25+ Diverse Books for Anti-Racist Educators

This month the MAR Education Advocacy Team put together a list of 25+ books (we got a bit carried away with the picture books) for Anti-racist Educators to use in their classrooms and homes.

15 of the 25 book covers from the list on a red background

MAR Recommends: 25+ Books for anti-racist educators.

Delightfully, we had a very difficult time narrowing down our recommended reads list this month. Everyday more and more great books are gifted to us by BIPOC authors to use in our antiracism education. We tried to balance our list with some "classics" as well as some titles you may not have heard about before. Either way, it was HARD to keep it to just 25 books. You will see how that worked out for us when you get to picture books.

So here is a list of 25+ books, ranging in ages, subjects, and experiences, you can use at home or in your classroom as an anti-racist educator.

Happy reading!


Board Books, Babies, Preschool

Antiracist baby By Ibram X. Kendi

This joyously illustrated board book shows babies having fun in a world where all differences are celebrated and offers simple but meaningful steps to raise anti-racist kids. It keeps the focus on the babies themselves, showing how Antiracist Baby acts. On pages showing babies of many skin colors happily playing together on a big blanket, it says, "Anticracist Baby doesn't see certain / groups as 'better' or 'worse.' / Antiracist Baby loves a world that's truly diverse." On pages showing four babies, each one lovingly held close by their diverse parents, the text reads, "Even though races are not treated the same, / 'We are all human!' Antiracist Baby can proclaim!" Antiracist Baby is aimed more at parents than their very young children, but babies and toddlers will still enjoy the vibrant illustrations and the thoughtful message to celebrate all differences. The final step in the list offers both a challenge and a hope: "Believe we can overcome racism." - Commonsense Media

Learning My Rights with Mousewoman By Morgan Asoyuf

Learning My Rights with Mousewoman is a board book that needs to be revisited many times in order to unpack the fullness of what is embedded within these rights, with just one example being, “This is my body. I have the right to safe touch.” Though Asoyuf ‘s words may resonate first with Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures because of her illustration style, settler readers may be prompted to action when they share the book with their young children and read, for example, “I have the right to healthy food and clean water”, and recall the ongoing boil water advisories on so many First Nations reserves. - Canadian Review of Materials

I am Proud of Me By Margaret Manuel

From the author of the bestselling I See Me comes a new book which follows the life of the same child now older and learning to be proud of his culture, language and what makes him special. I Am Proud shares a powerful message of being proud of who you are, your culture, language and all those things that make you, you. - Goodreads

We All Count (A Book of Ojibway numbers) by Jason Adair

We All Count: Book of Ojibway Art is the 2013 board book from Native Northwest featuring the Woodland style art of Jason Adair. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, the Ojibwe author has created an engaging board book that features the numbers in Ojibwe and English. Each colour illustration highlights a colour and a counting experience along with pronunciation guide for the Ojibwe numbers. The artist adds a note on the book's back cover about learning to count and the importance of each child being counted as one of a larger community and how as children we learn to count, and read to be counted. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Ojibwe and English using authentic Ojibwe design. Highly recommended. - Kinder Books

Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne

...The parents who own this book will be telling their children to stand up and fight, to get woke and stay woke about the racial issues of today. The clever message of a baby demonstrating these behaviors is a more subtle way to say what so many current books about resistance are saying this year. Fight, invite, demonstrate, show up, call, write letters, campaign, vote, revolt. In 120 words, Mahogany Browne writes the rallying cry for babies, their brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. “Like a good revolutionary,/you never, ever sleep.” Theodore Taylor III’s baby doesn’t smile or coo but has a look of determination and purpose. The baby is here to carry on with the struggle, to keep the fight going. The end product is a clever way to tell the world that the status quo is not acceptable. As it says on the jacket flap, Woke Babies grow up to change the world. - NY Journal of Books

Bonus Board Book:

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (Board book) by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race is the book we’ve been waiting for! The team (Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas) did an incredible thing: they explained race and racism to young children. Not only did they do it in a few pages of a board book, but they also provided guidance to the adults who will read it to children. As soon as you open the book, the reader is greeted with colorful representations of the authors and illustrator, as well as a note on the purpose and function of the book. The last few pages provide developmental insight by using direct language to explain the “why and how” of having conversations about race, race-related observations, family diversity, identity terms, stereotypes, as well as prejudice, race, racism, empowerment, and activism... - Social Justice Books

Picture Books

In My Mosque By M.O. Yuksel

Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them. Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too… Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. - Kirkus Reviews

M is for Melanin by Tiffany Rose

Rose’s A–Z affirmation of black children sings with inclusivity and zest. Alongside letters presented in different bold design—the A for “afro” is studded with picks, combs, and brushes—language works to inspire confidence and pride: “Be you. Love you. Always. All ways,” “Acknowledge your majesty and act accordingly.” References to black leaders—Obama (“Our first black president”) and Malcolm X (“Activist. Leader. Revolutionary”)— occur alongside calls for children to define and be themselves, and to “SPEAK OUT for what is right./SPEAK UP when others are silent...” - Publisher’s Weekly

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner

Years before Rosa Parks's act of civil disobedience, Viola Desmond refused to give up her seat in a movie theater in Nova Scotia. Dragged out of the theater, sent to jail, and charged a fine, Viola returned home and shared her experience with her community, who fought (unsuccessfully) to appeal her case. Debut author Warner's conversational prose is message-driven ("They took Viola to jail. Can you believe it?") while Rudnicki's illustrations, in bright shades of green, red, and orange, are dramatic, if sometimes garish. An appended section on African-Canadian history provides additional background; Desmond's story should prove eye-opening to readers whose civil rights references are limited to American figures. - Publisher’s Weekly

Speak Up by Miranda Paul

With big, colorful scenes and simple rhyming, this uplifting book helps kids see their place in the world and the incredible value of their voice. Rather than show speaking up as a giant event that only the loudest among us can accomplish, Speak Up emphasizes the small, everyday moments that give us all the chance to make things right. Many young readers will relate to the teacher mispronouncing their name or feeling like they have nowhere to sit at lunchtime, and they can see how small gestures can change the outcome. The diversity of families is important, as are the tools that help even a shy child speak up in their own way. - Common Sense Media

My Chinatown by Kam Mak

Fifteen untitled poems, handsomely illustrated with photo-realistic paintings, express the feelings of a young Chinese boy from Hong Kong as he adjusts to his new home in New York’s Chinatown. Grouped by the four seasons, the poems span the time from one Chinese New Year to the next. The simplicity of language and beautiful paintings evoke poignant imagery; phrasing like “ . . . school where English words taste like metal in my mouth” or a scene where an overhead perspective captures the boy and a girl playing chess on the floor with a cat pawing a marker, framing a tender moment. Even though the reader may not know firsthand all of the specific references—Tic-Tac-Toe–playing chicken, sidewalk cobbler, red confetti on streets from firecrackers—what comes through clearly is the boy’s gradual acceptance of his new home place where daily pleasures can be enjoyed without relinquishing memories of the past... The first-person voice and strong composition of art with vivid colors symbiotically make this boy’s personal emotional journey a universal experience. - Kirkus Reviews

Bonus Picture Books:

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan