Brittany Smith never expected to go viral. But her recent tweet thread of suggested books for parents on the topics of race and diversity has now been shared more than 200,000 times and gathered almost half a million likes.
“The numbers have just been insane,” she said. “I’m glad it’s been such positive feedback though.”
Smith, a pre-K teacher in New Jersey, said even Good Morning America wanted an interview.
Who knew a simple list of 30 books would get so much attention? But given America’s current reckoning with race and racism, perhaps it’s easy to see why. Parents want to engage their kids in important conversations about what’s going on in the world.
Sometimes the most difficult part is knowing where to start.
“I felt like I was seeing a lot of conversations between adults as far as how we could be better allies, what it is we’re looking for from this country,” Smith says. “But I wasn’t seeing a lot of conversations about how do we have these conversations with our children or our students.”
Smith said the books on her list had to do several things well.
“One of the things I really look for are visuals, the illustrations, does it showcase diversity and how is it being showcased?” she said. “Is it something that is really going to grab my students’ attention? Or is it really informative?”
The list is diverse. Books range from biographies of civil rights icons like Harriet Tubman or Malcolm X to stories that show the beauty of our multicultural world. Also included is Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love, the inspiration for the short film that won Cherry an Oscar.
Smith said he even reached out and shared some tips for her own upcoming children’s book.
As an educator, Smith says this is a great time for kids to learn that there is a better way to engage with the world. And sometimes it’s as simple as opening a book.
“A lot of times education is one of those things we have to look at,” she explained. “What does the curriculum look like in our different school districts? Does it include representation? Is it teaching about different cultures for people who might not come in contact with them?”
These are the books she recommends to show your kids that diversity:
- "A is for Activist" by Innosanto Nagara
- "Anandi Gopal Joshi" by Megan Callea"
- "Chocolate Milk Por Favor" by Maria Dismondy
- "Hair Love" by Matthew A. Cherry
- "Happy In Our Skin" by Fran Manushkin
- "Harriet Tubman" by Megan Callea
- "I Am Not A Number" by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
- "Intersectional Allies" by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council and Carolyn Choi
- "Lailah's Lunchbox" by Reem Faruqi
- "Let it Shine" by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- "Little Ladies" by Vashti Harrison
- "Maddi's Fridge" by Lois Brandt
- "Malcolm Little" by Ilyasah Shabazz
- "Moses" by Carole Boston Weatherford
- "My Family Divided" by Diane Guerrero with Erica Moroz
- "My Hair is a Garden" by Cozbi A. Cabrera
- "Schomburg" by Carole Boston Weatherford
- "Separate is Never Equal" by Duncan Tonatiuh
- "Shining Star" by Anna May Wong
- "Something Happened in Our Town" by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard
- "Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong’o
- "The Boy and the Wall" by Amahl Bishara
- "The Day You Begin" by Jacqueline Woodson
- "The Proudest Blue" by Ibtihaj Muhammad
- "The Whispering Town" by Jennifer Elvgren
- "Voice of Freedom" by Carole Boston Weatherford
- "We Are Grateful" by Traci Sorrell
- "When I Was Eight" by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- "When We Were Alone" by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett
- "Young Water Protectors" by Aslan Tudor