Good Trouble for Young Children

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

For Black History Month, our youth team is celebrating the extraordinary life of John Lewis, who stood up and spoke out for civil rights for more than 60 years. Here are some wonderful books about activism for our youngest citizens.

  • Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis

    2016 by Asim, Jabari

    Even when he was a child, the great civil rights activist John Lewis was preaching peace and justice--only his audience was made up of chickens! The gorgeous illustrations in this beautifully written book about the early years of one of our greatest statesmen are captivating.

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  • We March

    2012 by Evans, Shane

    A stand-out selection for parents who want to introduce young children to civil rights history and social activism. The bold illustrations and simple text will engage even the youngest children.

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  • Rosa

    2005 by Giovanni, Nikki

    This gorgeous book, illustrated by the great Bryan Collier, is a great introduction to social activism for very young children. In simple text, Nikki Giovanni tells us what Rosa Parks' thoughts were as she refused to leave her seat on the bus that day in 1955. There's lots to talk about here and a beautiful fold-out to show children the scale of the Montgomery bus boycott inspired by Rosa's actions.

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  • This Is the Dream

    2006 by Shore, Diane ZuHone

    This is a great book about civil rights for young children. The text is a riff on "The House That Jack Built," and the beautiful paintings, by James Ransome, add to the message. A great history lesson and conversation starter.

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  • Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

    2005 by Weatherford, Carole Boston

    This picture book about the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins is told from the point of view of a young Black girl who watches it all unfold. The art is beautiful, and the story ends on a very positive note, as Connie sits at that very same lunch counter six months later.

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  • No! My First Book of Protest

    2019 by Merberg, Julie

    What toddler doesn't love to shout, "NO!"? Julie Merberg has created a great introduction to activism for the very young feminist in your house, featuring such icons as Gloria Steinem, Alice Paul, and Malala.

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  • We Are Water Protectors

    2020 by Lindstrom, Carole

    "Water is the first medicine. Water is sacred," a young Native girl's grandmother tells her. This bright, colorful book tells us all about the Standing Rock protest from a child's point of view.

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  • The Water Walker

    2017 by Robertson, Joanne

    Another wonderful book about Indigenous tribes' respect for and protection of "Nibi," the Ojibwe word for water. The book features beautiful, bright illustrations, kid-friendly text, and gentle humor in a true tale of an Ojibwe grandmother who walked around the Great Lakes to stress the importance of clean water.

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  • Love Is Powerful

    2020 by Brewer, Heather Dean

    Beautiful illustrations create a feeling of hope, sisterhood, and purpose in this story of a young girl attending the Women's March with her mother.

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  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

    2017 by Clinton, Chelsea

    Short introductions to some of the great American women who, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, persist! The pictures are watercolors and the overall tone is light. I love this book as a good conversation starter about staying true to one's beliefs, even in the face of opposition.

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  • Let the Children March

    2018 by Clark-Robinson, Monica

    This is a beautifully illustrated picture book about the Children's Crusade in Birmingham in 1963. You and your little one will be captivated by the kids in this book, and inspired by their dignity and perseverance.

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  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

    2013 by Markel, Michelle

    Here's a picture book about a small girl who was a large figure in the labor movement. Clara Lemlich, an immigrant who spoke no English, organized her fellow garment workers, all female, for better conditions. Share this book with your future feminist!

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