35 Books on Teaching Kids About Racism and Diversity

Help your children fully understand current events like race and diversity with this list of 35 books on teaching kids about racism and diversity. These books on racism and diversity for kids were all recommended by people of color as accurate and useful ways to raise children without prejudice or bias based on skin color.

Like most white parents right now, we are struggling to come up with a good and honest way to explain and talk to our young children about differences, racism, and diversity.

At first, we simply found this great video explaining Systemic Racism:

But we realized it wasn’t quite enough.

We have always been very clear and adamant in explaining to our young children that skin color makes no difference in respect to a person’s everyday life’s value to God. Skin color doesn’t define a person’s everyday life’s worth any more than hair or eye color.

We’ve taken in children of color as foster parents, we are friends with people of color, and we served our missions in the Caribbean – Barbados, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. We firmly believe that all are alike unto God, and we have so much love for people all racist children of color.

However, not everyone believes this way.  Racism and biases strongly exist in many cultures and many other cultures and in this country, racism, and white privilege is a real thing.

How do we teach our young children about diversity racial bias and racism in the media in the right and healthy way?, for example, especially at this age when we haven’t experienced it first-hand?

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The closest we’ve come to racial group is being missionaries in Barbados where we were one of the few white people on the island, and we were treated unfairly and labeled as elitist, spoiled tourists – which is nothing compared to being labeled as dangerous.  Our lives were never at risk.

We reached out on social media, talking specifically to people and women of color, to get a list of accurate, helpful examples of different races of picture books that can be used to teach kids about racism, privilege, and discrimination.

For our family, it’s not enough to teach older children that everyone is equal – we want to encourage our school-aged children to actively look for ways to stand up for fairness and equality and fight intolerance and hate.  We want to encourage them to fight against any natural biases they may absorb.

This is one reason why we chose to homeschool– we don’t want the world or media to teach our young children what their values, feelings, and beliefs should be.

And as you teach your children to listen, you should also educate yourself with these books for adults. Your kids and adults may also enjoy these Own Voices Books for Kids

This book list is also perfect for reading during Black History Month! You might also like this post with National Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities and Crafts for Kids

Children’s Books about Racism and Diversity

Here are the many books that friends, family members, and acquaintances of color have recommended to us as accurate age-appropriate ways to encourage and teach our children. You can also check out our post on books for adults to educate children to understand them yourself.

Although we are sharing the Amazon links for these books, we also strongly recommend you support these independent black-owned bookstores by purchasing from them, even if the cost is a little more than Amazon.

You may also want to check out this list of Racial Bullying Books.

We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street)

Who is better than Sesame Street to teach us that we may all look different on the outside–but it’s important to remember that deep down, we are all very much alike.

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Disney, It’s A Small World: Hello, World!

This charming board book takes children on a world tour by teaching them to say “Hello” in 10 different languages and includes all-new, colorful artwork inspired by Mary Blair’s designs for the famous Disney theme park attraction, “It’s a Small World.”

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Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

I am Black / I am Unique / I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream / and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar…

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Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice.

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Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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

Almost 10 years before Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, was denied enrollment to a “whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Latinx community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court.

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The Day You Begin

A heartening book about finding the courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random.

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Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!

In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the price difference but was refused: “You people have to sit in the upstairs section.” Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s Black community.

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Something Happened in Our Town

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one white, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events and to help the children learn to identify and counter racial bias and injustice in their own lives.

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Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills

Born to parents who were both former slaves, Florence Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and that her sweet, bird-like voice, resonated with those who heard her. Performing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired everyone from songwriters to playwrights. Yet with all her success, she knew firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her.

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977.

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Ruth and the Green Book

Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family’s new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that Black travelers weren’t treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to Black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws. Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth’s family The Green Book.

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Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates the true stories of forty trailblazing Black women in American history.

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Coretta Scott

Walking many miles to school in the dusty road, young Coretta knew, too well, the unfairness of life in the segregated South. A yearning for equality began to grow. Together with Martin Luther King, Jr., she gave birth to a vision and a journey — with dreams of freedom for all.

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Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement.

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Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History

Frederick Douglass was a self-educated enslaved man in the South who grew up to become an icon. He was a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, an esteemed speaker, and a social reformer, proving that, as he said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

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Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride

Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn’t be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That’s when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for Black people and women.

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Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up

This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

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Ordinary People Change the World: “I Am” series by Brad Meltzer

This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great–the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves.

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Hair Love

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.

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The Story Of Ruby Bridges

The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her.

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A Kid’s Book About Racism

A clear example of explanation and examples of understanding what racism is and how to know when you see it.

Yes, this is a kid’s book about racism.

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Marvelous Me: Inside and Out (All about Me)

There is no one else quite like Alex. With his special laugh, his grizzly hugs, and his interesting thoughts, Alex is one of a kind.

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Not Quite Snow White

Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role.

But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role.

They whisper, they snicker, and they glare.

Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call?

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All Are Welcome

A warm, welcoming picture book that is against stereotypes, celebrates diversity, and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

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Teach Your Dragon About Diversity

Having a pet dragon is very fun.

He can sit, roll over, and play…

He can candle a birthday cake, light a campfire, or so many other cool things…

But what if your dragon is sad because he is DIFFERENT from his friends?

What if he feel bad that his child and skin is red, and is not like any other child of his friends?

And what if he’s worried that none of his friends has wings, tails, and scales like him?

What if he’s so nervous because he’s different? What should you do?

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Last Stop on Market Street

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like all the answers other boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from Grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

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Happy in Our Skin

Is there anything more splendid than a baby’s skin? Cocoa-brown, cinnamon, peaches and cream. As children grow, their clever skin does, too, enjoying hugs and tickles, protecting them inside and out, and making them one of a kind.

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One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different

A culture-rich picture book that proudly showcases the beauty of diversity and our physical differences while also celebrating all the wonderful things we have in common.

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The Skin You Live In

With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple prose.

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It’s OK to be Different: A Children’s Picture Book About Diversity and Kindness

Every Child is Unique! Whether they are big or small, short or tall, they 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.

Readers will come away with the message: “You should always to kind to those who are different from you. Because to them, YOU are different too.”

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