Browse our book list by recommended age!

Ages 4-6

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

This story tells of a little girl who has a very long name that doesn’t fit. Her dad sits her down and explains each part of her name and helps her to understand the history of her name.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

This book shows a day in an extremely diverse classroom. It has a really wonderful message for everyone about embracing our differences.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

There are all kinds of animal families in the zoo. But Tango’s family is not like the others. This is a heart warming true story of two penguins who create a non-traditional family.

Awâsis and the World Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt and Amanda Strong

Follow Awâsis as grandma’s world-famous bannock is lost and meet he different animals encountered along the way.

A World of Kindness by The Editors of Pajama Press

This book introduces young children to the concept of kindness with wonderful illustrations that come in a range of styles, using a variety of mediums.

The Day You Begin by Jacquelin Woodson

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. You may feel like an outsider because of the way you look, the way you dress, what you eat or even for a random reason. This book encourages us to be brave and share our stories.

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

This rhyming poem begins with main character naming things she is “like”: the sun, the wind, the student, and so on. The book shifts to acceptance, and concludes that we are here to help one another.

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown

A boy and his father take a walk, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other. The illustrations showcase the warmth of city life with an abundance of diverse families.

It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn

Some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. This book explores gender identity and will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others.

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

This story is a celebration of the diversity in the human race.

Kindness Is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego

This book encourages children to be more understanding for others, accept diversity, thrive in a multicultural environment, and to show more empathy.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

This story is a great way to introduce children to tolerance and acceptance, and also to help them celebrate their own differences or uniqueness.

Pink is For Boys by Robb Pearlman

This book reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids—and their grown-ups—to express themselves in every color of the rainbow.

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibihaj Muhammed

It’s the first day of school for two sisters. It is also the older girls first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric. This story tells of family and being proud of who you are.

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

This book begins with a little girl who wishes that her dark skin was lighter. It is a book about self-esteem and understanding one´s unique beauty.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer, but ultimately it is Rabbit who helps him. A picture book about empathy and kindness.

Violet by Tania Duprey Stehlik

When Violet’s Dad picks her up from school, one of the other kids asks, “How come your Dad is blue and you’re not?

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

This simple story by an Indigenous author encourages respect.

Ages 6-8

All the Colors We Are by Kate Kissinger

This book shows us how human beings get their skin colour using easy-to-understand science. It expands on how people may get their skin colour in three different ways: ancestry, sun, and melanin. From there, the book explains the science behind melanin in people’s bodies, its activity, and how important it is to one’s body. Further, the author explains the ancestry aspect – if our ancestors lived in a sunnier place, they are likely to have darker skin, and vice versa. Finally, the book concludes by summarizing the facts determining skin colour, but also that people’s skin is just one of the many ways that make people different from one another. All in all, the author does a fantastic job simplifying the science behind skin colour and how it is attained. In the past, white supremacists have used race-based science to explain why one’s skin colour is superior to the other. This author, however, shows that people’s skin colour is simply determined by some potential factors such as ancestry, the sun, and melanin. This book is free of bias and favouritism and does not promote any sort of superiority complex. This book is appropriate to read to children or for children to read by themselves.

All You Need is Love by Shani Collins

This book combines stories that were written and inspired by people the author knew in her life. It mentions different types of families – LGBTQ +, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) children, single parent, and many more. This book represents different types of families, with children being able to see themselves and their own family and feel more represented. Overall, the message of this book is love, acceptance, and kindness. It promotes equity through the its representation of multiple families. Further, it shows equity through authenticity and empowered participation, promoting a true sense of belonging through the diversity of families in this book. It further promotes acceptance and normalization of different family types, sharing their stories.

Are You a Boy or a Girl? by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher

This book is about a child named Tiny. Tiny’s family has just moved to a new town. A kid named Buster makes fun of Tiny, asking, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Tiny keeps being told by kids in school, “Girls can’t do this.” This book shows that it doesn’t matter if Tiny is a boy or a girl. Tiny can play and do whatever Tiny wants. It is a great book for teaching children that it is not about what you wear or what you like, but ultimately, about being a good person. As children in this age group begin to explore their own identities: who they are and how they relate to their peers, this book may help them understand that they are all equal and that it doesn’t matter what your gender identity is – everyone can play together.

Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed

This book is about a young Pakistani boy named Bilal who is making his favourite dish, daal. This dish is commonly made in Pakistani culture and is a lentil soup. Bilal and his father begin to make the dish with his two non-Pakistani friends who are over at his house. While in the process of making the dish, Bilal helps his father gather the spices needed. While he was gathering the spices, he overhead his friends in the kitchen say that they were not pleased with the smell of daal, making Bilal nervous that they would not enjoy his favourite dish. Bilal’s father told Bilal and his friends to go out and play as the dish takes very long to make. So while Bilal’s father is making the dish, he and his friends go out to play. More and more of his friends come over and Bilal nervously waits for the dish to be ready to see how his friends like it. This book offers good insight on different cultural foods and how other cultures react to it. The book promotes diversity.

Children of Our World series by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai

Books in this series: Poverty and Hunger, Refugees and Migrants, Global Conflict, and Racism and Intolerance.

The series is very educational. It teaches children about caring for others and demonstrates that not everybody has the same opportunities as others. The books “Refugees and Migrants” and “Global Conflict” link together as they talk about people shifting to other countries and potential reasons why. These books also indicate many good websites that could help children learn more about different people around the world.

Common Threads: Adam’s Day at the Market by Huda Essa

Adam and his family spend an exciting day at the colorful and bustling Eastern Market. But when Adam gets briefly separated from Mom and Dad, he mistakes a friendly, diverse cast of characters for his parents in their traditional Muslim clothing–and shows that we all have more in common than you might think. This nearly-wordless picture book celebrates diversity and community in vibrant, dynamic art.

From Far Away by Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar

This story is the true story of Saoussan. It tells how she felt when she first came to Canada from Lebanon because of war. She has a hard time adjusting because she doesn’t speak English. This story is great to help students understand about how hard it can be to move to a new country when they don’t understand the traditions and cultures. It fits in with the equity theme because it shows one that everyone can be accepted.

Gift Days by Kari Lynn Winters

This book focusses on a family in Uganda. After her mother’s death, Nassali has to do chores and help her sisters while her brothers get to go to school. Until one of her brothers gives her “gift days” where he does chores before school, so she can sit outside the school and listen to the lessons. This a great book for teaching about equity. It shows us that not all children in the world have the same benefits that we do. At the end of the book, it talks about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and shows us how some children are not getting those rights. The glossary at the back of the book would need to be shown to the children before they read it, so they would understand some of the foreign words.

Irene Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin

An amazing true story about Irene Sendler who saved many Jewish children during the Holocaust. She helped convince the parents in the ghetto to let her bring their children out of the area. She saved many children by bringing them to other families to be raised as non-Jewish.

It’s Hard Not to Stare: Helping Children Understand Disabilities by Tim Huff

This book teaches children that different people have different abilities. Instead of just staring at someone, ask them questions. Ask if you can help them with something like crossing the street or carrying groceries. The illustrations in this book are great as well. There are also great discussion questions that can generate a conversation and activities. This book fits in with equity because it emphasizes that people may have physical disabilities and we should embrace their differences as unique and learn more about them, not stare from afar.

It’s Our Nature by Rebeca Orzo

This book focuses on many animals that experience many of the same emotions as we do – such as worry, fear, and love. This is a great book because it teaches children about different animal behaviours as well as emphasizes things that we humans (who are also animals) do. It fits in with equity as it shows one that we are all the same in one way or another.

Jacob Series by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Jacob’s New Dress: Jacob and his friends (one boy and one girl) are playing dress-up at his friend’s house. His friend, Christopher says he can’t be a Princess. Jacob goes home and wants to play in a dress, and his mom suggests his Hallowe’en costume. But when he wants to wear a dress to school, his mom says they are for playing and that it would get dirty. So he designs his own “dress-thing” out of a towel. This is a great book about equity. While Jacob’s mom is reluctant at first to let him express himself as he wants, she eventually comes around. Even his father begins to be okay with it. It teachers children that every child can express themselves the way they want. This is also on the list of most challenged books.

Jacob’s Room to Choose: When Jacob wants to go to the boy’s room, he is chased out by the boys who assume he is a girl because he is wearing a dress. Jacob’s friend, Sophie, who wears shorts and a shirt, faces a similar problem as Jacob, as she tries to use the girl’s restroom. Jacob and Sophie decide to let the teacher know, and their teacher uses the opportunity to educate her class about those who do not conform to gender norms. The students learn about different forms of gender expression. The teacher explains to them the concept of some students not looking like what certain people may expect and that nonetheless, they should be treated with respect. The entire class works together to create signs for the washrooms to emphasize this.

Jacob’s School Play: This book introduces the concept of non-binary pronouns. Jacob is back and ready to put on a school play! While learning their lines and making their costumes, Jacob’s class finds itself unexpectedly struggling with identity, and what it means to be “he,” “she,” or “they.”

The authors can be contacted about school/virtual visits.

Jacqueline and the Beanstalk by Susan Sweet and Brenda Miles

This is a story about a princess named Jacqueline who is overprotected by the royal knights. Jacqueline grows a bit frustrated because she believes there might not be things from which she needs to be protected. She always tries to reassure the knights that there is no fear. One night, Jacqueline comes across a beanstalk and lets the knights know that she wants to climb it. The knights try to warn her that there is this dangerous Giant because he is “different.” Jacqueline points out that they may not be able to confirm this if they never meet him. The moral of the story is that what people may consider “different” may not necessarily be dangerous or something to fear. It is also a creative take on a classic fairy tale.

Know Me by Linda Briden

“Know Me” asks essential questions in the voice of a child. This empowering approach invites sharing between children and their peers, parents and teachers – anyone who cares to ask. Pick any page and enter into the “Know Me” journey of self-awareness to a place where differences are embraced and understanding is promoted. A place where self-esteem and empathy grow, and lasting relationships are built.

Layla’s Headscarf by Miriam Cohen

This is a timely story which highlights a challenge that many children face in today’s multicultural environment. Layla, a new girl in first grade, wears a headscarf. But soon she is welcomed by her new classmates. It provides a realistic depiction of a first grade classroom. This book revolves around equity because it shows that everyone has the right to religious freedom and to represent it in the way of their choosing. Everyone can be accepted even if they look different then others.

Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester

If we were stripped down to only our bones, we would all look the same, is the main message of the book. Lester goes through parts of his story and talks about how race is a part of everyone’s story. He talks about how some races think they are better than others. Then, he invites everyone to pretend to take off their skin, and ultimately see that inside we are all the same. This is a great lesson about equity. It shows children that even if we look different on the outside, everyone is the same on the inside. Therefore, let’s ask questions and learn about each other, instead of thinking one’s better or higher than others.

Love is Love by Michael Genhart and Ken Min

Love is Love follows the journey of a boy, who is the son of a gay couple, as he wrestles with why he should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about wearing a shirt with a pride heart. The story begins with the boy informing his friend that he was made fun of for the shirt and for having two dads. The friend does not understand and she suggests he just stop wearing the shirt. This starts him wondering why people may think having two dads is wrong. He compares his family to his friend’s family and concludes that love is love. The story incorporates the important message that all forms of love are equal, no matter who is involved and that a family can take multiple different forms. The book incorporates equity by emphasizing “freedom from bias or favouritism,” “fair and impartial, just in the way people are treated” and “an authentic and empowered participation and true sense of belonging.” The story teaches the importance of equity by encouraging children to recognize and respect LGBTQ+ relationships and different types of parents.

On the Playground by Dr. Jilian Roberts and Jane Heinrichs

The reader is taken through the process of how prejudiced ideas can form in children. The story begins with children in a playground, noticing how another boy is being teased and bullied. The book outlines in a child friendly manner the ideas of prejudice and harassment and defines them for the reader. It also explains how these ideas are passed down through generations Formal definitions (of racism, sexism etc.) and facts are included in text boxes to emphasize the main themes. The book teaches about the importance of inclusion. The second half of the book is about how the reader can help victims of prejudice and harassment. Overall, the book emphasizes “a true sense of belonging.” A society cannot be equitable unless people of all different backgrounds are accepted and respected – so it would certainly be a good story for children to enjoy on their own or have it read to them.

Race Cars by Jenny Devenny

This book is very timely. It talks about the issues of race through the use of race cars. There are two cars who are best friends who love to race, Chase and Ace. Ace is a white car, as are most of the cars in the race. Chase is a black car. They don’t care what place they come in the race. But other people do care and want to make it difficult for Chase to win. This book is great for teaching children about equity. In the book, there are questions to help guide parents (or teachers) through helping the children understand the issues of race inequality and put it in context with things in the real world. The author, a social worker, uses cars to represent people, and introduce the idea of white privilege. This book would be great for children to read with adults. On the surface, it seems like it’s just a book about cars who want to race but it is actually an allegory for how white and black people are treated differently.

Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, and Jennifer Zivoin

The book revolves around two children, a white girl named Emma and a black boy named Josh, who hear of a police shooting. When they go home to discuss it with their families, they receive different responses. Both families discuss how the children can prevent prejudice from thriving in their environments. A new boy named Omad joins their class. At lunchtime, no one wants him on their soccer team, so Emma and Josh invite him to play with them. The second half of the book provides resources and questions for discussion – questions a child might ask and possible responses. It also provides a special guide for African-American families. The story incorporates equity by emphasizing “the importance of freedom and bias from favouritism” and “Fair and impartial, just in the way people are treated.” The book teaches about equity by depicting how racism affects society, and what we as individuals can be more inclusive and fight racism. Because of the intense subject matter, younger children should read it with a parent or teacher.

The Together Tree by Aisha Saeed

Based on her the author’s son’s experiences with bullying, The Together Tree is the story of Rumi. At first when he comes to a new school, the kids tease him and make fun of him. He sits under a tree alone. But gradually everyone learns to play together. This is a great book about equity. It would be a good book for children to read on their own or a for teachers to read with their students. It encourages students to stand up when they see bullying occur and for children who are bullied to tell someone.

Ages 8-12

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal is a regular girl living in Pakistan going to school. But then one day she angers the son of the head of her village. Now she has to join his household as a slave. Amal becomes one his servants. She needs to find a way to fight back. In terms of equity, children will learn about how things are different for kids in other countries. They don’t all get to have the same privileges we do like going to school. The companion novel is Omar Rising, which is about Amal’s friend, Omar. He wins a scholarship to a boarding school. He is the son of a servant and this will help improve his life But when he arrives at the school, it is not what he expects. But he works with a group of friends to change a rigged system.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina is a Pakistani-American girl. She struggles to fit in at school. Her best friend who is Korean is considering changing her name to be more American when she becomes a citizen. Then Amina’s uncle comes to visit from Pakistan and he thinks her family should be more Muslim and many things that Amina enjoys, like singing, is forbidden. But then when the mosque and community centre is vandalized, Amina learns to find her voice as everyone in the community, Pakistani and non, come together. In terms of equity, this is good book at showing children that despite differences, everyone can come together in a tragedy and helps each other. Amina and her friends struggle with the same things that all kids struggle with and they would identify with Amina. The sequel is Amina’s Song. Amina spent the summer in Pakistan with her family and is excited to come home and share everything with her friends. But her friends don’t seem as interested in her trip. When she does a presentation on Malala Yousafzai, her classmates only focus on the negative. How can she share about the beauty of Pakistan when no one will listen?

Betty Before X by Ilyasa Shabazz and Renee Watson

Written by the author about her mother, before she became the wife of Malcolm X, the novel illustrates events in Betty’s young life. After moving from living with her aunt, to living with her biological mother and her family, Betty, growing up after WWII, learns a lot about discrimination and racism. She later moves in with a couple who raises her. Betty becomes a junior member of a group who encourages Black people to only buy from businesses that will hire Black people. This book shows how Betty already had a sense of equality and justice before she met Malcolm X. In terms of equity, this is a great books to show children about how young people can make a difference and be inspired. They will learn how even though Americans were fighting against the Nazis who were persecuting Jews, at home they were treating Blacks badly. This books is great for the study of equity.

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf

The narrator and her friends live in England. There is an empty chair at the back of their classroom until one day, a new boy, a refugee, Ahmet, arrives. He doesn’t speak their language and he’s shy but gradually becomes friends with the narrator and her friends. When they find out that the “gates” will be closed to refugees and Ahmet’s parents may not be able to come, they hatch a plan that includes appealling to the Queen, to get help for Ahmet. This book is great. It deals with equity and is also very timely. It shows that not all children have the same experiences and privileges that we do. It also gives different attitudes towards refugees and shows how children can make a difference if they put their mind to it. The author was inspired by real stories about refugees.

Dark Sky Rising by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

This book details historical events and is filled with photographs, important quotations, sidebar biographies, and documents. The author delves into the achievement of racial equity during the “Reconstruction Era,” otherwise known as the post-Jim Crow era, which ended with high rates of white supremacy and new forms of oppression. Throughout the book, the author describes black liberation movements and organizations strengthened their voices, yet endured violent threats from a white-majority society and government. This book is a great example on the topic of equity as it exemplifies the attainment of racial equity; specifically, African-Americans attaining equitable rights in the United States.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This book is based on the true story of the author’s grandmother. In 1930, Esperanza had a great life in Mexico on her family’s land. But then her father is killed by bandits and her whole life changes. She and her mother travel to California with their former servants, to find work. Esperanza has to learn to adjust, from being privileged to being like everyone else. Throughout it all, she has to persevere. In terms of equity, this book has many great examples. As Esperanza learns about how people are treated differently because of their race and their class, children will learn the same lessons. It also deals with the issues of belonging and housing. Children will learn about history in an interesting way as well as about equity.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

Malu (Maria Louisa) has to move with her Mom to Chicago, away from her Dad. She feels like she doesn’t fit in with her half-Mexican side represented by her Mom (who she refers to as SuperMexican), and is more like her dad who is into music like her. But gradually, after making friends and deciding to form a punk band with them to audition for the school talent show, she learns more about herself. She learns it’s okay to be yourself. This fits well with the theme of equity. It deals with the sense of belonging and fitting in. Malu finds her own identity and figures out how to mix being half-Mexican and being into punk music. It also shows children that people who are from different cultures can be friends, you don’t have to only be with your own kind.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has always struggled to read. She’s always had to hide that from teachers and classmates. Until one day, she gets a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, who understands her difficulties, that she has dyslexia. He helps show her that she’s not stupid, she just learns differently. With her new friends Keisha and Albert, who also have trouble fitting in, she learns to feel better about herself and confront the class bully. In terms of equity, this is a great book that shows children that every child matters, even if they learn differently. You don’t need to feel ashamed because your brain works differently. Students will identify with the struggles of Ally and her friends.

Front Desk series by Kelly Yang

Front Desk: Based on the author’s own experiences growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America in the 90s, Front Desk is about a 10 year old girl named Mia. Her parents become managers of a motel run by a man from Hong Kong who acts like he is better than them because he is rich. Mia butts heads with his son Jason, who seems like his father. At first she hides the truth about who she is from her new friend, Lupe because she is embarrassed, but then finds out Lupe is doing the same thing. Mia, Lupe and the others around them, learn that when you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want. This is a great book about equity. Mia and Lupe think that they are stuck because they are immigrants and won’t ever get the chances other gets in America. But they learn that they can. It deals with racism and stereotypes in a straightforward way without being preachy. Children will learn how difficult it can be for immigrants in America. They will also identify with Mia as she experiences many of the same things all children do, such as disappointing your parents and trying to make friends.

Three Keys: This is again based on the authors own experiences. In 1994, California was going to pass Proposition 187. This proposition would target illegal immigrants, like Lupe’s family. Mia’s family now own the motel and she has a better relationship with Jason. Lupe and Mia are in the same class and their new teacher is for Prop 187 which would ban children like Lupe (illegal immigrants) from attending public school and receiving health care. Her mother returns to Mexico for a funeral and her father goes to find her, but he is caught. Lupe is at risk of losing her parents. Mia’s writing helps Lupe’s family and convinces people not to vote for Prop 187. Mia also helps Jason pursue his interest of being a chef. The three friends prove they can get through anything together.

Room to Dream: Mia and her family have worked hard at the motel. Now they get to go on vacation, back to China. She looks forward to seeing her family again, especially her cousin Shen. As she goes around Beijing, seeing the changes there, she thinks about the changes in her own life. Lupe is taking high school math classes, while Mia is having trouble with her writing. Something is going on with Jason and she doesn’t know how to help. Small businesses are disappearing and a new hotel competes with Tang’s motel. Can Mia save her family’s motel, keep her friendships, and get out of her writing slump? Plus maybe they will finally get to go to Disneyland, which is so close to their motel, yet so far away.

Key Player: The Women’s World Cup is coming to Anaheim. The US is playing China in the finals! Mia feels her two identities are coming together. Mia loves playing soccer, but she gets a C in gym class. So she wants to score interviews with both teams. But she doesn’t know where they are hiding. Jason’s father is now back as co-owner of the motel. Also, Mia’s parents are trying to buy a house of their own. None of this is easy. But Mia won’t give up!

A fifth book, Toy Story, is fourthcoming.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Six children are brought into a special room on Friday afternoons. This is the ARRT room “A Room to Talk.” At first Haley and her classmates don’t want to talk. But then Esteban reveals his father is going to be deported. Now all the kids feel confident about sharing information about their lives. Haley records it all with her tape recorder for prosperity. They make a vow to reunite 20 years later. In terms of equity, this book shows that even though they come from different backgrounds, they can all be friends. Each of the kids is struggling with something different, but they are all searching for the same thing – feeling like they belong.

Hush by Jacqueline Woodson

Toswiah has to leave her best friend, home and grandmother. Now known as Evie Thomas, her family is in the witness protection program. They have changed their identities. Evie joins the track team and tries to reinvent herself. But it’s hard to figure out where she fits in.

The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio

Lou likes to build, like her father did. She wants to build a house on the land she inherited from her father, so she and her mother will have a place to live. But now her mom got a job somewhere else and they will have to move and leave her Filipino extended family and her land behind in San Francisco, unless she can get her house built and the taxes paid on her land. In terms of equity, it fits in with talking about housing and a place to belong. As Lou works on her house, she visits lots of different people who live in different houses.

It All Comes Down To This by Karen English

It’s the summer of 1965 in Los Angeles. Sophie’s family has just moved into a predominantly white neighbourhood. Her sister, who can pass for white, is going away to college soon. Her best friend, who is white, is making friends with kids who don’t like Sophie because of her skin colour. Sophie deals with changes to her body and her family situation as well as learning about what it means to be black in America. In terms of equity, this book deals with equality and how people are treated unfairly because of their skin colour. It deals with very real issues such as black people being stopped by the police for no reason and kids not wanting to play with other kids because of the colour of their skin. It deals with the issues of prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes in a way that older children will understand without being preachy. Due to language and more mature themes, this book would be good for age 12 and up to read on their own. Younger children may want to read it with an adult or ask questions about things they may not understand.

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Everyone is scared of Marcus because he’s in 8th grade but he’s big. After Marcus gets in a fight defending his brother after he was called the “R” word, he is suspended. So his mom decides to take the boys down to Puerto Rico for spring break. They will get to see his father’s family and Marcus hopes to reconnect with his father. The week changes his life and shows him he can belong. In terms of equity, this book shows different people getting together in Puerto Rico and incorporates several languages: English, Spanish and German. It shows that even though Puerto Rico is part of the United States, they don’t have all the same rights and privileges as mainland Americans. It is great for teaching kids about different cultures.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

This is a graphic novel about 7th grader Jordan Banks. He wanted to go to Art School, but instead gets sent to a private school. Riverdale Academy Dale School (RADS). He is one of the few black kids and he finds it hard to fit in at first. He also has to balance spending time with his old friend and his new friend. But gradually, he makes friends and doesn’t feel like the New Kid anymore. This is a great book to teach about equity. It shows that just because you’re a certain colour doesn’t mean you like certain books or are good at certain sports. Jordan and his new friend, tired of always being called different names by teachers start calling each other different names as a way of bonding. Children will identify with Jordan and his friends. The sequel is Class Act which focusses on Jordan’s friend Drew. Jordan is finding it difficult to keep the friendship together with Drew and Liam, because Drew resents that Liam has money. Drew and Jordan also have to deal with all the stereotypes about black people. The third book in the series is School Trip. The students of Riverdale Academy are heading to Paris. All of the students feel like new kids when they are in a foreign country. Jordan also must decide if he’s going to stay at RADS, or go to art school for high school.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham 

This book addresses the idea of whiteness in a way children will understand. The author shows that just because you are white doesn’t mean you have be superior to others. It teaches children how they can make the world a better place. This book is great for teaching about equity. Younger children could read it with parents or teachers to help them understand the concept.

OCDaniel by Wesley King

Daniel is the waterboy for his school team. He spends most of the time hoping no one will notice his strange habits (Zaps) such as flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times in a row. Writing is the only thing that makes sense for him. When he gets a note from another student asking for help, everything might change for him. This book will help children understand that just because someone may have a disorder, doesn’t mean they are different from everyone else.

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Jade and her mother have to leave behind their home in Syria to live with relatives in America, because of the ongoing war. But her father and brother stay behind – her father because he runs a store, her brother to fight for freedom. Told in poetry, Jasmine talks about leaving her home behind and being in America. She faces new experiences, some good, some bad, including a new baby sister and encountering Islamophobia. This book is great for teaching about equity. Jasmine learns that both Syria and America can be her home. She faces many difficulties other children, immigrants or not, would face – making friends, fitting in, worrying about loved ones left behind, and having a sense of belonging. It is also very timely as it deals with the current ongoing situation of refugees coming from the Middle East and the difficulties they face because some people don’t accept them. It is also deals with the issue of wearing a hijab as a choice in a way that young people will understand.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul lives in the projects in the Harlem. Now that he’s 12 things are about to get a lot more difficult for him. Still dealing with his brother’s death, he begins to use his legos to build imaginary cities. It makes him feel better. In his after school program, a girl named Rose begins using his legos to also build. While at first he is annoyed, soon they become friends. Lolly learns to deal with his grief and that he could be an artist and make something of himself. In terms of equity, this book shows how not every one is treated equal and deals with issues such as housing and safety and security. Written in authentic language of the character, older children will have an easier time understanding the way Lolly speaks.

Ages 12 and Up

Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

Lilyana and her family move from America to Palestine, where her father was born. Lilyana has to learn Arabic and learn to fit in at her new school. She meets a Jewish boy and her whole life changes. This is a book which combines romance and learning about different cultures, set against the background of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This is a great book about equity. It is more for teens because it deals with topics of romance. It gives a view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from the point of view of teenagers.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This book is written in verse. Xiomera, known as X, is a Dominican-American teenager, who lives in Harlem and loves to write poetry. Both she and her twin brother, Xavier, are dealing with different things. She is dealing with new romance and her struggles with her mother. Teenagers will find X relatable. This is a great book about equity. Due to the subject matter, it is more for older teenagers. It deals with religion, culture, as well as first love.

X by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, with Kekla Magoon

This book will introduce teenagers to Malcolm X, who was once a teenager just like them. The book also includes historical context, notes about the historical figures, timelines, family trees and recommendations for further reading.

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