News & Media

Picture Books Help Create Conversations with Kids about Tough Topics

Reading the news these days can feel so stressful. People are hurting worldwide; we may feel stuck in our homes, worried about getting sick, or upset as our beautiful planet suffers through unprecedented forest fires, floods, and storms. Politics can feel ugly and polarized, and whether we intend it or not, everyone in the family picks up on the tense vibes—from parents to children to the family goldfish! 

Sometimes these sad feelings can create barriers inside homes, classrooms, or workplaces and make us feel alone, scared, angry, and hopeless. For kids, these feelings can show up as sleeplessness, tummy aches, clinginess, or even tantrums. 

It’s hard for little people to process big feelings—but books can help create conversations and restore hope! They can even help kids and families decide what they can do to take action when they feel scared or worried. 

This collection of books is curated to help families, teachers, and caregivers bond and begin conversations with kids about really tough topics.

Books that Help Kids Talk about the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Longest Storm written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino – “In the aftermath of a strange time, The Longest Storm feels like a validation—a blessing, even.” —Wall Street Journal

Sea Lions in the Parking Lot: Animals On The Move In A Time Of Pandemic by Lenora Todaro, illustrated by: Annika Siems – This picture book shares twelve fascinating real-life stories of creatures around the globe who reclaimed their habitat during the COVID-19 quarantine. Little animal lovers and aspiring citizen scientists will learn how to help wildlife by fighting habitat loss.

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow – A deep-dive into the 1907 outbreak of typhoid fever and “Typhoid Mary” is the perfect way to offer kids a historical perspective of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic that is gripping the world today.

Marwan’s Journey by Patricia De Arias, illustrated by Laura Borràs – Marwan’s journey is the story of one boy who longs for a home. Readers walk hand in hand with him as he looks forward with uncertainty and hopes for a peaceful future. This beautiful, heartfelt story gives a human face to the plight of refugees all over the world.

Idriss and His Marble by Rene Gouichoux, illustrated by Zau – When war threatens their home, Idriss and his mother must flee. He clutches his lucky charm―a single marble―throughout their journey, walking over hazardous terrain, crawling under barbed wire, and sailing on a fragile little boat. Will the marble’s luck help them avoid capture and bring them to the safety of a new world?

A Sky Without Lines by Krystia Basil, illustrated by Laura Borràs – Arturo and his mother are separated from his father and his brother Antonio by one of these lines. Will he ever see his brother again? But the sky has no lines, so Arturo dreams of flying with Antonio through the open sky to the moon, free of barriers.

WHY? by Nikolai Popov – A frog finds a beautiful flower and picks it for himself. When a mouse sees him with it, his jealousy overcomes him, and he swipes it. Frog’s friends come to his aid and chase the mouse away. But before the frogs can celebrate, Mouse’s friends return for a counter-attack. Before long, the conflict has devolved into a full-scale frog-mouse war. By the end of it, all either side can ask is: why? This seemingly simple book tackles an important subject and will be invaluable for talking to young children about conflict and warfare.

Evicted! The Struggle for the Right to Vote by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charly Palmer – This book sheds light on the little-known Tennessee’s Fayette County Tent City Movement in the late 1950s and reveals what is possible when people unite and fight for the right to vote. Powerfully conveyed through interconnected stories and told through the eyes of a child, this book combines poetry, prose, and stunning illustrations to shine a light on this forgotten history.

The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, illustrated by Charly Palmer – Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers’ March.

Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Sarah Green – The fight for women’s suffrage between women’s rights leader Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson is creatively presented as a four-round boxing match in this energetic nonfiction picture book. When Woodrow Wilson was elected President, he didn’t know that he would be participating in one of the greatest fights of the century: the battle for women’s right to vote.

Here’s to excellent books and excellent conversations that create informed and empathetic children! Read on.