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39 children's books to restore your faith in humanity

by Jill Macchiaverna, bibliophile

The world is a mess right now. To keep us from turning on each other, stop doomscrolling and pick up these books. Even if you don’t have kids. We can all learn new things from great children’s literature. Plus, the illustrations are just soul-quenching.

The following is a list of share-worthy reads (in APA citation format because I was introduced to most of them during Dr. Sue Parsons’ excellent Children’s Literature graduate class this semester through Oklahoma State University). The books are not in any particular order, and the list is definitely not exhaustive. I started trying to categorize the stories in groups like “Inspiration for Persistence,” “Connection with Humanity,” or “Our Shared History.” But so many books overlap categories, and who am I to tell you what to “get” out of a story anyway?

So seriously. Turn off your news app notifications. Take some deep breaths. Turn a page.

Markel, M., Sweet, M. (2013). Brave girl: Clara and the shirtwaist makers’ strike of 1909. Blazer + Bray.

Sorell, T., Lessac, F. (2018). We are grateful: Otsaligeliga. Charlesbridge.

Eggers, D., Harris, S. (2017). Her right foot. Chronicle Books.

Rubin, S.G. (2017). The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. Abrams.

Phi, B., Bui, T. (2017). A different pond. Capstone Young Readers.

Engle, M., López, R. (2015). Drum dream girl. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Ahmed, R., Burrington, S. (2018). Mae among the stars. Harper.

Weatherford, C.B., Holmes, E. (2015). Voice of freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the civil rights movement. Candlewick Press.

Santat, D. (2017). After the fall: How Humpty Dumpty got back up again. Roaring Book Press.

Morris, R.T., Pham, L. (2019). Bear came along. Little, Brown and Company.

Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Robertson, R., Shannon, D. (2015). Hiawatha and the peacemaker. Abrams.

Clark-Robinson, M., Morrison, F. (2018). Let the children march. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Sorrell, T., Alvitre, W. (2019). At the mountain’s base. Penguin Random House.

Cline-Ransome, L. (2018). Finding Langston. Holiday House.

Winter, J., Evans, S. (2015). Lillian’s right to vote: A celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Schwartz & Wade Books.

Deedy, C.A., Yelchin, E. (2017). The rooster who would not be quiet. Scholastic Press.

Cooper, E. (2017). Big cat, little cat. Roaring Book Press.

Wenxuan, C., Mello, R., Garcia Roberts, C. (2017). Feather. First Elsewhere Editions Printing.

Doerrfeld, C. (2018). The rabbit listened. Dial Books for Young Readers.

de la Peña, M., Robinson, C. (2018). Carmela full of wishes. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Barnes, D., James, G.C. (2017). Crown: An ode to the fresh cut. Bolden Books.

Lê, M., Santat, D. (2018). Drawn together. Disney Hyperion.

Lyons, K.S., Minter, D. (2019). Going down home with Daddy. Peachtree.

Love, J. (2018). Julián is a mermaid. Candlewick Press.

Muhammad, I., Ali, S.K., Aly, H. (2019). The proudest blue: A story of hijab and family. Little, Brown and Company.

Martinez-Neal, J. (2018). Alma and how she got her name. Candlewick Press.

Quintero, I., Peña, Z. (2019). My papi has a motorcycle. Scholastic Inc.

Patel, S., Haynes, E. (2012). Ganesha’s sweet tooth. Chronicle Books.

Middleton Elya, S., Martinez-Neal, J. (2017). La princesa and the pea. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Pinkney, A.D., Pinkney, B. (2018). Martin rising: Requiem for a king. Scholastic Press.

Alexander, K., Nelson, K. (2019). The undefeated. Versify.

Craft, J., Callahan, J. (2019). New kid. Harper.

Javernick, E., Madden, C. (2018). What if everybody said that? Two Lions.

Vilela, F., Hahn, D. (2015). Along the Tapajós. Amazon Crossing Kids.

Diáz, J., Espinosa, L. (2018). Islandborn. Dial Books.

Campbell, M., Luyken, C. (2018). Adrian Simcox does not have a horse. Dial Books.

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