Uplift Voices

Top 10 Summer Must Reads for Elementary Children on Social Justice and Diversity

While summer is the perfect time for some light-hearted fiction reading, it’s also important for children to add some books to their list that will help them grow as a person and expand their thinking during those lazy summer days. Reading is the ideal way to introduce young minds to a range of subjects: from cultural differences to gender fluidity, from social expectations to identity construction. There are great books available for every age, and covering countless topics.  

Uplift Education, the largest charter school network in North Texas, shared its summer reading list which centers around these topics.  “Our students receive a globally-focused education through the International Baccalaureate program, so it’s important that our summer reading be inclusive and representative,” said Hedreich Nichols von Reichert, Curriculum & Instruction Specialist for Uplift Education.

Here are some top reads for elementary aged children: 

  1. Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, and go for her dreams? 
  2. The Moon Within by Aida Salazar. A Latinx girl’s coming of age tale for middle grades. Celi Rivera’s life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend’s exploration of what it means to be genderfluid. 
  3. Under My Hijab by Hena Kahn. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. 
  4. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own. 
  5. Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho. When a boy’s friend draws a hurtful portrayal of him, he starts reflecting on the difference between his schoolmates’ eyes and his own. Soon, he realizes his own beauty and worth. 
  6. The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson. Follow a pair of siblings on an imaginative journey to worlds far from the confines of their apartment in this whimsical tale. 
  7. I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick. Based on Colin Kaepernick’s own experiences as a biracial child, this is a story of self-acceptance. It all starts when Colin’s teacher asks him to draw his family. What happens next is a journey of self-discovery and a lesson for us all. 
  8. The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart. Purple people bring their family, friends, and communities together, and they speak up for what’s right. They are kind and hardworking, and they love to laugh (especially at Grandpa’s funny noises)! A purple person is an everyday superhero! Penny Purple will lead you through the steps. Get ready to be silly, exercise your curiosity, use your voice, and be inspired. 
  9. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream. 
  10. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements. 

These are simply a few of the many wonderful books out there for children on the topics of social justice, diversity, and inclusion.  You can find more great recommendations on Reedsy.com.

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