Children’s picture books offer much to love: beautiful illustrations, magical beings and tales of adventure and friendship. These books warm our hearts and fuel our imaginations but a growing body of books for young readers expose their minds to radical ideas. We’ve had our first Black president, marriage equality is a reality and legalized cannabis is spreading across the country. How do we explain these concepts to our youngest generation? We compiled a list of radical children’s books that explain “not so far out there” ideas. Now is the time for our children to be socially aware, responsible and respectful of people who embrace or embody such concepts and these authors have made it all the easier.
Radical Children's Books

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
Nagara wrote this book to help children growing up in our current social landscape to learn about civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental concerns and general activism, and to feel comfortable coexisting with these concepts from a young age.
A Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy by John Seven
This smartly-written volume challenges kids to question established thoughts and norms in a fun way, to value kindness and community and to be unapologetically themselves.
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz
This feminist alphabet-style book teaches young readers about influential, essential American women of history, from scientists to civil rights activists, highlighting their contributions to society and celebrating them in all their rad-ness.
ABC’s of Anarchy by Brian Heagney
Appropriate for children of all ages, this beautifully illustrated book informs kids about anarchy and also about many socio-political concepts and philosophies such as gender roles and nihilism, and ends each page by posing two direct, thought-provoking questions for its readers.
What Is Punk? By Eric Morse
A volume of cultural history, What is Punk? teaches kids about the beginning of punk rock, hitting high points in London and New York with the Clash and the Ramones, and lets future punks learn their musical ABCs early.
Not All Princesses Dress In Pink by Jane Yolen
This empowering story teaches young girls about their unlimited potential. It lets them know it’s okay to have grass-stained knees and play kickball during recess or to like tiaras and the color pink.
Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
Promoting diversity and inclusion at every turn of the page, this volume for young readers discusses sex and the word’s many connotations in ways kids can understand and learn from. The book promotes acceptance of gender neutral characters and different sexual identities. Silverberg also wrote What Makes a Baby, which discusses the many ways children are conceived today, and is currently writing a third volume that will address puberty.
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
This smartly written kid’s book discusses Supreme Court case Mendez v. Westminster, which came before Brown v. Board of Education, and succeeded in desegregating schools in California. With translations of Spanish words and legal terms, this book promotes racial and ethnic equality within the Hispanic community, one given less attention in civil rights history.
Mommy, Mama and Me and Daddy, Papa and Me by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson
These two books focus on a simple day in the life of a toddler raised by a same-sex couple, doing things like playing hide-and-seek, having bath time and saying goodnight as a loving family.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
Based on a true story, And Tango Makes Three tells the tale of Roy and Silo, two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who love each other and, with the help of a watchful zookeeper, achieve their dream of having a family with the gift of a fertilized egg who hatches to become their daughter, Tango.
Stinky Steve Explains Medical Marijuana: An Educational Children’s Book about Cannabis by Maggie Volpo
Narrated by a kindly skunk, this humorous children’s book is designed to help overcome the social stigma of medical marijuana use and let parents who use marijuana for health purposes teach their children about being responsible with cannabis.
We certainly don’t see many of these radical children’s books over our trade counter, but we appreciate they are in circulation. Give us a call if you are looking for one of these books. You never know what radical treats we have in store and we’d love to check our shelves for you.