Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to discrimination. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about discrimination.
Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about discrimination, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education to popular sellers like A Dance Like Starlight to some of our favorite hidden gems like Wizardmatch.
We hope this list of kids books about discrimination can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
Twelve-year-old Lennie Mercado’s grandfather, the current Prime Wizard of Pomporromp, is retiring and decides to host a tournament for Lennie and her cousins to compete to win his title, land, position, castle, and unlimited magical powers, but when Poppop introduces new rules to eliminate sibling rivalry, Lennie decides the games are unfair and makes plans to sabotage the event.
Nerdy Chick has been waiting all day for the Rocket Club meeting. But when she gets there, she finds a disturbing sign tacked to the door: “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!!!” Puzzled, then baffled, then just plain mad, Nerdy Chick sets out to change the rules. Along the way, she meets other chicks who are just like her: passionate and determined. From Soccer Chick to Science Chick and Wordy Chick to Yoga Chick, these chicks aren’t willing to take “NO” for an answer. They rally together, march to the barn at the center of town, and—when they hear “NO” once again—chart their own path forward (or, rather, up, up, and away!). A celebration of girl power and community action, Chicks Rule! is the playful, diverse, victorious anthem chicks everywhere will love.
Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.
But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.
In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.
No chasing! No stretching or straining! And never, ever sweat. These were the rules girls were forced to play by until Title IX passed in 1972. And it was a game-changer. A celebration of the strength, endurance, and athleticism of women and girls throughout the ages, Play Like a Girl keeps score with examples of women athletes from the late 1800s up through the 1970s, sharing how women refused to take no for an answer, and how finally, they pushed for a law to protect their right to play, compete, and be athletes.
In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn’t let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down color barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. After skating in ice shows across the nation and helping coach and develop the talents of several Olympic champions, Mabel became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters - The true story of the high-flying Harlem Globetrotters -- the team that changed basketball forever.
I Am Jackie Robinson - A Black History Month-timed entry in the best-selling series follows the heroic story of baseball star Jackie Robinson, describing, in text and comic thought bubbles, his childhood, early ambitions and barrier-breaking achievements. By the best-selling author of Heroes for My Son.
Charlie Takes His Shot - Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education - Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world. Malala’s courage and conviction will inspire young readers in this beautifully illustrated biography.
2017 Orbis Pictus Honor Book
2017 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book
2017 Teachers’ Choice Pick, International Literacy Association
An NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 2017
In 1847, an African American girl named Sarah Roberts attended school in Boston. One day she was told she could never come back. She didn’t belong. The Otis School was for white children only.
The Roberts family fought this injustice and made history. Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. Sometimes even losing is a victory. They lost their case but Sarah’s cause was won when people, black and white, stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change!
With gorgeous art from award-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis, The First Step is an inspiring look at the first lawsuit to demand desegregation–long before the American Civil Rights movement, even before the Civil War.
Backmatter includes: An integration timeline, bios on key people in the book, list of resources, and author’s note.
Willie Powell had been told, “If you are going to get ahead in this world, you can’t be as good as the white children; you have to be twice as good.” He took this advice to heart.
Willie dreamed of becoming a professional golfer, but his accomplishments went far beyond playing the game of golf. Willie was often denied the opportunity to play golf because he was African American. Determined, he decided to build his own course, and welcome people of all color to play golf.
In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.
This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.
Racial discrimination is cruel–and especially so to younger children. This title encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves. <i>A First Look At</i> is an easy-to-understand series of books for younger children. Each title explores emotional issues and discusses the questions such difficulties invariably raise among kids of preschool through early school age. Written by a psychotherapist and child counselor, each title promotes positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. The books are written in simple, direct language that makes sense to younger kids. Each title also features a guide for parents on how to use the book, a glossary, suggested additional reading, and a list of resources. There are attractive full-color illustrations on every page. (Ages 4-7)
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