As Indian-Americans, my children experience racial microaggressions every day. However, we are equally very aware of the deep-rooted anti-blackness within the South Asian communities. We’ve come to integrate conversations around race, racism, identity, privilege, wars, decolonization, and immigration in our family.
Here my kids share some of their recent reads, books that have taught them about African-American history, activism, and #BlackLivesMatter. They were also excited to go beyond books that portrayed oppression and have included some of their favorite titles on stories that celebrate black history & culture.
By Rasika Misri (16 years) & Pritam Misri (12 years)
CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR ALL AGES ABOUT RACE, RACISM AND INJUSTICE
A IS FOR ACTIVIST written & illustrated by Innosanto Nagara
This book is great because of the alliteration and lyrics. It’s also a calming read-aloud of an important message while being very inspiring. This is a board book and it introduces important language around social justice, including race. It will open up talks around reasons why we should stand up and be an ally.
A GIFT FROM GREENSBORO a poem by Quraysh Ali Lansana, illustrated by Skip Hill
This poem is about the author’s friendship with a white boy, and his childhood growing up in Greensboro during the Civil Rights Movement following the sit-in.
HEART AND SOUL: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
This story talks about discrimination from the birth of America to present day, but also about how African Americans helped build America and their hopes and victories.
NEW KID by Jerry Craft
This book is about racial bias and micro aggressions. It’s very relatable to kids of color, especially about feeling like the “odd one out” and trying to fit in a new school.
Middle grade books
GHOST BOYS by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This is a story about an incident in which a boy is murdered when a white police officer mistakes his toy gun for a real one. The boy’s ghost later sees the cop’s family member and befriends another victim of racial injustice.
These books belong to a trilogy about three sisters and the stories of their childhood across Birmingham, Brooklyn, Oakland – all cities affected by deep racism and undergoing change in the 60s.
HARBOR ME by Jacqueline Woodson
This is a story about six kids who are put in a room and told to just talk. They end up sharing their stories – experiences that encompass racism, deportation, biracial identity, incarceration.
ROSA PARKS: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins
A story from the own voice of Rosa Parks, a person who experienced segregation and stood up against it. It talks more about her background and who she is as a person, and not only the act that we all know about.
Young adult fiction
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
This book talks about the effects of police brutality on black communities from the perspective of a teenage girl who uses her position as a witness to a murder to stand up and speak out.
THIS SIDE OF HOME by Renée Watson
This story is about twins who live in a black neighborhood and see the effects of gentrification as they watch their favorite black-owned businesses close down and get replaced by white-owned ones. The twins view this change in two very different ways. This book is a good conversation starter about a topic not explored in many books.
BLACK ENOUGH: Stories of Being Young & Black in America (ANTHOLOGY) edited by Ibi Zoboi
This is a collection of stories, each about a unique experience on what it’s like to be black in America today. A great read that showcases a diverse group of black protagonists and wonderful authors, this book is a refreshing and eye-opening one.
PIECING ME TOGETHER by Renée Watson
This story is about an African-American girl, Jade, who is tired of being told to accept every opportunity that comes her way, especially when she is coerced into signing up for a mentorship program that seems to only want black girls from “bad neighborhoods.” This book talks about the pressures Jade faces at a predominantly white private school and how she eventually overcomes them.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS THAT CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY & CULTURE
Picture books that celebrate Black history and culture:
- Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
- Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
- I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti, illustrated by Tony Cliff
Chapter books that celebrate Black history and culture:
- Hidden Women: The African-American Mathematicians of NASA Who Helped America Win the Space Race by Rebecca Rissman
- Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins
Middle grade books that celebrate Black history and culture:
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Ghost series by Jason Reynolds
- The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Young adult books that celebrate Black history and culture:
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
- Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
- Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan
Photo above from Meera Sriram.
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