PICTURE BOOKS: December 2021 / Social Justice Diversity and Equity

I am very fond of each and every picture book listed in this posting. Diverse books by diverse authors about diverse young people who make a difference.



Young Sami, who just arrived from Syria, isn’t quite ready to talk about his past until he is called upon to use his experiences taking care of birds.

“Does the new kid have stories from far away too?…Does he like churros, birds, and snow forts too?”

BORN ON THE WATER: THE 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illus. Nikkolas Smith

Grandma gathers the whole family together to learn about 1619, the time their Black ancestors were stolen and brought to America by European enslavers. Told in lyrical poetry. 

“They knew how to mix the old with the new,/ how even an ancient people always had more to learn.”

CHANGE SINGS by Amanda Gorman; illus. Loren Long

An inspirational poem by Presidential inaugural poet and activist,  Amanda Gorman

“I can hear change humming/ In its loudest, proudest song. I don’t fear change coming, And so I sing along.

G MY NAME IS GIRL by Dawn Masi

Girls from 26 countries from Argentina to Zambia are delightfully and thoughtfully celebrated in this A-to-Z tribute to global girlhood. 

“O my name is ORIT, and my teacher’s name is OMEMA. We come from OMAN and we are OUTSPOKEN.”

THE LONGEST STORM by Dan Yaccarino

A strange storm forces a family to stay inside and find a way for each member of the family to connect with one another, 

“Being home together like that all the time, felt strange. But soon it went from strange to bad, to worse.”

MY SKIN by Laura Henry-Allain Mbe; illus. Onyinye Iwu

A fine and clear introduction to race, racism and empowerment.

“if someone is racist to you, it is not your fault.”

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE by Lee Wind; illus. Paul O’ Zelinisky

Isaac’s family is Jewish and Teresa’s family is Christian. Both children look forward to the holiday season and have fun preparing for festivities until one night, someone smashes the window in Isaac’s house.

“Blue and white/ Menorah light/ From two homes tonight!”

A SKY-BLUE BENCH BY Bahram Rahman; illus. Peggy Collins

A young girl in Afghanistan is worried about sitting all day on the hard floor of her classroom with her new prosthetic leg. 

“It was right before dawn when a brave new idea came into her mind. ‘I’ll build mysefl a bench. surely that will help.”

THE SORRY LIFE OF TIMOTHY SHMOE by Stephanie Simpson McLellan; illus. Zoe Si

Timothy always causes trouble for everyone around him and his father has his son write letters of apology which Timothy does grudgingly. A story of mischief, anger and acceptance told mostly in letter format.

“Dear Great-Nanny Gough,

I’m sorry you got trapped in the corner when Mom went to buy milk. In my defences, no one told me our house is a little crooked.”

SOMETHING GOOD by Marcy Campbell; illus. Corinna Luyken

A school custodian finds something bad written on the bathroom wall . Who would do that? Why?

“We missed the days before the bad-something appeared, because everything was different now. Some of us felt worried or confused or sad or angry. No one felt nothing.” 

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE by Naeem Hrab; illus. Nahid Kazemi

A touching story about loss and remembrance of a beloved grandfather who spoke Farsi loudly and English quietly. 

“My baba bozorg forgot to wake up yesterday. He lived alone, so no one was there to bite him. I really wish I’d been there.”

WATERCRESS by Andrea Wang; illus Jason Chin

The family of a young girl stops alongside the road to pick watercress which inspires a tender memory story of life in China, inspired by the author’s story.

“I look from my uncle’s hollow face to the watercress on the table and I am ashamed of being ashamed of my family.”

WHEN WE SAY BLACK LIVES MATTER written and illustrated by Maxine Beneba Clarke.

 A black child’s parents explain why Black Lives Matter. 

“Darling, when we sing that Black Lives Matter, and we’re dancing through the streets, we’re saying: fear will not destroy our joy, defiance in our feet.”