Social justice can mean different things to different people. There are plenty of injustices in the world, from animal cruelty to food poverty, to systemic racism and gender inequality. There are many worthy causes out there but which ones mean the most to you? And how might you go about supporting them?
Understanding equality and social challenges of the past and present is an important part of being a responsible human and will help you to be a more generous and rounded individual in the long run.
One of the best ways to become familiar with and learn more about social justice issues in the world today is through books. There are plenty of talented authors that have tackled some of the biggest social issues of our time in books designed for all age groups. So, we’ve compiled a reading list for you that explains some important social justice concepts in an approachable way.
🏃♀️Why social justice and activism are important
First things first: is social justice something that you should be thinking about? Our answer is yes. You are never too young to understand that the world can be an unfair place.
You might even have experienced some inequality yourself – sometimes school bullying can be attributed not only to misunderstandings between kids but underlying social issues like class, gender and race.
Understanding principles of equality and the long histories of injustices help us all to relate to one another's individual struggles and be more understanding and kind – that’s important at any age, right?
Learning about different perspectives and engaging critically benefits us all. Hopefully, reading some or all of these books will introduce you to some new ideas and support you in your quest for diversity, equality and fairness.
Books for 4-10-year-olds
The following 5 books will complement your learning at Primary School really well and should feel accessible, interesting and fun for you to get your teeth into.
👩🎓 Little Feminist
Our first recommendation is Little Feminist. This one is one of our favourite book sets! They are all about teaching equality and empathy – the main missions of the series.
These books showcase strong women who have had some form of historical impact. These are great as they teach history while also reminding us that strong women are everywhere and deserve our respect. What's more, these books inspire both boys and girls to be themselves and treat others with dignity and respect.
You can find the Little Feminist box set here
🔠 A is for Activist
A is for Activist is your typical ABC book with a progressive twist. All about the ways we can improve our political climate, the book goes from A to Z with bright, colourful images and inspiring messages about class, sexual orientation, body positivity, diversity and more.
As AK Press puts it:
“For families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.”
Find the book here
💪🏾 We March
We March is a book telling the story of one family in Washington during the civil rights movement in the United States. It talks about how Black churches played a pivotal role in the movement.
Organised communities and their wider support systems helped fuel the movement and church leaders were often at the forefront of this. This is an important story about the racial inequality that was prevalent in the American south.
Read We March here
📢 Separate is Never Equal
This brave story is about a girl and her family who are trying to end school segregation in California. Many kids often dread going to school but aren't aware of how privileged they are.
This book writes from the perspective of what it truly means to be separated in school and not be able to go to school like every other child. – a concept that seems difficult to grasp for most of us here in the UK today.
Get ready to open your heart and mind to the unbelievable experiences of children from the other side of the world.
Find more information about this book here
📢 Maddi's Fridge
With humour and warmth, this picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger.
Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighbourhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia's fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi's house is empty.
Sofia learns that Maddi's family doesn't have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she'll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she's faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi's empty fridge. What would you do in this situation?
Find out more about Maddi’s Fridge here
Books for teenagers
If the last few books were a little below your reading age, then take a look at these last two. They should offer a bit more of a challenge for a slightly older audience.
👩🎓 The Hate You Give
Starr is caught between the world of her primarily white private school and her primarily poor, black neighbourhood. When she becomes a witness to a racial murder by a white police officer, she needs to think about justice, and how to navigate what seems like two different worlds.
Maybe you’ve watched the heartbreaking film version of this book but – as is often the case – we reckon that the book is even better.
You can find The Hate You Give here
🔠 Our Wayward Fate
This is a powerful novel about being an outsider at school – that's something that we can probably all relate to in some way – this time, our protagonist is 17-year-old high schooler Ali Chu.
As the only Asian person at her school in Indiana, Ali first tries to blend in. Then another Taiwanese American student joins the school and together, Ali and Chase begin a whirlwind romance. With hints of Romeo and Juliet this retelling of a classic Chinese folktale is more than just a love story.
Find the book here