Children's books are one of the best tools to start and aid conversations. EMBRACE Action believes that it is best to EMBRACE a child's natural curiosity and zest for learning with discussions on cultural and racial identity.
TODDLER & PRE-SCHOOL
"We're Different, We're the Same"Elmo and his Sesame Street friends help teach toddlers and the adults in their lives that everyone is the same on the inside, and it's our differences that make this wonderful world, which is home to us all, an interesting—and special—place. This enduring, colorful, and charmingly illustrated book offers an easy, enjoyable way to learn about differences—and what truly matters.
"It's OK to be Different"Every Child is Unique! Whether they are big or small, short or tall, like to swim, dance, sing or bike. Perhaps they have a special need or are from a different ethnic background. Maybe they wear glasses or talk differently. The truth is that all children are different and their individuality should be celebrated, not shunned. And this inspiring and brightly illustrated rhyming picture book does just that.
"Say Hello!"Carmelita loves to greet everyone in her colorful neighborhood. There are people from so many different cultures! They all like to say hello too, so now Carmelita can say hello in Spanish, English, French, Japanese, and many other languages. And her dog, Manny? Well, he seems to understand everyone, and gives a happy "Woof!" wherever he goes.
Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora's eyecatching collages are full of kid-friendly details.
"Dream Big, Little One"Handpicked by Amazon kids’ books editor, Seira Wilson, for Prime Book Box – a children’s subscription that inspires a love of reading.
This beautifully illustrated board book edition of instant bestseller Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History showcases women who changed the world and is the perfect goodnight book to inspire big dreams.
"Antiracist Baby"With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.
"She Was The First!:The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm"A timely, inspiring picture book biography of the dynamic twentieth-century educator, activist, and politician Shirley Chisholm.Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and catalyst of change who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.
"Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote"The perfect read for the one-hundredth anniversary of the nineteenth amendment and in advance of the upcoming presidential election, this inspiring picture book from United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand shares the stories of ten suffragists who fought for women's right to vote.
"Lillian's Right To Vote: A Celebration of he Voting Rights Act of 1965"An elderly African American woman, en route to vote, remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history in this picture book publishing in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"Moving.... Stirs up a potent mixture of grief, anger, and pride at the history of black people’s fight for access to the ballot box." —The New York Times
"We Can Vote"The Rookie Read about Civics series helps children become productive citizens by presenting core civic knowledge in a fun and engaging way. Each book features include critical-thinking questions; a civics in action feature that encourages kids to put what they've learned into practice; a civics checklist; glossary; and more.
Is voting fair? How do elections work? readers will investigate the process of voting-in their own lives and in their future-from researching choices to tallying results.
"Grace for President"A fresh, fun, and "thought-provoking" New York Times bestseller about the American electoral college and why every vote counts from bestselling and award-winning duo Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham.
"I Am Every Good Thing"The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He's got big plans, and no doubt he'll see them through--as he's creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he's afraid, because he's so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you--and shows you--who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!
"Where Are You From?"This resonant and award-winning picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom—a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo.
"Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story"Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.
"Alma and How She Got Her Name"How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.
"The Day You Begin"Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael López's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
"I Am Enough"This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
"Our Class is a Family"With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.
"Kindness is my Superpower"The best social-emotional learning (SEL) book for raising kind children.
This charming story with peaceful rhymes and colorful illustrations will explain to your child that it is okay to make a mistake and say I’m sorry. Lucas will teach your child good manners and positive behaviour at home, at school, in the store, and on the playground.
"Teach Us Your Name"Grades 1 - 5 Written by a teacher, this fun yet meaningful story was created to empower children to teach others how to pronounce their names correctly. Perfect anytime of the school year, children, parents and teachers alike will enjoy this story that promotes invaluable discussions about embracing and learning from our differences.
"Let Them Play"Segregated Charleston, SC, 1955: There are 62 official Little League programs in South Carolina -- all but one of the leagues is composed entirely of white players. The Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars, an all-black team, is formed in the hopes of playing in the state's annual Little League Tournament. What should have been a time of enjoyment, however, turns sour when all of the other leagues refuse to play against them and even pull out of the program.
"Whose Knees Are These?"This interactive and multicultural board book is a fun way to embrace diversity through a baby’s dimpled knees! Great for babies and toddlers.
“I love all my books but Whose Knees Are These? is my favorite. It reminds me of when I was little and my mom would tickle my knees when she read this to me.” -Sam, Age 9
"The Day You Begin"National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López bring this inspiring story to life about finding the courage to connect.
"I Believe I Can"This gorgeously illustrated book lets all kids know that, no matter their background, they can love and believe in themselves.
"Something Happened In Our Town"Following a police shooting, two families - one White and one Black - discuss the event, its aftermath, and what they can do to help.
"I am Jackie Robinson"Jackie Robinson always loved sports, especially baseball. But he lived at a time before the Civil Rights Movement, when the rules weren't fair to African Americans. Even though Jackie was a great athlete, he wasn't allowed on the best team.
This engaging series is the perfect way to bring American history to life for young children, providing them with the right role models, supplementing Common Core learning in the classroom, and best of all, inspiring them to strive and dream.
"Salt in His Shoes"The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he'd never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That's when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion -- patience, determination, and hard work.
"The Boy Who Became King"The Boy Who Became King is the inspiring true story of NBA superstar LeBron James. This Fully illustrated picture book biography tells the story of a young boy and his loving, single mother and their struggle to make it on their own. With the help of a coach and his family, LeBron is introduced to the game of basketball.
"Fly High!"When Bessie Coleman was a child, she wanted to be in school -- not in the cotton fields of Texas, helping her family earn money. She wanted to be somebody significant in the world. So Bessie did everything she could to learn under the most challenging of circumstances. And this was just the beginning of a life of hard work and dedication that really paid off: Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. She was somebody.
"Woke""This collection of poems by women of color covers topics relating to social justice, activism, discrimination and empathy, focusing on the need to speak out and inspiring middle-graders." -Vogue
"No! My First Book of Protest"Little ones who love to say "No!" can chime in while they learn about iconic activists from Frederick Douglass and Alice Paul to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala.
Each spread introduces an iconic figure—such as Gloria Steinem or Cesar Chavez—along with a super simple summary of the actions they took to change the course of history. Activists of all ages will learn about the abolitionist movement, civil rights, women's rights, and more!
"Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad?"When Montsho, an African American boy, asks his grandfather "Is everthing black bad?", his grandfather tells him about his African heritage and how his dark skin and his heritage are very good things.
"Sulwe"Recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Literary Work comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.
"Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights"Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations brings the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference. And together, we can accomplish anything.
"I Walk With Vanessa"The story of one girl who inspires a community to stand up to bullying. Inspired by real events, it explores the feelings of helplessness & anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, & shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. The creators underscore the idea that someone can be an ally without having to say a word. With themes of acceptance, kindness & strength in numbers, feel-good story will resonate with readers young.
"Hair Love"An ode to loving your natural hair -- and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere. It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, , from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison.
"Let The Children March"In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison's emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson's moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.
"The Thing About Luck"There is bad luck, good luck, and making your own luck--which is exactly what Summer must do to save her family in this winner of the National Book Award by Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata.
"One Crazy Summer"In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. A strong option for summer reading—take this book along on a family road trip or enjoy it at home.
"Inside Out and Back Again"Inside Out and Back Again is a #1 New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award!
Inspired by the author's childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.
"Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza""A lively mystery with a touch of spookiness, an intriguing setting, an appealing family dynamic, and an enterprising Latina heroine." –KIRKUS REVEWS
"Lety Out Loud"Award-winning author Angela Cervantes returns to the fan favorite animal shelter featured in Gaby, Lost and Found, with a heartfelt novel about friendship and finding your voice.
"The Length of a String"Imani is adopted, and she's ready to search for her birth parents. But when she discovers the diary her Jewish great-grandmother wrote chronicling her escape from Holocaust-era Europe, Imani begins to see family in a new way.
"Class Act"New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft returns with a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. This time, it’s Jordan’s friend Drew who takes center stage in another laugh-out-loud funny, powerful, and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school.
"Clean Getaway"Handpicked by Amazon kids’ books editor, Seira Wilson, for Prime Book Box – a children’s subscription that inspires a love of reading.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds.
"Blended"Eleven-year-old Isabella’s blended family is more divided than ever in this “timely but genuine” (Publishers Weekly) story about divorce and racial identity from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper.
"From the Desk of Zoe Washington"An Amazon Best Book of the Month * #1 Kids Indie Next List * A Junior Library Guild Selection * Four Starred Reviews
From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating story full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right—even in the face of great opposition.
"The Only Black Girls In Town"Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert's debut middle-grade novel about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past.
"New Kid"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.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one.
"Little Legends"An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.
"Little Leaders"An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
"The Parker Inheritance""Powerful.... Johnson writes about the long shadows of the past with such ambition that any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Bud, Not Buddy"The Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic about a boy who decides to hit the road to find his father—from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree.
"Three On Three"Nick and Kia get excited when their school gym teacher announces a "three-on-three" basketball tournament. The two most dedicated players in grade three, they know they'll be tough to beat. But when Nick finds out they'll be up against teams in grade four and five, he is ready to throw in the towel before they start. How can shrimps like them ever hope to beat the older kids? Easy, get the best player in the school to be your third player. Marcus is bigger, tougher and in grade five.
"We Rise We Resist We Raise Our Voices"Fifty of the foremost diverse children's authors and illustrators--including Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kwame Alexander--share answers to the question, "In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?" in this beautiful, full-color keepsake collection, published in partnership with Just Us Books.
What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant?
"Track" SeriesGhost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. A fast but fiery group of kids from wildly different backgrounds, chosen to compete on an elite track team. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Discover each of their stories in this complete collection of Jason Reynolds’s explosive New York Times bestselling Track series.
"The Crossover""A beautifully measured novel of life and line."—The New York Times
As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change. When Jordan meets a girl, the twins’ bond unravels.Told in dynamic verse, this fast and furious middle grade novel that started it all absolutely bounces with rhythm and bursts with heart.
"Black and White"Thomas and Denyse have a lot in common. They both love basketball and sugar on their popcorn, but they have one major difference: Thomas is white and Denyse is black. Some people start making racist remarks when they go out, and their parents warn them of the hardships ahead. They can't understand what the big deal is, but will the pressure of this relationship break them apart?
"This Book is Anti-Racist"Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress
through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still
experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the
previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. 20 activities get you
thinking and help you grow with the knowledge. All you need is a pen and paper.
"This Side of Home"From Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson comes a captivating and poignant coming-of-age urban novel about sisters, friends, and what it means to embrace change.
"Marked By Fire"In a triumphant story of faith and fortitude, Abby emerges clearly as a young woman who faces pain and joy with the dignity of her heritage and the determination of spirit.
Joyce Carol Thomas’s beautifully written first novel, a 1983 National Book Award winner, remains as poignant and moving today as it was 25 years ago when it was first published.
"The Bluest Eye"Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful
"Dear Martin"Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning #1 New York Times bestselling debut.
"A visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice." -Publishers Weekly
"The Stars Beneath Our Feet""The right story at the right time. . . . It’s not just a narrative; it’s an experience. It’s the novel we’ve been waiting for." —The New York Times
A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity.
"The Hate U Give"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor
neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her
childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon
afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug
dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING LISTS
The selected children's books all have characters and stories that center on relevant social justice issues, and the readings will empower kids and teens to participate in the ongoing movement for racial equality.
Multicultural and social justice books for children, young adults and educators
From the educators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture: 12 books to help children understand race, anti-racism and protest
From Barnes and Noble: books About anti-racism, allyship, and the ongoing movement for justice
From PBS:13 books about race and diversity