20 Picture Books To Help Kids Find Their Activist Spirit At An Early Age
In the months since Donald Trump has become president, more and more people have become inspired to join the Resistance — whether that means volunteering, campaigning, donating, making calls, educating themselves and others on the issues, or otherwise. Bustle's 31 Days of Reading Resistance takes a look at the role of literature and writing in the Resistance, both as a source of inspiration and as a tool for action.
They say that children are our future, and in 2017, its more important than ever to teach them the right, fair, and just way to shape that future. That's why you should show them picture books for children of the resistance. Every little activist needs to start somewhere.
Although its our instinct to protect children from the harsh realities of the world, it's even more important to teach them to face it head-on and with a full heart. But talking about the difficult topics with young people, the complicated ones like racism, sexism, equality, isn't easy. It's hard to know where to start or how much detail to go into, and even more impossible to predict what kinds of questions you'll get after.
That's where picture books come in. They are versatile tools that can be used to start a conversation about things like civil rights, equality, and prejudice. Whether it's an inspiring true story or a meaningful fictional tale, picture books can provide an introduction to important issues every citizen should be informed about, no matter their age. Not to mention, they make debating, questioning, and discussing the "tough stuff" an engaging and fun activity that the right readers will turn into a life-long habit.
Ready to train the next generation of activists? Then check out these 19 picture books perfect for young resistors.
A heartfelt picture book from the legendary author, feminist, and activist bell hooks, Skin Again is a beautiful way to start a conversation about race with children. A celebration of diversity and individuality, this inspirational and inclusive book can help teach children from a young age not to be so-called "colorblind," but rather to see the different people around them and understand their race is a fundamental part of who they are, but not the only thing about them.
A bilingual story set during the 2000 Los Angeles janitors' strike, ¡Si, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can! imagines the world of activism and workers' rights through the eyes of a young boy. Sweet and accessible, this is a great introduction to labor unions, striking and protests, and equality in the work place.
This bright and colorful board book can teach baby from the very beginning that we should all be feminists. A fun and simple exploration of individual choice and gender equality, Feminist Baby is the empowering bedtime story you wished you had as a child.
Based on the inspiring true story of the largest women's workers strike in the country and the young immigrant girl who started it all, Brave Girl will make every child believe in the power of their own courage. This biographical picture book traces the young Ukrainian girl's story from her arrival to the United States in 1903 to her long days in the shirtwaist factory and late nights at school to her inspirational walkout and ongoing fight for justice in the workplace. A lively retelling of Clara's vibrant life, it serves as an example of what can happen when one person stands up for change.
Another inspiring biographical picture book, Harvesting Hope takes readers through the life and activism country's biggest civil rights hero: Cesar Chavez. The unstoppable leader of the five year Delano grape strike of the 1960s. Chavez comes to life in this bright and informative book perfect for children who want to know how one person can ignite real change.
It's easy for young children to feel powerless in the world, but role models like Malala are proof that they are anything but. In For the Right to Learn, readers follow along on the Nobel Peace Prize-winner's unbelievable fight against the Taliban and for the right for an education, not just for herself but for young girls everywhere. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this picture book makes Malala's story, and the concept of activism, accessible for readers of every age.
If you want kids to change the world, show them examples of people who already have with Chelsea Clinton's new and empowering picture book about incredible revolutionary American women. As the title implies, She Persisted is loaded with stories about diverse women who overcame adversity, stood up to injustice, and made a real difference for people across the country. Featuring the likes of Harriet Tubman, Maria Tallchief, Ruby Bridges, and more, little girls and boys are sure to find a hero among these pages.
Every child needs a hero to look up to, and who is better than Notorious RBG herself. In I Dissent, readers get familiar with the revolutionary Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg while learning about the importance of speaking up, and speaking out. A beautiful lesson about the power debate and disagreement have to span change, this forceful picture book will help turn young readers into young dissenters.
As the title would imply, this essential picture book shares an invaluable lesson: separate is never equal. It tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family who, a decade before Brown vs. Board of Education and with the help of their entire community, fought to end school segregation in California. A heartwarming account of a landmark legal battle, Separate Is Never Equal will delight readers with its beautiful artwork while inspiring them with a remarkable story.
Show young readers that, no matter how small they might feel, they can make a big difference with The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks. A young civil rights activist who took to the streets in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 to fight racial injustice, Faye became famous for being the youngest child to be arrested for the protest. Her story or bravery and courage will show kids just how strong they can be.
Walk the streets of D.C. alongside the brave protesters of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with Shane W. Evans evocative picture book, We March. Simply illustrated but boldly presented, this account of one of the most remarkable moments in Civil Rights history should be required reading for future members of the resistance.
Short and sweet, this ABC book will introduce young children to some of the most important people, movements, and ideas around activism. Covering everything from community involvement, justice, and equality to immigration, race, and gender, this can be considered baby's first handbook to the resistance.
It isn't always easy to understand the scope of racial inequality, especially for young readers, but The Case for Loving helps children get a clear picture of it through a loving family story. Mildred and Richard Loving got married in Washington, D.C., but when they moved back to Virginia with their three children, they were quickly arrested for breaking the state's ban on interracial marriage. Instead of giving in or giving up, the Lovings fought back and brought the case of their love all the way to the Supreme Court, where they helped secure marriage equality for people of every color.
It isn't always easy to understand the scope of racial inequality, especially for young readers, but The Case for Loving helps children get a clear picture of it through a loving family story. Mildred and Richard Loving got married in Washington, D.C., but when they moved back to Virginia with their three children, they were quickly arrested for breaking the state's ban on interracial marriage. Instead of giving in or giving up, the Lovings fought back and brought the case of their love all the way to the Supreme Court where they helped secure marriage equality for people of every color.
This classic picture book from one of the greatest children's authors isn't just on everyone's shelf because its Seuss. It's in everyone's heart because of the beautiful message it sends to readers: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
Over 50 years ago, Rachel Carson penned a book about the environment that would change — and help save — the world. Today, young readers can learn about her groundbreaking work in this picture book that celebrates the pioneering environmentalist's accomplishments. More than just a biography or history book, Rachel Carson and Her Book Changed the World serves as a reminder of the many different ways one person can make a difference.
R.J. Palacio's bestselling middle grade novel Wonder taught an entire generation of readers to #choosekind, and now, she's showing even younger children the importance of empathy. With beautiful, lush illustrations and sparse but powerful prose, We Are All Wonders lets readers walk a mile in Auggie's shoes, where they'll learn that sometimes the biggest revolutionary act can be an act of kindness.
An illustrated story of Jazz Jenning's remarkable life, this an honest and engaging story lets readers know that everybody has the right to be themselves. A beautiful story with an empowering young role model kids can not only look up to but identify with.
Based on her bestselling adult book It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodham Clinton's new picture book illustrates the power of cooperation and collaboration. Featuring gorgeous illustrations by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee, this upcoming book is sure to be every little activist's favorite story.
That's right, Malala is so empowering, she gets two spots on this list. Inspired by her childhood in Pakistan, Malala's Magic Pencil shows the young girl's transformation from an imaginative dreamer to a hands-on activist who believes in her own power to help people and change the world. Powerful and hopeful, this encouraging picture book is only made better by it's breathtaking watercolor illustrations.
Follow along all month long for more Reading Resistance book recommendations.