The pressure to raise an inclusive child can be overwhelming. I want to raise a child who will fight bravely alongside me against injustice. Since I have a son, I have a particular interest in raising him to use his privilege to battle sexism. I see many awesome books, like "The Feminist's Guide to Raising a Little Princess," aimed at helping us raising girls who know how to navigate the system. But what about our boys? And what about other -isms and issues?
To fill a need for myself and others, I have developed a roundup of kids' books for budding feminists and activists of all genders. This list is comprised of easy-to-read books to assist children of many ages in challenging the status quo. Let's raise kids who resist. Happy reading!
This article was originally published in October 2017 and updated in March 2018.
"Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Rescatador de Bebés!" by Larissa M. Mercado-Lopéz
Esteban is young bilingual boy who challenges the status quo. One day day while at the park with his mother and sister, it begins to rain and he finds a lost baby doll. Instead of leaving it there to get wet, he rescues her. He keeps her clean, warm and safe from harm.
Esteban teaches young readers that there is nothing wrong with young boys having an interest in dolls along with there being great value in helping with small feats. The book is also written in both English and Spanish so children and parents of varying backgrounds can enjoy this lovely story. This story gives readers an introduction for Hispanic culture and prepares them for tough topics down the road.
For Teens: "Esperanza Rising"
“A Little Radical: The ABCs of Activism” by Danica and Jason Russell
These aren’t your grandparents' ABC’s. They’re much more, well, radical. “A Little Radical” provides children with many of the principals that make up a life of activism. Topics covered include boycotting, not fearing failure and the importance for standing up for your beliefs. With the aim of “Making the world better, letter by letter”, the authors explain tough topics in easily digestible ways that make it easy to raise the next generation of #resisters.
“Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words” by Karen Leggett Abouraya
Malala is a famous girls' rights activist who was targeted by the Taliban after she bravely spoke out on the importance of education. “Warrior With Words” provides children with an easy to understand introduction to young girls' rights. Children will learn the importance of global issues and learn that life is different based on location. They will also learn the challenges faced in the areas controlled by the Taliban. Following the story, the author provides a brief history of Pakistan and its colonization along with other key figures.
“I Am Yoga” by Susan Verde
Growing up in our current political climate is stressful. But why do we overlook the effects these events have on children? In order to raise young fighters for equality, we should prepare them for the fight. Imagine if we provided kids with the coping tools to deal with stressful situations before adulthood? “I Am Yoga” does just that. The book follows a young girl who uses yoga for mental and physical clarity. Throughout the pages, children are shown a variety of yoga positions to handle common obstacles youth experiences. The conclusion of the book even gives thorough descriptions of yoga poses that can be done by parents and children alike.
“Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beaty
When Ada was young, her parents were worried because she didn’t speak until she was 3 years old. When she did speak, it was motivated by her love for science. From that day forward, Ada was inquisitive and proved to be a natural-born scientist. “Ada Twist, Scientist” reminds young girls to embrace curiosity and STEM exploration. Occasionally, raising a curious child comes with challenges that require families to adapt. “Ada Twist, Scientist" uniquely addresses this challenge.
“Am I Weird?” by Miss Loreal Alexis Harris
When raising children who oppose the status quo, you are likely to encounter tales of bullying. “Am I Weird?” tells the story of young Hector Carmichael who is made fun of for having an imaginary friend. Of course, all children don’t have imaginary friends. But what the story symbolizes is very relatable. Individuals with a different vision of how the world should work are often targeted. While simple in format, this book provides insight that there is value in thinking differently.
For Teens: "Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina"