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We took our kids to see Hidden Figures on Martin Luther King, Jr Day. We didn’t plan it that way, but I’m glad both my son and daughter learned about these courageous, smart African-American female mathematicians. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.
After the seeing the movie, our family discussed everything from space exploration to Jim Crow laws. What stuck with me the most was how hard Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson fought for their dream and their right to be treated with respect. It’s about time the world learns about their story and the story of the other African American women in NASA’s computing room.
Stories of women like them have been historically swept under the rug. Their work is uncredited or worse yet, credited to white men. Let’s learn more about the hidden figures in our history and share their stories with our children.
I’ve curated a list of children’s books that tell the stories of people of color who have changed the course of our history.
Diverse children’s books to read after seeing Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures: Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly: Learn more about the African American women featured in the film. Give your kids a copy of the Young Readers’ Edition while you read the version for grown-ups. The book goes more in-depth in their struggles and achievements than the film. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi: I never learned about the Japanese internment camps or ever heard of Fred Korematsu in school. But books like this one wants to introduce young readers to heroes like him. Learn about Korematsu’s fight against discrimination and how he was jailed for resisting the unfair internment camps. Recommended for ages 10-13.
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz: My sister gift Sophia this book for Christmas and it’s incredible. While I’m glad that our children are learning about the women featured in this book, sadly there’s not a lot of other children’s books about them. Maybe it will inspire your kid to write a book about one of theses rad women. Recommended for ages 8-16.
Of course, you’ll need the companion book Rad Women Worldwide for your bookshelf, too. This illustrated collection features over 40 extraordinary women from all over the world. Recommended for ages 8-16
The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson: Meet Audrey Faye Hendricks, the youngest known child to be arrested for civil rights protest. An inspiring story that will teach our kids that they’re never too young to speak out. Recommended for ages 5-10
Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss: Maggie Gee became only one of two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots to serve in World War II. I only recently learned about her story–thanks to a friend. Even though this book is out of print you can still grab used copies for a reasonable price. Recommended for ages 5-8
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh: Calaveras, dancing skeletons we associate with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, were not always synonymous with Day of the Dead. Learn how artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada created them and how he became known for his political cartoons. Recommended for ages 6-10
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall: Though this is a novel, Joseph Marshall, who is member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe, shares the story of Crazy Horse through the eyes of a young Lakota boy. Follow along as you learn about Crazy Horse’s heroic deeds and his fight to keep his people’s way of living alive. Recommended for ages 10-14
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo: In the 1930s, there were very few acting roles for Asian Americans. Usually white actors played Asian Americans (sound familiar) while actual Asian Americans were regulate to extra work. Learn how Anna May Wong fought to find more meaningful roles for herself, and in turn, other Asian American actors. Recommended for ages 6-11
I Am Malala Young Readers’ Edition by Malala Yousafzai: Malala’s story is incredibly inspiring. Even after the violence she’s experienced, she still speaks passionately about a girl’s (and woman’s) right to an education. It is a must read for girls and boys alike. Recommended for ages 11-17
This doesn’t even begin to cover all the stories of diverse changemakers. Which books would you add to this list?