26+ Conversation Starter Picture Books | Do Try This at Home: 26+ Conversation Starter Picture Books

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

26+ Conversation Starter Picture Books

Update and "disclaimer" - This was NOT a sponsored/affiliated post when I wrote it seven years ago (that in itself is its own special disclaimer). But presumably, if you buy any of these books from Amazon by clicking on my link, they will pay me kajillions and kajillions of dollars.  Or at least a few cents I guess.

I have limited this list to books I have actually read and ENJOY. And there are new ones coming out all the time. But here's a start!


In response to several requests, I’m posting a list of books to help start conversations with children about racism, discrimination, gender bias, etc. When it comes to picture books, I don’t even pick one up unless the illustrations are at *least* very good. So I imagine there are countless books missing from this list just because I judged a book by its cover.

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting (to discuss: racism, prejudice, befriending those who are different from ourselves)

Smoky Night

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo (to discuss: civil rights, prejudice)

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. (Scholastic Bookshelf)

Woody Guthrie Poet of the People by Bonnie Christensen (to discuss: poverty, social justice)

Woody Guthrie

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch (to discuss: gender bias)

Not your typical Rober Munsch - this is one of my favorites for discussing gender bias in a totally age appropriate way. The boys love it because of the dragon, the girls love it because of the princess...and then we get to confuse them all with a princess that doesn't need saving!

The Paper Bag Princess

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull (to discuss: prejudice, racism, social justice)

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder (to discuss: slavery, prejudice)

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

If a Bus Could Talk The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold (to discuss: civil rights, prejudice)

If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks

Tar Bech by Faith Ringgold (to discuss: civil rights, prejudice, discrimination, unions, name calling, differences in socioeconomic status, etc. etc. etc.)

Tar Beach

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo (to discuss: prejudice, discrimination, perseverance)

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz (to discuss: skin color)

The Colors of Us

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold (to discuss: slavery, standing up for beliefs)

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass (to discuss: the Holocaust)

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy (to discuss: prejudice, Holocaust)

The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark

More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (to discuss: interracial families, skin color)

Another of my favorites! Perfect for even the youngest and most curious, a great book even if the child in question ISN'T asking questions.

"More More More," Said the Baby Board Book

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport (to discuss: civil rights)

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringold (to discuss: civil rights)

Keeping the Promise: A Torah’s Journey by Tami Lehman-Wilzig (to discuss: Holocaust, Standing up for Beliefs)

Keeping the Promise (A Torah's Journey)

Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes (to discuss: relationships, friendships with people different from ourselves)

Chester's Way

This Land is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie (to discuss: poverty, social justice)

This Land Is Your Land

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka (to discuss: skin color)

All the Colors of the Earth

Satchel Paige by Lesa Cline-Ransome (to discuss: prejudice, racism)

Satchel Paige

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater (to discuss: peer pressure, individuality)

The Big Orange Splot

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon (to discuss: peer pressure, individuality)

A Bad Case of Stripes

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (to discuss: teasing, peer pressure, individuality)


Fly Away Home (to discuss: homelessness)

Abiyoyo by Pete Seger (to discuss: different cultures - tons are represented in the illustrations, citizenship)


Missing are books on gay/lesbian families. I can only say that the above listed books are those that I have personally enjoyed with my kids. I know *of* two books at least: Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman and also Emma and Meesha My Boy: A Two Mom Story by Kaitlyn Taylor Considine. I can't vouch for the illustrations or the stories though, since I've only heard of them and haven't read them.

For grown up reading on the power of children's literature to shape children's ideas on prejudice, racism, etc., try Should We Burn Babar by Herbert Kohl.

Should We Burn Babar? Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories

What else have you got? Let me know in the comments!


*~*Michelle*~* said...

That is such an awesome list -- thank you so much!

I remember when I was in the 4th grade, we studied Anne Frank. As part of the project, the class was separated as we studied. We were divided by hair and eye color. Some people had to sit on the floor. Others sat on the floor with mats. Others sat at chairs, but no desk, and the last group -- blonde hair, blue(ish) eyes, got desks. It was a powerful experience.

Great list of books!

Maggie said...

Great list! Tar Beach is one of my favorites.

Brown English Muffin said...

Wow...what a thought provoking snow day!!! Did you at least play in the snow? LOL

Kind of off the subject but kind of on have you read "James McBride: The Color of Water: A black mans tribute to his white mother"? It's an awesome read.

Anyway you're been tagged on my blog...click here for my first challenege of 07!

Lara Neves said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing...I'll have to look up a few of those to read with my girls.

Brown English Muffin said...

You have as long as you like with my tags...I just love reading what people say as I learn so much about them, so it's always worth waiting for!!!

Jamie Bo Bamie said...

That list is really amazing. I am very interested in civil rights, equality, racism, etc. I took a course in school on it and I think issues such as these are some of the most important ones. I don't read childrens books much but would love to get some of these for my own knowledge. I have a book, but I'm not sure it fits on your list, it is meant for adults, it is called, "Racism as Explained to My Daughter". I highly recommend it, it is about racism, but not black/white racism you think of in America. It is about Arabs/Muslims in France. If you get a chance check it out from the library, it's fabulous.

Francine said...

Thatv is agreat list. we are raising our kids bi- lingual, and it's always so hard to get good English or American kids literature here.

Btw, I love your blog title :-)

Sverige said...

The color of water is a great book about a white mother (Ruth McBride) and a black son (James McBride). All his life he wondered why was his mom different from the other parents why was his mom different from his friends parents why was his mom white. James always asked his mother questions why are you different she always would change the subject. When James asked what is the color of god he said he is the color of water. A beuatifully written book about a mulatto son and her white mother.

Kelly Rodriguez said...

What a great collection! Picture books carry big ideas presented in a manageable way. Thank you so much for sharing this! Pinned!

PS--Loved The Paper Bag Princess! Such a cute ending!

Fairytales and Fitness said...

I use to buy books from Amazon all the time! But Since I started blogging, who has time to read books...haha

Fairytales and Fitness said...

I use to buy books from Amazon all the time! But Since I started blogging, who has time to read books...haha

Crystal Green said...

This is a great list of books that are well worth reading. You're right they will definitely open the doors for communication.

Lou Lou Girls said...

Hello gorgeous! Great post. We hope to see you at our party tonight at 7 pm. It is so fun to party with you! http://loulougirls.blogspot.com/
Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls


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