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Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall says it is never too early to talk to children about racism, inequality and discrimination




Lizzie Hall, the Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian, writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. As the Black Lives Matters movement grows in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, it can be difficult explaining current events to children.

But it is never too early to talk to children about racism, inequality and discrimination. Books can help explore these subjects and spark important conversations.

Here are some suggestions to read about race this week...

Babies and toddlers

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (36451260)
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (36451260)

A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.

The alliteration, rhyming and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues depicted resonate with their parents' values of community, equality and justice.

This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future.

Ages 5-8

Martin Luther King Jr by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People, BIG DREAMS) (36451257)
Martin Luther King Jr by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People, BIG DREAMS) (36451257)

Martin Luther King Jr by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

The life of the legendary civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr is celebrated and sensitively handled in this beautifully illustrated book. This volume makes King's inspiring work accessible to young readers, whilst not eliminating the struggles and ultimate tragedy of his death.

Ages 9-12

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is a heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a white police officer, drawing connections with real-life history.

ALIVE

Twelve-year-old Jerome doesn't get into trouble. He goes to school. He does his homework. He takes care of his little sister. Then Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat.

DEAD

As a ghost, watching his family trying to cope with his death, Jerome begins to notice other ghost boys. Each boy has a story and they all have something in common.

Bit by bit, Jerome begins to understand what really happened - not just to him, but to all of the ghost boys.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (36451254)
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (36451254)

Tweens

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

"Stop it! You're all behaving like animals! Worse than animals - like blankers!"

Sephy is a Cross: she lives a life of privilege and power. But she's lonely, and burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.

Callum is a Nought: he's considered to be less than nothing - a blanker, there to serve Crosses - but he dreams of a better life.

They've been friends since they were children and they both know that's as far as it can ever go. Noughts and Crosses are fated to be bitter enemies - love is out of the question.

Then, in spite of a world that is fiercely against them, these star-crossed lovers choose each other.

But this is a love story that will lead both of them into terrible danger - and which will have shocking repercussions for generations to come.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (36451250)
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (36451250)

Teens

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs.

The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (36451248)
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (36451248)

Adults

Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of the Empire by Akala

"This is the book I've been waiting for - for years. It's personal, historical, political, and it speaks to where we are now" - Benjamin Zephaniah.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers - race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook.

In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.

Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.

Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of the Empire by AkalaNatives: Race & Class in the Ruins of the Empire by Akala (36451245)
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of the Empire by AkalaNatives: Race & Class in the Ruins of the Empire by Akala (36451245)

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