Ellen’s Broom, written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Daniel Minter, is about an African-American family who live together as free people in post-slavery Virginia. Ellen’s parents can finally be legally recognized as husband and wife, and the broom that once served as their only symbol of marriage takes on new meaning.
“A joyful look at a rarely taught aspect of American slavery.”
What better way to convey the passion that drives social change than through poetry? Indivisible: Poems for Social Justice, edited by Gail Bush and Randy Meyer, leads readers line by line along a journey from social commentary to personal experience.
“If you love protest songs, you’ll love these poems.”
When Delia’s mom explains their new house is “perfect because we can afford it,” all the little girl can see is that it’s old and run-down. The House on Dirty-Third Street, written by Jo S. Kittinger and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez, tells the story of how a house becomes a home and how community is built when folks who need a hand come together with folks who can lend one.
“A story about finding hope in starting over.”
In Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, Diane Ravitch provides the reasoning and data educators need to push back against the market-based reforms that threaten our system of public education and offers a set of solutions that make sense.
“You’ll want these facts at your fingertips.”
A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America, Rebecca Stefoff’s recent adaptation of Ronald Takaki’s 1993 classic, holds true to the original’s exploration of the many racial and ethnic groups often omitted from the American story. This new version provides a more complete reflection on American identity aimed specifically at young readers.
middle and high school
“Page after page of ‘I can’t believe I never knew this!’”
—Adrienne van der Valk
In Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap, Paul C. Gorski debunks the view that poverty is a phenomenon driven by problematic cultural traits and illustrates the systemic inequality in opportunity that is actually at fault. He also offers strategies for breaking through opportunity barriers to reach students living in poverty.
“A crucial departure from the standard ‘culture of poverty’ rhetoric.”
Cheryl Rainfield’s novel Scars addresses a number of tough issues teenagers face—from family tension to self-mutilation. The plot brings home the importance of having someone to talk to and reminds us that educators can offer those listening ears.
middle and high school
“A glimpse into the lives of teens tackling tough issues.”
—Annah Lauren Kelley
Sonia Nieto’s Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms shows that thriving in the teaching profession is necessary and possible. The voices of real teachers and an acute look at U.S. public education and teacher-training programs help the reader realistically examine the teaching profession.
“Celebrates the amazing work talented teachers do every day.”
Peggy Moss’s Say Something, illustrated by Lea Lyon, is about a girl who goes to school and sees kids getting bullied every day. Although she feels for them, she never says anything. It is only when the bullying happens to her that she learns the importance of speaking up.
“Perfect eye-opener for little kids.”
I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl! by Betty K. Bynum, illustrated by Claire Armstrong Parod
A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk
The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream by Gary Younge
Youth Held at the Border: Immigration, Education, and the Politics of Inclusion by Lisa (Leigh) Patel