I try not to be too heavy-handed about politics with my kids but I do hope they will get some basics about how we are where we are. Here are two "messagy" books I've been reading to them lately:
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole is the sweetest little bit of gay propaganda you could possibly read to your children. It's the true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who entwined necks, vocalized together, had sex with each other (OK, that part's not in the kids book), and were finally given the opportunity to raise an adopted penguin chick. You have to be a truly homophobic grinch to remain untouched by what sweet dads the gay penguin pair made. And the story is not too preachy feeling - what kid doesn't want to hear about penguins?
Freedom on the Menu by Carole Weatherford and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue tells the story of the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins that led to the desegregation of Woolworths' and other restaurants throughout the South. I love how Freedom on the Menu emphasizes community action instead of just one or two key leaders. And even though it deals with the painful topic of segregation, it feels optimistic and hopeful about the power of collective action. The lunch counter sit-ins were started and led by college students and the book is told from a child's eye view which makes it easier for a five year old to connect with.
Bring on your suggestions for kids' books about activism and history folks!