12 Children’s Books For Progressive Parents

by Sarah Cottrell

There is a sweet little children’s bookshop right around the corner from where I work. Sometimes on my lunch break, I like to pop in and wander around to see what new titles they have. I’m a sucker for a great book, and my kids get excited when I bring home a new bedtime story. My kids have books that cover topics that may cause some to raise an eyebrow. We go beyond puppies and unicorns over here. We teach our kids about diverse families and different religions. We teach them about equality and feminism and that diversity is what makes our country so great.

It is our job to mold the next generation to be kind, loving, and supportive. To do that, we have to introduce these concepts in an age-appropriate and engaging way. If you want to try expanding your child’s worldview, then consider some of these fantastic titles that will help them understand how being different can be an opportunity for learning about how amazing the world is.

1. Rad American Women A–Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History…and Our Future! by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

Perfect for grade levels 2 to 11, this book will walk your child through “A for Angela Davis” through “Z for Zora Neale Hurston.” Featuring 26 badass women who changed history and made the world a much better place, kids will learn that girls and women are just as kick-ass as men.

2. The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss uses his love of rhyme to teach kids lessons of tolerance and respect in the classic children’s book The Butter Battle Book, in which the Yooks and the Zooks duke it out over the different ways to eat their favorite treat: buttered bread. This book is perfect for all ages.

3. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Another timeless and important read by Dr. Seuss is The Lorax, a grumpy, fuzzy, little woodland creature who sounds the alarm on how devastating materialism is to our environment. He asks your child to help him find the importance in nature and to commit to being a good steward of the Earth. This book is perfect for all ages.

4. Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang

“No matter your size, shape, or pedigree — if you love each other, you are a family!” In this amazing book about the diversity of families, kids can learn that the most important part of a family is love, not what color, shape, age, or size a family is. This book is perfect for kids in pre-K through first grade.

5. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

In this moving children’s book, Curtis and Cornell show the beauty and significance of how a family created through adoption is also a family that is cherished through love. This book is great for pre-K through third grade.

6. We’re Different, We’re The Same (Sesame Street) by Bobbi Kates and Joe Mathieu

Your favorite Muppets have a fabulous book that explores racial differences and tolerance for kids. Through colorful pictures and inclusive language, this book will give kids a way to understand that being different on the outside doesn’t mean we are all different on the inside. This is great for kids in pre-K through second grade.

7. Who Are You? The Kids Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff

Gender identity can be a difficult topic for many parents, and in many ways, this book is perfect for grown-ups too. Intended for kids ages 3 to 8, this book covers how gender is experienced and gives kids a clear language for expressing their gender and for understanding others who express it differently than they do.

8. The Trials of Apollo, Book 1: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

In this epic adventure, readers in grades 5 to 8 will be introduced to characters who are gay and bisexual. These characters are brilliantly written, with the author being careful not to use their sexuality to ostracize or martyr people in the LGBT community. This book is great for older kids ages 10 to 13.

9. Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce by Tamara Schmitz

While divorce may be super common these days, kids don’t know that, and they certainly don’t feel like something as powerful and scary as their family breaking up is anything but common. In this sensitive and empowering book, kids can learn that having two homes instead of one can be just as great as having two strong feet to stand on. This book is great for kids ages 3 to 7.

10. The Paper Bag Princess (Munsch for Kids) by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko

Talk about girl power! This twist on the classic trope of boy-saves-helpless-girl shows kids everywhere that not only can girls kick serious butt, but they can also do it with big hearts and diplomacy. This book is perfect for kids 4 to 7 years old.

11. A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

This amazing board book is perfect for progressive parents who are “unapologetic about activism” and who seek to raise great people who believe in equality. This ABC book will teach youngsters the absolute fundamentals of what activism can look like at its best. This book is perfect for ages 3 to 7.

12. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and Mike Curato

In this beautifully illustrated book, kids will learn the true meaning of “love wins” as they watch one special worm fall in love with another special worm. But when the worms want to get married, everyone wants to know who will wear the dress. These fantastic worms remind us all that it isn’t who wears what that matters — it is love that matters. This book is perfect for kids in pre-K through third grade.

There are so many amazing books that teach progressive ideas and address important social justice issues. You can find one that meets your child where they are at, and you can learn right alongside them. Win-win!