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Recommended Resources for Promoting Social Justice with Kids

These resources can be used by adults in any role (health care, mental health, education, youth work, and parenting) for promoting a social justice framework with youth. The resources vary from book lists, to discussion guides, to activities. 

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance is a subproject by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its goal is “to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation's children.” Teaching Tolerance “provides free educational materials to teachers and other school practitioners in the U.S. and Canada. “This is a specific article focusing on Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education and “offers practical strategies for creating a space where academic and social-emotional goals are accomplished side by side. It also provides valuable advice for implementing culturally responsive pedagogy and describes how teachers can bring anti-bias values to life.” The target audiences are educators teaching K-12 students.
This resource is from the Spring 2011 issue of Teaching Tolerance. Activities and discussions in this issue include: 
  • Gender roles:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), ways to make these fields more attractive to girls and students of color, teaching kindness through expanding gender roles.
  • Challenging stereotypes of immigration.
  • Human trafficking, understanding how human trafficking continues to exist today.
  • Combating Anti-Muslim Bias.
  • Meeting students in social media spaces to engage them in these conversations. 
  • Beyond bully, bullied, and bystander. 

Colours of Us

This blog entry all about multicultural children’s books focuses on books (infant to high school) that promote multicultural families and multicultural identities. “For children of colour, however, having access to books that positively reflect their own ethnicity can play an essential role in building a positive sense of identity and good self-esteem. Through books children learn about themselves and the world, and every child should be able to see their ethnicity and their culture reflected in children’s literature.”

Last Stop on Market Street    

This resource is an article interviewing the writer Matt de la Pena and illustrator Christian Robinson about their children’s book “Last Stop on Market Street.”  The goal of this book is, as de la Pena states, “Over the years, I've decided that the new diversity I want to explore is writing about characters that are diverse, in stories that aren't overtly about race.” It has won several awards including the Caldecott Honor, the Newbery Medal, and the Coretta Scott King Award.

Raising Race Conscious Children    

Raising Race Conscious Children is “a resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. The goals of these conversations are to dismantle the color-blind framework and prepare young people to work toward racial justice. If we commit to collectively trying to talk about race with young children, we can lean on one another for support as we, together, envision a world where we actively challenge racism each and every day. Many of the blog's posts are geared toward White people but a community of guest bloggers represent diverse backgrounds and the strategies discussed may be helpful for all.” 
This is a specific post from Raising Race Conscious Children in which guidance, phrasing, and framing are provided to parents, educators, and youth workers on how to address common social justice issues that arise in kid’s normal day to day life. Themes like police violence, race, and Thanksgiving.  

In Culture Parent

This is a blog post from In Culture Parent, which is “an online magazine for parents raising little global citizens, whose mission is to foster great understanding across cultures through the lens of parenting. Articles on raising multicultural and multilingual children, parenting around the world, columns on the religious life of children, international adoption and multicultural living, blogs, global holidays/crafts/recipes, multicultural children’s book reviews and much more.” This specific article is about facilitating a discussion with a group or an individual child about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the concept of a “peaceful changemakers.” The author explains how using a potentially more familiar starting point of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” and guiding the conversation to seeing the parallels in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism can be an effective way to engage students on social justice issues. 

A Mighty Girl  

A Mighty Girl is an extensive collection of books, toys, movies/TV, music, clothing, and parenting resources for anyone looking to expand gender roles and empower female identified children. As the founders, Carloyn Danckaert and Aaron Smith state, “The site was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books, play with toys, listen to music, and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities.”

American Library Association: The Amelia Bloomer Book List

The Amelia Bloomer Book List from the American Library Association originated with “the Amelia Bloomer Project, a committee of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table, compiles the Amelia Bloomer List, an annual annotated book list (or bibliography) of well-written and well-illustrated books with significant feminist content, intended for young readers (ages birth through 18).”  Parents, educators, librarians, and youth workers can use this website to tailor their book selections to the populations they work with.  

The Advocate

This is an article from The Advocate discussing and highlighting story resources for gender non-conforming kids. In the article, Cameron Keady lists different children’s books that support gender exploration and gender diversity while framing the importance of these resources being available in regularly accessed libraries. The stories can resonate with children and adults.  It is a good read for anyone looking for specific titles or an introduction to using narratives to promote a social justice framework. 
One of the books highlighted by this article is Meet Polkadot, which is “the first in a series of books that introduces readers to our main character Polkadot, a non-binary, transgender child. This book is an accessible introduction and primer to the diversity of gender identity, the importance of allyship, and the realness of kids like Polkadot.” The book's audience is preK to graduate school and can be a strong tool for social workers, health care providers, educators, youth, and families. 

Girls Will be Boys Will be Girls 

Girls Will be Boys Will be Girls is a coloring book which challenges “the gender box” and is described as a “funny and provocative deconstruction of traditional gender roles.” A reviewer of the coloring book stated “Given the heteronormativity and reactionary gender stereotypes pervasive in most children's literature, this thought-provoking coloring book is a wonderful intervention, challenging kids to interrogate patriarchal gender and sexual orientation dichotomies. It is also a fun consciousness-raising tool for adults struggling to unlearn a lifetime of sexist and heterosexist (mis)education and media saturation. With sexist, homophobic, and transphobic violence being such a major problem in our schools and communities, not to mention the high number of suicides among LGBT youth, such material is enormously important."

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization focusing on providing resources and advocacy for “sanity, not censorship” in media that is consumed by kids. Their audience include parents, teachers, and policymakers. Their list of recommended books with characters of color for youth has a target age range of 3-13+ and includes genres such as: mystery, fantasy, romance, adventure, sci-fi, graphic novels, historical fiction, and novels in verse.

What We Do All Day

The author of this blog has put together picture book lists to be used by parents when looking for materials to begin building a social justice framework with young children. Topics vary from environmental, political, gender oriented, and economic. The author’s goal is to promote compassionate global citizens.
Reviewed: March 21st, 2017