Antiracism Reading List for 4-12 years old

Antiracism Reading List for 4-12 years old

We discovered The Conscious Kid during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, and have been learning of lots of great antiracism resources from them. One is a comprehensive 111-book reading list for age 0-18 to confront anti-blackness in literature. Quote:
Each year, there are more children's books published about animals than Black people. In 2019, 50% of the children's books published featured white characters, 27% featured animals, and only 10% featured Black characters (CCBC, 2019). Black representation comprised just 3% of all books published in 2014 and remained at that level or lower in the decades prior. Black people have historically been, and continue to be, underrepresented, misrepresented, or invisible in children’s literature.  
It is critical that our children are exposed to diverse literature from various voices. The work of dismantling structural racism begins at home, where we learn about our differences in a safe, kind, accepting way. We're sharing a digest-able list of 10 books for ages 4-12 here:

I Am Perfectly Designed Book Cover

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown with Jason "Rachel" Brown, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

 In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other. Ages 4-8.


Mae Among The Stars - Book Cover Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington

She wanted to be an astronaut. Her white teacher doesn't believe in her ability to dream big and tells her to consider a different profession. Her mom told her, "If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space. This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist. Ages 3-8. 

The Proudest Blue Book Cover

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly

It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, 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.

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. Ages 4-8


The Day You Begin Book Cover

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. 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. Ages 4-8


Tiny Stitches Book Cover

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated Colin Bootman

Vivien Thomas’s greatest dream was to attend college to study medicine. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, Vivien lost all his savings. Then he heard about a job opening at the Vanderbilt University medical  school under the supervision of Dr. Alfred Blalock. Vivien knew that the  all-white school would never admit him as a student, but he hoped  working there meant he was getting closer to his dream.

He went onto develop a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child, ushering in a new era of medicine, but still had to overcome racism and resistance from his colleagues. Ages 7-12. 


Jame Makes a World - Book Cover

Jake Makes A World: Jacob Lawrence, an Artist in Harlem by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitt, illustrated by Christoper Myers

Jake Makes a World follows the creative adventures of the young Jacob Lawrence as he finds inspiration in the vibrant colors and characters of his community in Harlem, taking the readers 
on an enchanting journey through the bustling sights and sounds of his neighborhood. Ages 4–8


Trombone Shorty Book Cover

Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Ages 4-8


Dream Builder Phil Freelon

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman

When Phil decided to attend architecture school, he created his own focus on African American and Islamic designers. He later chose not to build casinos or prisons, instead concentrating on schools, libraries, and museums--buildings that connect  people with heritage and fill hearts with joy. In 2009, Phil's team won a commission that let him use his personal history in service to the country's: the extraordinary Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This book celebrates a contemporary Black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America's past and future. Ages 4-8


Take a Picture of Me Jame Vanderzee

Take A Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by Andrea J. Loney, illustrated by Keith Mallett

James Van Der Zee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait.

After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken by a Black  man, — James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance — politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill-Bojangles-Robinson, and Mamie Smith — and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James Van Der Zee. Ages 7-11


Malcolm Little Book Cover Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustrated by AG Ford

Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice. Ages 6-9.