What is Social Justice?: How Do We Teach It to Our Children?


What is social justice and how can we explain it to our children?

Social Justice

Social Justice encompasses many great ideas. “The easiest definition presumes that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Teaching children that everyone is deserving of such things means teaching them to value diversity and all people,” according to Little Pickle Stories.

Examples of Social Justice:

  1. Getting involved in organizations or reaching out to politicians to provide more affordable housing;
  2. Working to improve urban/ low SES school systems;
  3. Reaching out to employers to promote paying employees paid minimum wages, higher wages.

10 Children’s Stories on Social Justice

Rather than trying to explain these concepts, it may be best to read your child stories about social justice and start asking your child questions. I’ve read the stories below to my own children.

Yard Sale by Eve Bunting. 

When a family has to leave their house and move to a small apartment, it’s hard to let go of things—but having one another is what counts. 


Mama, I’ll Give You the World by Roni Schotter.

This magical story about the bond between a single, hardworking mother and daughter is sure to be a favorite of families everywhere!

Mama I'll Give you the World

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boeltz.

This story provides a kid’s-eye view of a consumer shoe fad that rages through school.

Those Shoes

Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boeltz.

A warmhearted story about a young girl who finds a way to bring together the two things that make her most happy- soccer and her family.


Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt.

With humor and warmth, this children’s picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger.


The Hard-Times Jar by Ethel Footman Smothers.

A look at the life of migrant workers through a child’s eyes.


The Streets are Free by Kurusa.

This is a true story of the children of the barrio of San Jose de la Urbina in Caracas, Venezuela. There are no parks where they live, and the children must play in the streets. 

The Streets are Free

The Border: My Journey with Papa by Debora Mills.

Join a young boy and his father on a daring journey from Mexico to Texas to find a new life. 


A Different Pond by Bao Phi.

A Different Pond is a story about a simple event―a long-ago fishing trip. It is an honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son―and between cultures, old and new.

A Different Pond

A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams.

After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save their coins to buy a really comfortable chair for all to enjoy. 


How to Involve your Child in Social Justice Opportunities

Explore Fair Trade

What child doesn’t like to shop for cool items? You and your child can find fair trade items for your family to use or to give to others.

News Media

Find topics and news stories about social justice and tell these stories to your children in terms that they would understand, where justice prevails and sometimes it doesn’t.

Lessons on Diversity

Teach your child lessons on teasing, name-calling and bullying. If there are opportunities at your child’s school to get them involved in social-emotional groups or curriculum, sign them up!

Toys of Diversity

Buy toys of people of different diversity, watch shows with people with diversity, be involved in a diverse community and attend diverse events and festivals. These could be events with people with disabilities, like Special Olympics.


Be involved in fundraisers, volunteer work and food drives. Although this is more charity involvement, it is also important for children to have these experiences and volunteer to feel significant, to contribute and also to learn empathy about what struggles people are going through in their own lives.

This is still a learning process for me, so what are your thoughts and how do you approach social justice with your children?

Share your comments below.

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Morgan Metcalf
Morgan Metcalf has lived in Ohio her entire life. She grew up near Cleveland where she met her husband who serenaded her with 1980s Power Ballads. Fortunately, her husband convinced her to move to Columbus 12 years ago. She is often found chasing after her two rambunctious boys and determined little girl at playgrounds, at home, the grocery store… you get the idea. Because she loves chasing, in her free time you can often find Morgan running or working out to keep up with her active children and then falling asleep reading parenting books. She is humbled every day by the lessons her three children teach her. Morgan is passionate about encouraging and empowering parents and teachers in Positive Discipline. It has changed her relationships with her children in a positive direction. She is a licensed school psychologist and a certified Positive Discipline Educator with The Power of Positive Solutions. She facilitates trainings and classes for parents, teachers, and administrators.