Curated by our Anti-Racism Ministry Team, this list of children’s books is provided for your review.
“Jingle Dancer” by Cynthia Leitich Smith (indigenous people in the modern day)
From the publisher: New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s lyrical text is paired with the warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu in this affirming story of a contemporary Native American girl who turns to her family and community.
“Little E” by Dr. Eddie Moore (racial identity)
From the publisher: Little E finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and can’t get the words out to explain it. How can he clarify The Big Misunderstanding?
“Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (First Conversations)” by Megan Madison, et al (great for starting a conversation)
From the publisher: Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.
While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.
This first book in the series begins the conversation on race, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.
“Sparkle Boy” by Lesléa Newman (multiracial family)
From the publisher: Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle, shimmer, and glitter. When his older sister, Jessie, shows off her new shimmery skirt, Casey wants to wear a shimmery skirt too. When Jessie comes home from a party with glittery nails, Casey wants glittery nails too. And when Abuelita visits wearing an armful of sparkly bracelets, Casey gets one to wear, just like Jessie. The adults in Casey’s life embrace his interests, but Jessie isn’t so sure. Boys aren’t supposed to wear sparkly, shimmery, glittery things. Then, when older boys at the library tease Casey for wearing “girl” things, Jessie realizes that Casey has the right to be himself and wear whatever he wants. Why can’t both she and Casey love all things shimmery, glittery, and sparkly? Here is a sweet, heartwarming story about acceptance, respect, and the freedom to be yourself in a world where any gender expression should be celebrated. Sparkly things are for everyone to enjoy!
“Milo imagines the World” by Matt de la Peña (beautiful and deep)
From the publisher: The team behind the Newbery Medal winner and Caldecott Honor book Last Stop on Market Street and the award-winning New York Times bestseller Carmela Full of Wishes once again delivers a poignant and timely picture book that’s sure to become an instant classic.
Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There’s the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There’s the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there’s the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo–walking the same path, going to the exact same place–Milo realizes that you can’t really know anyone just by looking at them.
“The Proudest Blue” by Ibtihaj Muhammad (navigating a school environment)
From the publisher: THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school–and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab–by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.
“Danny the Dinosaur” by Syd Hoff (story with all white persons, so ask your child “who is missing?” when you read it)
From the publisher:
Syd Hoff’s comical, charming illustrations will delight readers young and old alike in this beloved classic I Can Read about a boy and his best friend, a dinosaur.
Danny loves dinosaurs! When he sees one at the museum and says, “It would be nice to play with a dinosaur,” a voice answers, “And I think it would be nice to play with you.” So begins Danny and the Dinosaur’s wonderful adventures together. For Danny and his prehistoric playmate, even the most everyday activities become extraordinary, like finding a big-enough place to hide a dinosaur in a game of hide-and-seek. But Danny can teach an old dinosaur new tricks. It’s the most fun this dinosaur has had in a hundred million years!
Originally published over 50 years ago, this beloved classic is a Level 1 I Can Read that is perfect for the beginning reader learning to sound out words and sentences. Whether shared at home or in a classroom, the short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts of Level One books support success for children eager to start reading on their own.