SocialJusticeBooks.org is a project of Teaching for Change, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world.
Since its founding in 1989, Teaching for Change has vetted and promoted social justice books for children and adults. This is in response to the wide diversity gap in children’s books and the publishing industry. More than half of the children enrolled in U.S. public schools are people of color or Native American, but only 22% of children’s books published in 2016 were about people of color, and fewer than 13% of books published were written by people of color or Native Americans.
Teaching for Change developed SocialJusticeBooks.org in 2017 to identify and promote the best multicultural and social justice children’s books, as well as articles and books for educators. It builds on the tradition of the Council on Interracial Books for Children which provided a social justice lens to reviews of children’s literature.
We examine the representation, the story line, and the quality of writing of each book. It is not enough to simply diversify the characters in children’s literature. We are also concerned with who is writing the stories, what the characters are doing, how issues of power and activism are introduced, and representations of people in community rather than in isolation. Learn more about our selection of books for the lists and the reviews.
Our collection of articles offers more criteria and explanations for the lenses we use when reviewing and critiquing children’s and young adult books.
SocialJusticeBooks.org offers carefully selected lists of books for children and educators, book reviews, and articles on social justice, multicultural children’s literature.
SocialJusticeBooks.org offers more than 90 lists of recommended books for children, young adults, and educators on a variety of themes. The focus is on books that address people’s history, including stories of African Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Native Americans, labor activists, international populations, and women. In addition to representation and untold histories, books are reviewed for their literature and illustrations.
The lists are constantly updated and new lists added. Recommendations, questions, and concerns are welcome.
SocialJusticeBooks.org hosts a database of children’s book reviews for the See What We See (SWWS) coalition. See What We See is a coalition of writers, scholars, educators, librarians, and activists who believe that books reflect what is valued in society and can therefore shape people’s attitudes and actions towards one another.
One of the goals of SWWS is to provide substantive, critical reviews of children’s and young adult books in order to create awareness of the omissions, myths, stereotypes, and distortions that misrepresent people of color. The SWWS database links to reviews on many of the collaborator sites, such as American Indians in Children’s Literature, Edith Campbell’s Cotton Quilts, Zetta Elliott, Reading While White, DeColores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children, Latinxs in KidLit, Disability in KidLit, Africa Access, Rethinking Schools, and Teaching for Change. Reviews from other sites are selectively included as well. Read about the coalition.
SocialJusticeBooks.org provides recommended articles on multicultural children’s literature and critical literacy by some of the leading scholars in the field.
Teaching for Change staff and board encourage everyone to support indie bookstores and public libraries. On this site, the titles are linked to Bookshop.org, an indie bookstore platform, or to Powells.com, an independent, unionized bookstore based in Portland, Oregon. A small percentage of book purchases through these links goes to Teaching for Change.
Wherever you shop, boycott anti-labor and anti-indie bookstore Amazon.
The Social Justice Books website was launched with funding to an early childhood collaborative by the Newman’s Own Foundation and the Peppercorn Foundation. Additional support was provided by individual donors to Teaching for Change.
In 2020, Newell Brands Charitable Foundation made a grant and Munchkin.com provided a donation to Teaching for Change for Social Justice Books.
Funding is needed to expand the collection of booklists and reviews. Please contribute today.
Please let us know what you think of the site. We are collecting endorsements to share and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Submit feedback.
You can also send us an email or call 202-588-7204. To determine if a title will be added to a book list, we need to receive a hard copy. Our mailing address is Teaching for Change, PO Box 73038, Washington, DC 20056.
In June of 2021, thanks to donations, Teaching for Change hired Paige Pagan as the first dedicated staff person (half-time) for Social Justice Books. Pagan has a MA in English with a concentration in Children’s and Young Adult Multicultural Literature from Lehigh University. Her passions revolve around bringing narratives of people of color to the forefront of the literary canon. Read Paige’s book reviews.