Knowledge is power, and teaching kids about social justice empowers them to make a difference in the world. Some of the best books about social justice help kids learn empathy and build a shared background around topics like racism, poverty, refugees, diversity, and more. These books highlight the simple power of a kind deed that helps others thrive.
Best Kids Books About Social Justice
Whether you are teaching in the classroom or just want your kids to learn empathy and kindness for others, we’ve compiled a list of the best books about social justice for babies to young adults.
Even babies and toddlers can begin to learn about social justice through kindness. This short board book teaches babies and toddlers how to be kind on the playground, at lunchtime, on a bike path, and in the neighborhood.
Indestructible and rip-proof, Let’s Be Kind is a baby’s first book on manners and kindness. Flip through while teaching little ones basic social skills like please and thank you.
Not only is this an excellent book for teaching preschoolers colors, but it beautifully illustrates diversity and the power of kindness, respect, and inclusion that even little ones can understand. Although the orange crayon thinks he is the best, kids learn that each crayon is unique, and when they come together, it makes the world beautiful.
In this book, Elmo and his friends introduce preschoolers to concepts of fairness and racial justice that little ones can understand. Race itself is not explicitly defined, but the concept of treating everyone fairly no matter what they look like is very clear.
Kindergarten through 3rd graders can stand alongside the nation’s most iconic civil and human rights leaders, whose brave actions made history in Enough! Kids learn about Samuel Adams and the Boston Tea Party, Ruby Bridges and her march to school, and even Colin Kaepernick as he takes a knee for Black lives.
Let the Children March is another great book for kids in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. It shows how even kids can stand up for their rights by taking them back to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, where children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak.
This book is perfect for teaching younger kids about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Young readers get an understanding of what it was like to be Martin Luther King’s son. Martin Luther King III was one of King’s children mentioned in his “I Have a Dream” speech, and he went on to share his experiences in this iconic children’s book.
Change Sings! is another excellent book for elementary students. Readers discover through this musical journey that they have the power to make changes that are big or small in the world, in their communities, and, most importantly, in themselves.
Middle Grades and High School
If you are looking for a more in-depth but accessible book about Martin Luther King, segregation, and activism, this graphic novel series is perfect for middle school and high school-aged kids. Book one is a vivid first-hand account of the life of John Lewis and his struggle for civil and human rights.
This must-read high school classic is a heart-wrenching tale of virulent prejudice in the south through the eyes of a young girl. Her father, a local lawyer, risks everything to defend a Black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
High school-aged kids and young adults can learn about racial injustice in the American justice system through the eyes of a 17-year old girl fighting for both her brother’s and father’s rights.
This graphic novel amplifies the voices of female legends from 1840 to the present day. High schoolers and young adults can learn about the fight for women’s rights and epic battles for liberty for all.
More children’s books to check out:
- 50 Children’s Books About Racism and Diversity
- 50 Children’s Books For All Ages
- 12 Best Kid’s Books to Gift
Do you know of more great books for teaching kids about social justice? If so, we would love for you to share them in our Local Anchor Facebook group.