Books About Racism and Social Justice

When your kids see demonstrations in the street or on the news as a response to racially charged incidents, you can help them understand what's going on by giving them some historical context. Sometimes such actions reflect a healthy democracy. Sometimes they lead to changing laws. Some movements are peaceful, others turn violent. These books tell stories of people's experiences of racism and of those who put their bodies on the line for the cause of equality under the law and social justice. For more great reads for kids and teens, check out our Civil Rights Books and Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners.

Browse Books About Racism and Social Justice

Jazz Age Josephine Book Poster Image
Jazzy bio of Josephine Baker inspiring, bittersweet.
By Jonah Winter
(2012)
(2012)
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Rosa Book Poster Image
Spectacular illustrations spotlight Parks' historic protest.
By Nikki Giovanni
(2006)
(2006)
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Henry's Freedom Box Book Poster Image
Heartrending but hopeful, true story of slave boy's escape.
By Ellen Levine
(2008)
(2008)
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Nelson Mandela Book Poster Image
Stellar art portrays key aspects of Mandela's life for kids.
By Kadir Nelson
(2013)
(2013)
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The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial Book Poster Image
Inspiring, educational story of 1800s civil rights heroes.
By Susan E. Goodman
(2016)
(2016)
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I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Kid-friendly bio a strong, accessible intro to King's life.
By Brad Meltzer
(2016)
(2016)
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The Legendary Miss Lena Horne Book Poster Image
Solid intro to singer, movie star, civil rights activist.
By Carole Boston Weatherford
(2017)
(2017)
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Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts Book Poster Image
Fact-filled look at rights leaders' intertwined lives.
By Nikki Grimes
(2015)
(2015)
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Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Six Guiding Beliefs (As Told by His Niece) Book Poster Image
A heartfelt intro to King's peaceful protest movement.
By Angela Farris Watkins
(2015)
(2014)
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My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth Book Poster Image
Inspirational and informative intro to an American hero.
By Ann Turner
(2015)
(2015)
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The Cay Book Poster Image
Powerful shipwreck story has anti-racism message.
By Theodore Taylor
(2005)
(1987)
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The Journey of Little Charlie Book Poster Image
Tense, powerful novel of boy and slave catcher in 1858.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2018)
(2018)
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Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy Book Poster Image
A preacher's son stands up to a racist town.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2005)
(2005)
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Maniac Magee Book Poster Image
Exciting, moving story explores racism, myth making.
By Jerry Spinelli
(2003)
(1990)
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Stella by Starlight Book Poster Image
Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.
By Sharon M. Draper
(2014)
(2015)
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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement Book Poster Image
Frank, poetic picture book bio has dazzling art.
By Carole Boston Weatherford
(2016)
(2015)
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Book Poster Image
A funny novel with a devastating emotional punch.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
(1995)
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Betty Before X Book Poster Image
Inspiring, intimate story of activist's early years.
By Ilyasah Shabazz, Renee Watson
(2018)
(2018)
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Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court Book Poster Image
Thoughtful memoir by basketball star and civil rights icon.
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld
(2018)
(2017)
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Brown Girl Dreaming Book Poster Image
Captivating poems depict coming-of-age in tumultuous 1960s.
By Jacqueline Woodson
(2014)
(2014)
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Crow Book Poster Image
Irresistible boy narrator faces turn-of-20th-century racism.
By Barbara Wright
(2012)
(2012)
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Esperanza Rising Book Poster Image
Historical fiction at its best in story of '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
(2000)
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How It Went Down Book Poster Image
Haunting look at killing of unarmed African American teen.
By Kekla Magoon
(2015)
(2014)
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Kira-Kira Book Poster Image
Girl faces racism, sister's cancer in touching tale.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2005)
(2005)
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The Lions of Little Rock Book Poster Image
Poignant story of a shy girl who speaks for social justice.
By Kristin Levine
(2012)
(2012)
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Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March Book Poster Image
Vivid recollections of a teen girl in the Selma march.
By Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Elspeth Leacock, Susan Buckley
(2015)
(2015)
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One Crazy Summer Book Poster Image
A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.
By Rita Williams-Garcia
(2010)
(2010)
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The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights Book Poster Image
Little-known disaster gets overdue, in-depth treatment.
By Steve Sheinkin
(2014)
(2014)
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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of family facing racism in '30s Mississippi.
By Mildred D. Taylor
(2004)
(1976)
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All American Boys Book Poster Image
Haunting tale of two boys' lives changed by police assault.
By Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely
(2015)
(2015)
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If I Ever Get Out of Here Book Poster Image
Relatable story of music-loving Native American boy in '70s.
By Eric Gansworth
(2013)
(2013)
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Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots Book Poster Image
Vibrant novel in verse shows anti-Latino racism in '40s L.A.
By Margarita Engle
(2018)
(2018)
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March: Book One Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.
By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
(2013)
(2013)
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The Tequila Worm Book Poster Image
Moving tale of Latina going to white boarding school.
By Viola Canales
(2006)
(2006)
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To Kill a Mockingbird Book Poster Image
Stunning classic examines racism -- and justice.
By Harper Lee
(2004)
(1960)
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Sounder Book Poster Image
Sharecropper boy finds hope, dignity amid racism, hardship.
By William H. Armstrong
(2010)
(1969)
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The 57 Bus Book Poster Image
True story of teens' fateful encounter and its aftermath.
By Dashka Slater
(2017)
(2017)
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American Born Chinese Book Poster Image
First graphic novel to win major child lit awards.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2007)
(2006)
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Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice Book Poster Image
Dramatic story of forgotten teen civil rights hero.
By Phillip M. Hoose
(2009)
(2009)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Book Poster Image
Funny, gritty, and powerful novel of growing up on the rez.
By Sherman Alexie
(2007)
(2007)
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Black Boy Book Poster Image
Moving autobiography reveals brutality of Jim Crow South.
By Richard Wright
(2011)
(2007)
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Dear Martin Book Poster Image
Boy faces racial profiling in powerful, realistic tale.
By Nic Stone
(2017)
(2017)
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The Hate U Give Book Poster Image
Powerful story of police shooting of unarmed black teen.
By Angie Thomas
(2017)
(2017)
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I Am Alfonso Jones Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel explores police brutality.
By Tony Medina
(2017)
(2017)
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Trouble Book Poster Image
Teens face violence, racism on a road trip to redemption.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2008)
(2008)
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X: A Novel Book Poster Image
Thrilling and tragic novel about Malcolm X's troubled youth.
By Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon
(2016)
(2016)
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Out of Darkness Book Poster Image
Beautifully written look at racism and love in 1930s Texas.
By Ashley Hope Pérez
(2016)
(2015)
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The Underground Railroad Book Poster Image
Riveting, thought-provoking, brutal runaway slave story.
By Colson Whitehead
(2016)
(2016)
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Song of Solomon Book Poster Image
Brilliant but mature classic explores racism, gender, power.
By Toni Morrison
(2005)
(1977)
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