Marxists Internet Archive: Subjects: Marxism and Art: Literature: Children's Literature

Children’s picture books that have
a common theme of organizing/collective struggle.


Compiled for marxists.org by Karen Saunders.


Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins, Illus. by Venantius J. Pinto, Lee and Low, 2000

Aani and the women in her north Indian village organize to stop loggers from cutting their trees. Based on the 1970s Chipko Andolan (Hug the Tree) movement, which was inspired by the 1730 attempt to save trees in Rajasthan by hugging them. Pair with The People Who Hugged the Trees.

Freedom On the Menu by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illus. by Jerome Lagarrigue, Puffin, 2007

When eight year old Connie witnesses four young men it in for equal rights at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, she decides to help her sister and brother make signs for the cause. Pair with Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down.

Kid Blink Beats the World by Don Brown, Roaring Brook Press, 2004

Picture book retelling of the 1899 newsboys’ strike against two NYC papers, The Journal and The World. One caveat, the ending does the rest of the book, and the strikers, a great injustice, saying that in the end, both the newsies and the owners of the newspapers (Hearst and Pulitzer) wanted the same thing, more money.

The People Who Hugged the Trees, by Deborah L. Rose, Illus. by Birgitta Saflund, Roberts Rinehart, 2001 (out of print)

A picture book retelling of the tale of how Amrita and her fellow villagers saved their Rajastan village’s trees from the Maharaja’s woodcutters, back in 1730. 363 villagers sacrificed their lives to save the khejri trees for which their village was named.

íSi, Se Puede! Yes We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A. by Diana Cohn, Illus. by Francisco Delgado. Cinco Puntos Press, 2008.

The Justice for Janitors strike in 2000, seen through the eyes of the son of one of the striking janitors. Wanting to find a way to help his striking mother, Carlitos enlists his classmates to make signs and join a rally to support the strike.

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illus. By Brian Pinkney, Little, Brown, 2010

Based on the historic 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina. Told in free verse, with food-related metaphors, and powerful illustrations.

The Streets Are Free, by Kurusa, Illus. by Monika Doppert, translated from Spanish by Karen Englander, Annick Press, 1985

The children of the barrio of San JosÚ de la Urbina in Caracas, Venezuela San JosÚ de la Urbina in Caracas, Venezuela had no place to play but the streets, so they decided to organize to get a playground. Based on a true story, and available in Spanish as La Calle es Libre.”

Which Side Are You On?: The Story of a Song, by George Ella Lyon, Illus. by Christopher Cardinale, Cinco Puntos Press, 2011

Lyons tells the story of the 1931 Kentucky coal miners’ strike that inspired Florence Reece’s classic song through the eyes of one of Florence’s daughters.