Social activist Innosanto Nagara wanted to find a fun book to read to his 2-year-old son that also talked about the importance of social justice.

He wasn’t looking for the typical fiction written for children, instead, he was looking for unique narratives — by writers of color and/or authors who can speak about social issues through their own experiences.

Nagara couldn’t find any. So he wrote one.

“Parents and teachers are realizing that what students read and learn affects how they see the world,” said Deborah Menkart, Executive Director for Teaching for Change, an organization that puts together social justice reading lists to inspire children throughout the summer.

“Give kids credit,” says Stan Yogi, one of the authors on our list. “They have an innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Being able to draw on that innate sense of justice through relatable stories is so important.”

Not all parents have the time to do what Innosanto Nagara did.

For those who can’t, we’ve compiled a list — with help from Teaching for Change — of books that frame big issues through a lens children can understand.

A Is for Activist
by Innosanto Nagara

Every letter is the definition of a different social movement. For F — kids learn about Feminism, when we get to G – kids learn about the meaning of grassroots organizing and why it’s important.

This beautifully illustrated ABC book uses rhyming and alliteration to get your little reader excited about social change. If your child loves this work they may enjoy the author’s new work My Night at the Planetarium, which illustrates the important role the arts play in resistance.


One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo
by Laurin MayenoRobert Liu-trujillo and Teresa Mlawer

A heartwarming story of a young boy, Danny, who fights gender stereotypes by dressing up as a princess for the school parade. The author, Laurin Mayeno, was inspired to write this from her own experience with her son Danny. “Sometimes as parents we must unlearn things we learned growing up,” says Mayeno. The book is bilingual, in English and Spanish, and discusses gender expression from a child’s point of view.


Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey
by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr

A bilingual tale, in Arabic and English, about a Syrian family’s flee from home. The book explains the refugee experience through beautiful illustrations.


Rad Women Worldwide
by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

This book takes your child through a list of revolutionary women who changed history through activism and radical thought. Young readers meet influential leaders from the painter Frida Kahlo to anarchist political activist Emma Goldman.


Amina’s Voice
by Hena Khan

This coming of age story follows a young Muslim girl named Amina as she deals with the ups and downs of growing up, friends moving away, and preparing to read from the Quran in public for the first time. While dealing with the pains of adolescence, Amina must also process the vandalism of her local mosque and the Islamophobia that follows.


Fred Korematsu Speaks Up
by Laura AtkinsStan Yogi and Yutaka Houlette

This book tells the story of internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. We follow the story of Fred Korematsu, a Californian, who believes these acts are unconstitutional — so much so, that he brings a case against his internment all the way to the Supreme Court. This book is the first in a series of books that aims to influence young readers to fight for justice in their community.


The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old girl who’s navigating the two worlds of her upper-class prep school and the reality of her poverty stricken neighborhood. After she witnesses her friend getting shot and killed in a confrontation with the police, she must deal with the consequences of talking about what she saw. The author unpacks the complexity and weight of standing up for what you believe in at a young age.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit
7 Books That Teach Kids About Social Justice and Activism 6 July,2017MindShift

  • Scott

    Forcing some of these topics down kids throats makes me sick. Many of these children could actually grow up in a world where they treat everyone with respect without reading books about “challenging gender stereotypes”. Now we’re forcing this stuff into an issue before one even exists.

    • Tim Miles

      Sounds like you could have benefited from reading one of these books as a kid.

      • Scott

        I have read many of these. I educate myself on these topics before arguing against them. I argue against them again primarily because they create problems that don’t exist in communities that educate kids toward respect and values. If you live in a community that does not teach values, then I suppose this would be a last ditch effort before chaos ensues. Unfortunately these books won’t save a society at large once values have been turned inside out.

    • sister_h

      “Forcing some of these topics down kids throats”? That sounds violent. Actually, these are books which must be picked up and read by choice. I don’t see what your objection is.

      • Scott

        Ever heard of a hyperbole? And yes if these books are being read as a requirement by a teacher in class that is a forceful method.

    • Clay

      I agree, Scott

  • your site is very usefull i use your articles in

  • Ryan

    Is this supposed to be satirical? I can’t tell anymore.

  • Amy McDaniel

    I think it is important to teach kids that their voices count and they can effect change. I see acceptance as good thing for most situations. I am human and I have my biases like every one else, but I question them. Usually I find that any biases I have related back to not feeling knowledgable about something.

  • Lizzie Chase

    Please share: I’ve written a fundraising book for the ASRC in Melbourne which encourages upper primary students to send art works to children in refugee detention centres. Read it for free online:

  • Richard Savino

    Forgot to include “Please Please The Bees” by Gerald Kelley.

  • Filip Zyzniewski

    Check out also for children’s books about justice.

  • The No Agenda podcast addresses this topic …it’s nuts.

    Google the words “No Agenda”

    you will be in for a surprise

  • hansprolifestyle

    thanks for sharing Nice Blog

  • wrongheifer

    Forgive me… I must laugh out loud at this “opportunity for unity” being reduced to fodder for “division and despair” whilst being presented as educational! SO COMMUNIST… SO PROGRESSIVE… SO LIBERAL that it’s embarrassing!

  • Morgan Ziontz

    For more children’s books on social justice check out: and

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