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Anti-Racist Children's Literature: Ages 2-4

This guide features books recommended for discussing race and racism with children.

Picture Books

Hair Love

"I love that Hair Love is highlighting the relationship between a Black father and daughter. Matthew leads the ranks of new creatives who are telling unique stories of the Black experience. We need this."      - Jordan Peele, Actor & Filmmaker It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison. Zuri's hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it's beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he'll do anything to make her -- and her hair -- happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair -- and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.

Julian Is a Mermaid

Winner of a 2019 Stonewall Book Award In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world. While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he's seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes -- and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love's author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

Last Stop on Market Street

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.   This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

A Is for Activist

"A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives- families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents' values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books."

Antiracist Baby Picture Book

A #1 New York Times Bestseller! Featured in its own episode in the Netflix original show Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices! Featured on Good Morning America, NPR's Morning Edition, CBS This Morning, and more! From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist comes a new 9x9 picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives. Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby's nine easy steps for building a more equitable world. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

Where Are You From?

This resonant and award-winning picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn't have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom--a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo. When a girl is asked where she's from--where she's really from--none of her answers seems to be the right one. Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn't give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one. Where am I from? You're from hurricanes and dark storms, and a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep.... With themes of self-acceptance, identity, and home, this powerful, lyrical picture book will resonate with readers young and old, from all backgrounds and of all colors--especially anyone who ever felt that they don't belong. 2019 Nerdies Fiction Picture Book Award Winner | Silver Medalist for Bank Street College of Education's Best Spanish Language Picture Books of the Year | Named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2019 |A Mighty Girl's 2019 Book of the Year | Named one of New York Public Library's Best Books for Kids 2019  "Lyrical language and luminous illustrations. An ideal vehicle for readers to ponder and discuss their own identities." --Kirkus (starred review) "An enchanted, hand-in-hand odyssey [and] opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the many, many backgrounds, roots, histories, of those who live in these United States." --Shelf Awareness (starred review) "A much-needed title that is a first purchase for libraries and classrooms." --School Library Journal "This touching book addresses a ubiquitous question for children of color, and in the end, the closeness between the girl and Abuelo shows that no matter the questions, she knows exactly where she's from." --Booklist "Although the book begins as a gentle riposte to narrow cultural and ethnic categorizations, its conclusion reaches out to all readers, evoking both heritage and the human family." --Publishers Weekly A Spanish-language edition, ¿De dónde eres?, is also available.

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