Staff Picks

What We're Reading

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

Jessicas Box book cover

During her first week of school, Jessica hopes that the items in her cardboard box will help her make new friends. What will work? Cupcakes? A puppy? In the end, Jessica discovers the one thing that makes her worthy of friendship … herself! See what else is hidden inside Jessica’s Box, written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas.

elementary school

“A book about how true friendship cannot be bought.”

Jarah Botello


This Side of Home book cover

When Maya starts her senior year of high school, her plans for the future are all set: Maintain her “perfect” romantic relationship and attend Spelman College with her twin and their best friend. But plans change, just as Maya’s traditionally black neighborhood is changing—and Maya changes, too. See how in Renée Watson’s This Side of Home.

middle and high school


“This novel packs a punch for students in a decidedly not post-racial society.”

Monita K. Bell


Pig Park book cover

When a factory closing puts an urban neighborhood at risk of decay, the community bands together to bring the area back to life. In Pig Park, Claudia Guadalupe Martínez’ textured prose opens a window into the struggles, families, friendships, sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a community, told from the perspective of 15-year-old Masi Burciaga.

high school


“A vibrant novel of culture, community and social action.”

Steffany Moyer


My Mantelpiece book cover

My Mantelpiece: A Memoir of Survival and Social Justice documents the life and emotional journey of Carolyn Goodman, who lost her son Andrew at the hands of KKK members during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer in 1964. Interspersed with the poetry of her late husband, Bobby, the autobiography gives brief snapshots of Goodman’s journey as a wife, mother, activist and psychologist.

professional development


“A story of hope and survival that will encourage readers to endure.”

Jarah Botello



Juneteenth book cover

Juneteenth for Mazie, written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, tells the story of a young girl who learns about Juneteenth from her father. He tells Mazie how her great-great-great-grandfather Mose celebrated his freedom from slavery on June 19, 1865, and how her family and many others have remembered Juneteenth every year since. 

elementary school


“Simply beautiful.”

Maya Lindberg



None of the Above book cover

In None of the Above, I. W. Gregorio gives voice to an identity group not often heard in YA lit: intersex teens. Readers explore the complexities of growing up, understanding gender identity and being a good friend as the main character, Krissy, deals with her androgen insensitivity syndrome diagnosis. This work will give new meaning to readers’ understandings of tolerance and difference.

middle school


“Challenges the gender binary, explores feminism and friendship, and encourages tolerance.”

Sara Wicht



X A Novel Book Cover

With X: A Novel, Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon share the vivid journey of a young Malcolm Little and the pivotal events that led him to change his last name and join the Nation of Islam. Scene after scene, Shabazz and Magoon’s brilliant use of imagery draws the reader into Little’s life and choices until his arrest at age 20. This is a powerful tale of redemption and learning from the past. 

high school


“This is an important book for youth.”

June Cara Christian



The Dominican Experiment book cover

Identity, diversity, justice and action. The Dominican Experiment, by Michael D’Amato and George Santos, marries these core themes with real talk about the challenges of anti-bias education. When D’Amato and his students travel to the Dominican Republic, their classroom space is transformed into a window and mirror for universal injustices. Pushed beyond the perspective that tourism can provide, the students must rethink their understandings of poverty, race, gender, government and education.

professional development

“A moving story of one classroom forever changed.”

Rachel Buchan




Can You See Me Now book cover

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad
By Eric Foner



Can You See Me Now?

By Estela Bernal



Olympic Hero: Lennox Kilgour’s Story

By Joanne Kilgour Dowdy; Illustrated by Dillon Sedar

Illustration of person holding and looking at laptop.

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