A social justice holiday gift guide

Time stops for no one and it’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us. Truth be told, I historically love this time of year and I’m looking forward to being even more intentional and thoughtful about where and what I purchase for friends, family and loved ones. Let’s give gifts that promote diversity, inclusion and education!

Books for kids

Ada Twist, Scientistby Andrea Beaty (ages 5-8) – “Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source…Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science.”

Dog’s Don’t do Balletby Anna Kemp (ages 4-8) – Dog’s Don’t do Ballet tells the story of Biff, a dog whose biggest wish is to become a ballet dancer. He doesn’t listen to all the naysayers and proves to the world that Dogs CAN in fact do ballet.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (all ages) – “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 100 female artists from all over the world.” This book is a wonderful addition for girls AND boys. (Atlanta folks, Charis Books has this in stock!)

I am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (ages 8-12) – “I am Jazz tells the story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.”

Last Stop on Market Streetby Matt de la Pena (ages 3-5) – “Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine and the world around them.”

Books for adults 

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson – “Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Revolutionary Mothering, by editors Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens & Mai’a Williams – “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers voices who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day. Motivated to create spaces for this discourse because of the authors passionate belief in the power of a radical conversation about mothering, they have become the go-to people for cutting-edge inspired work on this topic for an overlapping committed audience of activists, scholars, and writers.”

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, by Jesmyn Ward – “National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.”

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander – “Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.’ By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control relegating millions to a permanent second-class status even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.” This is a must read.

Children’s Toys

I Never Forget a Face (ages 3-8) – “A wonderful way to develop an appreciation of multi-culturalism as well as enhancing memory skills. Includes 24 pairs of faces for matching.”

My Family Builders (ages 3-8) – “MyFamilyBuilders™ is an educational toy, it’s a fun game, it’s a conversation starter. It’s a handcrafted toy set that empowers kids to imagine freely and build thousands of possible combinations of friends and families that are as unique as they are. The set includes 48 magnetic wooden blocks and five games that create “teachable-moments” for parents to help their children understand and learn that differences are something to be celebrated.” My family loves this toy so much I wrote a stand alone piece about it!

People Colors Crayons (all ages) – “Our People Colors Crayons come in just about all the colors that people do! Children can draw family, friends and famous people, and make terrific self-portraits—whether they’re ebony, almond or somewhere in between.”

A gift for yourself: the gift of education

Raising an Advocate – Raising an Advocate is the brainchild of Danielle Slaughter, a local Atlanta mother who runs the website, Mamademics. “RaA 101: Exposing the Three Ps – Privilege, Prejudice, and Pride is a self-paced three-week online course that will push you past your comfort zone while helping you confront what’s holding you back from having the hard conversations around social justice issues.”

Raising Race Conscious Children – “Raising Race Conscious Children is a blog and resource to support parents and teachers who are trying to talk about race and diversity with young children. The goal of these conversations is to prepare young people to work toward racial justice.” RRCC offers webinars and consultations. The next interactive webinar is on January 22nd.

Safety Pin Box – Safety Pin Box is a newly launched project created by Leslie Mac and Marissa Jenae Johnson. “Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. Box memberships are a way to not only financially support Black femme freedom fighters, but also complete measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy.”


This is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully serves as a nice place to start. Atlanta folks, check out Rhen’s Nest Toy Shop in Decatur and Charis books & more in Little Five Points to support our local businesses. And of course, opting to forgo gifts to make charitable donations is always a great option. I also love the idea of giving the gift of an experience, like visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

What books, toys and gifts that promote and value diversity are on your radar? What are your favorite local stores to support? Please share below in the comments.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season. “Peace, love & justice for all.”


4 thoughts on “A social justice holiday gift guide

  1. Christa M. Tinari says:

    I love these great ideas- thank you! I am an expert in bullying prevention and social-emotional learning. I designed The Feel & Deal Activity Deck that helps kids recognize and communicate about feelings. This helps them develop their empathy, perspective-taking, and communication skills! (So importance in violence prevention and human development!) Teachers, counselors and parents are using the deck to help children (ages 4-12), in the classroom and at home. It was produced with environmentally-friendly materials and was made 100% in the USA, using small businesses only- from the artist, to the designer, to the printer! There is a short video (for educators) about the product here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfXsjrzu3i8&t=10s. It can be purchased at http://www.feelanddeal.com


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