Tuesday Tip: Raising and supporting activists in the age of Trump (with 5 book recommendations)

Here at CREDO, we know how important it is to raise an activist child, especially in the age of Trump. We also know how difficult it can be to figure out how to talk to children about the cruelty that is happening as Trump targets our families, friends, and communities – from family separation to the criminalization of people of color, the Muslim ban, attacks on the LGBTQ community, and more.

We found some articles we thought were helpful in thinking about how to approach these conversations in ways that are developmentally appropriate but don’t shy away from the real issues of racism, bigotry, and misogyny that are at the core of Trump’s agenda.

We also asked around the office for recommendations from a few CREDO staff members who have kids for books to help raise an activist. Here are five of their top picks.

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Firefighter, doctor, pilot. This ABC board book teaches children that to be an activist is also a good goal in life – that causes like environmental justice, civil rights and LGBTQ rights are worth fighting for. The alliteration, rhyming, and brightly colored illustrations make the pages engaging for kids while they come to understand progressive themes like community, equality, and justice. Nagara was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia and moved to the United States in 1988 to study zoology at University of California, Davis. He’s a founding member of Design Action Collective, a worker-owned design studio in Oakland, California dedicated to serving the movement for social change.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

This is the touching true story (yup, really) of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who raised a daughter. Roy and Silo do everything together. They sing, swim and, in 1999, built a nest and patiently began trying to hatch a rock. The zookeeper, Mr. Gramsay, noticed and brought them an extra egg from another penguin couple who would not be able to care for it. Roy and Silo hatched the egg and went on to raise the chick, named Tango. This is a marvelous tale that teaches children a happy, healthy family – whatever it looks like – is a natural family.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Last Stop on Market Street is a winner of multiple awards, a #1 New York Times bestseller and a celebration of cross-generational relationships that’s perfect for grandparents and grandkids. Every Sunday after church, CJ, a Black boy, and his grandmother take the crosstown bus back home. Along the way, CJ gazes out the window at the bustling, radiantly illustrated cityscape and wonders why his family doesn’t have a car and why he has to get off the bus in the dirty part of town. Grandma patiently answers all CJ’s questions with positive explanations and encourages him to see the beauty and enjoyment in his life and the world around him.

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole

Children, even very young ones, understand existential threats and feel anxious about them, like climate change. Kids learn about it in class, hear about it in adult conversations and see the frightening fallout – floods, hurricanes, and wildfires – on TV. The Magic School Bus, the best-selling science series of all time, presents the topic with Cole’s trademark humor and wit. In terms that are not too scary, 4th-grade science teacher Ms. Frizzle explains why our planet is heating up and suggests ways kids can help reduce the effects of climate change and feel empowered at the same time. The lively and animated color illustrations by Bruce Degen easily move the story forward.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

A girl-power classic. Written back in 1980, it’s one of the first – and still one of the best – feminist princess books. It arrived long before studies began describing the “Disney princess effect,” which makes young children more susceptible to gender stereotypes. Brave and smart Princess Elizabeth is all set to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon wings in, destroys her castle, kidnaps Ronald and burns all her clothes, forcing her to put on a paper bag. Clad thusly, she tracks down the dragon and Ronald and rescues her fiancé, who, to her surprise, tells her to go away and come back when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth rejects him and dances into the sunset to live her own life. The illustrations by Michael Martchenko are vivid and artfully drawn with an old-school familiarity.

The long days of summer are a great time for reading. If you’re looking for a book to read after your kids go to bed, check out our summer reading list.