Staff Picks

What We’re Reading

The Teaching Tolerance staff reviews the latest in culturally aware literature and resources, offering the best picks for professional development and teachers of all grades. 

Arlene on the Scene book cover

Arlene on the Scene
Carol Liu and Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone tell the story of Arlene Harper, a fourth-grader who lives with a degenerative muscular disease known as CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth). Despite fears about how her classmates will react to her new purple leg braces, Arlene decides to seek election as her school’s youngest-ever student government association (SGA) secretary. Filled with humor and heart, Arlene on the Scene is a great addition to any upper-elementary classroom.



Education and Democracy book cover


Education and Democracy in the 21st Century
Nel Noddings draws on John Dewey’s foundational work in her discussion of educational and curricular priorities for the 21st century. She invites “deliberate thinking” and offers practical thoughts on education in three domains: home and personal, occupational, and civic.

professional development



The Muses Go to School book cover

The Muses Go to School: Inspiring Stories About the Importance of Arts in Education
Editors Herbert Kohl and Tom Oppenheim make the case for the transformative power of arts education in this collection of autobiographical and interpretive essays. Featured artists and educational theorists include Rosie Perez, Moisés Kaufman, Lisa Delpit, Whoopi Goldberg and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

high school/professional development



I Have a Dream speech book cover

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech in Translation: What It Really Means
In this nonfiction picture book, Leslie J. Holland breaks down King’s famous speech, identifying contextual information and translating it into “kid-friendly” language. A particularly useful element is the explanation of allusions King made to historical events, concepts and documents such as the U.S. Constitution and the American dream.



A Face in the Crowd book cover

A Face in the Crowd: Expressions of Gay Life in America
This coffee table book, edited by John Peterson and Martin Bedogne, is filled with critical statistics about LGBT youth who are homeless, the damage homophobia does, and beautiful stories of love, family and coming out.

middle and high school


Who Cares about Kelsey book cover

Who Cares About Kelsey?
Kelsey had anger issues and ADHD, but her school rallied around her, using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and a youth-centered planning process. Filmmaker Dan Habib’s documentary about Kelsey’s journey includes a professional development kit with discussion guides, statistics and bonus films suitable for use with high school students.

high school/professional development


Soul Food Junkies book cover

Soul Food Junkies
Byron Hurt uses his own family’s health crisis to explore how the traditional food of the South reflects and intersects multiple dimensions of African-American culture and history. Teachers could use segments of the film to augment units on activism, food justice, health and the connections between personal and political life.

middle and high school




Professional Development

Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
by Emily Bazelon

Multicultural Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom: Approaches, Strategies and Tools, Preschool-2nd Grade by Mariana Souto-Manning

Character Compass: How Powerful School Culture Can Point Students Toward Success by Scott Seider


Middle & High School

Prisoner B-3087
by Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener and Alan Gratz

Sophomore Campaign:
A Mickey Tussler Novel

by Frank Nappi



The Favorite Daughter
by Allen Say

Letters Forever/Cartas Para Siempre
by Tom Luna, illustrated by Laura Alvarez

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