Social Justice for Kids: Book Review

Here at Multicultural Kid Blogs we share global education resources for educators and parents.  Through books and reading, we introduce new concepts to children.  Today we are featuring a book review of two great board books about social justice for kids.

Social Justice for Kids: Book Review | Multicultural Kid Blogs

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I was at the Social Justice Children’s Book Fair in Oakland, California last week, where several picture books and board books featured stories nurturing pride and activism around race, identity, culture, and community. There was also considerable emphasis on social justice for kids in early literacy content. As an early literacy instructor, and as a children’s writer who feels empowered about influencing mindsets towards societal change, I was intrigued. And having read and enjoyed A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara earlier, I was quick to purchase a copy of his board book Counting on Community.

In A is for Activist, the author traverses the alphabet using powerful words that are important conversation starters around history, race, environment, and human rights – all crucial and relevant in the recent social and political climate. My favorite is: “F is for Feminist. For Fairness in our pay. For Freedom to Flourish and choose our own way.” Just when you think a board book could possibly not offer anything more, there is a light-hearted element woven in – finding a black cat lurking on every spread holds the attention and interest of young readers. In the end, children are left inspired to be more aware, to think, and to question.

As a follow-up to his first book, Nagara does an equally commendable presentation of numbers in Counting on Community.  Staring from one stuffed piñata, the book takes us around everyday sights and neighborhood events as we count up to ten. A block party, street soccer, sidewalk drawings, kids on bikes – the scenes are very relatable.  As we read and count, we sense a feeling of community and the power of coming together. The pages are gorgeously colorful, they portray a realistic reflection of the diversity we see around us. There is one spread where I lingered a tad longer – the one with all the food: tagine, sushi, tamales, a salad, and a lot more – it reminded me of the potluck at a friend’s multicultural celebration my family enjoys every year. Like the black cat in the alphabet book, a silly duck keeps children engaged and entertained. The final page climaxes with a word play on ‘counting on each other.’

The two board books are fun, educational, and important, particularly because it is never, never too early to impress on little minds the need to build and belong to healthy, happy, peaceful societies. That said, these books go beyond typical board book target age group as they offer the potential to open up several crucial conversations among growing children. And if you, like me, believe that as parents, artists, writers, educators, and citizens, we must not stop working until equality is a normalized aspect of humanity, then these books are invaluable works on social justice for kids.

Titles:   A is for Activist   &   Counting on Community
Author: Innosanto Nagara
Age Group:  0-3 years (board books) and beyond

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Meera Sriram is a children's writer, and an early & multicultural literacy advocate. She currently writes picture books on immigrant experiences and cross-cultural stories. She has also co-authored four books published in India between 2010 and 2013. Meera has been reviewing diverse children's literature for over a decade now. She also runs her own story-time based early literacy program for young children in her communities. Meera loves yoga and long walks, and relies on several cups of chai every day to help her go about life in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her husband and two kids.

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