As parents, we have many goals for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy, successful in what they want to do with their life and be a good and kind person in this world.
And while those are good goals that all parents likely hold for their kids, we can’t stop there.
We must first collectively acknowledge that racism is still out there in the world. The world we ALL live in and is as pervasive as ever. And that the task of either perpetuating or ending racism starts at home within the family unit. Then we must take on the charge of rooting it out with everything we’ve got.
I’d venture to say most white families aren’t spewing blatant hate and racist jokes across the dinner table while passing the mashed potatoes. I grew up in a white home that was a no-hate zone. Racism was neither taught nor allowed.
However, there was also a gross lack of knowledge and understanding of the depths and destruction of Black families in our country. There was a blindness to the pervasive and systemic racism that’s rooted in our American History and part of the everyday lives of Black Americans.
That means there were no active discussions about racism and how we can change what we saw. We just knew it was wrong….but that’s not enough.
What it Means to Raise Anti-Racist Children
So what do we do? How do we begin to understand all of this?
The simple answer is we must educate ourselves and teach our children what they aren’t learning in school. And as the amazing Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
One of the best things we can do to raise children who are anti-racist is to teach them to be anti-racist people. That means it’s not enough to think, believe, or say, “I’m not racist.” I mean, how many times have you heard that statement?
Being an anti-racist person means that you don’t just challenge your own beliefs and strive to be a kind, loving, and inclusive person but that you challenge it from those around you as well.
That we challenge and root out racism and hatred in our friend groups and in our communities. And that we’re raising children who do the same. It is no longer good enough for people to take a passive stance on racism…hoping it will just go away.
Change isn’t going to come from the top down…it’s going to happen from the bottom up…one home, one family at a time.
And one of the best tools for learning and teaching is reading books about racism. This booklist I’ve put together for you starts at the adult level so parents and grandparents can learn exactly how to have quality and productive conversations with their children and in their communities.
And the list goes down to teens, elementary-aged, and little ones. Most of these books feature beautiful brown-skinned characters and talk about issues in the Black community.
Books are such a powerful way to teach social issues and build empathy. So when white families purchase books that feature characters from every other race and culture, they’re learning about people that don’t look just like them. And that’s when those quality questions and conversations in the home can begin.
This is especially important if you live in a community that’s lacking in diversity.
I’ve also included more resources about racism and very helpful videos at the end of this post so you can read and watch them with your children and continue to grow.
Now let’s get to these amazing books to share with your entire family!
Related: Books for children that teach kindness and foster diversity.
Books about Racism for Parents
Stamped from the Beginning is a powerful book that reveals how some Americans insist that we’re living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America–it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever.
White Fragility is a book written for white people and explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
Tell Me Who You Are reveals the lines that separate us based on race or other perceived differences and how telling our stories and listening deeply to the stories of others which are the first and most crucial steps we can take towards negating racial inequity in our culture.
How to Be an Antiracist explains that racism is ultimately structural. Racism directs attention away from harmful, inequitable policies and turns that attention on the people harmed by those policies.
White Awake is a Rev. Dr. Daniel Hill explores how white privilege impacts our society. He thoughtfully uncovers cultural identity, social constructions of race, and colorblindness in a manner that is both provoking and enlightening on the pressing social reality for people of color.
The New Jim Crow discusses the insidious problem of mass incarceration of Black men in America and the institutional racism that currently exists that allow this injustice to continue.
Young Adult and Teen Books about Race
This Book is Antiracist is a written for young people and explores the questions â€“ What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation.
Hidden Figures made into a major motion picture is the retelling of the true story of black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of Americaâ€™s greatest achievements in space. The movie is also a must see.
The Hate U Give which was also made into a major motion picture is a story that tells of the delicate balance of her two worlds â€“ the poor neighborhood where she lives and the upscale prep school where she attends school. Everything changes when she witnesses the shooting of her best friend at the hands of the police.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a middle-grade version of the original Stamped From the Beginning written for adults. Young people will learn in this casual retelling of Black history as Kendi frames African American history as a history of competing ideas: “Haters” (segregationists) and the “Cowards” (assimilationists).
Making it Right is a book that explores the question what if there were no prisons? Alternative approaches to dealing with crime are underway around the world to explore how victims, offenders, and communities can heal rifts and repair damage. Itâ€™s often called restorative justice.
Children’s Books about Race
The Day You Begin is a story of courage and finding the ability to connect when you feel afraid and alone and no one is like you. “There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.“
Separate Is Never Equal is a lovely story about Sylvia Mendez and her parents who helped end school segregation in California almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird is the story of Florence Mills who was born to parents who were both former slaves. She 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.
Not my Idea is a picture book about racism and racial justice, inviting white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it’s real, and cultivate justice.
The Jacket tells the tale of a young white boy who assumes another student at his school who happens to be black stole his brother’s jacket when seen wearing the same jacket. The idea that his assumption was only thought of because the boy was black is the focus of this story.
Hair Love is an adorable book about the relationship between a black father and his daughter. 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.
Race Cars is an age-appropriate telling of white privilege featuring 2 best friends, a white car and a black car, that have different experiences and face different rules while entering the same race.
Toddler Books about Race
Lovely is an exiting book that sets out to celebrate our differences in an authentic and endearing way for the very youngest of readers.
The Skin I’m In is a book that encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves.
Brick by Brick is a board book featuring a little mouse innocently plucks a flower from an old wall when a brick comes loose, and he can see through it for the first time. He and the other animals gradually and resolutely remove more and more bricks, until at last they can see another group of animals.
The Skin You Live In is a story told 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 and straightforward prose.
Antiracism Resources for Parents and Families
The following are more antiracist resources for parents to help lead you in having honest, safe, and age-appropriate discussions in your home. I want to encourage you to make an intentional effort to make time to read, watch, and use these resources to bring…
Here’s a video from another mom who has the best explanation of why we should not teach our children to be colorblind. It’s worth the three-minute watch!
Common Sense Media has created a this helpful guide to help parents use media to raise antiracist kids.
Here is an exhaustive list of resources for parents and educators to assistant in talking to kids of every race about racism.
Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen that explains in a visual way what white privilege is and how it effects the Black community. It’s old and grainy but a must-see for the whole family.
Another blogger mom Jehava Brown wrote her experience being raised black in a predominantly white community and she has a deeply touching cry for other white moms in how they treat her black sons. This is a very important article for parents to read!
And finally, Cool Mom Picks gives us a place to start taking action against racial injustice beyond educating ourselves even if you have no idea where to start.