Teaching Tolerance staff review the latest in culturally aware literature and resources, offering the best picks for professional development and teachers of all grades.
The pages of March: Book One take readers on a visual journey through the memories of John Lewis, congressman and civil rights activist. This graphic novel (part one of three), written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, flashes back to Lewis’s childhood, his growing awareness of race-based violence and inequity and his first encounter with the words of Dr. King.
middle and high school
“An accessible gem for creatively teaching the movement.”
—Adrienne van der Valk
In Out of My Mind, a novel for upper elementary readers, Sharon M. Draper tells the story of Melody Brooks, an 11-year-old who lives with cerebral palsy. Although Melody has never been able to speak or walk, she is gifted with an exceptional memory and a talent for words. When a new assistive technology device named “Elvira” finally allows her to have a voice, Melody sets out with courage, tenacity and wit to overcome the prejudices of her peers and teachers.
“A compelling story of what it means to be heard.” —Steffany Moyer
Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong and Learn reminds teachers how important it is to truly see our students. A combination of research and practice, this book by Dorothy M. Steele and Becki Cohn-Vargas provides valuable tools for creating classrooms in which students are comfortable enough to excel.
Incorporating primary-source documents, Neal Bascomb weaves a fascinating narrative around the search for and capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most infamous enforcers of the mass extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi is a wonderful resource for teaching middle and high school students about this shameful but important period in our world’s history.
middle and high school
“A must-read for any advanced world history class.”
When the poet who lives just above Juliana’s apartment introduces her to poetry, the girl no longer feels alone but instead learns how words can transform the world. Judith Ortiz Cofer’s La Poeta del Piso de Arriba, the Spanish version of the original The Poet Upstairs, combines with Oscar Ortiz’s lush images of tropical spaces and wildlife to illustrate the wondrous capabilities of the creative mind.
“A beautiful ode to the power of imagination.” —Monita Bell
In Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference, Howard C. Stevenson answers a question that is often left out of prejudice-reduction discussions: How do we help students of color negotiate racial stress? Promoting racial literacy in schools prepares students and staff to read, recast and resolve racially stressful environments that can undermine student success.
“Social emotional learning in a post-Trayvon Martin world.”
Although the protagonist of Louise Erdrich’s The Roundhouse is 13 years old, this novel is far more than a coming-of-age story. It’s a wrenching look at the many inequities faced by the Native-American community. Through Joe’s young eyes, we see injustice not as a vague and distant system, but as a personal tragedy that must be righted at all costs. With proper scaffolding, The Roundhouse can open the door to meaningful conversations about tough topics.
upper high school
“From antiquated laws to violence against women, the plot of The Roundhouse takes the reader deep into the realities of a system that relegates Native Americans to second-class citizenship.”
The 20th anniversary edition of Katie Kissinger’s All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color not only describes how people acquire their skin color—through their parents, their ancestors and sun exposure—but also offers wonderful activities for teachers to use with young students to help them better understand how their skin color is unique to their identities as well as respecting and affirming the skin color of their peers.
preschool and elementary school
“A must-read for pre-K-5 classrooms!”
We Don’t Need Another Hero: Struggle, Hope and Possibility in the Age of High-Stakes Schooling by Gregory Michie
Catch the Fire: An Art-Full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults and Communities by Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy
MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL
Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper
Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Hope Somewhere in America: The Story of a Child, a Painting, and a President by Sydelle Pearl, illustrated by Astrid Sheckels
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