Books & Teaching Tips on Race and Racism

Books & Teaching Tips on Race and Racism

The following list was created by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Talking about Race and Racism with Children

Below are some resources compiled by The Center of the Ministry of Teaching for discussing race and racism. When using these books, it is important to remember that the books are written for children.  Adults should be cautious to avoid projecting their own experiences and anxieties.  Instead, allow children to respond and process freely.  So often as adults, we sense the need to tell children how they are supposed to feel. These books can provide the space for children to express their feelings and their own sacred stories.

Question Prompts for Children and Tweens

At the same time, adults can help guide children in responding and processing. To engage conversations, we recommend the following prompts and questions:

Ages 3-5: What was important in this story? What bothered you about the story? What did you like about the story?

Ages 5-8: Have you ever felt like one of the characters? Have you had an experience or seen something like this happen – how did it that make you feel?

Ages 8-12: What feelings did you have about this story? I wonder why you felt ____. I wonder what you would do in this situation. I wonder how this story could have been different. I wonder what made this happen.


Books with a Historical Context

I Have A Dream (ages 7 and up)
Martin Luther King Jr, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This is the text of King’s speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28th, 1963. Beautifully bold paintings by Kadir Nelson bring the reader onto the steps with King.

Gordon Parks: How The Photographer captured Black and White America (ages 6-10)
Carole Boston Weatherford & Jamey Christoph
This book follows the life of Gordon Parks, famous for being the first black film director. The pictures and story captured in this book really show how he captured life where people were treated different because of the color of their skin via photography.

White Flour (ages 8-12)
David LaMotte
“Inspired by true events in May of 2007, White Flour tells a story of humor conquering hatred. This was the day that the Ku Klux Klan met the Coup Clutz Clowns. It is an instructive and inspiring tale of a Third Way, illustrating that there are more creative responses to hatred and bigotry than fight or flight, and doing so in Seussian rhyme.”
Christian formation lesson plans and video available:

Relationship Building & Anti- Discrimination

The Judgmental Flower (ages 4-8)
By: Julia Cook
Using flowers, this book discusses differences and helps us to learn how to value differences by exploring  how we might feel when excluded and how we should treat one another.

Giraffes Can’t Dance (ages 3-7)
By: Giles Andreae
A story about not judging a book by its cover. Themes of being different, accepting others, and celebrating gifts.

The Crayon Box that Talked (ages 3-7)
By: Shane DeRolf (Anti-Discrimination)
This book is an illustration about not getting along and being different and how to accept one another by using crayons who live in a same box.

Strictly No Elephants (ages 6-8)
By: Lisa Mantchev
This book displays the importance of friendship despite differences, when his pet elephant isn’t allowed into the local pet club.

Chinese Eyes (ages 6-9)
Marjorie Ann Waybill and Pauline Cutrell  *Out of print but widely available used
A story about a first-grade girl who is adopted from Korean. How she feels and how her mother supports her when she comes from from school having been called “Chinese eyes” by older children. An honest and heartfelt book. 10 minutes to read aloud.

Faith Based Books

God’s Dream (ages 3-7)
By Archbishop Desmond Tutu
This book discusses unity and forgiveness and reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters.

The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights (ages 8-12)
Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Tim Ladwig
Churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary in 2017 will be hearing the Beatitudes, Matt 5: 1-12, for Epiphany 4. In this book, using free-form poetry, Weatherford connects Jesus’ powerful sermon (found along the bottom of each page) with the experiences of African-Americans: from the earliest instances of slavery through the Civil Rights Era and today.

Online Resources
The website will refer you to various books that address discrimination, race, and racism.

StoryPath bibliography
A Bibliography that encompasses resources on prejudice, tolerance and diversity
A resource recommended by The Episcopal Church on engaging children in conversations about race.
Teaching Tolerance website and magazine: resources and newsletter that can help prepare educators on teaching tolerance.


This list was first published in an article for Virginia Episcopalian Fall 2017.


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