Staff Picks

What We’re Reading

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

Cover of Todos Iguales: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove/All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon Grove.

In 1930, 12-year-old Roberto Álvarez was attending Lemon Grove School, where he and other Mexican American kids learned alongside their Anglo-American classmates. When his community discovered the school board’s plan to segregate Mexican American students into a far inferior “barn” school, they fought back, choosing Roberto as the plaintiff for their groundbreaking case. Christy Hale’s Todos Iguales: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove/All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon Grove tells the true story of the first successful school desegregation case through vibrant illustrations, sheet music for a bilingual ballad, and supplementary photographs and quotes.

Elementary School

A great example of the power of community action, and young students get to see children leading in the fight for their right to education.

— Matilda Morrison, Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board Member
Cover of My Footprints.

Feeling angry and lonely after being teased by bullies, Thuy walks home alone in the snow, making her footprints look like those of animals. When she gets home, Thuy and her two mothers imagine creatures who always have courage—just like Thuy. Written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Basia Tran, My Footprints is, for young learners, a good look at self-discovery and finding your courage and confidence.

Elementary School

A sweet and inclusive story about imagination, finding power from within, and drawing strength and courage from family and cultural heritage.

— Lindsey Shelton, Teaching Tolerance Marketing Coordinator
Cover of Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow.

United States history lessons often move quickly from the Civil War to the civil rights movement. But there is a fascinating history sandwiched between those two watershed moments. In Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow, Henry Louis Gates Jr. teamed with Tonya Bolden to flesh out the unfinished business of this period for young readers. In their exploration, they detail how freed Black people had agency in helping decide policies to ensure their full citizenship, which was later dismantled through discriminatory laws and violence.

Middle School

This book can help students contextualize how U.S. policy has framed and supported white supremacy—and acknowledge our rights’ fragility.

— Coshandra Dillard, Teaching Tolerance Staff Writer
Cover of This Book Is Anti-Racist.

This Book Is Anti-Racist, by Tiffany Jewell and illustrated by Aurélia Durand, is a much-needed guide for young people to understand and challenge the oppressive systems and interpersonal behavior that underpin our society. Filled with personal anecdotes and invaluable wisdom, this book provides space for young people to question dominant narratives about identity, race and racism and reflect on the intersections of their own identities. Throughout, Jewell embraces complexities inherent in discussions about racism, and she gives readers the necessary tools to be part of the diverse coalitions that will dismantle it.

Middle and High School

An individual commitment to anti-racist work begins with a catalyst—this book is poised to be that for so many youth.

— Christina Noyes, Teaching Tolerance Fellow
Cover of Welcome to the New World.

Based on the serialized, Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip by the same name, Welcome to the New World tells the true story of two branches of the Syrian Aldabaan family, who arrived in the United States on Election Day 2016. What began as a reporting assignment for New York Times journalist Jake Halpern—and eventually illustrator Michael Sloan—turned into a three-year collaboration with the Aldabaans. The resulting graphic novel explores universal themes: desiring safety and belonging, having hopes and dreams, and wanting what’s best for one’s family. Particularly through the experiences of high schoolers Naji and Amal, we also see the assumptions, stereotypes and lack of compassion that result when we fail to see each other as fellow human beings.

Middle and High School

A searing look into the ways American systems honor people’s humanity—and how they don’t.

— Monita K. Bell, Teaching Tolerance Managing Editor
Cover of The Silence Between Us.

The beautiful cover art by Deaf artist Nancy Roark is just one reason The Silence Between Us stands out. This lovely YA novel follows Maya, a Deaf protagonist, as she navigates her last year of high school, a romantic relationship and more. For the first time in her life, Maya is attending a school for hearing students, and she struggles with classmates and teachers who don’t understand or respect Deaf experience or culture. Written by Alison Gervais, who is Hard of Hearing, the dialogue mixes conversation, sign language and lip reading to tell Maya’s story.

High School

Introduces a story too often underrepresented in YA literature.

— Angela Hartman, Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board Member
Cover of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.

“This is not a history book. I repeat, this is not a history book,” begins the newest title from Jason Reynolds. Instead, Reynolds wants young people to see his text as a “present book” and a guide to have intimate and honest conversations about racism in America. In Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, Reynolds reimagines Ibram X. Kendi’s 2016 National Book of the Year, Stamped From the Beginning, a work that explores the origins of racist ideas in America. Very much like its predecessor, Stamped explores the insidious ways racist ideas may take form in the lives and experiences of young people and examines how students can make anti-racism a reality in their spaces.

High School

A timely and necessary work that shows young people they are not too young to think deeply about how racist ideas influence the world around them—and gives them valuable resources to challenge those ideas.

— Gabriel Smith, Teaching Tolerance Program Associate
Cover of Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners’ Success.

During these divisive times, it’s refreshing to find a book written collaboratively by well-known and respected leaders in the field of English language learner education, especially since it’s intended to be read and discussed in a group. Corwin’s Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners’ Success offers not only practical strategies but also a forward-thinking path to ensure an equitable, excellent education for all.

Professional Development

A thought-provoking text for a collaborative book study focused on success for language learners.

— Julie Bradley, Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board Member
Illustration of person holding and looking at laptop.

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