10 Books about Police Brutality for Kids
This isn’t something we should be dealing with in 2020. This isn’t something we should have to discuss with our children. Moms and Dads shouldn’t have to worry about their children going out and living life simply because the color of their skin. The color of your skin should not be a death sentence. Hate is not okay. When are we all as humans going to wake up and realize we all bleed red. If you wipe away our color and look at the actual person we all can relate. Do better humans! Teach your children to do better. Lead with love. Stop all this hate! Educate your children, explain what is going on behind these terrifying news stories and the even more terrifying reality that we all live in. This list of 10 Books about Police Brutality for Kids can help you teach your children while have big meaningful conversations. Hate is taught, no one is born with it.
Picture Books Titles
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice
Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.
Momma, Did You Hear the News?
Little Avery becomes concerned after seeing another police shooting of an unarmed man. His parents decide it is time to have “The Talk”. They teach him and his brother a catchy chant to help remember what to do if approached by an officer, while also emphasizing that all policemen are not bad: A to the L to the I-V-E…come home ALIVE….THAT is the key!
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness explains how white Americans mistreated black people in the past and how racism continues to operate and affect both white and black people in this country. It presents things as a topic of fairness, which makes it easy for kids to understand, as fairness is a part of a child’s everyday life.
Middle Grade Titles
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.
Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.
Author, Jewell Parker Rhodes weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
A Good Kind of Trouble
Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?
Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.
Young Adult Titles
The Hate U Give
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I Am Alfonso Jones
Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.
When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
The Day Tajon Got Shot
Tajon is sixteen and black. He’s tall and skinny, and he has dreadlocks. Tajon works hard and tries his best to be good. He does O.K. in school. He has plans. He’s determined.
Tajon is the kind of son who cares about his family. He’s the kind of brother who stands up for his sister. He’s the kind of kid who dreams big dreams to get himself and those he loves up and out of the hood.
Tajon is the one who gets shot.
All American Boys
In this novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
There were witnesses: Quinn Collins and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
All of these books are great to read with your children, don’t run away or hide from this difficult reality. Teach love and teach peace. Be a support system for your children to ask questions about such a difficult topic, you don’t have to have all the answers, you can say you don’t know. You can learn together.