STAFF PICKS

What We're Reading

Teaching Tolerance loves to read! Check out a few of our favorite books for diverse readers and educators.

'When They Call You A Terrorist' by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

In her searing memoir, written with Asha Bandele, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors invokes communal love and political resistance to jolt the public out of complacency and into awakening. With grace and vulnerability, she recounts in When They Call You a Terrorist an upbringing plagued by interlocking oppressions and generational trauma, and illustrates the gut-wrenching power of her movement’s message: Black lives must be recognized as worthy in this world.

professional development

“Unites the personal and political in honest affirmation that ‘all our bones matter, that all the broken pieces of us somehow make a whole.’”

Jey Ehrenhalt

'Benny Doesn't Like to Be Hugged' by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Purple Wong

Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged, written by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Purple Wong, tells the heartwarming story of friendship between a girl and a boy, Benny, who has autism. Illuminating Benny’s neurological difference, which includes heightened sensitivities, this book encourages children to recognize and celebrate diversity, from race to disability. It also reinforces the importance of respect through the loving and accommodating actions of peers and adults.

elementary school

“This beautifully illustrated book captures an environment that celebrates difference.”

Coshandra Dillard

'In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and FIVE BLACK LIVES' by Kenneth C. Davis

In this engaging and eye-opening YA read, we learn about the institution of American slavery through the experiences of five people enslaved by none other than four American presidents. With In the Shadow of Liberty, Kenneth C. Davis manages to do two things really well. The first is to paint vivid portraits of human beings who lived under the yoke of slavery while also sketching the big picture. The second is to explore the great contradiction of the American story: that the men who eloquently shaped our ideals of freedom derived their comfort and their wealth from forced labor.

middle school

“Recommended not only for tweens and teens. Adults will learn something too.”

Maureen Costello

'Long Way Down' by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down is a collection of poems that begs to be read in one sitting, describing one minute and seven seconds in the life of 15-year-old Will. That’s the time it takes him to ride an elevator down seven floors, and the time it takes him to decide whether he wants to kill the man who murdered his brother, Shawn. In his bio, author Jason Reynolds says he writes for “young people who are tired of feeling invisible,” a dedication that shines through every page of this book.

high school

“One of those books that makes kids fall in love with reading.”

Julia Delacroix

'Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women' by Brittney C. Cooper

When black women found themselves free from slavery but still extremely vulnerable and disenfranchised in their black, female bodies, how did they add their voices to movements for justice and equality? With Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women, Brittney C. Cooper charts the journey of black women thinkers’ meticulous and unorthodox cerebral work to uplift their race and gender, from the post-slavery era through the 1970s. They made the personal political and intellectual—and formed foundational social theories that predate such concepts as intersectionality. These days especially, it’s time to take black women seriously as knowledge producers.

professional development

“Put your thinking cap on and add these must-know thinkers to your reading list.”

Monita K. Bell

'Prince and Knight' by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis

Daniel Haack’s Prince & Knight tells the story of a charming prince who, at the behest of his parents, sets out to find the perfect bride. But not every prince wants to marry a princess. On his path to self-discovery, vibrantly and colorfully illustrated by Stevie Lewis, the prince battles a fire-breathing dragon with the help of a handsome knight—in shining armor, no less—and finds love in an unexpected place.

elementary school

“An inclusive story that explores sexuality, acceptance and love in an age-appropriate way.”

Lindsey Shelton

'Ghost Boys' by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes’ poignant and poetic novel Ghost Boys features narrator Jerome Rogers, a 12-year-old boy killed by police in Chicago. Only in death can he freely explore his city, meet the ghost of Emmett Till and meet Sarah, the living daughter of the policeman who killed him. Connecting past to present, the novel shows readers the consequences of racial bias and illustrates the importance of listening to the ghost boys, silenced by death and misinformation. Until now.

middle school

“The kind of book that will shape young people’s sense of justice for years to come.”

Cory Collins

'Children of Blood and Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone, is set in Nigeria-inspired Orïsha. Here, diviners, a race of magic bearers known for their darker skin, are treated like second-class citizens after being stripped of their full powers 11 years earlier. Zélie, a diviner herself, is chosen by her ancestors to restore magic and justice to Orïsha, but she’ll need all the power she can muster—and the support of friends—to succeed.

high school

“Presents nuanced discussions of colorism, class and justice all within an emotionally gripping adventure.”

Gabriel A. Smith

'Gender Diversity and LGBTQ Inclusion in K–12 Schools: A Guide to Supporting Students, Changing Lives' Edited by Sharon Verner Chappell, Karyl E. Ketchum and Lisa Richardson

Professional Development

Gender Diversity and LGBTQ Inclusion in K–12 Schools: A Guide to Supporting Students, Changing Lives

Edited by Sharon Verner Chappell, Karyl E. Ketchum and Lisa Richardson

'Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival' By Polo Tate

High School

Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival

By Polo Tate

'Forget Me Not' by Ellie Terry

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Forget Me Not

By Ellie Terry

'The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!' by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Elementary

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

By Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin