Young boy in red superhero cape and mask

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We all want to raise our children to be thoughtful, kind, empathetic, respectful of other people, not racist, not sexist, not homophobic, and aware that their experiences are not the only ones in the world dedicated supporters of the liberal agenda. If we’re going to raise good people social justice warriors, a good, progressive reading list is essential. But there are a lot of books out there, and it can be difficult to sort through them all.

So with that in mind, let’s crowdsource an official Mommyish reading list of progressive children’s books that we’ve liked.

Just a few off the top of my head that I’ve seen recently include:

1. Elizabeth Started All the Trouble – This is a brief, kid-friendly account of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. It starts with Abigail Adams and then moves to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and then Sojourner Truth shows up in the middle of it to say that black women are treated even worse than white women. It ends with women getting the vote, but there is more work to be done for real equality.

2. One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads – A boy with two dads, who are blue, gets a lot of silly questions from a girl who wants to know if blue dads are the same as other kinds of dads. Of course they are! He says, they’re just blue because they are.

3. Counting on Community – This is a counting book that also encourages sharing and community and champions active engagement in the world.

4. Frog and Toad – Everyone loves Frog and Toad. Over on Amazon there’s not a single bad review that’s not about a product arriving damaged, and that’s pretty astonishing. These are classics for a reason. Also, Arnold Lobel wrote them as part of his process of coming to terms with coming out to his family.

5. The Paper Bag Princess – This one was read at story time at my town’s library, and it’s great. A dragon smashes a princess’ castle, burns up all her pretty princess dresses, and kidnaps her handsome prince fiance, so the princess puts on a paper bag, tricks the dragon, and rescues the prince. But then the prince is like, “WTF are you wearing? Come back when you look like a real princess.” So then the princess is like, “You are handsome, but you are a butt.” And then they don’t get married.

Children’s books have to be fun and engaging for kids, but that doesn’t mean they all have to feature gender-conforming white protagonists. What books do you like that promote diversity and inclusiveness? Let us know in the comments so we can get a big shopping list together.