As the communities across the United States continue to grapple with racial injustice as it once again makes national headlines, your child may have questions and concerns.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, an award-winning picture book about a police shooting, addresses this important issue in terms a child can understand. It has been recommended by numerous groups as a useful resource in talking with children about racial injustice and trauma. It’s also one of the top 10 most challenged books in the United States in 2020, according to the American Library Association.  We felt like it was a good time to share the authors’ read-aloud again.

Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number.

From the American Library Association’s State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19, released April 5, 2021.

“Coronavirus opened a floodgate of misinformation. Library staff worked to eradicate misinformation about COVID-19, which was infused with xenophobia and especially Sinophobia, resulting in a surge of bigotry against Asian or Chinese people. Throughout 2020, librarians responded to misinformation about vaccines, the census, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 Presidential Election.

Additional report findings show that attempts to remove library materials continued during the pandemic, despite many libraries and schools closing or moving their activities and services online. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracks attempts to ban or restrict access to books across the United States and to inform the public about censorship efforts in our libraries and schools.

In 2020, more than 273 books were affected by censorship attempts. Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number. At the same time, books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people continued to dominate the list.

6. “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice,” by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin  Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views”

Read an interview with the authors.

by Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP

This Article's Author

Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP worked together for over 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. They all live in the Atlanta, GA area.
by Marietta Collins, PhD

This Article's Author

Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP worked together for over 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. They all live in the Atlanta, GA area.
by Ann Hazzard, PhD

This Article's Author

Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP worked together for over 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. They all live in the Atlanta, GA area.

Related Books from Magination Press

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

    Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP

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

    “Why did the police shoot that man?”

    “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.

    Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.