Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice
By Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP.
Age range: 4 - 8 years old (great for older children too)
Synopsis: 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.
Read aloud video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whR_JIzknpo
A conversation with the author about the book by the American Psychological Association: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnxYXqZN7X8
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
By Anastasia Higginbotham
Age range: 8-12+ years old
Synopsis: “Racism was not your idea. You don’t need to defend it.”
A white child sees a news report of a white police officer shooting and killing a person with brown skin who had their hands up. “We don’t see color,” the child’s mother says, but the child senses a deeper truth. An afternoon in the library uncovers the reality of white supremacy in America. The child connects to the opportunity and their responsibility to dismantle white supremacy–for the sake of their own liberation out of ignorance and injustice.
Read aloud video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_f2lGrv44o
By Mary Hoffman
Grades: Pre-K - 5
Synopsis: Grace loves stories, whether they're from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. When her school decides to perform Peter Pan, Grace longs to play the lead, but her classmates point out that Peter was a boy. Besides, he wasn't black. With the support of her family, Grace learns that she can be anything she wants to be, and the results are amazing!
Read aloud video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmIfdJRsSGQ
The Day You Begin
By Jacqueline Woodson
Synopsis: There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Read aloud video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUkWoRpeR4&feature=emb_title
by Kwame Alexander
Synopsis: Winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights 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. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
Read aloud video (with author): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cHIWtl8PNk&feature=youtu.be
Click below for other lists of books for children and young adults:
Race and Racism Text Sets for K-12