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12 Books that Teach Anti-Racism to Babies and Toddlers
Updated on
February 19, 2024

12 Books that Teach Anti-Racism to Babies and Toddlers

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12 Books that Teach Anti-Racism to Babies and Toddlers.
12 Books that Teach Anti-Racism to Babies and Toddlers

Introducing your little one to people of different races and skin colors, whether in person or through books, pictures or TV/movies, is a good start for limiting their racial bias early on, but to raise a truly anti-racist child, you’ll need to be proactive about it. That means talking with your toddler about racial differences and prejudices, acknowledging and celebrating people’s racial differences and encouraging them to ask questions.

Racism is a complex topic, no doubt about it. And studies have actually shown that babies as young as six months old are capable of racial bias. So where do you even start? How is your little one supposed to understand social injustice when they barely know how to talk?

Luckily, there are a few books out there that break it down in a baby- and toddler-friendly way to help you talk with your eager-to-learn kiddo. Keep in mind: These books can help all parents have this discussion with their children, though perspectives will obviously be different for families of different races.

What to look for in anti-racist baby books

You’re sure to find a number of age-appropriate books that discuss skin color and racial diversity in some way, but some of them teach outdated and often harmful concepts.

  • Avoid books that promote the myth that children are unaware of racial differences, given the research that young children actually do recognize these differences. These books often have messages like “skin is just skin and the color doesn’t matter,” but skin color does matter in terms of someone’s racial or cultural identity as well as acknowledging any societal privileges or disadvantages.
  • Avoid books that refer to skin tones as foods or other consumables, especially chocolate and coffee. These descriptions have roots in racism and stereotyping, and while not everyone may agree that they’re harmful, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
  • Look for books that discuss skin tones using real color names (like shades of brown) or celebratory, natural, non-consumable comparisons. For example, in Sulwe, her family’s skin colors are compared to midnight, dawn, dusk and high noon.

Will these books teach your toddler about racism all on their own? No—you’re going to have to lead the conversation. You can use these books as supplemental materials and visual aids (it’ll really help your child to see depictions of people of different races interacting with each other), and remember that, even if it’s an uncomfortable chat for you, you are your child’s greatest resource for learning about the world.

Ready to raise a supportive, inclusive, anti-racist kid? These are our favorite books to help you start the conversation.

Support Black Small Businesses

These books are linked to Black-owned independent bookstores where you can buy your favorite anti-racist titles (and lots of other books, too). But there are way more bookstores than just the ones we’ve linked to, so check out LitHub’s handy list of Black-owned indie bookstores to find one near you!

Amylia Ryan

Associate Editor

Amylia Ryan is the Associate Editor at Babylist, specializing in the topics of health, wellness and lifestyle products. Combining a decade of experience in writing and editing with a deep passion for helping people, her number one goal in her work is to ensure new parents feel supported and understood. She herself is a parent to two young children, who are more than willing to help product test endless toys, books, clothes, toiletries and more.

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