Justice Conversation Booklist for Children

Please help us grow this list! Send us your recommendations, and tell us why you suggest them. Please see the bottom of this page for more information and a useful form for contacting us. 



Preschool and Up

Simple text and images, good for young children and may also be suitable for leading into more complex discussions with older children.

The Bad Seed – written by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald

Be Kinds – written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill

The Day You Begin – written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

Love – written by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Lauren Long

My Mouth is a Volcano – written by Julia Cook, illustrated by Carrie Hartman

One Love – written by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

They All Saw a Cat – written & illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Giraffes Can’t Dance – written by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees


2st Grade and up

Picture book with longer, more complex story and imagery.

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass – written by Meg Wiviott, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon

The Butterfly – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

The Harmonica – written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Ron Mazellan

The Morning Chair – written by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Marcia Sewall

Mr. Lincolns’ Way – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters – written and illustrated by John Steptoe

Pink and Say – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco – * 4th grade and up



This Same Sky, A Collection of Poems from around the World –selected by Naomi Shihab Nye



Ages 9-12

(Recommended publisher age ranges noted beside each title to approximate appropriateness for child’s maturity level)  

Amal Unbound – by Aisha Saeed, ages 10 and up

Anything but Typical – by Nora Raleigh Baskin, ages 10 – 14 years

Breakout – by Kate Messner, ages 10-14 years

The Color of my Words – by Lynn Joseph, ages 8-12 years

Diary of Anne Frank – by Anne Frank

Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes, ages 8-12 years

Harbor Me – by Jacqueline Woodson, ages 10-12 years

Jars of Hope – by Jennifer Roy, ages 9-12

Journey to Topaz – by Yoshiko Uchida, ages 8-12 years

Let the Circle Be Unbroken – Mildred D. Taylor, ages 8-12 years

Number the Stars – by Lois Lowry, ages 8-12 years

Shooting Kabul – by N. H. Senzai, ages 8-12 years

Where Watermelons Grow – by Cindy Baldwin, ages 8-12 years


Ages 12 and up

Flawed – by Cecelia Ahern

Forged by Fire – by Sharon M. Draper

The Friends – by Rosa Guy

The Giver – by Lois Lowry

A Long Walk to Water – by Linda Sue Park

Lyddie – by Katherine Paterson

A Mighty Long Way – by Carlotta Walls LaNier & Lisa Frazier Page

Monster – by Walter Dean Myers

Nowhere Boy – by Katherine Marsh

The Outsiders – by S.E. Hinton

Trash – by Andy Mulligan

The Young Landlords – by Walter Dean Myers


High School 

Solo – Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess


Please help us grow this list! Send us your recommendations, and tell us why you suggest them. We’re looking for books that help with one or more of the five objectives below:

  • To help a teacher or parent begin a discussion about the connection between justice and love.  
  • To talk about actions and attitudes that help everyone grow, and actions and attitudes that hurt, prevent growth, or deny others basic needs.
  • To nurture empathy, respect, and love for people experiencing societal injustice.
  • To nurture empathy, forgiveness, and love for people who are causing societal injustice, and to accept some personal responsibility for the perpetuation of the problem, to not scapegoat, push the problem elsewhere.
  • To share with each other and think about what justice looks like, feels like, acts like, including in difficult situations.

If you have suggestions to help us improve this list or any of our tools, let us know!

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