NPR’s Social Justice Summer Reading List for Kids

(image by Elizabeth Grabber via npr.org)

by Kayla Lattimore via npr.org

Social activist Innosanto Nagara wanted to find a fun book to read to his 2-year-old son that also talked about the importance of social justice. He wasn’t looking for the typical fiction written for children, instead, he was looking for unique narratives — by writers of color and/or authors who can speak about social issues through their own experiences. Nagara couldn’t find any. So he wrote one.

“Parents and teachers are realizing that what students read and learn affects how they see the world.” said Deborah Menkart, Executive Director for Teaching for Change, an organization that puts together social justice reading lists to inspire children throughout the summer. “Give kids credit,” says Stan Yogi, one of the authors on our list. “They have an innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Being able to draw on that innate sense of justice through relatable stories is so important.”

Not all parents have the time to do what Innosanto Nagara did. For those who can’t, we’ve compiled a list — with help from Teaching for Change — of books that frame big issues through a lens children can understand.

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Every letter is the definition of a different social movement. For F — kids learn about Feminism, when we get to G – kids learn about the meaning of grassroots organizing and why its important. This beautifully illustrated ABC book uses rhyming and alliteration to get your little reader excited about social change. If your child loves this work they may enjoy the author’s new work My Night at the Planetarium, which illustrates the important role the arts play in resistance.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old girl who’s navigating the two worlds of her upper-class prep school and the reality of her poverty stricken neighborhood. After she witnesses her friend getting shot and killed in a confrontation with the police, she must deal with the consequences of talking about what she saw. The author unpacks the complexity and weight of standing up for what you believe in at a young age.

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno, Robert Liu-Trujillo and Teresa Mlawer

A heartwarming story of a young boy, Danny, who fights gender stereotypes by dressing up as a princess for the school parade. The author, Laurin Mayeno, was inspired to write this from her own experience with her son Danny. “Sometimes as parents we must unlearn things we learned growing up,” says Mayeno. The book is bilingual, in English and Spanish, and discusses gender expression from a child’s point of view.

To see full list, go to: Summer Reading For Your Woke Kid : NPR Ed : NPR

Three African-Americans Earn MacArthur Fellowships in 2013

Three African-American fellows have been named to this year's MacArthur Fellows. Pictured from left-right are Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems. (Photos courtesy of The MacArthur Foundation)

Three African-American fellows have been named to this year’s MacArthur Fellows. Pictured from left-right are Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems. (Photos courtesy of The MacArthur Foundation)

Twenty-four talented individuals were recognized Wednesday morning after they were named the 2013 class of MacArthur fellows – an honor given to an extraordinary group made up of individuals who have achieved much success in their personal creative pursuits.  This year, three African-Americans — Kyle Abraham, Tarell McCraney and Carrie Mae Weems – have been identified by the MacArthur Foundation and join the group of fellows who are each awarded $625,000 to use as they wish towards their creative visions.

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program.  “They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”

In particular, the work of these three visonaries attempts to teach lessons and transform the ideas associated with the African-American experience.  Abraham is a New-York-based dancer and choreographer whose work is often inspired by some of his childhood memories growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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