follows two families as they discuss the police shooting a Black man in their community. It explores the concepts of injustice and trauma in a way that young children can understand.
Ages 4-6: Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
Written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor,
Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You ($17) celebrates the different abilities kids have. This book encourages readers to "just ask" when we come across someone who is different from us but we're not sure why.
Ages 4-6: Beautiful Beautiful Me
Beautiful Beautiful Me ($21) was created to celebrate people of all colors and races. It began as a conversation between a mother and daughter about the differences between her parents' skin colors, and grew into a children's book that teaches kids about loving themselves while celebrating the differences of others.
Ages 4-6+: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family ($17) takes readers through the first day of school for two sisters, and one's first day of hijab. Not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, the sisters find new ways to be strong.