A social conscience is “a sense of responsibility or concern for the problems and injustices of society”.
If you are a parent, then you know how hard it is to raise children right now. Have you wondered how to help your children make sense of these challenging times? By exposing your children to reading that is meaningful, you will not only help them to develop a social conscience, but you will also help them to learn to be the best humans they can be.
The books on this list will help you tackle those tough topics. It’s never too early to begin teaching tolerance and kindness. And it’s also never too late. Every generation can learn something from these books.
1. A picture book of Anne Frank/Adler, David A. Traces the life of the young Jewish girl whose diary chronicles the years she and her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. J 940.5318092 ADL
2. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban/Malala Yousafzai – Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Y 371.822 YOU
3. The drum dream girl: how one girl’s courage changed music/Engle, Margarita. – Follows a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters. J E ENGLE
5. Wonder/Palacio, R. J. – Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student. J F PALACIO
6. Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation/Tonatiuh, Duncan. – “Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California”– J 379.263 TON
7. Brown girl dreaming/Jacqueline Woodson – “Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and… Y F WOODSON
8. Last stop on Market Street/Matt De La Peña – Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby? Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty-and fun-in their routine and the world around them. J E DE LA PENA
10. Stepping stones: a refugee family’s journeySt/Margriet Ruurs – “In this picture book, a young girl and her family are forced to flee their village to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria and make their way toward freedom in Europe”– J E RUURS
11. Martin’s big words: the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr/Doreen Rappaport– A picture book biography introduces the ideas and accomplishments of a gifted and influential speaker by using some of his own words to tell the story. J 323.092 RAP
12. George/Alex Gino – “When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, really wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all” — J F GINO
13. Rad American women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future!/Kate Schatz – Presents a collection of short biographies of notable American women representing each letter of the alphabet, from Angela Davis and Billie Jean King to Yuri Kochiyama and Zora Neale Hurston. Y 920.72 SCH
14. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen/Jazz Jennings – Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community.
15. A Long Walk to Water/Linda Sue Park – (eBook) A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families. Online OverDrive Collection
16. Salt to the sea/Ruta Sepetys – “Winter 1945. Four refugees. Four secrets. Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept.” Y F SEPETYS
17. Loving vs. Virginia: a documentary novel of the landmark civil rights case/Patricia Hruby Powell – Written in blank verse, the story of Mildred Loving, an African American girl, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian boy, who challenge the Viriginia law forbidding interracial marriages in the 1950s. Y F POWELL