Staff Picks

What We're Reading

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

Calling the Water Drum book cover

Calling the Water Drum, written by LaTisha Redding and illustrated by Aaron Boyd, provides a realistic yet hopeful look into the life of a young refugee’s journey from Haiti to the United States. When Henri's parents hear of greater opportunity in the United States, they set sail in a small boat. Henri survives incredible tragedy on their journey and subsequently retreats to a world of silence. His only form of expression is pounding on a small water bucket until he meets a friend who understands.

elementary school

“An excellent resource for shedding light on refugee experiences with young students.”

Jarah Botello


Flying Lessons book cover

Ellen Oh, a co-founder of the We Need Diverse Books movement, has put together a delightful story anthology that lives up to her organization’s name. Ten top-notch writers for the middle grades, including Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña and Kwame Alexander, contributed to Flying Lessons & Other Stories, and the tales range widely in tone and topic, from silly to serious, from telepathic powers to learning to play basketball in a wheelchair. The unique perspectives represented throughout the collection reinforce Oh’s message: Everyone should have their identities honored and reflected in books.

middle school

“An essential story collection filled with memorable narratives that emphasize individual experiences and the universality of childhood.”

Tiffany Gibert


Chicano Movement book cover

“Educate for empowerment. Know how to talk about race. Capture the unseen. Resist telling a simple story. Connect to the present.” These are the five practices Teaching Tolerance considers essential for civil rights instruction, and Maceo Montoya’s Chicano Movement for Beginners is an excellent teaching tool that captures them all. Featuring Montoya’s cleverly illustrated sidebars and vignettes on little-known events and people in El Movimiento, this book offers an engaging way to introduce students to the long history of a movement that is too often limited to one-off lessons on César Chávez.

high school

“Looking to expand your students’ conceptions of civil rights history? This book is for you—and them.”

Monita K. Bell


Ending Zero Tolerance book cover

One size does not fit all, and this certainly applies when it comes to school discipline. In Ending Zero Tolerance: The Crisis of Absolute School Discipline, Derek W. Black describes the long-term damaging effects that zero-tolerance discipline policies have on young students. Black addresses this issue in three parts: the history of school discipline, the constitutional rights of students and strategic approaches to ending this epidemic in schools.

professional development

“It's time to rethink how harsh school discipline affects our students."

Lauryn Mascareñaz


Ada Twist, Scientist book cover

Ada Twist, Scientist is a beautiful book in the series written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. Ada is an African-American girl with a curious mind and a passion for inquiry. Undeterred by the mysteries of science, she designs elaborate experiments and looks forward to each and every challenge to discover where, how, when and why. Given that less than one-third of STEM careers are occupied by women and an even smaller fraction by women of color, this book is an encouraging portrayal of a little girl’s thirst for scientific knowledge.

elementary school

“A lovely example of the potential of an inquisitive mind.”

Soñia Galaviz, TT Advisory Board member


Rad Women Worldwide book cover

Rad Women Worldwide profiles 40 inspiring women from the past and present and from 30 countries. Kate Schatz’s brief, lively biographical sketches include Frida Kahlo from Mexico, Emma Goldman from Russia and Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma. Beyond the text, Miriam Klein Stahl’s illustrations, with strong colors and bold lines, compel even the most reluctant reader to learn more. The book includes a list of an additional 250 other rad women to study and ends with a moving poem, “The Stateless,” that will prove a powerful conversation starter for any classroom.

middle school

“This gorgeous book is an indispensable source of engaging, relevant texts for students.”

Hoyt J. Phillips III


The Radius of Us book cover

Told in alternating chapters by Gretchen Asher and Phoenix Flores, Marie Marquardt’s compelling novel The Radius of Us provides an intimate look at the trauma experienced by victims of gang violence. Gretchen survived a violent attack by a gang member in suburban Atlanta. Phoenix and his younger brother fled gang violence in El Salvador to seek safety in the United States. As Gretchen and Phoenix’s love story unfolds, they find support, healing and hope.

high school

“A very human story that highlights the struggles and fears faced by so many young undocumented immigrants.”

Lois Parker-Hennion, TT Advisory Board member


This is an Uprising book cover

Mark Engler and Paul Engler execute an ambitious study of mass mobilization in This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century. From marches in Birmingham, Alabama, and colonial India to student-led sit-ins at Harvard and resistance efforts in Serbia, the authors’ careful analysis shows that nonviolence is not simply a matter of morality; it can be strategically employed as a pragmatic political approach to achieving social change.

professional development

“A sweeping study of how mass mobilization changes the world.”

Alexis Ofe