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Talking with Kids About Race

Description

Our children get messages about race on the playground, at home and in the news. They might need help processing what they experience. Books can support our conversations with kids by providing accessible stories and information about topics like racial justice, systemic racism, microaggressions and how race shows up in children's media and current events. Check out our list below, curated by children's librarians and members of Denver Public Library's Read. Awareness. Dialogue. Action. (R.A.D.A.) book discussion group. 

To dive deeper, attend one of our Talking with Kids About Race workshops for parents, caregivers and educators. In these workshops, adults will explore their own messages about race and discuss strategies to engage children in meaningful dialogue. A children's activity, ideal for ages 3-8, accompanies each workshop.

Discover books by theme, download a PDF by age, or browse all youth titles below.

Race, Racism, and Racial Justice

Microaggressions

Systemic Racism

Media & Current Events

Books for Adults

The Undefeated
Kwame Alexander
This visually stunning picture books tells lyrical stories of celebration, hardship, and healing in Black America. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are Like The Clouds
Jorge Argueta
Why are young people leaving their country to walk to the United States to seek a new, safe home? Over 100,000 such children have left Central America. This book of poetry helps us to understand why and what it is like to be them. Ideal for ages 8 & up.
Marisol Mcdonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combina
Monica Brown
Marisol McDonald, a biracial, nonconformist, soccer-playing pirate-princess with brown skin and red hair, celebrates her uniqueness. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Something Happened In Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice
Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP
In this book designed to facilitate learning, two local students talk with their families after a police shooting of a local Black man. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers that provides general guidance about addressing racism with children, child-friendly vocabulary definitions, conversation guides, and a link to additional online resources for parents and teachers. Ideal for ages 8 & up.
Not Quite Snow White
Ashley Franklin
Tameika is excited to audition for the school's Snow White musical, but when she overhears her classmates say she is too tall, chubby, and brown to play Snow White, she questions whether she is right for the part. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Momma, Did You Hear The News?
Sanya Whittaker Gragg
Ten year old Avery is in a panic over the shooting of another unarmed black man. His parents decide it is time to have "The Talk." They teach him and his brother a catchy and easy way to remember what to do if approached by an officer, while also emphasizing that all policemen are not bad. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
Anastasia Higginbotham
A young white girl, with the help of her mother, struggles to understand the whys and hows of racism and white supremecy and its long history in the United States, as well as the efforts to combat it. Ideal for ages 8 & up.
Intersection Allies : We Make Room For All
Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi
A handy book about intersectionality that depicts the nuances of identity and embraces difference as a source of community. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Under My Hijab
Hena Khan
As a young girl observes that each of six women in her life wears her hijab and hair in a different way, she considers how to express her own style one day. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Let's Talk About Race
Julius Lester
This engaging, beautifully illustrated book explores aspects of what makes a multidimensional human, including race. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
Seven Pablos
Jorge Luján
Seven vignettes of seven young boys named Pablo living throughout the world. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
These Hands
Margaret H. Mason
An African American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
Don't Touch My Hair!
Sharee Miller
Aria loves her soft and bouncy hair, but must go to extremes to avoid people who touch it without permission until, finally, she speaks up. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Ruth and the Green Book
Calvin A. Ramsey
When Ruth and her parents take a motor trip from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandma, they rely on a pamphlet called "The Negro Motorist Green Book" to find places that will serve them. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
On The Playground: Our First Talk About Prejudice
Jillian Roberts
This book designed to facilitate learning offers a comprehensive introduction to the topic of prejudice. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
The Breaking News
Sarah Lynne Reul
When devastating news rattles a young girl's community, her normally attentive parents and neighbors are suddenly exhausted and distracted. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Mommy's Khimar
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
A young Muslim girl puts on a head scarf and not only feels closer to her mother, she also imagines herself as a queen, the sun, a superhero, and more. Ideal for ages 4 & up.
Separate Is Never Equal : Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight For Desegregation
Duncan Tonatiuh
Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California. Ideal for ages 6 & up.
Orange For The Sunsets
Tina Athaide
In alternating voices, friends Asha and Yesofu, one Indian and one African, find their world turned upside-down when Idi Amin decides to expel Asian Indians from Uganda in 1972. Ideal for ages 11 & up.
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems Of Race, Mistakes, And Friendship
Irene Latham
Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, present paired poems about topics including family dinners, sports, recess, and much more. This relatable collection explores different experiences of race in America. Ideal for ages 9 & up.
Racial Profiling : Everyday Inequality
Alison Behnke
In the United States, racial profiling affects thousands of Americans every day. This book explores the history, the many manifestations, and the consequences of this form of social injustice. Ideal for ages 12 & up.
Two Roads
Joseph Bruchac
In 1932, twelve-year-old Cal must stop being a hobo with his father and go to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, where he begins learning about his history and heritage as a Creek Indian. Ideal for ages 11 & up.
Lety Out Loud
Angela Cervantes
Lety Muñoz's first language is Spanish, and she likes to take her time putting her words together. She loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don't care if she can't always find the right word. When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. Ideal for ages 8 & up.
Blended
Sharon M. Draper
Piano prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police. Ideal for ages 10 & up.
New Kid
Jerry Craft
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? Ideal for ages 9 & up.
The Skin I'm In
Sharon G. Flake
Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and discovers how to love who she is and what she looks like. Ideal for ages 12 & up.
Dread Nation : Rise Up
Justina Ireland
When families go missing in Baltimore County, Jane McKeene, who is studying to become an Attendant, finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that has her fighting for her life against powerful enemies. Ideal for ages 14 & up.
The Parker Inheritance
Varian Johnson
12-year-old Candice is spending the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, where her grandmother claimed to have found buried treasure. When Candice finds a secret letter, she sets out with the help of her new friend and fellow book-worm Brandon to find the treasure, clear her grandmother's name, and expose an injustice once committed against an African American family in Lambert. Ideal for ages 9 & up.
Amina's Voice
Hena Khan
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family's vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community. Ideal for ages 9 & up.
There's Something About Sweetie
Sandhya Menon
Told in two voices, disappointed-in-love Ashish Patel and self-proclaimed fat athlete Sweetie Nair begin to find their true selves while dating under contract. Idea for ages 14 & up.
This Land Is Our Land: A History Of American Immigration
Linda Barrett Osborne
This fascinating and thorough history of immigration in America draws on primary sources and personal narratives to illuminate xenophobia, persistence, and policy over time. Ideal for ages 12 & up.
Open Mic: Riffs On Life Between Cultures In Ten Voices
edited by Mitali Perkins
Shares stories about growing up in diverse homes or communities, from an Asian youth who gains temporary popularity by making up a false background, to a biracial girl whose father clears subway seats by calmly sitting between two prejudiced women. Ideal for ages 14 & up.
My Seneca Village
Marilyn Nelson
Before it was Central Park, Seneca Village existed on the same land. It was a diverse community of free African Americans, Irish immigrants, and others. Discover their stories--told in verse--in this absorbing book. Ideal for ages 10 & up.
Dactyl Hill Squad
Daniel José Older
Dinosaurs still exist in this alternative Civil War adventure, where they're used to convey soldiers into battle. Meanwhile, in rioting New York City, Magdalys Roca and her friends escape from the Colored Orphan Asylum and team up with a group of resistance fighters. Will Magdalys's telepathic ability to communicate with dinosaurs help them survive and triumph in their resistance mission? Ideal for ages 9 & up.
A Good Kind Of Trouble
Lisa Moore Ramée
After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity. Ideal for ages 11 & up.
All American Boys
Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints. Ideal for ages 13 & up.
Ghost Boys
Jewell Parker Rhodes
After seventh-grader Jerome is shot by a white police officer, he observes the aftermath of his death and meets the ghosts of other fallen black boys including historical figure Emmett Till. Ideal for ages 11 & up.
Genesis Begins Again
Alicia Williams
Thirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family's troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is. Ideal for ages 12 & up.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson
Beloved children's author Jacqueline Woodson tells her story of coming of age in the 1960s and 70s in this poetic memoir. Ideal for ages 10 & up.
American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang
Three stories weave together in this colorful graphic novel that balances humor a gravity. Ideal for ages 12 & up.
Front Desk
Kelly Yang
Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants--not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class. Ideal for ages 9 & up.