I’ve decided to make Raising an Advocate a monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) post. I don’t want to burn out on the series and I also want to make sure I’ve given myself enough time for research. That being said this month’s post focuses on reading lists. I’ve tried to break the list up into age appropriate categories and include both fiction and non-fiction (for the older ones). This list is in no way an end all be all because there are so many books in this world, so don’t be surprised if you see a part 2, 3, 4, etc.
Overall I think it’s important to make sure we’re including books with diverse characters and experiences in our children’s libraries. I know I’m guilty of focusing solely on making sure Sesame has books with lots of brown characters, so that he sees himself and his family in the characters. For example, I need to make sure I’m including more books with “non-traditional” families because everyone is not going to have a mommy and a daddy when he starts school.
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The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.: This board book simplifies the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, as well as the Civil Rights Movement.
Colors of Me: This book talks about all the different colors in the world and how people come in all different colors as well. It was written by a fellow University of Michigan alumnus, Brynne Barnes. I actually knew Brynne in undergrad and decided to support her book because I knew her, but it’s actually one of Sesame’s favorite books.
Tango Makes Three: This book introduces children to families with same sex parents. I remember hearing about this book when I was in undergrad, but I didn’t have parenting on my mind at all at this point. A Mamademics reader suggested this one and I’ll be purchasing it for Sesame for Christmas.
It’s Okay To Be Different: Another suggestion from a Mamademics reader. She said it just teaches children to embrace difference from a simplified perspective. We have a Todd Parr book that Sesame loves, so I’ll be adding this to the list as well.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad: This book shows the experience of a young slave who mailed himself to freedom. It focuses on the child’s perspective and is based on actual events.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Familys Fight for Desegregation: Many people know the story of Ruby Bridges
, but I thought it would be interesting to highlight the fight for educational desegration in the Latino community as well.
Si, Se Puede/Yes We Can (Janitor Strike in LA): This is another book on my to buy list for Sesame. The reviews are wonderful and it teaches children about social justice in the workplace.
Middle School/ High School
The Giver: This utopian novel does not focus on race specifically, but i does bring up the dangers of colorblindness and sameness. If framed correctly, you could have an excellent conversation with your pre-teen on gender, race, and socioeconomic status. I recently went back and read this one and the other three novels in the quartet, and I will do the same with Sesame when he’s older. Link to the quartet: The Giver Quartet boxed set
March: Book One
: This book was assigned as the first year book for college freshman and it’s the first year no one complained about the book. It covers Representative John Lewis amazing life and experiences as a Civil Rights activist.
12 Years a Slave: I’ve seen the movie, but haven’t gotten up the courage to read the book yet. I’ll be adding this to our library and definitely reading it with Sesame when he’s older.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: I read the entire series as a seventh grader and it is the first series that opened my eyes to the difficulties of African Americans post-slavery. It’s a series of books and told from a young girl’s perspective.