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21 children’s books to spark important discussions about race + tolerance

If you're wondering when the "right" time is to begin having these talks—it's now, mama.

kids books about race

It seems like there's always a new event that is making us wonder when and how to start talking to our children about race and tolerance. But, you might be overwhelmed by the idea: How do I start the conversation? What if I say the “wrong" thing? Can a very young child even benefit from these kinds of discussions?

The answer is a resounding yes, so if you're wondering when the “right" time is to begin having these talks—it's now, mama.

Having honest and open discussions about race, tolerance and acceptance from a very early age can set the stage for a much broader and deeper understanding of these issues as your child grows.

Here are 20 books that can help spark these conversations.



Skin Again by Bell Hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka

skin again book

This poetic ode to celebrating our differences is a gentle way to introduce young children to the concepts of race and identity.

$9.49

Beautiful Beautiful Me Book by Ashley Sirah Hinton, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley

beautiful beautiful me book

A beautiful children's book celebrating diversity and reminding kids of all colors how beautiful they are.

$17.50

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

separate is never equal

An inspiring story about one family's efforts to desegregate California schools in the late 1940s. A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.

$15.19

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

henrys freedom box

The stunningly illustrated, heart-wrenching tale of a slave who mailed himself to freedom.

$14.03

The Color of Us by Karen Katz

the colors of us

A celebration of the many shades of skin color, as told through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl trying to paint a picture of herself. Perfect for introducing the concept of race to even the youngest readers.

$6.79

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

strictly no elephants

A sweet lesson in tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion for even the youngest readers.

$15.58

Martin's Big Words by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

martins big words book

A beautiful, accessible introduction to the life and words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Winner of the 2002 Caldecott Medal.

$7.54

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall

red a crayons story

A funny, clever story that will help little ones down the path of finding joy in staying true to who you really are.

$11.98

One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez

one family kids book

A playful look at diversity and the many ways to form a family.

$10.98

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

a is for activist

A primer for social justice perfect for even the littlest activist.

$9.97

Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

let's talk about race book

The perfect conversation starter for any discussion about race, this lively picture books celebrate what makes us different yet all the same.

$7.48

We March by Shane W. Evans

we march kids book

A critical moment in the civil rights movement— the 1963 March on Washington—told in clear, concise prose.

$6.98

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

the other side book

A longstanding classic about bridging the racial divide between two young friends, told through powerful prose and gorgeous watercolor illustrations.

$13.37

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

a poem for peter book

The inspiring story behind the groundbreaking classic A Snowy Day, the first mainstream book to feature an African American hero.

$13.29

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

be who you are kids book

The ultimate celebration of self and a vibrant, playful reminder to be proud of who you are and where you come from.

$10.96

The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

beekle book

A charming, endearing friendship story that reminds us all there's a place for everyone in this big, wide world. Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal.

$12.40

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

the youngest marcher book

The story of the youngest known civil rights protester in history will teach children that you're never too small to stand up for what you believe in.

$15.29

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

I like myself book

A silly, joyful celebration of being true to who you are. Catchy rhyming text makes this a perfect read-aloud.

$6.59

The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson

last stop on market street book

This bus ride through a busy city showcases people of different skin colors, ages, and classes, and takes readers on a journey that will help them appreciate the beauty all around. Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal and the 2016 Caldecott Honor.

$10.49

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch

amazing grace kids book

Ideal for sparking conversations about race and gender with young children, the story of spirited Grace remains as important today as it was when it was first published 25 years ago.

$13.73

Malala's Magic Pencil

malalas magic pencil

Malala's Magic Pencil, the first picture book from Nobel Prize winning Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. It depicts the story of her childhood for a young audience.

$12.92

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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