Books about Racial Differences

Children’s literature has a wealth of insightful, educational, and appealing books to help educate children about race and racial injustice in the United States. Including everything from picture books to novels, covering both historical and contemporary struggles, this list of children’s books can help parents better inform their children about the realities of race and racial injustice in the United States. Also, included are books for adults.

Ages 4 and under

Book Whats the Difference

What’s the Difference
by Doyin Richards

With bright pictures and engaging language, this book introduces children to diversity
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diversity by teaching them that seeing and accepting our differences — instead of ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist — is the best way to love each other.  

Good kind of Trouble

A Good Kind of Trouble 

by Lisa Moore

Shayla doesn’t want any trouble. But when she wears an armband for Black Lives Matter to school, she finds herself in the middle of a student-wide conflict.
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Lines are drawn, and Shayla must decide: Can she break the rules to do what’s right? Reviewers recommend this as a powerful alternative for young readers who are not quite old enough for The Hate U Give. For ages 8–12 

Ages 5 to 9

Book Something happened in our Town

Something Happened in Our Town
by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard

A Black man has been shot by a white policeman, and two children — one Black, one white — are trying to understand.
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This necessary story seeks to open a discussion on racism and racial profiling, and parents and caregivers can find a thorough note near the end, child-friendly definitions, sample dialogues, and tips for conversation.  

Book Rosa

Rosa
by Nikki Giovanni

Sixty-five years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
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The events of that day are stirringly rendered in this evocative picture book, making it an excellent way to teach young ones about this incredible moment in history.  

Book March

We March
by Shane W. Evans

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and the day he shared it with the world was a day of a remarkable protest.
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August, 28, 1963, saw more than 250,000 people gather at the nation’s capital to march. This book is an engaging introduction to the power and importance of protesting injustice.  

Book Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
by Walter Dean Myers

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery. Despite the odds, he fought for his education and eventually escaped enslavement.
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He became a powerful leader in the abolitionist movement, a prolific writer, and a social reformer. Readers can expect an engaging introduction to this iconic figure in this picture book biography.

Book The day you Begin

The Day You Begin
by Jacqueline Woodson

There are many ways kids can feel like outsiders — and it takes courage for them to start sharing their stories.
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This book illuminates ways we may feel different… and the beauty in having a conversation about it.  

Book Sit-In

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

On February 1, 1960, four Black college students sat at a segregated lunch counter.

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Their order was simple: a doughnut and coffee. But their actions would send ripples throughout the country, fueling the hopes of the civil rights movement.  

Ages 10 and up

Can I Touch your Hair

Can I Touch Your Hair?
by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Irene and Charles have been assigned to work together on a fifth-grade poetry project, but they don’t know each other
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and they’re not sure if they’ll get along. Cowritten by Charles Waters, who is Black, and Irene Latham, who is white, this picture book is designed to foster dialogue about race.  

Book Woke

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood

Throughout history, poets have been at the front of movements for social justice. Read More

Award-winning poets Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood have combined forces to create a book of poetry sure to inspire any young activist.

Book Good kind of Trouble

A Good Kind of Trouble
by Lisa Moore Ramée

Shayla doesn’t want any trouble. But when she wears an armband for Black Lives Matter to school, she finds herself in the middle of a student-wide conflict.

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and they’re not Lines are drawn, and Shayla must decide: Can she break the rules to do what’s right? Reviewers recommend this as a powerful alternative for young readers who are not quite old enough for the move The Hate U Give.  

Book Ghost Boys

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

After being killed by a white police officer, Jerome becomes a ghost.

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He soon crosses paths with Emmett Till — another Black boy from a different era who has a similar story. As Jerome witnesses the turmoil in his community, he discovers one living person can see him: the daughter of the white officer who shot him. Kirkus Reviews called it “A timely, challenging book that’s worthy of a read, further discussion, and action.”

Book Clean Getaway

Clean Getaway
by Nic Stone

Scoob’s spring break just got canceled, and now his grandma is hauling him off on a roadtrip across the United States.

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Along the way, he’ll discover that the world isn’t always accepting of people who look like him — and not everyone is what they seem, including his grandma. Clean Getaway is good introduction to the history of segregation in the American South, written by the bestselling author of Dear Martin.

Book For Black Girls like Me

For Black Girls Like Me
by Mariama J. Lockington

Makeda is a Black girl adopted into a white family. Some days, she feels like a question mark.

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When a move across the country separates her from her only friend, she finds that question mark getting bigger and bigger. Through music, dreaming, and secret messages, she discovers ways to carve out her own space and claim her identity. This lyrical book is partially inspired by the author’s own journey as an adopted Black girl in a white family. 

Book Ghost

Ghost
by Jason Reynolds

When Ghost is chosen to join his elite middle school track team, it could mean a chance at the Junior Olympics.

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But he and his teammates couldn’t be more different, and they can’t stop clashing on and off the track. Worse, even though Ghost is incredibly talented, he’s not running to win — he’s running to escape. This beloved National Book Award finalist is a good discussion starter for parents and middle schoolers.  

Book Betty before X

Betty Before X
by Ilyasah Shabazz with Renée Watson

Even before she married Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz was an American civil rights icon. Read More

In this fictionalized account of her teen years, her daughter Ilyasah Shabazz expounds on Betty’s life during the 1940s and the Jim Crow era. When 11-year-old Betty starts volunteering to support Black-owned businesses, she takes the first step on a journey that will change history. 

Book Voice of Freedom

Voice of Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Fannie Lou Hamer fought for equal voting rights, even in the face of prejudice and abuse.

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Fannie demanded to be heard — whether she was on the streets or on national television. The vibrant illustrations in this book beautifully capture Fannie’s fierce, determined personality. 

Book The Stars beneath our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet
by David Barclay Moore

After his brother is killed in gang violence, Lolly is just trying to survive.

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But a gift of Legos and an offer to build something in the community center may open up a different future — and soon Lolly stands at a crossroads that will shape his life.

Book Roll of Thunder hear my Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
by Mildred D. Taylor

Nine-year-old Cassie lives in the South during the Great Depression. Her tight-knit family tries to protect her from the racism of their community,

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but as they struggle to keep their own land, everyone gets pulled into the fight. Even Cassie. Written with depth and sensitivity, this Newbery Medal winner is as vital today as it was 40 years ago.

Book This Book is Anti-Racist

This Book Is Anti-Racist
by Tiffany Jewell

Where does racism come from? What does it look like? And how can we step in when we see it?

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In 20 unique lessons that span the scope of history and current events, This Book Is Anti-Racist challenges readers to confront their own biases and gives them the tools they need to make positive change. Brimming with true stories of courage and compassion and complemented by activities to help you bring the lessons into your own life, this book is a vital resource for teaching kids to build a better world.

Book March

March
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) lived his youth in rural Alabama, but his life changed forever when he met Martin Luther King Jr. Read More

From nonviolent sit-ins to the creation of the Nashville Student Movement, he followed King’s example in the fight for civil rights and made and witnessed history along the way. In this autobiographical graphic novel, the first of a trilogy, John Lewis gives readers a firsthand look into one of the most pivotal times in recent history. 

Adults

Book The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander

Book Why are all the Black kids sitting together

Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria
by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD

So you want to talk about race

So You Want to Talk about Race
by Ijeoma Oluo