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Breaking Walls & Building Bridges – Kids Books About Collective Action
[Image: Cover of ‘The Other Side’ by Woodson & Lewis]
If you’re searching for ways to empower your kids with hope in a climate of division and hate, these picture books are for you.
We hit the breaking point with this one.
Maybe it’s because the story is mild and non-violent, like something my 4-year-old could experience today. The anxiety, stress, and fear finally hit home about segregation and how far we have left to go.
If there must be a boogeyman in his closet, let it be the institution of racism.
If parents of children of color are forced to teach their 4-year-olds how not to get shot by those who have sworn to protect us, then we’ve got to do our part too – we can’t shield our White and East Asian kids from reality if there’s any hope to pop our bubbles.
When Q asked if the fence from the book still exists, I had to answer honestly. Yes.
I told him about our government’s current fight to build a wall between us and Mexico – and how just like Clover’s fence, it’s about the colors of our skin, our religion, about creating an us and a them and how those in power tell us, just like Clover’s mother – bad things will happen if we each cross to the other side.
That night, Q had a nightmare. He cried that our president had built a huge wall, and forced his grandfather (who is both brown-skinned and a greencard holder from Dominica) to leave so we’d never see him again. I wasn’t able to promise that this wouldn’t happen.
I was able to promise that if they did build a wall – we would fight until Papa could come back home.
I told him there was no wall high enough that we couldn’t defeat together.
The next day we watched videos of the falling of the Berlin wall – videos I remember watching as a little girl, crying with joy to see crumbling. We looked at pictures of people sitting atop it, just like Clover and Annie did in the book. Then I showed him the thousands of people I photographed at the Women’s March, and pointed to them one-by-one (until he got bored).
As I scrolled through each image, I told him:
“She will help us protect Papa. Her too. Him too. He will help us. That lady there will help us. They will all help us. You see all of these people? All of us will protect each other.”
Breaking Walls & Building Bridges
Kids Books About Collective Action
[Image description: Photograph from the 2017 Women’s March Boston. Young women chanting out the windows of a school bus. At the center of the image, a gorgeous Black-presenting teenage girl holds a detailed sign that reads ‘DO NO HARM BUT TAKE NO SHIT.”]
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Parables About Cooperation
Collective Action In Your Community
I’d love to recommend the Bully Blockers Club here. The overall message of amassing a network of support is great. But the execution and writing is mess (lots of ableism and misleading examples.) So read that one with caution.
You might also like: No Rest On Labor Day: Provocative Kids Books About The Fight For Workers’ Rights
Collective Action Against Unchecked Power
*FTC Disclosure: The author sent me a free copy of The Worms That Saved The World so I could check it out.
Collective Action In History
Hiawatha And The Peacemaker (Carefully pre-read this for sensitive kids and kids under 6. Mentions murder of family, has some scary illustrations of a snake-headed monstrous character. But it’s a WONDERFUL book on restorative justice and forgiveness, if you can get past that.)
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Join Together For Justice