Bedtime Stories

Buy and read books about race with kids in your family. Talking with little people and teenagers about race is just as important (if not more so), as talking with grownups. Commit to talking with kids about race.

The New York Times and others have recommendations on books (see below) that have minority characters and can help bust stereotypes.  Plus, these books make great holiday gifts!

Other suggestions? Email at us holidaychallenge4racialjustice@gmail.com so we can pass them on!

Last Stop on Market Street
By Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Christian Robinson.
“The story of an African–American boy and his grandmother and how he turns his complaints into gratitude and positivity.”

Ages 6 and Up
Freedom Over Me
By Ashley Bryan
“This heart-rending book is the answer to the question of whether and how the subject of slavery can be presented to young children. Bryan tells the personal stories of 11 real-life enslaved people who were about to be sold”


Ages 3-8
Thunder Boy Junior
By Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
“Alexie, the much-heralded author of adult and children’s books about Native American life, wrote this book because he couldn’t find picture books about Native children that were set in the present. It’s the story of a boy who doesn’t like sharing his name with his father, so in the Native American tradition sets out picking a new one for himself based on his accomplishments and passions.”

Ages 3-8
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
By Duncan Tonatiuh
“A riveting modern fable by the talented young Mexican artist Tonatiuh, this book won the Pura Belpre award in 2013. It tells the story of a rabbit family who face hardships when they try to migrate to the north after their lettuce fields dry up.”


Ages 3-8
A Piece of Home
By Jeri Watts. Illustrated by Hyewon Yum.
“This is an insightful, sweet example of a contemporary immigration story. It’s about a boy named Hee Jun who faces daunting challenges when has to move with his family from Korea to West Virginia, becoming suddenly a “different” kid instead of just one of the crowd.”


Ages 8-12
The Birchbark House
Series by Louise Erdrich. “Among the many amazements of the brilliant Louise Erdrich’s body of work is this series of novels for middle graders – but perfectly wonderful for adult readers as well – set in the 1800s among the Ojibwe people of Minnesota. In this first book and the rest of the series, we follow a girl named Omakayas as she and her community must adapt their traditional ways of living after the arrival of white people onto their lands.”


Ages 8-12
The Crossover
Kwame Alexander
“This 2015 Newbery Medal winner is a novel in verse about two African-American, basketball-playing twin brothers who face a year of changes when they begin to drift apart. Among its many charms is Alexander’s smooth infusion of hip-hop energy and love of language into a story about sports, family and racial identity.”

Ages 8-12
American Born Chinese
By Gene Luen Yang. “The first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, this 2006 book is really three cleverly interwoven tales: a classic Chinese folk tale of the Monkey King, the story of a Chinese-American boy named Danny, growing up in San Francisco, and the confessions of a white boy who tries to disavow his embarrassing Chinese cousin, but turns out to be the alter-ego of Danny himself as he struggles to accept his identity.”

Ages 8-12
One Crazy Summer
By Rita Williams-Garcia. “This witty and original 2010 novel won many awards including a Newbery Honor. Set in 1968, it’s the story of three sisters from Brooklyn who travel to Oakland, Calif. to visit their estranged mother, who has joined the Black Panthers.”

Ages 8-12
The Year of the Dog and the Year of the Rat
By Grace Lin. “These gentle, affecting books are about the everyday life of a Taiwanese-American girl named Pacy, who must navigate her Asian family’s traditions and expectations along with the complications and demands of an American childhood. Lin’s own lovely drawings are scattered throughout the books.”

Ages 8-12
Ghost
By Jason Reynolds. “This just-published book about a troubled boy called Ghost who joins a track team and discovers his inner strength was recently named to the shortlist for this year’s National Book Awards. Reynolds tells a story about African-American life in a struggling neighborhood with grace, humor and an addictively readable voice. It’s the start of a series that will feature other members of Ghost’s track team.”

Ages 8-12
The Thing About Luck
By Cynthia Kadohata. “This National Book Award winner is about a 12-year old Japanese-American girl who’s forced to live with her old-fashioned, demanding grandparents for a long, hot summer of wheat harvesting in the Midwest. As generations and cultures clash, it’s funny and touching in equal measure.”


Ages 8-12
Brown Girl Dreaming
By Jacqueline Woodson. “This hypnotic memoir in free verse renders Woodson’s childhood and family history as a gorgeous hybrid of migration tale, coming-of-age story, and meditation on African-American history. Winner of the 2014 Newbery and other awards, this is a book that readers of any age, from elementary school to adult, will relate to and treasure.”


Ages 8-12
Ambassador
By William Alexander. “This book artfully blends a realistic take on the life of an undocumented family with a fantasy story set in outer space. It hinges on the multiple meanings of the loaded word “alien,” which many authors have played around with, none better than the Cuban-American Alexander.”


Ages 12 and up
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
By Meg Medina. “This multiple award-winning 2013 book has been challenged in some schools because of its language (and its title), but it remains an essential novel about teen bullying and the lingering effects of abuse in families. Medina’s Piddy Sanchez is a high school sophomore who faces cruel treatment by Yaqui, who thinks the ambitious Piddy doesn’t act Latina enough.”


Ages 12 and up
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz. “Two Mexican-American high school boys explore life’s big questions and their own multiple identities in this moving novel. It was published in 2012 but has a beautiful, timeless feel.”


Ages 12 and up
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie. “This wonderfully gritty, revved-up semi-autobiographical novel by Alexie, who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and traces his ancestry to several tribes, won a 2007 National Book Award. It has gone on to become pretty much essential reading about the high school experience and contemporary Native American life.”


Ages 12 and up
Darius & Twig
By Walter Dean Myers. “The late Myers, one of the greats and a champion of diversity in children’s books well before the cause got mainstream attention, is at his elegant, heartfelt best in this 2013 novel. It’s about two friends growing up in Harlem, one a writer, one an athlete, facing daily challenges and trying to dream of a brighter future.”


Ages 12 and up
Tyrell
By Coe Booth
“This 2006 novel gained mainstream attention for the kind of characters the literary establishment has rarely seen – yearning African-American teenagers whose lives unfolded in housing projects, shelters and the streets. Coe’s patient, lyrical narration reveals their emotional depths as they try to get by and forge meaningful bonds with each other.”


Ages 12 and up
Saving Montgomery Sole
By Mariko Tamaki. “Tamaki’s slim, satisfying story about an “outsider” teenager drawn to the supernatural unfolds in an effortlessly diverse California landscape, featuring lesbian moms and a racial and ethnic mash-up that will be familiar to young readers in much of the country.”