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My original question was:

My 4/5 school students had many problems this past year with disrespectful
and intolerant behavior towards students who were perceived as different.
Differences included race, religion, ethnic background, socio-economic
status, you name it. We're trying to put a school-wide program into effect
this year focusing on diversity and tolerance. I'm looking to 

build up a section of the library with books or videos that might enhance
the program:  fiction, easy, nonfiction. Any suggestions for must have


Thanks to all who responded.  Suggestions follow.


Robin Canetti

Media Specialist

Joyce Kilmer Elementary

Mahwah, NJ



There is a great website called Teaching Tolerance that is a branch of the
Southern Poverty Law Project. They publish a monthly magazine (free to
schools) and have many free resources available (films, pamphlets, lesson
plans, etc.). They also provide grants to purchase tolerance resources.


Look at "Teaching Tolerance" on the web. I get their free magazine and have
used some of their free materials.


Best place to start is  Sponsored by the Southern Poverty
Law Center all the products and the magazine are free and of the best
quality.  Good luck, it is an ongoing battle.


How about THE JACKET by Andrew Clements or ACROSS THE ALLEY (picture book)
Richard Michelson and E. B. Lewis.  HUNDRED DRESSES would be great for
socio-economic differences.  I booktalked that book for Battle of the Books
this fall and the kids really responded to it=-surprised me.


I live in the Appalachian Mountains and we have no racial diversity in my
school. I purchase books, picture and novels with that in mind. The MS boys
and girls read through the Bluford High Series like wildfire. African
American High school students in an urban setting facing typical teen


These are picture books, but I think Hooway for Wodney Wat and the Tacky
series by Helen Lester are both really good teaching tools. Good luck!


I feel for you, we have a very small school which is 99% white, but students
are always looking to put someone down.  In the library I strive to make a
difference with my 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.  In forth grade we take each
quarter and look at a different culture - Norway (the early settlers of our
community),  Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.  In fourth
grade we spend the whole year learning about Native Americans (the state of
Montana has a push for Indian Education for All).  In fifth grade we look at
people who might be different in other ways, ADD, ADHD, seniors, etc.  I
find that I can teach everything we need to cover in the library through
these topics and books, it has been very successful.  I have also implement
the NO-R word rule in my classrooms (library and computer lab).  Many of my
older students call each other retards all the time, if they are caught
using the word or other name calling they get an hour of community service -
(picking up the playground and school area).  I intent is to get them to
understand that they mindlessly use that word and others without thought, so
my catching them in the act and calling them on it, has really lessen their


The first title that comes to mind is Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley
Mackall. Lara, new girl at school, is a 4th grader who weighs over 300
pounds, but has a positive attitude no matter what her classmates dish out.
The narrator is a girl who never joins in the teasing, but never does
anything to stop it, either. She lives with a hard-drinking father and three
older brothers, and years of living in a home full of shouting, threatening,
cursing, and more has conditioned her to mind her own business.


It's really quite a good story, and should open the floor for plenty of


I believe I can help. Our collection development department has several
lists of suggested titles surrounding tolerance/diversity for the elementary


To reach them, go to our web site ( You will  need to
register, but it is a quick process with no obligation to purchase.

Once you are  logged in, you can go to Quick Search and type in : 

tolerance. There are several lists , but the ones that may be most helpful
to you are:


Elementary Multicultural/Diversity Tolerance (214 titles) Diversity and
Tolerance in Picture Books (88 titles)  I think you'll find the lists
up-to-date and comprehensive enough for your purposes.


Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes


Here are some good titles, followed by approximate grade levels.

Argueta, Jorge.  Talking with Mother Earth (bilingual). (K-2)

Bunting, Eve.  Walking to School. (2-3)

Horvath, Polly.  When the Circus Came to Town. (5-6)

Kadohata, Cynthia.  Weedflower.  (5-8)

Lisle, Rebecca.  Copper and Amethyst (sequel). (4)

Lucas, Eileen.  Cracking the Wall.  (2)

Martin, Ann M.  Belle Teal. (4-6)

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley.  Cat Running. (5-6)

Uchida, Yoshiko.  The Bracelet. (1-3)


The book and song, "Don't Laugh at Me", by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and
Mary also has curriculum links. 


Have you ever come across Peter Yarrow's ( he of Peter, Paul and Mary)
"Don't Laugh at Me" program- all of the materials are free, and he and his
daughter Bethany or others trained in the program go to schools- links


We've been working on this for a while. One excellent source for titles at
all levels is the International Reading Association's SIG called Notable
Books for a Global Society.


Although it took almost a year to actually get them, I was able to buy their
official seal to affix to the books selected, and put a note in the OPAC so
teachers could find them easily.


Maybe highlighting each culture or difference as interesting and making a
display each month to celebrate it! 


At my last school we had a Haitian girl who had some issues like that, and
when we started celebrating her culture, she was very excited and the
attitude toward her became more helpful and almost like she was exotic.  I
remember her family didn't have very much money, so when they had "twin" day
at school, one of the other families bought her an outfit to match her
daughter.  I think the strategy worked pretty well.  Instead of teaching
tolerance, we taught education and celebration! 


Freak the Mighty By W. Rodman Philbrick


Book overview

Two boys -- a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny
Einstein in leg braces -- forge a unique friendship when they pair up to
create one formidable human force. Made into the film, The Mighty.
rce=gbs_navlinks_s> &dq=%22Freak+the+Mighty%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s


This is a great title... there was also a movie made about it in 1998 called
"The Mighty"


Also, here's the wikipedia article:


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