Children’s Book List–Discussing Social Justice with Elementary-Aged Children

In this book list, I’ll include links and suggestions for books that I and other teachers (special thanks to the resource section in Mary Cowhey’s Black Ants and Buddhist) have used with elementary-aged children to engage with social justice topics. Add your own suggestions in the comments and I’ll also update as I find new works.

Most all works by Patricia Polacco (Amazon link here)–Polacco’s books for older elementary students tackle a range of topics, from bullying to interracial friendship.

Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius–This book tackles the eternal question of “why are we here?” and gives a beautifully, potentially social justice-oriented answer.

Eleanore Estes’s The Hundred DressesAn upper elementary-appropriate book that explores bullying and discrimination on the basis of poverty and ethnicity and how we all have a role to play in fighting such prejudice.

Casey King and Linda Barrett Osborne’s Oh Freedon: Kids Talk about the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made it HappenFirst-person narratives and interviews make this book both a good, accessible intro to the Civil Rights Movement and to the notion of primary vs. secondary sources

Most of Todd Parr’s work (Amazon list here)–These beautiful, colorful books for young children explore ideas like “love,” “feelings,” “family,” “difference,” and “peace”

Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book, The Sneetches, Horton Hears a Who, The LoraxDr. Seuss thinly veiled messages of tolerance, peace, kindness, and stewardship are found in many of his works, but perhaps especially in these.

Click here for Sarah Ryder’s list of social justice-oriented children’s literature.

Click here for One World, One Heart Beating’s lesson plan ideas and resources.


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