Race and Social Justice Books for Kids

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The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and subsequent protests in Pittsburgh and across the country have been triggering and traumatic events for our community. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is a reliable source for information and resources to help understand and process these events.

During the past week, we have seen a significant increase of digital holds and checkout on books relating to race and social justice. The public library is an institution that stands behind equity of access, where people can access the information and ideas they need, regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers. You can read more about the ALA Bill of Rights and Equity of Access here.

Furthermore, the American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board announced that they stand in solidarity with Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Inc. (BCALA) in condemning increased violence and racism towards Black Americans and people of color. You can read their responses from ALA Executive Board herefrom APALA here, and from BCALA here.

The list below contains titles for kids that speak to the demonstrations, headlines, hashtags and ongoing dialogue about race in America. There are also many titles that share everyday, non-tragic experiences of kids of color. Ask a Librarian for additional suggestions, or explore African American Identity & Everyday Life: Books for Preschoolers and African American Identify & Everyday Life: Books for Elementary School.

Don't Touch My Hair

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. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Ghost Boys

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes. Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Parker Inheritance

In 2007, Abigail Caldwell, the first female and African American city manager for the town of Lambert, South Carolina, was forced to resign after covertly digging up the municipal tennis courts in search of buried treasure. Now, a decade later, the late Abigail’s twelve-year-old granddaughter Candice is following the same arcane clues, hoping to uncover the Parker inheritance. But who was Parker? You can also check out this title as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby, as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.

Rise Up! : The Art of Protest

This book encourages young people to engage in peaceful protest and stand up for freedom. Photographs of protest posters from the last one hundred years celebrate the ongoing fight for gender equality, civil rights, LGBT rights, refugee and immigrant rights, peace, and the environment. Includes a chapter on youth protest. Developed in collaboration with Amnesty International. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Something Happened in Our Town : A Child's Story About Racial Injustice

After discussing the police shooting of a local Black man with their families, Emma and Josh know how to treat a new student who looks and speaks differently than his classmates. 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. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla.


When five-year-old Sulwe’s classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

We Are the Change : Words of Inspiration From Civil Rights Leaders

Sixteen award-winning children’s book artists illustrate the civil rights quotations that inspire them in this stirring and beautiful book. Featuring an introduction by Harry Belafonte, words from Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. among others, this inspirational collection sets a powerful example for generations of young leaders to come. It includes illustrations by Selina Alko, Alina Chau, Lisa Congdon, Emily Hughes, Molly Idle, Juana Medina, Innosanto Nagara, Christopher Silas Neal, John Parra, Brian Pinkney, Greg Pizzoli, Sean Qualls, Dan Santat, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, and Raúl the Third. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.