Books to Help Kids Make Sense of Challenging Current Events

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Photo credit: Cultura RM Exclusive/Flynn Larsen, Cultura Exclusive/Getty Images

My seventh grader would probably go through the roof for a signed poster of the “PBS NewsHour’s” Gwen Ifill, and regularly checks to make sure I’m still a “sustaining member” of our local public radio station. Her humanities homework includes presidential debate watching, and she and her friends often discuss sustainability activities and the latest on standardized testing (in between watching Drake memes on YouTube). I’m glad that she’s engaged, but also sometimes have to squelch my inclination to shield her from news that I’m not comfortable discussing. Today’s news reports or political discussions can sometimes be more disturbing or demoralizing than anything else. So how do we encourage young people to pay attention to the world we live in without feeling powerless in the face of what often seem to be enormous challenges?

Resources created to help parents and educators share current events with children and teens abound, from youth-created newspapers like IndyKids and classroom-oriented newsmagazines like Upfront. The Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility offers some helpful tips for how adults and children can discuss tough topics “in constructive, thoughtful, and sensitive ways.” And the books below can also provide a pathway for conversation, reflection, and action.

What other books and resources have helped you and your kids talk about the challenging issues we’re faced with?