Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. – Yehuda Bauer
I’d add to to that…and thou shalt never, ever, ever raise a bystander. These ideas encompass a large portion of my beliefs and moral compass. Never being a bully or a bystander is something I believe so wholly that I’d go so far as to call it my spirituality. And every day I try to pass those highest of values on to my child.
And if you have scrolled my blog at all, you know I’m also obsessed with children’s books. In addition to loving just the beauty of children’s books in general, I use books to help tackle almost every challenging topic that comes up with my child.
Add those two things together and you get this short list of books to read with your child. Here are a few that I cling to in this often difficult world:
Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
This is an excellent introduction to collective organization and the power of the “people” in a labor strike. A group of cows want better conditions in their barn and they stick together until the farmer agrees to their terms.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr
I love this book because it makes us think about how we define peace in our own daily lives. Plus, I welcome the word “peace” appearing as much as possible in my child’s life. Keeping our eyes on that prize always.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
I love this one for calling out gender in race in a way almost any child in a school setting has experienced already. Kids are constantly trying to piece it all together and confront gender and skin color candidly and unabashedly in their everyday conversations. I love the reinforcement that gender and race should never stop a person from achieving their dreams. When classmates tell Grace what she can and cannot be – she knows better and doesn’t let them stop her!
People by Peter Spier
This a great worldview expanding book. It displays very different cultures and lifestyles right next to one another. My child can explore the pages of this one for over an hour and comes up with many questions for me about what he sees. One of the best conversation starting books we have.
I Am Martin Luther King Jr. by Brad Meltzer
We talk about Martin Luther King Jr. almost everyday at our house. Great for introducing the ideas of nonviolence, civil disobedience and working together in standing up for ourselves and others.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
This one is great for talking about bullying. Molly Lou Melon is an unconventional and fearless character and I think this is a great example of coming up with many possible solutions to a conflict. It also really humanizes everyone involved and I think that can be a helpful reminder in difficult situations.
Each Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson
Each Kindness is a story of what it means to be a bystander and to deeply regret doing so. It’s a very important concept in our family and our community and try to show my child at every opportunity that we are not bystanders, we don’t hesitate to help and to stand up for others if they need us.
Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
This is one of the best books out there for talking about race. Kids naturally notice physical differences and if allowed will talk about it freely and openly. There is some research showing that in families where parents believe they can be “colorblind” and otherwise don’t talk about or acknowledge race, children grow up thinking their parents don’t like people of other races. This book can help start the conversation and show your child you see and accept all people.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
This is an excellent introduction to environmentalism and how quickly a beautiful forest can be destroyed. The Lorax stick up for the natural world and “speaks for the trees.” I think it helps kids think our impact on the environment. It’s a story about respecting the Earth and what it means to speak up for it over and over if needed.
Share your favorites in the comments! ❤