Representation Matters: Book Suggestions for a Multicultural Library

As you build a library for young people in your family or synagogue, prioritize books that include diversity, multiculturalism, antiracism, and prejudice reduction. This list of books is a great place to start.

Picture Books

Chapter Books and Books for Older Elementary-Aged Children

  • Always an Olivia: A Remarkable Family History by Carolivia Herron, illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau: An elderly Black grandmother passes on the story of the family’s Jewish origins to her young granddaughter, Carol Olivia.
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Philip Hoose: A biography of Claudette Colvin, a teenager who was frustrated by injustice and – before Rosa Parks – sat down to fight it.
  • Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon: A later elementary appropriate account of Mikey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chauncey, the three young civil rights activists who were murdered in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.
  • Stealing Home by Ellen Schwartz: A biracial boy is left orphaned in 1947 and has to learn to cope with a lack of acceptance from his family while learning to accept the different sides of himself.
  • The War Within by Carol Matas: After General Ulysses Grant issues an order expelling all Jews from the territory under his control, young Hannah Green begins to question many of the values she took for granted, including slavery.
  • When Hurricane Katrina Hit Home by Gail Langer Karwoski: The story of two very different children who were both affected by Hurricane Katrina and how they learn what is important in the aftermath of the storm that changed their lives.
  • Whirlwind by Carol Matas: Two young immigrants to Seattle in 1942 bond as they endure taunting from their peers because of their origins. 

Additional Resources also provides an amazing bibliography to help you identify other books you may wish to explore. Not all the books are available for purchase, but it links to all books to Amazon that are available, even if out of print.

Looking for books and other recommendations for adults? To help guide those who are curious about antiracism and allyship on the right track, the Union for Reform Judaism has assembled a robust list of resources that provide an informative and engaging look into institutional racism, privilege, and the lived experiences of Jews of Color. See "Books, Films, and More to Delve into Antiracism Work," a robust and ever-growing list of media.