100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

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Talking to children and teenagers about racism and discrimination is as necessary as it is uncomfortable for most parents and educators (especially white ones). Necessary because racial bias in children starts as early as age 3; uncomfortable because it means we have to confront our children with the harsh reality of racism as well address our own racial biases.

These multicultural children’s books are a selection of picture books and novels about the past and the present. They can be helpful for talking to children and teenagers about racism and its devastating consequences.

In this updated list we have included a few books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, too. Although at this age they are too young to grasp the concept of racism and discrimination, they should be exposed to books that feature different races and cultures in order to create awareness and empathy.

Another great start for the littlest readers is this list: 25 Multicultural Books About Children Around The World.

100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

Babies & Toddlers

Antiracist Baby Board Book
by Ibram X Kendi

New Multicultural Children's Books June 2020

Never too early to start anti-racist education! Antiracist Baby introduces the littlest readers and their grown-ups to the concept and power of anti-racism. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, this progressive board book provides nine easy steps everyone can take for building a just society. ~ African – Babies & Toddlers

Woke Baby
by Mahogany L. Browne

Woke babies are up early. Woke babies raise their fists in the air. Woke babies cry out for justice. Woke babies grow up to change the world. This lyrical and empowering book is both a celebration of what it means to be a baby and what it means to be woke. With bright playful art, Woke Baby is a sweet first introduction to social justice and activism. ~ African – Babies & Toddlers


Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race 
by M. Madison & J. Ralli

Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, Our Skin is an engaging board book that helps to begin important conversations with young children in a safe and supported way. Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion. ~ Diverse – Preschool

More in the series: Yes! No!: A First Conversation About Consent // Being You: A First Conversation About Gender

A Is for All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book
by Anna Forgerson Hindley

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Developed by the National Museum of African American History & Culture, A Is for All the Things You Are is a lively alphabet board book that celebrates diversity. With colourful pictures, it introduces twenty-six key traits little readers can explore and cultivate as they grow. Each letter offers a description and a question inviting the reader to examine how they experience it in daily life. The book supports the understanding and development of healthy racial identity, the joy of human diversity and inclusion, a sense of justice, and children’s capacity to act for their own and others’ fair treatment. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Find Out About: Standing Up to Racism: A lift-the-flap board book about standing together
by Dr Pragya Agarwal

With engaging text and flaps to lift, Standing Up To Racism is the perfect start to teaching children to be antiracist. It is all about celebrating the differences that make people who they are, and explains in age-appropriate language what racism is and how to help stand up to it. Preschoolers learn how other children live and the different challenges everyone faces, which is key for developing empathy. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 25 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy

An ABC of Equality
by Chana G. Ewing

A is for Accessibility, B is for Belief, C is for Class. Bestselling An ABC of Equality introduces complicated concepts surrounding social justice to the youngest of children. Each right-hand page includes a brightly decorated letter with the word it stands for and an encouraging slogan. On the left, a colourful illustration and bite-size text sum up the concept. Cheerful people from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities lead the way through the alphabet. ~ Diverse – Preschool

We’re Different, We’re the Same
by Bobbi Kates

Who better than Elmo and his Sesame Street friends to teach young children that though we may all look different on the outside—deep down, we are all very much alike? We’re Different, We’re The Same is a fun and charmingly illustrated picture book that offers an age-appropriate way to learn about differences and reinforces that we all have the same needs, desires, and feelings. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Related: 25 Multicultural Books About Children Around The World

Diversity Ninja: An Anti-racist, Diverse Children’s Book
by Mary Nhin

The new children’s book series, Ninja Life Hacks, was developed to help children learn valuable life skills. These fun books are easy enough for young readers, yet witty enough for adults. Diversity Ninja is a diverse, anti-racist book about overcoming prejudice and racism and practicing equality and inclusion. It shows young children that regardless of differences in race, gender, ability, background, clothing, or language spoken, we are all part of the human race. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside
by Kenneth Braswell

Two children are awakened by noises in the middle of the night outside the window of their inner-city neighbourhood. Both their Dad and Mom spend the next morning explaining to them what was taking place in their community. With clear language and bright illustrations, Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside is an engaging introduction to why people protest, with a focus on Black Lives Matter protests. ~ African – Preschool

Elementary School

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice
by M. Celano, M. Collins & A. Hazzard

Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police. They have many questions, from “Why did the police shoot that man?to “Can police go to jail?” 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 children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes guidelines for discussing race and racism with children. ~ African – Elementary School

The Story Of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Story Of Ruby Bridges

In 1960 a judge orders little Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school in New Orleans. Surrounded by Federal Marshalls, Ruby faces angry mobs of segregationists as she walks through the school door on her first day (and many after). Being the only student in her class she is taught by a supportive teacher. With simple text and engaging watercolour illustrations, The Story of Ruby Bridges is a moving picture book about a little girl’s calm perseverance and gracious forgiveness in the ugly face of hate and racism. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 26 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls

Let the Children March
by Monica Clark-Robinson

New Picture Books about Black History: Let The Children March

“I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids. / I couldn’t go to their schools. / I couldn’t drink from their water fountains. / There were so many things I couldn’t do.” In 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, inspired by Dr Martin Luther King Jr, thousands of African American children marched for their civil rights in the place of their parents who feared losing their jobs. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these brave children used their voices to change the world. With expressive illustrations, Let The Children March is a moving account of this historical event. ~ African – Elementary School

Let’s Talk About Race
by Julius Lester

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Let's Talk About Race

“I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.” In this acclaimed book, Julius Lester shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special. He emphasizes that race is just one of many facets of a person. With stunning illustrations and engaging text, Let’s Talk About Race will appeal to young readers and is sure to spark further conversations about race and racism. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Separate Is Never Equal

In 1944 Sylvia Mendez, an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. With the help of the Hispanic community, her parents filed and won a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually led to the end of segregated education in California. Separate Is Never Equal tells Sylvia’s story in a touching and accessible way. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: 32 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
by Carole Boston Weatherford

New Picture Books about Black History: Be A King

“You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience.” Through a school project, a class of young students learn to follow Dr Martin Luther King’s example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope for equality and justice. With inspiring text and beautiful watercolour illustrations by the same artist who illustrated Before She Was Harriet, Be A King is a perfect book for classroom use.  ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 14 Children’s Books about Martin Luther King Jr.

Different: A Story About Loving Your Neighbor
by Chris Singleton

New Multicultural Children's Books June 2020

Ever since his first day at a new school in a new country, Obinna’s classmates won’t let him forget that he is different. But with the help of a loving teacher and the unexpected chance to show his talents, Obinna’s proves that being different isn’t just okay—it’s the most important thing he could ever be. Different: A Story About Loving Your Neighbor is a beautiful book about celebrating difference and also a tribute to author’s late mother who, in 2015, was murdered alongside eight other parishioners in a race-related mass shooting at her church. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

What I See: Anti-Asian Racism From The Eyes Of A Child
by Christine T. Leung

What I See is a beautifully illustrated, lyrical picture book about anti-Asian racism, from the child’s own perspective. The rise in xenophobia and anti-Asian hate incidents can be scary and confusing for kids This book is an easy-to-follow guide for the child to reflect, ask questions, and learn more about this important topic. Includes notes for parents and caregivers as well as the sample questions and child-friendly definitions. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
by J. Reynolds & I.X. Kendi

Adapted from the award-winning, bestselling Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and YouStamped (For Kids) takes young readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives. ~ African – Elementary School


Desmond and the Very Mean Word
by Desmond Tutu

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Desmond and the very mean word

Desmond’s pride and joy about his new bicycle turn to hurt and anger when some boys shout a very mean word at him. Responding with an insult, Desmond soon realizes that fighting mean with mean doesn’t make him feel any better. Based on Desmond Tutu’s childhood experiences, Desmond and the Very Mean Word is a touching story about compassion and forgiveness. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 9 Children’s Books about Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom
by Teresa Robeson

Multicultural Children's Books About Women In STEM

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. Award-winning Queen of Physics follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become the first female instructor at Princeton University, the first female President of the American Physical Society, and the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 30 Multicultural Children’s Books About Women In STEM

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone
by Traci N. Todd

Little Eunice sang before she talked and learned to play piano at a very young age. With the support of her family and community, she received music lessons and went on to perform under the name Nina Simone. Nina’s voice soon became a thunderous roar as she raised her voice in powerful protest in the fight against racial inequality and discrimination. With expressive illustrations, Nina: A Story of Nina Simone tells the extraordinary story of acclaimed singer Nina Simone and her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books About Fabulous Female Artists

A Computer Called Katherine
by Suzanne Slade 

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA. Vibrantly illustrated A Computer Called Katherine is the inspiring true story of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson whose calculations helped pioneer America’s first manned flight into space and to the moon. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 30 Diverse Children’s Anthologies About Trailblazing Women

White Flour
by David LaMotte

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: White Flour

Based on true events, White Flour tells the story of a whimsical and effective response to a Ku Klux Klan rally in Knoxville, Tennessee in May 2007. The Coup Clutz Clowns trumped hatred with humour by ‘misunderstanding’ the racist’s “White Power” shouts. With vivid rhymes and colourful illustrations, this picture book provides a great example of a non-violent response to racist aggression. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

It’s the first day of school and also Faiza’s older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab — a beautiful blue hijab, 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. Written by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, vibrantly illustrated The Proudest Blue is an uplifting story of being proud of who you are despite discrimination and bullying, and the unbreakable bond between siblings. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Lillian’s Right to Vote
by Jonah Winter

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Lillian's Right To Vote

Slowly making her way up a hill to the polling station to vote, 100-year-old Lillian remembers her family’s tumultuous voting history: Her great-grandfather voting for the first time, her parents trying to register to vote, herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. Beautifully illustrated Lillian’s Right to Vote is a moving and lyrical account of black people’s fight for voting rights. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books About Voting & Elections

Ruth and the Green Book
by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Ruth And The Green Book

When Ruth and her family go on a trip in their new car in the early 1950’s, they soon realize that black travellers aren’t welcome everywhere. Many hotels and gas stations refuse service to the family. Eventually, someone gives them a book that lists all the places that welcome black travellers. The Green Book is a poignant story about racial discrimination in the Jim Crow era, brought to life by expressive watercolour illustrations. ~ African – Elementary School

Momma, Did You Hear the News?
by Sanya Whittaker Gragg

When Avery becomes concerned after seeing another police shooting of an unarmed man, his parents decide it is time to have “The Talk”. They teach him and his brother a catchy chant to help remember what to do if approached by an officer, while also emphasizing that not all policemen are bad. A to the L to the I-V-E…come home ALIVE! Momma, Did You Hear The News? is a helpful book for talking to children about police brutality and how to keep themselves as safe as possible. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book
by Laleña Garcia 

What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book is a powerful activity book that engages hands, hearts, and minds as it introduces children to the guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement. Created by two experienced teachers, the book presents the guiding principles in down-to-earth, child-friendly language, with each principle accompanied by writing prompts, space for children to create their own reflections, and a colouring page. Supporting materials guide adults in sharing the principles with children and encouraging them to take action within their communities. An essential resource for anyone discussing racial equity with children! ~ African – Elementary School


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

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Sit-In

“It was February 1, 1960. / They didn’t need menus. / Their order was simple. / A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.” Sit-In celebrates an important milestone in the fight for racial equality: The momentous Woolworth lunch counter sit-in, staged by four young college students. With dynamic illustrations and poetic text, this compelling picture book is a great starting point for conversations about racism and discrimination. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 21 Picture Books for Black History Month

The Undefeated
by Kwame Alexander

New Multicultural Children's Books April 2019

This beautiful poem by Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander is an ode to Black American triumph and tribulation, from the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. With stunning illustrations by Kadir Nelson and text peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, The Undefeated celebrates the accomplishments, endurance and spirit of Black Americans. ~ African – Elementary School

The Other Side
by Jacqueline Woodson

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Other Side

The Other Side tells the touching story of a friendship during segregation. Clover’s mom warns her that it is dangerous to cross the fence between their side of town and the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls meet across the fence and strike up a friendship anyway. Expressive watercolour illustrations complement the lyrical narrative perfectly. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Friendship

Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story
by Paula Yoo

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Shining Star

Stunningly illustrated Shining Star tells the rags-to-riches story of Anna May Wong, a Chinese American Hollywood star in the 1930s and 1940s. Wong confronted racial discrimination and stereotypes and broke new ground for future generations of Asian American actors. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 30 Asian & Asian American Children’s Books

Amazing Grace
by Mary Hoffman

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Amazing Grace

We adore spunky Grace and her love for re-enacting stories, be they from books, movies, or her grandmother. But when she wants to play the lead role in a Peter Pan school play, her classmates tell her she cannot do it because she is a girl and because she is black. With the support of her family and after seeing a black ballerina perform, Grace remains determined to win the lead role. With expressive watercolour illustrations and a strong main character, Amazing Grace is an engaging story about challenging gender and racial stereotypes. ~ African – Elementary School

Find the whole Grace series here: 40+ Multicultural Book Series for Girls & Boys

The Soccer Fence
by Phil Bildner

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Soccer Fence

Little Hector loves playing soccer and dreams of playing on a real pitch with the white boys. When apartheid slowly starts to crumble and the national soccer team wins the African Cup of Nations, Hector’s dream suddenly doesn’t seem so impossible anymore. With simple text and expressive pencil and acrylic illustrations, The Soccer Fence tells a story of hope and change. Includes a (quite advanced) timeline of historical events.  ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 23 Children’s Books set in South Africa

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
by Zetta Elliott

NEW Multicultural Children's Books July 2020

“There is a place inside of me / a space deep down inside of me / where all my feelings hide.” A Place Inside Of Me is a powerful poem that follows a Black boy as he explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketball―until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
by Selina Alko

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Case For Loving

Because he was white and she was African American and Cherokee, Mildred and Richard Loving were not permitted to marry under Virginia’s law in 1958. The couple got married in Washington, D.C., but when they moved back to Virginia, they were arrested. Mildred and Richard fought the discriminatory law all the way to the Supreme Court, and won! The Case for Loving is an inspiring story about a couple who changed the world for interracial couples and opened people’s eyes to the unfairness of any law that restricts whom you are allowed to love. ~ African – Elementary School

For a more in-depth review of this book, go to: Multicultural Book of the Month: The Case for Loving


If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks
by Faith Ringgold

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: If A Bus Could Talk

On a magical bus ride to school, Marcie learns about the story of Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights movement. She even meets Rosa Parks and some other distinguished guests at a birthday party. Illustrated with colourful folk-art style paintings, If a Bus Could Talk tells Rosa Park’s story in an unusual and bold way. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: Author Spotlight: Faith Ringgold // 21 Picture Books for Black History Month

When I Was Eight
by Christy Jordan-Fenton

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: When I was Eight

Strong-willed Olemaun wants to learn to read and persuades her father to let her go to residential school, despite his concerns. At the Catholic-run school, the Inuit girl is stripped of her Native identity, humiliated and treated harshly. Remaining undaunted, Olemaun draws the attention of one nun who tries to break her spirit. When I was Eight is a stunning picture book adaptation of the bestselling memoir Fatty Legs, a tribute to the power of the human spirit. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

Harlem’s Little Blackbird
by Renee Watson

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Harlem's Little Blackbird

Harlem’s Little Blackbird tells the story of Florence Mills, an African American singer born in 1896. In poetic text, complemented by stunning paper-cut illustrations, the story follows Mills from singing with her mother to breaking into the musical world despite facing racial discrimination. Mills declined the role of a lifetime and chose to support all-black musicals instead by only performing in shows with unknown black singers and actors.  ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 15 Children’s Books about the Harlem Renaissance

Nelson Mandela
by Kadir Nelson

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Nelson Mandela

The captivating portrait on the cover draws the young reader right into this award-winning picture book biography. In poignant free verse and with the most stunning, powerful paintings, Nelson Mandela tells the story of Mandela’s life, from his tribal childhood to the triumph of his election as President of South Africa. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 9 Children’s Books about Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: Hidden Figures

Math geniuses Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden played an essential role in some of NASA’s greatest successes. Overcoming gender and racial barriers, the four black women provided the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. Hidden Figures is the first picture book adaption of this true story that will inspire children to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.  ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children

My Name Is Bilal
by Asma Mobin-Uddin MD M.D.

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: My name is Bilal

After moving to a new place, Bilal and his sister Ayesha start at a new school where they are the only Muslims. When Bilal sees his sister bullied on their first day, he worries about being teased himself and decides not to let his classmates know that he is Muslim. My Name Is Bilal is a heartfelt story about a young boy struggling with his identity and a great starting point for discussions about prejudice and discrimination. ~ Asian – Elementary School, Middle School

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books about Bullying

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Voice of Freedom

This striking picture book biography chronicles the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the civil rights movement’s most inspiring leaders. With free-verse text, coupled with spirituals and quotes, and with stunning quilt-like collages, Voice of Freedom makes this amazing woman’s life story accessible to young readers. ~ African – Elementary SchoolMiddle School

For a more in-depth review of this book, go to: Multicultural Book of the Month: Voice of Freedom

We Troubled the Waters
by Ntozake Shange

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: We Troubled The Waters

With stirring poetry and striking illustrations We Troubled The Waters gives a voice to the everyday and extraordinary people who fought for racial justice during the civil rights movement. From the “Cleaning Gal” and the “Garbage Boys” to Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks, this heartfelt book captures the spirit of the civil rights movement beautifully. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 26 Multicultural Poetry Books for Children

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
by Carole Boston Weatherford

Unspeakable provides a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in America’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future. ~ African – Elementary School, Middle School

Middle School

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

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. This classic masterpiece focuses on Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, and learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect. ~ African – Middle School

Related:  21 Award-winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah

New Multicultural Children's Books April 2019

In this young readers’ adaptation of his bestselling adult memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah tells his story of growing up in South Africa under and after apartheid. Born to a Black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist, the host of The Daily Show used his keen smarts and humour to navigate a harsh life under a racist government. Born A Crime is a compelling memoir that will inspire young readers everywhere. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 23 Children’s Books set in South Africa

American as Paneer Pie
by Supriya Kelkar

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

The only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who hides her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation about her culture at all costs. When another Desi girl moves across the street, Lekha is excited to finally have a friend who gets it. But Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha. She proudly displays her culture and doesn’t take the bullying quietly. When a racist incident rocks the community, Lekha must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late. American As Paneer Pie is a brilliant middle grade novel about prejudice and the power of your own voice. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

The Parker Inheritance
by Varian Johnson

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: The Parker Inheritance

In an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, Candice finds a letter addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. The letter tells of an injustice that happened decades ago, a mystery and the fortune awaiting the person who solves the puzzle. Together with her friend Brandon, Candice embarks on a journey that leads deep into Lambert’s dark history, and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. The Parker Inheritance is a powerful novel about racism, justice and friendship. ~ African – Middle School

Indian No More
by Ch. Willing & T. Sorell McManis

Native American Children's Books

Living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Umpqua girl Regina has ever known. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says their tribe no longer exists, her family has to relocate to Los Angeles where Regina finds a whole different world. She has never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends. Acclaimed Indian No More is a moving middle-grade novel about change, identity and discrimination. ~ Middle School

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

The Samosa Rebellion
by Shanthi Sekaran

Muki Krishnan shares a bedroom with Paati, his grandmother, who has just arrived on the island of Mariposa from India. Soon after her arrival, the president divides citizens into ‘Butterflies’—families who have lived in Mariposa for three generations—and ‘Moths’, who, like Muki’s family, are more recent immigrants. The changes are small at first but then a camp is built to imprison Moths before sending them away. When Paati is taken there, Muki discovers that a secret rebellion is underway, and realizes that rescuing Paati will be the fight of his life. The Samos Rebellion is a fascinating and timely novel about immigration, racism, classism, and xenophobia. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 180+ Asian &  Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

A Good Kind of Trouble
by Lisa Moore Ramée

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

All twelve-year-old Shayla wants is to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead. But in junior high, she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Through her sister, she starts getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and soon has to decide to do what’s right. A Good Kind Of Trouble is a funny and big-hearted debut novel about family, friendship and standing up for what is right. ~ African – Middle School

Related: The 50 Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box
by Evette Dionne

Multicultural Children's Books About Voting & Elections

Coretta Scott King Author Honour Book

Lifting as We Climb tells the overlooked story of African American women who formed their own Black suffrage associations when white-dominated national suffrage groups rejected them. Women like Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and of the NAACP; or educator-activist Anna Julia Cooper who championed women getting the vote and a college education; or the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, a leader in both the suffrage and anti-lynching movements. An important book! ~ African – Middle School

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition
by Margot Lee Shetterly

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures tells the amazing true story of four African American female mathematicians at NASA. Despite facing gender discrimination and racial prejudice, these “human computers” helped achieve some of the greatest moments in the US’s space program by calculating the numbers that would launch rockets into space. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children

Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter
by Shani King

Black lives matter. That message would be self-evident in a just world, but in this world and this America, all children need to hear it again and again, and not just to hear it but to feel and know it. Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter tenderly affirms this message by celebrating Black accomplishments in music, art, literature, journalism, politics, law, science, medicine, entertainment, and sports. ~ African – Middle School

Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South
by Wade Hudson

NEW Multicultural Children's Books October 2021

Born in 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, Wade Hudson came of age against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. His close-knit family watched as the country grappled with desegregation, as the Klan targeted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and as systemic racism struck across the nation and in their hometown. Amidst it all, Wade was growing up. Getting into scuffles, playing baseball, immersing himself in his church community, and starting to write. Most important, Wade learned how to find his voice and use it. Defiant is a compelling memoir about the struggles, joys, love, and resilience that it took to grow up Black in segregated America. ~ African – Middle School


Stella by Starlight
by Sharon M. Draper

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Stella by Starlight

One night 11-year-old Stella and her brother witness a Ku Klux Klan meeting in the North Carolina woods. For the African American siblings, living in the South is a dangerous, scary and often humiliating experience. Stella by Starlight is a gripping and realistic portrayal of life in the segregated South during the Great Depression. ~ African –  Middle School

Related: African American Historical Fiction for Middle School

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy
by Emmanual Acho

Adapted from Emmanuel Acho’s bestseller Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, comes this essential young readers edition aimed at opening a dialogue about systemic racism with young people. Approaching every awkward, taboo, and uncomfortable question with openness and patience, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy connects the author’s own experience with race and racism―from attending majority-white prep schools to his time in the NFL playing on majority-black football teams―to insightful lessons in Black history and Black culture. ~ African – Middle School

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab
by Priya Huq

The same day 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American Nisrin gives a school presentation about Bangladesh while wearing a traditional cultural dress, she is violently attacked on her way home. Deeply traumatized, Nisrin spends the summer depressed and isolated until it’s time for her to start freshman year at a new school. The night before, Nisrin decides that she is going to start wearing hijab. Her mother and grandparent’s shocked and angry reactions confuse her—but they only strengthen her resolve. Piece by Piece is a moving graphic novel about choosing your own path despite discrimination. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

Genesis Begins Again
by Alicia D. Williams

There are ninety-six reasons why thirteen-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list: Because her family is always being put out of their house. Because her dad has a gambling problem. And maybe a drinking problem too. Because Genesis knows this is all her fault. Because she wasn’t born looking like Mama. Because she is too black. Genesis is determined to do anything to fix her family…even if it means harming herself in the process. Genesis Begins Again is a deeply sensitive story about a young teenager who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work
by Tiffany Jewell

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? In 20 chapters, #1 New York Times bestseller This Book Is Anti-Racist teaches young readers 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. ~ Diverse – Middle School

Also available: This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal

Black Brother, Black Brother
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

12-year-old Donte is one of the few Black boys at Middlefield Prep. His teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey. When Donte is bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, he is suspended from school and arrested. Searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden’s help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on confronting his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest. Black Brother, Black Brother is a powerful novel about a Black boy’s journey to finding his voice. ~ African – Middle School

Related: The 50 Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming is an intimate and moving account of the author’s childhood as an African American in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Growing up in South Carolina and New York, she becomes increasingly aware of the Civil Rights Movement. In poetic language full of imagery this award-winning book gives a glimpse into a child’s soul and her journey of self-discovery. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 21 Multicultural Middle-Grade Novels for Summer Reading

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award-Winners: Ghost Boys

After being shot dead by a police officer who mistook his toy gun for a real one, twelve-year-old Jerome observes the aftermath as a ghost. Soon he meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a black boy murdered in 1955. Emmett helps Jerome understand how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions. Award-winning Ghost Boys is a gripping and poignant story about racism, bias and the fight for justice. ~ African – Middle School

Prairie Lotus
by Linda Sue Park

Young half-Asian Hanna lives in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Her adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Prairie Lotus is a powerful and touching book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. ~ Asian – Middle School

A Wreath for Emmett Till
by Marilyn Nelson

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: A Wreath For Emmett Till

In 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention. Award-winning A Wreath for Emmett Till is a moving and chilling poem about the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. ~ African – Middle School, High School

Related:  21 Award-winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

High School

The Hate U Give
by Angi Thomas

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Hate You Give

16-year-old Starr is balancing life between her poor neighbourhood and her fancy suburban school. When her unarmed best friend Khalil is killed at the hands of a police officer, his death is making national headlines and protesters are taking to the streets. As the only person who knows what really happened that night, Starr is caught between threats from the police and the local drug lord, protecting her community and risking her own life. No.1 New York Times Bestseller The Hate You Give is a powerful and heart-wrenching novel about police brutality and systemic racism. ~ African – High School

The Henna Wars
by Adiba Jaigirda

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Set in a Bangladeshi community in Ireland, The Henna Wars is a fast-paced novel about the love between two teenage girls, racism and homophobia. Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back. As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books featuring LGBTQIA Characters

X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: X: A Novel

Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, X follows the formative years of one of the most powerful leaders in African American history. From his father being murdered, his mother being taken away, and himself being placed in foster care, to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would guide him onto a new path, X is an award-winning novel about a man who shook the world. ~ African – High School

Related: 21 Award-winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From
by Jennifer De Leon

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

First-generation American Latinx Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand. Don’t Ask Me Where I Am From is a thought-provoking yet humorous story about race, identity, friendship and belonging. ~ Hispanic – High School 

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2021

Anger Is a Gift: A Novel
by Mark Oshiro

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: Anger Is A Gift

Ever since his father was murdered by an Oakland police officer and vilified by the media, Moss Jefferies suffers from crippling panic attacks. At school, Moss and his classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals. The students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions rise and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.  Featuring a very diverse cast of characters (Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA), Anger is a Gift is a powerful novel about racism, police brutality and friendship. ~ African – High School

Apple: (Skin to the Core)
by Eric Gansworth

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.” Eric Gansworth reclaims that slur in heartbreaking verse, prose and imagery. Apple tells the story of the author’s family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. This moving novel will stay with readers long after they finished it. ~ Diverse – High School

Related: 75+ Native American Children’s Books

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
by J. Reynolds & I.X. Kendi

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

“This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race.” Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You is a timely and gripping reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, revealing the history of racist ideas in America, and inspiring hope for an antiracist future. An absolute must-read! ~ African – High School

I Am Alfonso Jones
by Toni Medina

Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun and shoots him. When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings. Meanwhile his family and friends seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice. Acclaimed I Am Alfonso Jones is a graphic novel about racism, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. ~ African – High School

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

Why We Fly
by Kimberly Jones

NEW Multicultural Children's Books October 2021

Cheerleaders and lifelong best friends Eleanor and Chanel have a lot on their minds. Eleanor is still recovering from a serious concussion from a failed cheer stunt. Chanel is dealing with the mounting pressure of college applications. But they have each other’s backs―just as always, until Eleanor’s new relationship with star quarterback Three starts a rift between them. The cheer squad’s decision to take a knee at the season’s first football game causes a larger fallout between the girls. As Eleanor and Chanel grapple with the weight of the consequences as well as their own problems, can the girls rely on their friendship? Why We Fly is a powerful story about friendship, privilege, sports, and protest. ~ African – High School

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
by Phuc Tran

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America with his family. He struggles to assimilate to small town life in Pennsylvania. Tran navigates the challenges of immigration, racism, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations of his parents. For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature. ~ Asian – High School

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
by Daven McQueen

New Multicultural Children's Books June 2020

For biracial Ethan Harper, who was raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. But when he spends the summer of 1955 with his aunt and uncle in Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and everyone is making it clear that he’s not welcome there. Except Juniper Jones, the town’s resident oddball and free spirit. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality. The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones is a heartfelt novel about racism, friendship and a summer that changed lives. ~ African – High School

Related: 21 Middle Grade Novels With Multiracial Characters


Punching the Air
by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

“The story that I thought / was my life / didn’t start on the day / I was born.” 16-year-old Amal Shahid is an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. One fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. Punching The Air is a deeply moving story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system designed to strip him of both. ~ African – High School

This Is My America
by Kim Johnson

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

For years, 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont has been writing weekly letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. Now Tracy is running out of time–her dad has only 267 days left. On top of that, her older brother, Jamal, is accused of killing a white girl. Tracy is determined to save her brother and find out what really happened. This Is My America is an unflinching yet uplifting debut novel that explores racism in the American justice system. ~ African – High School

Dear Martin
by Nic Stone

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Dear Martin

Due to be released in October, this stunning debut is another novel about racial prejudice and police brutality. Top of his class and set for the Ivy League, Justyce writes a journal to Martin Lurther King Jr in an attempt to make sense of a police encounter in which he was treated roughly and unfairly. When he is caught up in another police encounter in which shots are fired, Justyce finds himself under attack in the media. Dear Martin is a compelling must-read that tackles the myth that if you don’t do anything wrong you have nothing to fear from the police. ~ African – High School

Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta. Years later, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University while Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center. Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce–the protagonist of acclaimed Dear Martin–Quan’s story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there’s a dead cop and a weapon with Quan’s prints on it. Dear Justyce takes an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system. ~ African – High School

by Candace Buford

For Russell Boudreaux football is the only way out of his small town. He has one goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear. Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But with the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice. Kneel is a fearless debut novel that explores racism, injustice, and self-expression. ~ African – High School

Shine, Coconut Moon
by Neesha Meminger

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Shine, Coconut Moon

Indian American Samar’s mother has always kept her away from her old-fashioned family. But shortly after 9/11, her uncle shows up, wanting to reconcile and teach the teenager about her Sikh heritage. When some boys attack her uncle, shouting “Go home Osama!” Samar realizes how dangerous ignorance is. Shine, Coconut Moon is a poignant story about identity, prejudice, and difference. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

The Black Kids
by Christina Hammonds Reed

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels 2020

During the 1992 Rodney King riots, Ashley Bennett tries to continue as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model Black family façade her prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her Black classmate, LaShawn Johnson. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the themThe Black Kids is a brilliant coming-of-age novel that explores issues of race, class, and violence. ~ African – High School

Related: 250 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Girls

Riot Baby
by Tochi Onyebuchi

Ella  sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse, a neighbour’s son murdered in a drive-by shooting — things that haven’t happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands. Intimate family story as well as global dystopian narrative, Riot Baby is a heartfelt novel about the painful Black experience of racism, police brutality and injustice in America. ~ African – High School

Related: Multicultural 2021 ALA Award-Winning Childrens & YA Books

Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
by Brandy Colbert

NEW Multicultural Children's Books October 2021

In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District—a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America’s Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives. In a few short hours, they’d razed thirty-five square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today? Black Birds In The Sky seeks to answer these questions in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. ~ African – High School

Related: NEW 2021 Black History Books For Children & Teenagers

Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book
by The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Nelson Mandela

Adapted from Nelson Mandela’s memoir Long Road to Freedom, this is his authorized graphic biography. Nelson Mandela tells his life story in dramatic pictures, from his childhood to his years as the first black president of South Africa. The comic book form together with new interviews, firsthand accounts, and archival material makes the story of Mandela’s life and work accessible for teenagers. ~ African – High School

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

by Walter Dean Myers

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Monster

“Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me … Monster.” Multi-award-winning Monster chronicles the unfair court proceedings for Steve Harmon, a teenager accused of murder and robbery. Written as a screenplay playing in Steve’s imagination, coupled with his journal entries, this heart-wrenching novel highlights the racism deeply ingrained in the American justice system. ~ African – High School

Also available as a stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation: Monster: A Graphic Novel


Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
by Phillip Hoose

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: Claudette Colvin

“When it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’” On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be nine months later, the teenager found herself shunned. Undaunted, a year later she became a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery. Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Twice towards Justice is an in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure. ~ African – High School

How It Went Down
by Kekla Magoon

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: How It Went Down

When Black teenager Tariq Johnson is fatally shot by a White man, his whole community is turned upside down. While the truth is obscured by new twists every day, Tariq’s family is trying to cope with their loss. How It Went Down is a compelling and timely novel about racial prejudice and its devastating consequences. ~ African – High School

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person
by Frederick Joseph

Speaking directly to the reader, bestselling The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter features the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Angie Thomas, April Reign, and Jemele Hill. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid”. Backmatter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more. ~ African – High School

On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas

16-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons. Unflinching and full of heart, On the Come Up is a story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free. ~ African – High School

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight
by K. Jones & G. Kegal

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school. When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together. I’m Not Dying with You Tonight is a compelling novel about two teen girls―one black, one white―who have to confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has set their city on fire. ~ African – High School

Dear White People
by Justin Simienw

Whether you are a dear white person wondering why your black office mate is avoiding eye contact with you after you ran your fingers through her hair, or you’re a black nerd who has to break it to your white friends that you’ve never seen The Wire, this myth-busting, stereotype-diffusing guide has something for you! With decision-making trees to help you decide when it’s the right time to wear Blackface (hint: probably never) and quizzes to determine whether you’ve become the Token Black Friend™, Dear White People is the ultimate silly-yet-authoritative handbook to help the curious and confused navigate racial microaggressions in their daily lives. Based on the eponymous, award-winning film, this tongue-in-cheek guide is a must-have for anybody who is in semi-regular contact with Black people! ~ African – High School

The Lines We Cross
by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: The Lines We Cross

Set in Australia, this timely new release tells the story of Michael who attends anti-immigration protests with his parents, and Mina, a refugee from Afghanistan, who is on the other side of the protest lines. When Mina starts at Michael’s school, the two teenagers enter into an unlikely relationship. With increasing discrimination against immigrants, Michael and Mina have to face difficult decisions. The Lines We Cross is a poignant and thought-provoking Romeo-and-Juliet story about prejudice and discrimination against Muslim immigrants. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 30 Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
by Claire Hartfield

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: A Few Red Drops

In July 1919, an angry white man threw stones at five black teenagers that swam close to Lake Michigan’s “white” beach, killing one of them. This incident sparked violent race riots that shook the city of Chicago to its core. A Few Red Drops is a gripping account of the riots and the racial, cultural, economic and political tensions that had been building for decades.  ~ African – High School

Related: Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: All American Boys

When 16-year-old Rashad goes to buy a packet of chips at the corner shop, he finds himself mistaken for a shoplifter and beaten up by the police. Soon the incident is all over the news and simmering racial tensions get to the point of explosion. Written by two award-winning authors and alternating between the perspectives of one black and one white teenager, All American Boys is a moving novel about privilege and racism that every teenager should read. ~ African – High School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

March: Book Three
by John Lewis

Children's Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination: March

March: Book Three is the stunning conclusion of the award-winning trilogy by congressman and civil rights key figure John Lewis. Starting in 1963, the book describes the continuing struggle for justice. With an unpredictable new president and fractures within the movement deepening, 25-year-old John Lewis risks everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma. With expressive black-and-white illustrations, this unique graphic novel makes the history of the civil rights movement accessible to teenagers. ~ African – High School

Complete trilogy: March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA by clicking on the book titles or images.*
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30 Responses

  1. Frances
    | Reply

    Great book list! Thanks so much for joining us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

  2. Jodie Rodriguez
    | Reply

    So many great books to spur conversations. Thanks so much for joining us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

    | Reply

    Wonderful list. I am looking for short stories for middle school and high school students. Can you suggest any?
    Thank you.

    • Colours of Us

      Hi, I am not aware of any short stories about this subject at the moment but if I come across any, I will definitely add them to this list,

    | Reply

    I agree with every factor that you have pointed out. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts on this.

  5. tvl ict
    | Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree, and I appreciate you taking the time to say so. All readers will find this site to be extremely beneficial. Work is outstanding.

  6. Lynda Daniele
    | Reply

    I completely agree with what you have written. I hope this post could reach more people as this was truly an interesting post.

  7. Andrea Dyer
    | Reply

    Can someone please point me in the right direction to purchase these books in mass quantities? I want to purchase them and donate them to schools so they can read and teach the youth! Please any help would be appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Colours of Us

      That is such a fantastic thing to do! You can buy any of the books from Amazon by clicking on the titles or images in the post.

    • Andrea Dyer

      Thank you! But it will only allow me to order 4 at a time.. I’m trying to get at least 50 each

    • Colours of Us

      That is so strange! Normally it gives you the drop down menu for quantity and allows you to order up to 30. Which particular books were trying to order?

    • Colours of Us

      I just tried again and you should actually be able to put in the exact amount you want. When you click on the book title on our page, it’ll take you to Amazon and you are asked to confirm your purchase. You then click on continue and once it is in your shopping cart you can adjust the quantity. When you click on 10+, it gives you the option to put in any number you want (if they have enough stock that is). Let me know if that worked for you.

    • Andrea Dyer

      Thank you so much! I will try again!

  8. Teacherin LA
    | Reply

    I tried to copy and paste the link, but it doesn’t open. Is there a way to share this page?

    • Colours of Us

      You can use the share buttons to the left of the post or you can go to our Facebook page and share it from there. Hope this helps.

  9. Angela McVey
    | Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to create this list. I am an ELL middle school teacher working in an urban district and I would like to create a unit that compares characters dealing with racism. Rather, than reading an entire book, I would like to include chapters from several books that offer various points of view. I realize this is a unique request but I was wondering if you could recommend specific books/powerful chapters that I should include in the unit. I teach grades 6-8.

  10. Lenore Three Stars
    | Reply

    We like this Native American book for children: The Harmony Tree by Randy Woodley. Grandmother Oak is a survivor of clearcutting and teaches young oaks about healing and hope through community and deep rootedness in the land.

    • Colours of Us

      Sounds like a wonderful book! I will definitely check it out.

  11. Robbin
    | Reply

    Do you want children’s books discussing how one’s disability prevents the child from participating equally with their friends in community activities? I wrote “Three Best Friends,” (Published by Amazon in 2017) that tells the story of a boy who is a wheelchair user who can’t move his wheelchair safely across wood chip flooring in a new community playground. The main point is how the high costs to build accessible playgrounds makes it OK to build inaccessible playgrounds that leaves out a certain population-children with disabilities- to participate equally with their able-bodied friends.

    • Colours of Us

      Hi, thanks for getting in touch. Does your book feature main characters of colour? If so, you can send me a PDF copy via our Facebook page.

  12. Ellen McMurray
    | Reply

    Why was my comment removed? I wanted to share a beautiful story about a very progressive school in NYC teaching young students the damaging effects of systemic and institutional racism. So glad this awareness is being taught in schools because a lot of white parents aren’t sophisticated enough to teach their own children about what it’s like to be oppressed here in America. Having a kind heart and open mind is not enough. The merit system, and rewarding those with hard work, good behavior, initiative, self-sufficiency, etc. without taking into account how dark their skin tone is, is just plain irresponsible and will lead to another KKK uprising very soon.

    • Colours of Us

      Your comment wasn’t removed, I just haven’t approved it yet as I am not sure what to make of it. Separating classes by skin colour seems a bit radical and reminiscent of segregation. I am not convinced that this is a very helpful approach. How exactly does it work?

  13. Ellen McMurray
    | Reply

    My sister enrolled her 2 kids (both white) in Bank Street School for Children in NYC. At first I didn’t think separating the colored kids from white kids into separately taught classrooms was a good idea, but it seems to be working. My niece and nephew felt so bad about their skin color that they were in tears when they came home from school during their first week. My 10 year old niece asked her mom if she could take melanin pills, wear dark brown or black contacts and dye her hair black so she could feel more accepted. My sister caught her 7 year old son with a black marker pen trying to cover up his lily white skin and explained to her that it would help relieve his guilt. They really know how to drive the point home over there; I’m impressed.

  14. Sam
    | Reply

    Thank you, we actually haven’t read any of these books! Our very, very favorite book about discrimination is Ron’s Big Mission.

  15. Omera Productions
    | Reply

    Awesome list. Another good book to consider for this list is “You Are Beautiful” by Author Robyn Abdusamad.

  16. Katie Logonauts
    | Reply

    This is such a wonderful list! Thank you for putting it together and sharing it with #diversekidlit! (It will be highlighted in this Saturday’s post as our “most clicked” post from last month.)

  17. Bethany
    | Reply

    As always, your book list is chalk full of amazing literature! I see many of our favorites but I have a couple new books to look up as well from the list above. Keep up the incredible work!

    • Colours of Us

      Thank you, Bethany! Always happy to hear that people find my lists useful 🙂

  18. Kathleen Burkinshaw
    | Reply

    Such a great list. Thank you for putting this together.

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