Call to Action: Tear Down the Wall!


“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall,” Donald Trump announced throughout his campaign. Mr. Trump’s words were met with the outraged cries of people across the nation, “If he builds a wall, we will teach our children to tear it down!”

Since the election, millions of people have been sorting through emotions ranging from shock to grief to anger.  A man with no political knowledge, elusive plans and hateful rhetoric won the presidential election over a woman with coherent thoughts, tangible goals and years of real world political experience. “Suddenly”, there are hate groups celebrating their new president and people openly spewing bigotry about their neighbors in grocery store lines, school playgrounds, and office staff rooms.

Trump appealed to the fear and pain of his followers.  He fed them what they wanted to hear and played upon their personal bias.  He told them that their problems were caused by groups of people who robbed them of their jobs, threatened their safety, and corrupted the nation’s morality.  If we could just put restraints on these people, then our economy would thrive, crime rates would drop, terrorism would dissipate, families would have integrity, and our lives could be so much better.  So, he told the people that he will erect a wall, search out illegal immigrants, revoke certain laws and make Muslim people register in this country and those who believed him fed on his lies until their terror started to subside.

If there was one speck of truth underlying any of Trump’s promises, it’s that there is a wall built by this country. It doesn’t just stand between nations but, also, divides race, culture, and religion from within.  It’s composed of racism, misogyny, fear, anger and bigotry. It benefits some and excludes most. Those who live within the security of its perimeters barely notice the daily struggles of those who live under the weight of its vulgar and menacing shadow.   It is this wall that we must teach our children to tear down, piece by piece, until it no longer separates the masses with its painful distortions.

However, this has proven to be a daunting task. Studies on racism demonstrate that it is subconsciously embedded within people, even those who do not label themselves racist, due to subtle messages in our media, observing the social cues of our caretakers, not experiencing cultural integration in our daily lives, and/or lacking healthy conversations about diversity within our households.


We must reflect on our own personal bias about race, gender and culture so that we can teach younger generations how to embrace the value of our differences through genuine understanding, compassion and inclusiveness.  It is our challenge as adults, parents and mentors to guide and educate our children through modeling and direct conversations, not only about stereotypes and racism, but also about the beauty of all skin, the strength of all genders, and the value of all cultures and families in order to empower them and build their sense of self-worth.

Some ideas to help you begin achieving such as large task is to begin with mindfully introducing new experiences through toys that represent different cultures and genders, museum exhibits that present diverse historical perspectives, the expansion of real life connections to people of different color and backgrounds, movies depicting diverse characters in a healthy and balanced way, and children’s books that build self-esteem, understanding and knowledge.


So, today’s Call To Action is the work of tearing down the wall.  Below are some mini-steps to help you on your way.  The list of articles, videos, and books is only a starting point. This CTA will require you to revisit it consistently throughout your child’s life but, I promise you that once you begin, you’ll want to keep going!

  1. Take an implicit association test to help you to begin to evaluate your own bias and watch these videos to help you think about both subconscious and conscious racism:
  1. Read these articles to obtain guidance on how to talk with children about diversity:
  1. Watch the movie Zootopia even if you do not have children.
    This movie will engage you all the way to the end as it covers diversity, racism, and stereotypes. Can you spot them all?  You may have to watch it a couple of times because it’s that good and some types of bias is a little more subtle than others.  This movie is a wonderful conversation starter for all people of all ages.
  1. Purchase a children’s book about diversity for the children in your life.
    If you don’t have children (or even if you do) please donate a book to your local school/library/pediatric waiting room/shelter program, or participate in a children’s book donation, such as:
  • Pajama Program donates new books and pajamas to children in group homes, shelters, and temporary housing
  • Project Night Night donates “Night Night Packages” to homeless children. These packages contain blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to help these kids in need “feel secure, cozy, ready to learn, and significant”


The Family Book by Todd Parr ages 2-5

The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. Parr’s message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in a playful way. With his trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families. Perfect for young children just beginning to read, The Family Book is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, promote character growth, and strengthen family relationships

Who’s In My Family? All About Our Families by Robi H. Harris ages 3-7

Join Nellie and Gus and their family — plus all manner of other families — for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal — and totally wonderful.

The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf ages 3-7

“While walking through a toy store, the day before today, I overheard a crayon box with many things to say…” Once upon a time, Shane DeRolf wrote a poem. It was a deceptively simple poem, a charming little piece that celebrates the creation of harmony through diversity. The folks at the Ad Council heard it–and liked it so much that they made it the theme for their 1997 National Anti-Discrimination Campaign for Children. Following on the heels of nearly a year’s worth of televised public service announcements, RandomHouse is honored to publish the picture book, illustrated in every color inthe crayon box by dazzling newcomer Michael Letzig and conveying the sublimely simple message that when we all work together, the results are much more interesting and colorful

The Soccer Fence: A Story of Friendship, Hope and Apartheid in South Africa by Phil Bildner Grades 1-4.
Hector loves soccer and dreams of playing with the (white) boys from another part of Johannesburg, but apartheid and racism are too prevalent. When, over the years, Nelson Mandela is released from prison and elected president, and then the beloved Bufana national soccer team wins the African Cup of Nations finals, Hector and one of the white boys bond over the soccer win and forge a new friendship.

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs Grades Preschool-2.
A young boy who is teased and questioned about being different (“chocolate me”) wishes for different skin, hair and a different nose, but his mother helps him see himself in a special way and to love what he sees when he looks in the mirror.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman Grades Preschool-2.
Grace has a wonderful imagination and lots of experience acting out exciting adventures and playing roles. So when her teacher announces that the class will put on “Peter Pan” Grace wants to play the lead. Grace doubts herself when classmates tell her she can’t play that role because she’s a girl and because she’s black, but her mother’s and grandmother’s love and support remind her that she can do and be anything.

Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad? by Sandy Lynne Holman Grades 1-4.
Montsho comes to his grandfather to find out: “Is everything black bad?” Montsho mentions “black cat,” “black sheep,” “black eye,” and black villains on TV as evidence. Montsho’s grandfather shows him why black is “one of the most beautiful colors in the world” by telling him about his African heritage.

Skin Again by Bell Hooks Grades K-3.
A brief call to look beyond the skin we’re in to who we are inside: “The skin I’m in/is just a covering./If you want to know who I am/you have got to come inside/and open your heart way wide.”

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz Grades Preschool-2.
Lena’s mother is teaching her about mixing colors and takes Lena on a tour of the neighborhood to see all the different shades of brown that make up the skin colors of their friends, family, and neighbors.

All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Got Our Skin Color by Katie Kissinger
Grades Preschool-3.
This bilingual (English/Spanish) book, with bright photographs, offers children a simple but accurate and effective explanation of the three ways we get our skin color (genetics, melanin, the sun) and emphasizes that our skin color is just one “of the many ways people are special and different from each other.” The end of the book includes a couple of follow-up activities.

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester Grades 1-5.
Lester uses his own story to emphasize that we all have stories, and that race is only one small part of our stories.

Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. McKissack Grades 1-5.
In 1950s Nashville, for the first time, Tricia Ann’s grandmother gives her permission to go to her “someplace special” on her own, reminding her to “hold yo’ head up and act like you b’long to somebody.” Along the way Tricia Ann faces bigotry, hatred and discrimination. She feels nearly ready to give up on getting to her “someplace special” until she meets a woman who gives her renewed courage and determination, telling her, “You are somebody, a human being — no better, no worse than anybody else in this world.” When Tricia Ann finally gets to her “someplace special,” she smiles at the sign that says “Public Library: All Are Welcome.”

Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson Grades 1-4.
Brewster is (mainly) looking forward to first grade. But when his mother tells him and his brother Bryan that they’re going to be bused to Central, which is mainly a white school, the boys are trepidatious. When the bus arrives on the first day, there are white adult protestors shouting and even throwing rocks. Things don’t get better inside when a white student starts an incident and Brewster, Bryan, and the boy Bryan calls “Freckle-face” end up in detention all day in the library. With the words of his mother in his head (“Maybe you’ll be president someday, Brewster.”), Brewster is befriended by the librarian, who begins to teach him how to read, and Bryan and “Freckle-face” end up bonding.

Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco Grades 1-4.
Mr. Lincoln is “the coolest principal in the whole world” but he struggles to reach “Mean Gene,” a student who bullies and uses racial epithets learned from his bigoted father. When Mr. Lincoln discovers Gene’s interest in birds, the two of them end up creating a habitat in the school’s atrium that becomes a bird paradise, including for a pair of nesting Mallards. And Mr. Lincoln is able to help Gene find kindness for other people as he feels kindness for the birds.

Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams Grades 1-5.
When a group of boys shout “a very mean word” at a young Desmond, he wants to hurt them back, rather than take the advice of his mentor, Father Trevor, and forgive them. “When you forgive someone, you free yourself from what they have said or done. It’s like magic.” When Desmond gets a chance for retribution, it doesn’t help, and he eventually learns the power of forgiveness.

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler Grades Preschool-3.
This rhyming poem celebrates the diversity in our skin and all the things we do in our skin: “… the skin you have fun in; the skin that you run in; the skin that you hop, skip and jump in the sun in ….”

 The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson Grades K-4

Clover and Annie live on separate sides of a fence that divides the “black side” and “white side.” Both girls have been told not to cross the fence, but no one said anything about sitting on top of it.

A is for Activism by Innosanto Nagara

An ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books.

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery by Jeanette Winter Grade 2-4

Meet two heroes of Pakistan who stood up for the rights to freedom and education in these inspirational nonfiction tales from acclaimed author-illustrator Jeanette Winter. Two stories of bravery in one beautiful book—including the story of Malala Yousafzai, a winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize! One country: Pakistan. Two children: Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousafzai. Each was unafraid to speak out. He, against inhumane child slavery in the carpet trade. She, for the right of girls to attend school. Both were shot by those who disagreed with them—he in 1995, she in 2012. Iqbal was killed instantly; Malala miraculously survived and continues to speak out around the world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work. The stories of these two courageous children whose bravery transcended their youth, beautifully written and illustrated by celebrated author Jeanette Winter, are an inspiration to all.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman ages 3-7

Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.” This delightful edition for a new generation of young readers features fresh illustrations by Laura Cornell and an updated story by Lesléa Newman.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi Grades 1-3

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace. How could he—a Gandhi—be so easy to anger? One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.
Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?
In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light. Evan Turk brings the text to breathtaking life with his unique three-dimensional collage paintings.

The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Cole ages 5-9

The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her. Told with Robert Coles’ powerful narrative and dramatically illustrated by George Ford, Ruby’s story of courage, faith, and hope is now available in this special 50th anniversary edition with an updated afterword!

Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio ages 5-9

“Where are the girls?” When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides to be the first. And she immediately starts off her political career as a candidate the school’s mock election! Author Kelly DiPucchio not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system, but also teaches them the value of hard work, courage, and independent thought–and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders.

Each Kindness By Jacqueline Woodson Grades 2-5

Each kindness makes the world a little better. This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team that created The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor winner Coming On Home Soon. With its powerful anti-bullying message and striking art, it will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down.

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel K-Grade 3

From acclaimed author Michelle Markel and Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet comes this true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This picture book biography includes a bibliography and an author’s note on the garment industry. It follows the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s, tackling topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry, with hand stitching and fabric incorporated throughout the art.

When Clara arrived in America, she couldn’t speak English. She didn’t know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast. But that didn’t stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support her family by sewing in a shirtwaist factory.  Clara never quit, and she never accepted that girls should be treated poorly and paid little.

Fed up with the mistreatment of her fellow laborers, Clara led the largest walkout of women workers the country had seen. From her short time in America, Clara learned that everyone deserved a fair chance. That you had to stand together and fight for what you wanted. And, most importantly, that you could do anything you put your mind to.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter Grades 2-4

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli ages 4-8

Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth ages 4-8

What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo’s cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires Grades K-2

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. ?She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just make her magnificent thing — she tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens. These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora ages 3-7

Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather’s wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. “There are more stories in the library,”Papa Grande tells him.  The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him. Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries–and education–can make possible.  Raul Colón’s warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás’s life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba Grades 4-7

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Eagan Ages 7-10

“Try to do as little as possible.” This was Dodsworth’s motto. One morning, on his daily trip to the junkyard, he discovers a pink refrigerator. There’s not much to say about a pink refrigerator, except this one had a note on it. The note said, “Paint pictures.” And so Dodsworth did. The next day, a new note appeared on the pink refrigerator. And the day after that, and the day after that.
Dodsworth liked doing as little as possible. But the pink refrigerator had big plans for him .

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell ages 4-8

Who have YOU hugged today? Open your arms to this delightfully tender, goofy, and sweet tale. Watch out world, here he comes! The Hug Machine! Whether you are big, or small, or square, or long, or spikey, or soft, no one can resist his unbelievable hugs! HUG ACCOMPLISHED! This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug—and this book!

Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates ages- 4-8

Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school. Despite her hair blocking the view of anyone that dares sit behind her and causing her to lose at hide and seek, she sings the praises of her big hair throughout this rhyming picture book. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated book is perfect for any girl or boy who has ever felt a bit self-conscious about their hair and may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school.

Mooncakes by Loretta Seto ages 4-8

Mooncakes is the lyrical story of a young girl who shares the special celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival with her parents. As they eat mooncakes, drink tea and watch the night sky together, Mama and Baba tell ancient tales of a magical tree that can never be cut down, the Jade Rabbit who came to live on the moon and one brave woman’s journey to eternal life. With a gentle focus on the importance of family, Mooncakes is a perfect book for parent and child to read together, while its educational aspect makes it ideal for school libraries that wish to provide an insight into a unique cultural holiday.

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin ages 3-7

In English, dim sum means “little hearts,” or “touches the heart,” but to this young girl, dim sum means delicious. On a visit to a bustling dim sum restaurant, a family picks their favorite little dishes from the steaming trolleys filled with dumplings, cakes, buns, and tarts. And as is traditional and fun, they share their food with each other so that everyone gets a bite of everything.
Just right for young children, Dim Sum for Everyone! celebrates a cultural custom and a universal favorite activity–eating!

Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park Grades K-3

Bee-bim bop (“mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells of helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and sitting down to enjoy a favorite meal. The enthusiasm of the narrartor is conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean-American family. The book includes Linda Sue’s own bee-bim bop recipe!

The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac ages 3-5

From an award-winning Native American storyteller comes this captivating re-telling of a Cherokee legend, which explains how strawberries came to be. Long ago, the first man and woman quarrelled. The woman left in anger, but the Sun sent tempting berries to Earth to slow the wife’s retreat. Luminous paintings perfectly complement this simple, lyrical text.

How the Stars Fell from the Sky:  A Navajo Legend by Jerrie Oughton ages 4-8

This retelling of a Navajo folktale explains how First Woman tried to write the laws of the land using stars in the sky, only to be thwarted by the trickster Coyote.

Thirteen Moon on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons by Joseph Bruchac grades K-4

In Native American legend, the thirteen scales on Old Turtle’s back hold the key to the thirteen cycles of the moon and the changing seasons. These lyrical poems and striking paintings celebrate the wonder of the seasons, from the Northern Cheyenne’s Moon of the Popping Trees to the Big Moon of the Abenaki.

Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher by Becky Ray McCain ages 5-8

While Kimmy’s parents look for a house close to Daddy’s job, Kimmy stays with her Chippewa grandmother. The bad dreams she has had still bother her. But with her grandmother’s help, she learns about dreamcatchers.

Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac Grades 3-6

When Ohkwa’ri overhears a group of older boys planning a raid on a neighboring village, he immediately tells his Mohawk elders. He has done the right thing—but he has also made enemies. Grabber and his friends will do anything they can to hurt him, especially during the village-wide game of Tekwaarathon (lacrosse). Ohkwa’ri believes in the path of peace, but can peaceful ways work against Grabber’s wrath?

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity with Empathy by Maria Dismondy Grades K-5

It’s Gabe’s first day of school in America, and he doesn’t speak English. This story shows how a simple act of kindness is worth more than a thousand words. Kindness really is a universal language.

Books for Late Elementary to Middle School:

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson ages 3-7

Born to parents who were both former slaves, Florence Mills knew at an early age that she loved to sing, and that her sweet, bird-like voice, resonated with those who heard her. Performing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired everyone from songwriters to playwrights. Yet with all her success, she knew firsthand how prejudice shaped her world and the world of those around her. As a result, Florence chose to support and promote works by her fellow black performers while heralding a call for their civil rights. Featuring a moving text and colorful illustrations, Harlem’s Little Blackbird is a timeless story about justice, equality, and the importance of following one’s heart and dreams.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin Grades 3-7

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges  Grades 3-7

In November 1960, all of America watched as a tiny six-year-old black girl, surrounded by federal marshals, walked through a mob of screaming segregationists and into her school. An icon of the civil rights movement, Ruby Bridges chronicles each dramatic step of this pivotal event in history through her own words.

Bud, Not Buddy Mass Market by Christopher Paul Cutis Grades 3-7

It’s 1936, in Flint Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:
1. He has his own suitcase full of special things.
2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!
Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor Grades 6 and up

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth Grades 4-7

For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. They flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer. But there is no factory, just a stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to work for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. Locked away in a rundown building, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again. But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys’ key to survival. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.

Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange Grades 3-8

In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater.
Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that “changed the world.” Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.

Esperanza Rising by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Grades 6-9

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.


As long as you are reading you are learning. Make sure your nighttime story is one that will make a difference to your child’s world. The only way to stem the hate in our society is to break the cycle and breed a new generation where love is love is love is love is love.

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