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2022 Best Kids Books For Littles
Social Justice Kids Books Curated by Actual Kids
[Image description: Raising Luminaries 2022 Good Finds]
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View the full list of 2022 best kids books here
For the full archives, you can find those here: All Good Finds Collections.
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Where Three Oceans Meet
While I loved this depiction of an inter-generational family of Indian-Americans visiting India, I thought it’d be too ‘educational’ for the kids to like. But R2 enjoyed this for several reads, and there’s so much to talk about on each page, it was a delight.
Between the three generations, we see how grandma, mom, and kiddo all enjoy different aspects of their time together in India. We get a quick geography lesson, and there’s something just fun about it.
Animal Rescue Friends
Light and fluffy, this is a quick graphic novel for kids ages 7+. I was a little nervous about the ‘evil blonde kid‘ trope (so common in books normalizing BIPOC kids), but it turns around well enough.
Kiddo visits her grandmother in Taiwan (not China!), hesitant about the distance and differences she’ll have to get used to during her trip. What starts out as unfamiliar becomes familiar – and beloved. So good!
While there are bits of Mandarin (both pinyin and characters), the book sticks primarily with English and only ever so slowly introduces new vocab for non-Mandarin speakers, making it accessible and giving kids a hint on how even new, confusing things slowly become common.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids
- #OwnVoices Kids Immigration Stories
You Ruined It
You Ruined It was written to support children sexually assaulted by someone they love. It’s masterfully done, thoughtful, and careful to make space for nuance – as are all of Anastasia’s books. Since it’s a validating book for kids with lived experience, I’m going to wait to introduce it to my kids.
We talk about sexual assault, grooming, and all that, so I’m not afraid to discuss the topic with the Earthquakes. I’d probably introduce it if there was any risk that they have been sexually assaulted. But these monsters ARE ALWAYS HERE AND THEY NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE, so it’s just not an experience they could have had yet.
The reason I want to wait is – this is a short, accessible book, and it’s intended to reflect the reader’s feelings in a quiet way that makes space for the reader. For readers who have never been targeted, they might come away with an over-simplified idea of what it means for a survivor to process and take back their power.
The vast majority of our kiddos will be sexually assaulted or violate someone’s boundaries at some point, if they haven’t already. Even if they aren’t, they will have friends and family who are, so this seems important to have even if it’s not a *fun* book.
So in our unique circumstances, I’ll wait till maybe 12? And then we can discuss it from the POV of being a helper and support for friends and family who are survivors. And as a tool to build resilience for when they are sexually assaulted or violate someone’s boundaries in the future. (I hope they won’t, but does ANYONE escape rape culture unscathed?)
If you appreciated this book, check out 6 Mistakes We Make Raising Sons & Recognizing Coercion & Grooming with Pretty Salma
I loved this! But it was very slow and reflective and not really the Earthquakes’ speed. Q was fine reading it, but I don’t think he really absorbed it?
I’ll wait until they’re a little older and more open to slow, reflective stories with nuance.
I can’t even add this book to any particular category – it’s not about immigration, because Indigenous people can’t emigrate within their own land.
What does it mean to be stuck between the imaginary borders and binaries imposed by your oppressors? Forced to comply, while also feeling a moral obligation to resist?
If you appreciated this book, check out more #OwnVoices Indigenous Stories.
You Know, Sex
Sex is a Funny Word is our favorite sex book of all time – and this ENORMOUS compendium of facts, concepts, and explorations expands on all of it for an older set of teens.
The suggested age range on this book is 10+, and it’d be helpful for families (mostly caregivers) to have this as a reference book for talking about menstruation, internet porn, and other modern sex talks in the modern age. And we can’t erase the fact that some 10-year-olds are being groomed already – and need information on sex ASAP.
However, most of it is centered on older teens and adults who are wrestling over hard questions, or something came up real life and they need answers. Which is why I have to recommend that you buy a copy to have in your home.
Normally I’m like ‘It’s okay to go to the library’ but this is more of a reference book that you want your kids to be able to pull off the shelf and reference when you’re not around. They shouldn’t have to ask you to grab a copy for them. And they shouldn’t have to navigate the freakish hellscape of the internet googling these things. This is a trustworthy resource that the makers spent 13 years carefully crafting to help kids and young adults.
Having a copy of this on hand will save you, and your kids, a lot of pain if kids can get answers from this book instead of risking the internet or internalized bigotry from friends.
If you liked this story, check out: All Bodies Are Good Bodies
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Smash The Kyriarchy