Reading a book 200 times is a surefire way to find out whether you love it or want to throw its rhyming llama couplets into the diaper pail. Children's books especially do a tricky dance for an audience of squinty-eyed parents and wide-eyed tots: the best ones, like a syringe of infant-suspension Tylenol, have a little something for the parent at the end. These are the ones we are celebrating in This Book Belongs To — the books that send us back to the days of our own footed pajamas, and make us feel only half-exhausted when our tiny overlords ask to read them one more time.
Is there anything better than a) seeing your kid riffle through their little bookshelves, or b) becoming a human armchair for them as they toddle over with a beloved book and plop themselves into your lap expectantly? For parents of teeny bookworms, there can never be enough stories — you quickly burn through the requisite library of picture books that are gifted at birth, along with those impulse-purchased after your tot retrieves them from the lower shelves at your local bookshop and
refuses. to. let. go. The sweet thing about those early reading years when kids are hungry for new stories is that it's an opening to introduce them to characters who are different from them — to expand their world — as well as characters who are a lot like them — to help them feel seen.
Aware of the power books have in shaping our children, we've rounded up 100 of the
best progressive children's books. These books are "progressive" in that they encourage forward thinking and create space for everyone to feel like they belong. In putting together the list, we looked not for books with a progressive agenda, so much as books that teach kids to question bias and power, to recognize their feelings, and to break down ideas and expectations about how they should act. They are playful, funny, sweet, and moving. There are teddy bears wrestling with gender identity, boys who want to be mermaids, little girls who grew into rousing leaders, stories from across the globe; there are sneetches, sensitive potatoes, and evil archdukes. What a world.
We hope these titles will become favorites on knee-high bookshelves everywhere.
'Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender And Friendship' by Jessica Walton
by Jessica Walton ($17, Introducing Teddy IndieBound)
If you want to softly deconstruct gender stereotypes or explain gender transitions,
Introducing Teddy is your best bet. Without getting into terminology, this story covers the basics of not feeling like the gender you've been assigned fits, and teaches you that true friends will still love you, no matter your gender.
'Ada Twist, Scientist' by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers ($18, Ada Twist, Scientist IndieBound)
This is a great book for kids who always ask "why?" The story encourages kids to question everything and always be on the lookout for answers. Starring a girl of color who has a passion for STEM, it's a sneaky way to teach perseverance to your kid.
'Mommy's Khimar' by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for You by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow ($18, Mommy's Khimar IndieBound)
Not only is this a sweet story about a daughter looking up to her mother, it also introduces Islamic experiences such as going to a mosque and wearing a headscarf. Muslim kids will love seeing their culture represented, and non-Muslim kids will find that a different culture feels more familiar by the end of the story.
'The Journey' by Francesca Sanna
by Francesca Sanna ($18, The Journey IndieBound)
Explaining refugees to a child who takes bedrock concepts like a home and peaceful country for granted is tricky, but
The Journey delicately manages to help them understand the ways in which the world is broken. A family flee war with only a few possessions... and each other.
'The Story Of Ferdinand' by Munro Leaf
($5, The Story of Ferdinand IndieBound)
This classic tale of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight is all about being yourself and doing what makes you happy. Ferdinand is quietly radical in rejecting ideas about how a bull is supposed to be.
'Windows' by Julia Denos
by Julia Denos ($16, Windows IndieBound)
A simple story about a boy walking his dog as night falls is about a lot more. It's about community, feeling connected to your neighbors, and exploring the world beyond your family.
'Drawn Together' by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat ($17.99, Drawn Together Amazon)
A boy and his grandfather don't speak the same language... until they get out their pencils and inks. This mixed-media storybook is a work of art and a genuinely moving look at intergenerational love and the ways we can work to collapse distance.
'It Takes A Village' by Hillary Clinton
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books ($20, It Takes A Village IndieBound)
Written by pantsuit icon and devoted public servant Hillary Clinton, this book depicts a community coming together to build a playground. In this story about change-making, everyone takes care of each other and works together. As Clinton told Romper in 2017, the book was intended to inspire kids to action. "I also hope it will be one small part of a
lifelong conversation about the importance of service and helping others — a conversation that can grow along with your kids," she said at the time.
'Harriet Gets Carried Away' by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers by Jessie Sima ($18, Harriet Gets Carried Away IndieBound)
Aside from the fact that this is a really fun book about a girl who loves to dress up, Harriet also has two dads. It's not a book about gay families, her family is just one part of who Harriet is.
'Jacob's New Dress' by Sarah Hoffmann and Ian Hoffman
by Sarah and Ian Hoffman ($17, Jacob's New Dress IndieBound)
For all the gender-creative kids out there, this story will be very reassuring. All kids could do with a reminder that gender expression is up to the individual.
'Julián Is a Mermaid' by Jessica Love
by Jessica Love ($14, Julián Is a Mermaid Amazon)
A little boy is inspired by beautiful mermaids, and wants to be one himself, but worries about what his Abuela will think. Absolutely winning.
'Baby Dance' By Ann Taylor
by Ann Taylor ($8, Baby Dance IndieBound)
This fun book for the littlest progressive readers is rhythmic and engaging. It also has a dad providing the care for his baby so mom can nap. "Naps for moms" is a ~progressive platform~ we can definitely support.
'In My Heart: A Book Of Feelings' by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey
by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey ($17, In My Heart: A Book Of Feelings IndieBound)
The soft power in this book about feelings can break down toxic masculinity, teach empathy, and knock bigotry flat.
'Pearl Power And The Toy Problem' by Mel Elliott
by Mel Elliott ($14, Pearl Power And The Toy Problem IndieBound)
Pearl thinks that labeling things as "girl things" or "boy things" is pretty ridiculous. Yeah. Pearl is onto something there. She's also a budding activist.
'Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl' by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vuković
by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vuković ($16, Jasmine Toguchi: Drummer Girl IndieBound)
Hand this fun series to any kids who like to march to their own beat. Jasmine embraces her Japanese culture while also smashing the patriarchy by participating in traditionally male activities.
'Super Manny Stands Up' by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin ($18, Super Manny Stands Up IndieBound)
Any true progressive knows that sometimes you have to stand up to bullies. Super Manny loves pretending to be a super hero, but when he sees a bully picking on a classmate, he realizes that he can be a hero IRL.
'Be Kind' by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill
by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill ($18, Be Kind IndieBound)
This title says it all, right? This book is so great because it identifies the ways in which kids might be on the lookout for for their friends' feelings. Little actions can make a big difference.
'Can You Say Peace?' by Karen Katz
by Karen Katz ($8, Can You Say Peace IndieBound)
Teach your kids how to say "peace" in many languages. It's such a great way for kids to learn about the many cultures there are on the planet, but also introduces the idea of peace; so easy to take for granted.
'You Are Special' by Max Lucado, illustrated by Sergio Martinez
by Max Lucado, illustrated by Sergio Martinez ($17, You Are Special IndieBound)
There's an underlying Christian message in this book, and it's pretty radical: "God loves everyone regardless of what's on the outside." You don't have to be the prettiest or the most talented to be worthy.
'What Should Danny Do?' by Adir Levy, illustrated by Matt Sadler
www.whatshoulddannydo.com by Ganit and Adir Levy, illustrated by Mat Sadler ($18, What Should Danny Do? self-published)
Let your child choose the path of Danny's story. This book empowers kids to make decisions and see what impact those decisions have. This interactive book can be read over and over to reach the many different endings.
'She Persisted' by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger ($18, She Persisted IndieBound)
Never underestimate the strength of girls who want to make a difference!
'Moody Cow Meditates' by Kerry MacLean
by Kerry Lee MacLean ($17, Moody Cow Meditates IndieBound)
Help your kids deal with negative emotions and bad days with mindfulness! It works for the grumpy cow in this story. Dealing with bad feelings is crucial to making progress in tough situations.
'The Ocean Story' by John Seven, illustrated by Jana Christy
by John Seven, illustrated by Jana Christy ($24, The Ocean Story IndieBound)
Your budding environmentalist will love this book. It introduces the importance of the world's oceans and how each drop of water is part of our most important resource.
'My Body, What I Say Goes' by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Anna Hancock
Educate2empower Publishing by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Anna Hancock ($10, My Body: What I Say Goes IndieBound)
Body safety is so crucial. Jayneen Sanders has written many picture books on this topic, but this one gets right to the heart of it. Even the smallest kids should understand that they have body autonomy.
'Ramadan' by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Rashin
by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Rashin ($9, Ramadan IndieBound)
Not only does this beautiful board book introduce the Muslim traditions during the month of Ramadan, it also emphasizes taking time to feel thankful and help others. It's the first in a new series of board books called
Celebrate The World.
'Dad By My Side' by Soosh
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers by Soosh ($17, Dad By My Side IndieBound)
This is such a charming book that shows what a hero a dad can be in their child's life. More important than the old-fashioned standards of dads being tough or making money, this shows the father in a nurturing and loving role.
'I Am Jazz' by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNichols
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNichols ($18, I Am Jazz IndieBound)
This sweet autobiography of young transgender activist Jazz Jennings is a simple and sweet explanation of what it is like for your brain to be one gender and your body to be another. Jazz puts it simply, explaining that she was "born this way."
'Rot, The Cutest In The World' by Ben Clanton
Atheneum Books for Young Readers by Ben Clanton ($18, Rot, The Cutest In The World IndieBound)
If a mutant potato can have radical self-acceptance and view himself as the cutest thing in the world, then so can you! (Of course, Rot is actually super cute.)
'How Do You Wokka Wokka' by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by Randy Cecil
by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by Randy Cecil ($6.99, How Do You Wokka Wokka? Amazon)
All the kids in the neighborhood have their own unique style in this bopping, rhythmic story about doing it your way.
'Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes' by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, Bi-lingual edition ($6.99, Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes Amazon)
Some babies are born in cities, some in tents, some with blonde hair and some with dark hair, but all have ten little fingers, ten little toes, and a special place in their parents' hearts. Kids love acting along with this sweet Australian favorite.
'Last Stop On Market Street' by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson ($18, Last Stop On Market Street IndieBound)
This is a beautiful book with an urban setting. It emphasizes the importance of community, and teaches that there is beauty and joy everywhere, even on the bus.
'Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems On Race, Mistakes, And Friendship' by Charles Waters and Irene Latham, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko ($18, Can I Touch Your Hair IndieBound)
Two classmates need to work together even though they have nothing in common. They are different races and they have none of the same interests. They stumble over discussing these things. It's a safe space for little progressives to explore race relations and learn that listening and respect is what matters, even if they misstep.
'Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed The World' by Susan Hood
by Susan Hood ($19, Shaking Things Up IndieBound)
This is an essential book for any young poetry collection. It tells about the bravery and innovation of young women such as Ruby Bridges, Maya Lin, and Frida Kahlo. It's as fun to read as it is inspiring.
'I Love My Hair' by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis ($8, I Love My Hair IndieBound)
This is a classic book about feeling out of place, but celebrating who you are. Children will learn about self-esteem and empathy, which is fuel for progressive minds.
'Red: A Crayon's Story' by Michael Hall
by MIchael Hall ($18, Red: A Crayon's Story IndieBound)
The poor red crayon in this story is terrible at being red. The problem is he's a blue crayon with a red label. The other crayons around him tell him to try harder or practice more but none of it works. Nothing works until he does something radical: he lets himself be blue. This book is great because it defuses the damaging effects of labeling.
'Nevertheless, She Persisted' by Susan Wood, illustrated by Sarah Green
by Susan Wood, illustrated by Sarah Green ($18.99, Nevertheless, She Persisted Barnes & Noble)
Born of Mitch McConnell's dismissive attempt to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren, the leftist catch-cry, "
nevertheless, she persisted" is here woven into a rich biographic story full of heart, designed to inspire little girls to fight for what they believe in.
'Draw The Line' by Kathryn Otoshi
by Kathryn Otoshi ($18, Draw The Line IndieBound)
This wordless picture book deals with conflict and conflict resolution. Easy to understand, this story shows how fighting breaks things and teamwork builds bridges.
'Papa And Me' by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Rudy Gutierre
by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Rudy Gutierre ($8, Papa And Me IndieBound)
This bilingual book shows a father and his son speaking both Spanish and English. The bottom line in this story is that children thrive when their parents love them and spend time with them.
'Perfectly Norman' by Tom Percival
by Tom Percival ($17, Perfectly Norman IndieBound)
The story of Norman and his unconventional talent encourages kids to share their gifts, no matter what they are.
'Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth' by Oliver Jeffers
'The Big Umbrella' by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
'It's Okay to Be Different' by Todd Parr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers by Todd Parr ($9, It's Okay To Be Different IndieBound)
This title says it all. Be yourself! Celebrate what makes you different! Be kind to people you don't understand. Kids and babies will love this colorful, progressive book.
'The Story of Ruby Bridges' by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford
by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford ($7, The Story Of Ruby Bridges IndieBound)
Even small children can be heroes. Ruby Bridges was only six years old when she was the first black child to go to an all-white school. A thoughtful look at what bravery is.
'Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History' by Vashti Harrison
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
'The Sneetches' by Dr. Seuss
Random House Books for Young Readers by Dr. Seuss ($17, The Sneetches And Other Stories IndieBound)
This classic Dr. Seuss book is an allegory about the difference between the haves and have nots. (Spoiler: there's not a whole lot of difference, and the tides could change at any time.) Kids instinctually realize nobody is inherently better or more important than anyone else. It's great to hear them express these thoughts.
'All Our Wild Wonder' by Sarah Kay, illustrated by Sophia Janowitz
All Our Wild Wonder by Sarah Kay, illustrated by Sophia Janowitz ($12, Strand Books)
Educators are so vital in raising great progressives. This is a lovely tribute to a great educator. Parents will appreciate how the principal in the book cares for and nurtures each child in her school. And kids will appreciate how magical school can be.
'Love Always Everywhere' by Sarah Massini
Random House Books for Young Readers
'Kat Writes A Song' by Greg Foley
by Greg Foley ($15, Kat Writes A Song IndieBound)
Kat wants to solve the world's problems through writing a song. Sometimes changing the world is as simple as that. You might not be able to solve every problem you come across, but you can make the days brighter for the people around you.
'Lucy Loves Sherman' by Catherine Bailey, illustrated by Meg Walters
by Catherine Bailey, illustrated by Meg Walters ($17, Lucy Loves Sherman IndieBound)
This is the story of a young activist out to save the life of an ancient lobster that's about to become someone's meal. The power of a voice (with the help of the press) and you can make a change (and maybe save an awesomely huge lobster.)
'Counting On Community' by Innosanto Nagara
by Innosanto Nagara ($10, Counting On Community IndieBound)
You're probably going to be reading counting books with your kids, so why not layer in some progressive ideas while you're at it.
'The True Story Of The Three Little Pigs' by Jon Scieszka
Viking Books for Young Readers by Jon Scieszka ($18, The True Story Of The Three Little Pigs IndieBound)
This book is a hilarious take on the classic tale, but it's from the point of view of the "big bad" wolf, challenging assumptions and introducing a slightly contrarian look at representation and ownership of truth. Maybe the wolf knocked the houses down. Maybe he even ate some pigs, but he deserves to be heard.
'March' by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell ($15, March: Book One IndieBound)
This groundbreaking trilogy of graphic novels tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement from Congressman John Lewis's point of view. It's a gorgeous collaboration and highlights some of the best progressive moments in our country's history.
'You Are Mighty: A Guide To Changing The World' by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Lauren Tamaki
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Lauren Tamaki ($18, You Are Mighty: A Guide To Changing The World IndieBound)
If you want to make a difference, but don't know where to start, then this book is for you. Full of information and fun graphics, this is a primer on all things progress from letter writing to protest signs to boycotts.
'I Like Myself' by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow
by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow ($8, I Like Myself IndieBound)
Can you be awesome even if you have stinky toes? Heck yeah, you can! Celebrate yourself and all your splendor. While toddlers will love reading this book, the adults will be delighted with it as well.
'When Sophie Thinks She Can't...' by Molly Bang
by Molly Bang ($18, When Sophie Thinks She Can't... IndieBound)
If you're going to make a difference, you're going to need to persevere! In this story, the eponymous character is super frustrated at what she can't do... yet.
56 'The One And Only Ivan' by Katherine Applegate
by Katherine Applegate ($9, The One And Only Ivan IndieBound)
Animal welfare is at the heart of this story about a captive gorilla in a run-down mall. It will make any reader question how we treat animals.
'The Paper Bag Princess' by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko ($7, The Paper Bag Princess IndieBound)
This groundbreaking and hilarious book teaches kids that princesses can be the heroes. They can be feisty and tough and brave, and they just might find that dreamy princes are drips who deserve to be given the flick.
'Free To Be...You And Me' by Marlo Thomas
by Marlo Thomas ($21, Free To Be...You And Me IndieBound)
This classic collection of songs and rhymes is all about celebrating and loving who you are. The world would be a better place if we all did this. Super progressive.
'Snowy Day' by Ezra Jack Keats
Viking Books for Young Readers by Ezra Jack Keats ($17.99, Snowy Day Indiebound)
Published in 1962, this simple story about a boy exploring a snowy landscape had an extraordinary impact on society's view of the prejudicial "
inner city," and shows that all children are united in their delight for whacking a snow-covered tree with a stick.
'A Is For Activist' by Innosanto Nagara
by Innosanto Nagara ($10, A Is For Activist IndieBound)
If you're looking for baby's first progressive book, this one is a great bet. With fun rhymes and vibrant illustrations, this will set your child on the path of caring about their community and working for change.
'Hidden Figures: The True Story Of Four Black Women And The Space Race' by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
'Grace For President' by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham ($17, Grace For President IndieBound)
This is the perfect book to introduce the American electoral process. We're still on the lookout for our first female president. This book is sure to inspire kids to vote when they are old enough... and maybe even to run for president.
'The Wonderful Things You Will Be' by Emily Winfield Martin
Random House Books for Young Readers
'I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark' by Debbie Levy, illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
'Piggybook' by Anthony Browne
by Anthony Browne ($8, Piggybook IndieBound)
Chauvinism hurts everyone. When the mom in this story leaves the boys to fend for themselves, they learn a lot about not being pigs. (No kid will want to be a pig after reading this.)
'The Gutsy Girl: Escapades For Your Life Of Epic Adventure' by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton
by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton ($18, The Gutsy Girl IndieBound)
Girls will be inspired to face challenges and take risks. (Though, really, boys can totally benefit from this as well.) This book celebrates being bold.
'We're Different, We're The Same' by Bobbi Kates
Random House Books for Young Readers by Bobbi Kates ($5, We're Different, We're The Same IndieBound)
Sesame Street fans will adore this book that acknowledges that on the outside we're all pretty different, but that people also have a lot in common. We all have the same needs. We all have hopes and desires.
'Families, Families, Families!' by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang
Random House Books for Young Readers by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang ($17, Families, Families, Families IndieBound)
This is a celebration of all kinds of families. No matter the makeup of a family, it's all about loving and supporting each other, see: the pig fam.
The Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar ($17, The Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas IndieBound)
This sweet story not only has a multicultural family (Indian and Jewish), it also has a feisty girl who saves the day. Fun, diverse, and inspiring.
'This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer' by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode
by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode ($8, This Little Trailblazer IndieBound)
Each spread in this boardbook has a sweet rhyme about an inspiring trailblazer. It's never too early to start teaching your kids about the awesome women who have shaped their world.
'Feminist Baby' by Loryn Brantz
by Loryn Brantz ($13, Feminist Baby IndieBound)
This book is super cheeky and feminist AF. The baby in this book is smashing the patriarchy with her bold choices (such as not wearing pants and liking the color blue.)
'This Is The Rope: A Story Of The Great Migration' by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome ($9, This Is The Rope IndieBound)
Introduce kids to the Great Migration when African-American families left the south for better opportunities. It's the best kind of American dream story. A close-knit family works for a better life for their children and grandchildren.
by Alex Gino ($7, George IndieBound)
All George wants is to be seen as the girl she is, not as the boy everyone thinks she is. Older children will delight in George's quest for acceptance, and will learn that what's inside matters more than what's on the outside.
'Bus For Us' by Suzanne Bloom
by Suzanne Bloom ($8, Bus For Us IndieBound)
Kids who love identifying vehicles will have fun with this one. It's a back-to-school book with a multicultural cast of kids waiting for their school bus.
'One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay And The Recycling Women Of Gambia' by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon ($20, One Plastic Bag IndieBound)
This story illustrates how littering can impact the environment, but it also teaches us that we can create lasting change when we try to take care of the world around us.
'And Tango Makes Three' by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole
by Justic Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole ($10, And Tango Makes Three IndieBound)
This is the true story of inseperable male penguins Roy and Silo of the Central Park Zoo. When Roy and Silo were given a motherless penguin egg, they raised the chick together. It's such a sweet portrait of a same-sex family. (Love is love, y'all.)
'Leopold' by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer with Pierre A. Lehu, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky
by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer with Pierre A. Lehu, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky ($12, Leopold IndieBound)
Progressive children are inevitably going to face some challenges. This story of a turtle who is afraid of the sea teaches that overcoming fear can lead to great opportunities.
'A Chair For My Mother' by Vera B. Williams
by Vera B. Williams ($8, A Chair For My Mother IndieBound)
Loving families are central in Vera B. Williams's work. This story is about a family recovering after everything they own is lost in a fire.
'The Day The Crayons Quit' by Drew Daywalt
by Drew Daywalt ($18, The Day The Crayons Quit IndieBound)
The crayons in this book have opinions and they demand to be treated fairly. When they've had enough, they quit! On one level, it's a funny story about crayons. On another, it's about activism. Make your voice heard!
by Leo Lionni ($8, Swimmy IndieBound)
Swimmy, teamwork and bravery help a school of fish to come out of hiding. Swimmy is the brave fish that leads them. Leadership is an important part of this story.
'Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book Of Colors' by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
'Festival Of Colors' by Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison ($18, Festival Of Colors IndieBound)
Continuing the theme of cultural books that are gorgeous to look at,
Festival Of Colors is a fun introduction to the Hindu holiday of Holi.
'Hairs/Pelitos' by Sandra Cisneros, illustrated by Terry Ybáñez
Sandra Cisnero, illustrated by Terry Ybáñez ($8, Hairs/Pelitos by IndieBound)
This bilingual book takes a vignette from Cisnero's book
The House On Mango Street. It's a celebration of diversity, focusing on the differences in people's hair.
'The Name Jar' by Yangsook Choi
by Yangsook Choi ($8, The Name Jar IndieBound)
A Korean-American girl isn't sure she wants to go by her Korean name, because it's hard to pronounce. Her classmates offer her suggestions, but ultimately, they encourage her to use her Korean name. Inclusive and sweet.
'The World Is Not A Rectangle: A Portrait Of Architect Zaha Hadid' by Jeannette Winter
by Jeanette Winter ($18, The World Is Not A Rectangle IndieBound)
Hadid grew up in Iraq and dreamed of creating cities. This shows how her childhood influenced her art as well as chronicling the difficulties she faced as a Muslim woman with new ideas.
'Sometimes The Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon Coloring Book' by Jacinta Bunnell, illustrated by Nat Kusinitz
by Jacinta Bunnell, illustrated by Nat Kusinitz ($10, Sometimes The Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon IndieBound)
This coloring book takes old nursery rhymes and outdated gender stereotypes and turns them on their head. Fun activities with LGBTQIA inclusive flavor make this a perfect gift for a little progressive.
'Santa's Husband' by Daniel Kibblesmith, illustrated by Ap Quach
by Daniel Kibblesmith, illustrated by Ap Quach ($17, Santa's Husband IndieBound)
While Mr. Claus is out delivering presents, the other Mr. Claus is ready to support him with cookies. There's something so delightful about a Santa Claus who is black and gay. It's Christmas magic.
'Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag' by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steve Salerno
Random House Books for Young Readers
'The Breaking News' by Sarah Lynne Reul
by Sarah Lynne Reul ($19, The Breaking News IndieBound)
When tragedy affects a community, the kids learn to be on the lookout for helpers in times of crisis. In turn, they want to do small acts of kindness to spread the good. This book is super relevant in light of recent school shootings.
'Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey To The Ballot Box' by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrated by James E. Ransome
by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrated by James E. Ransome ($17, Granddaddy's Turn IndieBound)
Set in the civil-rights era South, this is a loving story about a boy and his grandfather. It will make sure kids know just how much voting means in our country.
'El Deafo' by Cece Bell
by Cece Bell ($11, El Deafo IndieBound)
A graphic memoir about a girl with hearing loss and a cumbersome hearing aid, this is a great book for disability representation. It's especially uplifting because she takes her hearing aid and frames it as a super power.
'Sex Is A Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, And You' by Cory Silverberg and Anna Smyth
by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth ($24, Sex Is A Funny Word IndieBound)
This is an inclusive look at sexuality for elementary-aged kids. Progressive parents don't want to add shame into the discussion of sexuality, and this book is a perfect tool for starting honest and sex-positive talks.
'Ambassador' by William Alexander
Margaret K. McElderry Books by William Alexander ($8, Ambassador IndieBound)
A super fun sci-fi book that also deals with politics. The main character's parents are undocumented immigrants. So he has to deal with that, along with traveling through the galaxy.
'Extra Yarn' by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen ($17.99, Extra Yarn Indiebound)
When Anabelle finds a box of yarn one day, she begins to transform her dull town into something brighter and cozier. This playful classic is light on morals, but will teach your child that evil archdukes will never win, and that there is always enough kindness to go around.
'If The World Were A Village' by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong
by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong ($19, If The World Were A Village IndieBound)
Help kids understand the people of our planet. By imagining all of the people in the world are represented by one hundred people, this book breaks down how many people have access to clean water or an education. Thinking globally is crucial.
'Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are Like the Clouds' by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano
by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Alfonso Ruano ($19, Somos Como Las Nubes/We Are Like The Clouds IndieBound)
This bilingual collection of poetry depicts life as an unaccompanied minor immigrating from Central America. It's an unflinching look at the hardships these kids face.
'Thank You, Mr. Falker' by Patricia Polacco
by Patricia Polacco ($14, Thank You, Mr. Falker IndieBound)
This book is based on the author's own experiences with dyslexia and especially about the teacher who helped her identify her struggles. Overcoming frustration is important for every kid, and learning about learning disabilities is crucial to understanding themselves and their friends.
'Whoever You Are' by Mem Fox
by Mem Fox ($5, Whoever You Are IndieBound)
This is one of the best books to teach children how all people are alike, but also how different our lives might look. This also makes for a soothing bedtime book.
'Brontorina' by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil
by James How, illustrated by Randy Cecil ($16, Brontorina IndieBound)
If you love dancing, you should dance. Even if your larger that the other dancers and even if you don't have the right shoes. Shine on, little stars!
'The Gardener' by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small ($8, The Gardener IndieBound)
One little girl starts planting seeds to make the world around her more beautiful. It's a sweet story. It's also a metaphor. Teach your children to plant seeds wherever they go.