8 books to teach and inspire kids to become politically engaged

By Olivia Watson

Beloved author and activist Toni Morrison said, “Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.”

For kids growing up in this whirlwind of pandemics and politics, understanding our system of government can be difficult and daunting. Books offer young people an opportunity to make sense of complicated ideas and discover their individual power in affecting change. Reading, like Morrison said, is political action in and of itself.

We’ve selected eight books to help kids of all ages better understand politics, while encouraging them to realize their power as socially conscious, engaged citizens.

Citizen Baby: My Vote

By Daniel Prosterman and Megan E. Bryant

Ages 0-7

A child is never too young to start learning about their right to vote—especially with this adorable board book. While the narrative might be a bit complicated for little ones, the illustrations feature a diverse cast of babies learning about politics alongside their parents. Share with your toddlers now – this book will come in handy when they have more questions later.

A is for Activist

By Innosanto Nagara

Ages 3-7

Nagara’s vibrant, inspiring picture book calls on its readers to think about justice of every kind: from the environment to civil rights and everything in between. The illustrations are captivating, while the alliteration and rhyming help children understand and remember the definitions of freedom, justice, and advocacy as they chant along.

The Constitution Decoded: A Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation

By Katie Kennedy

Ages 10+

This carefully constructed, colorful guide to the Constitution is what kids have been missing. Kennedy breaks down the original text of this historic document into clear, concise translations of how our government works—including the role of Congress, how bills become laws, why we have three branches of government, and so much more. This book will encourage curious minds to keep learning and amending the American experiment.

This Is Our Constitution

By Khizr Khan

Ages 12+

Author Khizr Khan was born in rural Pakistan and immigrated to the U.S. with his wife in 1980. Together, they became American citizens and raised their three sons in Maryland. Khan’s appreciation and passion for the democratic values outlined in the Constitution shine through this book through anecdotes and accessible explanations. Khan analyzes articles, unpacks amendments, and studies Supreme Court cases while reminding young readers of the fundamental rights every human being is entitled to.

Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Journey to Justice

By Debbie Levy

Ages 10+

Levy’s biographical graphic novel celebrates the life and legacy of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruther Bader Ginsburg. Her inspiring role in changing the workplace and justice system for women in particular will continue to guide and teach young people for generations to come.  

Antiracist Baby

By Ibram X. Kendi

Ages 0-3

Equally important to understanding our politics is recognizing the role of racism across our institutions. American author, professor, and antiracist activist, Ibram X. Kendi, invites young readers and their families to understand antiracism through nine guiding steps. His poetic, powerful words offer an important opportunity to begin this conversation with our kids as soon as possible.

Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House

Compiled by Molly Dillon

Ages 12-17

Dillon compiles ten inspiring stories about the young women who worked in the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency. An inside look at how these incredible staffers supported the highest office in the land, and what they learned along the way, is sure to motivate aspirational, determined kids.

The Next President

By Adam Rex and Kate Messner

Ages 8-12

Rex and Messner cover presidential history with energy and color, revealing how presidents got their start and what their successors were doing in the meantime. Smart and insightful, this book teaches children that the path to the presidency looks different across generations, but one thing is certain: with hard work, determination, and vision, they too can be the next president. 

Olivia Watson is an avid reader and the creator of Lib’s Library, a bookstagram account that emphasizes intersectionality and challenges dominant narratives.

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