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Rachael Walker

In this special series, children's literacy consultant Rachael Walker and many of the authors, parents, and educators she’s met and worked with talk about how books have changed their lives, how to bring books to life for young readers, and how to enrich kids’ lives with good books. You can also visit Rachael at her blog, Belle of the Book.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice

July 26, 2020

This guest blog post was contributed by Marianne Celano, PhD, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, who have worked together for more than two decades as Emory University School of Medicine faculty members serving children and families in Atlanta. All three psychologists have been involved in community advocacy efforts focused on children's behavioral health and social justice. Dr. Celano and Dr. Hazzard have developed and utilized therapeutic stories in individual and group therapy with children and teens. All three authors valued story-time with their children, who taught them important lessons about what children need from adults. Something Happened in Our Town is their first picture book for children.

What is this book about?

Cover of picture book Something Happened in Our Town

Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police.

Emma asks her mom, “Why did the police shoot that man?” Josh asks his mom, “Can police go to jail?”

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

The book includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and conversation guides.

Listen to the story

Hear authors, Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard read their book Something Happened in Our Town, aloud:

Read aloud tips for educators

Something Happened in Our Town is designed for 4- to 8-year-olds. It may be read by a parent or caregiver to a young child or by a teacher working with a group of children. These Read Aloud Tips for Educators provide guidance on creating a safe and inclusive environment for sharing the book as well as discussion prompts.

Additional resources

In this resource list, the authors provide:

  • books for young children about resisting racial bias and advocating for civil rights, accepting oneself and valuing diversity
  • books about racial pride for children of diverse ethnicities
  • books about Africa
  • books about slavery
  • resources for multicultural families
  • anti-bullying books
  • resources about community violence
  • resources about racial injustice for older children
  • additional resources for parents and teacher

Magination Press logo

Originally posted on the Magination Press Family blog.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943