Books and Websites
Here are books, videos and websites that will help you teach any age child about critical social issues and the importance of reaching out to others. There are also resources for adults, so you too can become an informed and active citizen. We’ll continue to add to the list, so come back often. If you have any suggestions, please e-mail us. Click on a category below.
- Caring and Kindness
- Seniors and Aging
- Hospitals and Illness
- Disabilities and Disability Rights
- Animals and Animal Rights
- Preservation of Wilderness Areas and Parks
- Cleanup and Recycling
- Environmental Activism
- Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness
- International Relief
- Strengthening Neighborhoods
- Schools, Education, Libraries and Literacy
- Arts and Culture
- Politics and Candidates
- Social Activism
- Human Rights, Peace and Social Justice
- Volunteer Vacations
- Charitable Giving
CARING AND KINDNESS
Preschool and Early Elementary
Clifford’s Good Deeds by Norman Bridwell (Cartwell Books, 2010). Ages 4-8. While he has good intentions, Clifford’s good deeds always seem to result in wacky situations.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson , illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Nancy Paulson Books, 2012). Ages 5-8. When Chloe and her friends reject new girl Maya, she learns a valuable lesson about accepting people.
Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for you to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja (Duncan Baird, 2008) is a treasure. This book contains 20 modernized versions of ancient Buddhist stories. Most are full of whimsy and wonder, spurring on creative play, even as they teach about kindness, courage, and peace. Each story ends with a short restatement of the moral for reinforcement.
The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1998). Ages 4-8. Brother and Sister learn about the rewards of kindness when they help the elderly Widow McGrizz.
Chicken Soup for Little Souls: The Goodness Gorillas by Lisa McCourt (Health Communications, Inc., 1997). This feel-good story teaches the importance of reaching out to others – even the class bully.
If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover. (JourneyForth, 1989). Ages 2 and up. This funny book has a nice message about the impact of your actions on others.
Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness by Dawna Markova (Conari Press, 1994). Ages 3 and up. Stories of loving kindness written by kids of all ages.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson (Gibbs Smith, 2002). Ages 4-8. This book offers a lyrical and beautifully illustrated way to introduce and reinforce the “pay it forward” concept of kindness.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996). Ages 3-7. A grumpy, lonely man discovers the importance of friendship when he receives an unexpected package from an admirer. A compelling message about the power of kindness
The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009). Ages 5 and up. A wonderful story for inspiring a discussion about the power of friendship, appreciation for what we have, and the true meaning of gift giving.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 2014). Ages 1-8. The simple, classic story of a tree that will do whatever it takes to make a boy happy.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken (Scholastic Press, 2001). Ages 4-8. A great read and the perfect antidote to the season’s all-too-common messages of materialism and greed.
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press, 2002). Ages 4-8. Based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy, The Three Questions is the story of a little boy’s quest to discover the secret to being a good person.
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press, 2008). Ages 4-8. Muth weaves three zen fables into a whimsical story of three siblings who befriend their new panda bear neighbor. Each fable provides openings for discussions about anger and forgiveness, wealth, manners, imagination, patience, luck, and many other big ideas.
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa (Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers, 2007). Ages 5-10. When Mrs. Ruler’s class is challenged to perform as many good deeds as possible, they find creative and fun ways to give back to people.
Kindness Kingdom board game by Marvelously Well-Mannered, LLC. Ages 5 and up. The importance of manners and empathy is highlighted in this board game.
The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin (Watering Can, 2004). This book is a wonderful tool to help elementary school kids understand and set their own charitable priorities. This book is one part journal, one part work book, and one part cheerleader for the task of doing good.
The Giving Box: Create a Tradition of Giving with Your Children by Fred Rogers (Running Press, 2001). Ages 4 and up. The folktales and fables in this small volume encourage children in the spirit of giving. A “giving box” is also included — a simple way to make donating to charity a family ritual.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgens Burnett (Puffin, 2012). Ages 8 and up. When Sara loses her father, she must rely on her imagination, friends, and good nature to reclaim happiness. A classic children’s story that has also been adapted into a movie on several occasions, most recently in 1997.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgens Burnett (Daisy Rose Press, 2014). Moving from vibrant India to gloomy England, Mary Lennox is alone and bitter while living with her uncle, who she never sees. When she discovers the garden and all its secrets, she learns to appreciate the beauty that can be found all around her.
Buddha in Your Backpack by Franz Metcalf, illustrated by Monk Song Yonk (Seastone Press, 2003). Written for teenagers as an introduction to Buddhism. Includes sections on loving-kindness.
Choices In A Jar game by Free Spirit Publishing (2008). Ages 8 and up. Players are asked to choose between two options; some funny, some thought-provoking. Learn about yourself and what you value while playing this game that appeals to people of all ages.
What Do You Stand for? A Kid’s Guide to Building Character by Barbara A. Lewis
(Free Spirit Press, 2005). Ages 11 and up. The book includes inventories to get to know yourself and identify the characteristics you would like to develop in yourself. Each chapter then describes a characteristic such as caring or empathy, describes it, provides resources, and gives an action plan for developing the characteristic.
Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character by Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono (Templeton Press, 2014). How do you make sure that you raise your children to be strong, caring individuals? This book explore the importance of teaching them gratitude and offers stories and research that support their claim.
The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci (Penguin Publishers, 2006).
The Wisdom We’re Born With: Restoring Our Faith in Ourselves by Daniel Gottlieb (Sterling Ethos, 2014). Gottlieb encourages readers to reach their full potential by embracing their situations and understanding how to form new, positive outlook on even the most dismal situations.
Teaching Your Kids to Care: How to Discover and Develop the Spirit of Charity in Your Children by Deborah Spaide (Citadel Press, 1995). Practical ideas for instilling the spirit of compassion and community service in your children.
Acts of Kindness app: Simply choose an act of kindness and share it with your friends.
Way of Life: The Ultimate Habit Maker & Breaker app: Use this free app to track just about anything, from good deeds to mediating
The Center for Learning
Nonprofit educational publisher committed to integrating academic learning and universal values through the humanities.
Character Counts Coalition
A website that includes teaching materials for teaching children the six pillars of character including this one on caring aimed at teens.
Do One Nice Thing
Encourages individuals to start the week off right by performing one good deed each Monday.
Donate items (books, stuffed animals, etc.) to fill special bags for children entering foster care.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Organization that inspires people to perform random acts of kindness for others. The website includes ideas for random acts of kindness in the community and in the classroom.
Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers by Danielle M. Chery, illustrated by Jamie Forbes (GP’s Honey Tomes, LLC, 2013). Malik’s isolating attitude takes a turn for the better when he meets Michael, a volunteer that encourages him to accept that people can care for him.
Encourages children to start Kids Care clubs, groups that work together to complete service projects. Different projects with step-by-step instructions and resources are posted on the website each month.
Volunteering Smarts: How to Find Opportunities, Create a Positive Experience, and More by Sandy Donovan (21st Century, 2012). Find volunteer opportunities that align with your interests, from writing to cooking to marketing by following the guidelines in this book.
365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers: A Complete Guide for Non-Profit Organizations by Sunny Fader (Atlantic Publishing Company, 2010). Ensure that your volunteers keep volunteering by following the suggestions outlined in this book.
Citizen You by Jonathan Tisch and Karl Weber (Crown: 2010). Tisch and Weber offer practical tools, inspirational examples, and the simple, philosophical assertion that changing the world isn’t the dream of an 18-year-old but a way of living our daily lives.
Chicken Soup for the Volunteer’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring and Community by Jack Canfield et al (Backlist, LLC, 2012). Stories from people who have volunteered with large organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity, as well as smaller organizations.
How to Make the World a Better Place: 116 Ways You Can Make A Difference by Jeffrey Hollender with Linda Catling (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013). Learn what needs to be done in your community and around the world and how you can make it happen.
The Volunteer Management Handbook: Leadership Strategies for Success edited by Tracy D. Connors (Wiley, 2011). Ensure that your volunteer organization can last by carefully planning important but overlooked aspects such as staff analysis and policy making.
Network for Good
Search for volunteer opportunities or organizations in need of charitable donations. Network for Good also features several innovative and convenient ways to donate, including “good cards,” monthly giving, and the ability to initiate a fundraising campaign for a favorite charity by creating a “charity badge” that can be posted online.
Corporation of National and Community Service
Ever wonder how involved your state is with volunteering? Find statistics and research as well as resources about volunteer opportunities for your geographical location.
Points of Light
Provides links to volunteer opportunities meant to help strengthen communities.
Search engine that connects individuals to volunteer opportunities that can be done in-person as well as virtually.
SENIORS AND AGING
Preschool and Early Elementary
Effie’s Image by N. L. Sharp (Prairieland Press, 2008). Ages 4-8. When eighty-two year old Effie decides that she no longer has anything to offer the world, a neighborhood girl named Amanda refuses to let her give up.
Grandmothers’ Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures by Burleigh Muten. (Barefoot Books , 2006). Ages 6 and up. Stories from Senegal, Japan, Russia, Hawaii, Mexico, Ireland, Germany and Sweden that feature older women who are kind, intelligent and independent.
Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Jada Rowland. (Aladdin, 1998). Ages 3-8. A joyful elderly woman has a following among an ethnically diverse group of neighborhood children. When she becomes ill, the children get creative about how to express their love.
The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Kathryn Brown (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2000). Ages 4-8. When a lonely old woman meets a stray dog, she refuses to bond with it in the fear that it will die before she does, and she will lose another friend. This funny and touching story encourages readers to understand and sympathize with the trials and tribulations of getting older.
The Old Woman Who Loved to Read by John Winch (Holiday House, 1997). Ages 4 and up. A simple narrative about an older woman who escapes to the country to find some quiet for reading, but winds up plowing the fields, tending a lamb and repairing her barn. A light and amusing, non-stereotypical view of an older woman.
The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy (Dial, 1985). Ages 4-8. Story of a young girl’s bond with her grandmother, who grows ill while working on a special quilt for her.
Sitti’s Secret by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Aladdin, 1997). Ages 5-8. A young girl visits her grandmother in a Palestinian village. Their love transcends differences in language and culture.
You Most Certainly Can! by James Mathews and Ella Mathews, illustrated by Ella Mathews (Amazon Digital Services, Inc, 2012). Kindle edition. Even though Granny has Alzheimer’s, she still love to have fun.
Kids and Grandparents: An Activity Book by Ann Love and Jane Drake, illustrated by Heather Collins (Kids Can Press, 2000). Ages 6 and up. Some of these activities are for children and elderly people who share the same family, but most can be modified. The activities include food, memories, crafts and games.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork, illustrated by Lena Anderson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987). Ages 9-12. Linnea and her elderly neighbor, Mr. Bloom, visit Paris and Monet’s garden in Giverny. A delightful story of the relationship of a child and her older friend.
A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both by Richard Peck (Puffin, 2000 and 2002). Ages 8-12. A Long Way from Chicago and its sequel, A Year Down Yonder tell the story of Joey and Mary Alice and the adventures they have with their Grandmother Dowdel.
The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Random House, 2002). Ages 12 and up. Phillip is stranded on a Caribbean Island with an older West Indian man named Timothy, who he must depend on to survive.
The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, translated by Cathy Hirano (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2005). Ages 10-14. The friendship between three Japanese boys and a wise older man.
Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian (HarperTeen, 1986). Young Adult. The story of the friendship between Willie, a young victim of child abuse, and Mr. Tom, an elderly man who takes him in when Willie must evacuate to the English countryside during World War II.
The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again) by P.J. O’Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014).
If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians by Neenah Ellis (Three Rivers Press, 2004). Ellis records the stories of over a dozen people who have lived a century or more.
The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister (Bluebridge, 2010). As Chittister points out, life doesn’t stop just because you age.
How to Care for Aging Parents, 3rd Edition: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues by Virginia Morris (Workman Publishing Company, 2014). This book offers a step-by-step guide of how to effectively care for aging parents and all the responsibilities that come with such a task.
The Wonders of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After 50 by Michael Gurian (Atria Books, 2013). Look beyond the health changes that accompany turning 50 and examine the spiritual, emotional, and psychological changes.
HOSPITALS AND ILLNESS
Preschool and Early Elementary
Big Bird Goes to the Doctor by Tish Sommers, illustrated by Tom Cooke (Golden Press, 1986). What happens when Big Bird goes for his check-up?
Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark (Scholastic Inc., 2000). Ages 4-8. Franklin’s visit to the hospital to repair a cracked shell can introduce young children to all aspects of a hospital stay.
Going to the Hospital by Fred Rogers, photographs by Jim Judkis (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997). Ages 2-6. A comforting look at hospitals and hospital procedures thorough the experiences of two young children.
The Surgery Book: For Kids by Shivana Bhatia, MD (Authorhouse, 2010). Iggy has to get his tonsils taken out. What could otherwise be a scary experience for a young boy turns into a fun-filled time.
Why Are You So Scared?: A Child’s Book about Parents with PTSD by Beth Andrews, illustrated by Katherine Kirkland (Magination Press, 2011). Ages 5 and up. Using kid-friendly language, this book gives an overview of how to create a harmonious household when a parent is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Wishing Wellness: A Workbook for Children of Parents With Mental Illness by Lisa Anne Clarke (Magination Pr., 2006). Ages 6 and up. This book allows and encourages children to express their feelings when facing a life with parents with a mental illness
My Trip to the Hospital by Mercer Mayer (HarperFestival, 2005). Ages 4-8. Little Critter must go to the hospital for the first time when he breaks his leg during a soccer game.
Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen (Scholastic, Inc., 1990) Ages 4-8. For kids interested in medicine, a fun and informative journey through the human body.
Because of Anya by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Aladdin, 2004). Ages 8-12. The story of a young girl diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease and her attempts to hide her illness in order to lead a normal life.
An Elephant in the Room by Jill M. Hastings and Marion H. Typpo ( Hzelden, 1994). Ages 9 and up. Aimed at children and other young relatives of people struggling with alcoholism, this book can open up communication between children and adults about what can be a very confusing topic for children to understand.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, paintings by Ronald Himmler (Puffin, 2004). Ages 8-12. A young Hiroshima girl in the 1940s is sick with leukemia from atom bomb radiation. Legend says that if she folds a thousand paper cranes she’ll get healthy; she decides to try. A true story of courage.
You Shouldn’t Have To Say Goodbye by Patricia Hermes (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2008). Ages 9-12. When Sarah’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, her family must deal with feelings of pain and loss.
Doctor Wars Board Game by Lurp Designs LLC. Ages 10 and up. Collect points while you treat patients. No knowledge of medicine required, only a sense of humor!
Chandra’s Secrets by Allan Straton (Annick Press, 2004). Young Adult. The story of a teenage girl in Africa affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Deenie by Judy Blume (Delacorte Books for Young Reader, 2010). Ages 12 and up. A young girl copes with scoliosis.
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2005). Ages 8-12. The story of a teenage girl suffering from synesthesia, a rare disease where colors are seen in sounds, numbers, and letters.
Young People and Chronic Illness: True Stories, Help and Hope by Kelly Huegel (Free Spirit Publishing, 1998) Teens can learn about others their age struggling with diabetes, epilepsy and other chronic illnesses.
The Dawn Rochelle series and other fictional books by Lurlene McDaniel focus on teenagers who are diagnosed with cancer and other diseases while also experiencing heartache, high school, and family problems.
Always on Call: When Illness Turns Families into Caregivers by Carole Levine (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004). When illness plagues a family, this commonly leads to taking on the additional task of caregiver. This book offers suggestions on how to juggle these new responsibilities and provides personal insight into the subject.
Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD by Cynthia Orange (Hazelden, 2010). When a loved one is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, family members and friends can face uncertainty on how to act. Cynthia Orange’s book outlines how to balance the needs and fears of others with still having a healthy family living situation.
Run by The American Academy of Pediatrics, this website provides invaluable resources on a variety of topics, such as healthy living, family life, and health issues.
Organization that grants wishes to adults with terminal illnesses. Includes several ways to help, including “adopting” a dream.
Make security blankets for children who are seriously ill or traumatized. The website provides free blanket patterns and links to local chapters.
Help fulfill the wishes of children with terminal illnesses.
DISABILITIES AND DISABILITY RIGHTS
Preschool and Early Elementary
All About My Brother by Sarah Peralta (Autism Asperger Publishing Company, 2002). Ages 4 and up. In All About My Brother, a young girl introduces the reader to her younger brother, who is autistic. The book was both written and illustrated by 8-year-old Sarah Peralta.
Best Friend on Wheels by Debra Shirley (Albert Whitman, 2008). Ages 4-8. When the narrator’s teacher asks her to show the new girl around the school, she is nervous because the girl is in a wheelchair. When the two girls begin to talk, however, they find that they are more alike than different.
Don’t Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability by Pat Thomas, illustrated by Lesley Harker (Barron’s Educational Series, 2005). Ages 4-8. Reassuring book that answers common questions and concerns about disability and children with special needs.
My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woolson, illustrated by Bryan Gough (Woodbine House, 2003). Ages 4-8. The story of Charlie and his friend Isabelle, who has Down Syndrome. Their special relationship demonstrates how differences among people make the world more fun and interesting.
Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book by Celeste Shally, illustrated by David Harrington (Awaken Specialty Press, 2007). Ages 4-8. The story of a friendship between two boys, one who has autism and one who does not. Since We’re Friends demonstrates how children can establish friendships with those who are different from them through compassion and understanding.
Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism by Alexandra Jessup Altman, illustrated by Susan Keeter (Albert Whitman, 2008). Ages 4-8. Waiting for Benjamin deals with the complex emotions experienced by the brother of a boy with autism, such as embarrassment, jealousy, and eventually, pride.
Zoom! By Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko (Cartwheel, 2004). Ages 4-8. When Lauretta get the fastest, fanciest wheelchair she can, all sorts of trouble seem to follow her.
The Disability Rights Movement by Deborah Kent, illustrated by Kathryn A. Quinlan (Grolier Publishing, 1997). Ages 11 and up. A narrative history of the struggle for people with disabilities to be heard.
Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin (Simon and Schuster, 2002). Ages 8-12. The story of the friendship between a deaf child and a hearing child.
Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1989). Ages 7-10. The story of Helen Keller and her friendship with Annie Sullivan, the woman who taught Helen to read and speak.
Looking After Louis by Lesly Ely (Albert Whitman & Company, 2004). Ages 7-10. When Louis, a boy with autism, joins Miss Owlie’s class, his classmates are unsure of how to respond to him and think it’s unfair that he sometimes gets special treatment. However, through Miss Owlie’s encouragement, Louis’s class learns about sensitivity and how they can include Louis in their activities.
Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind by Margaret Davidson (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1991). Ages 7-10. Biography of Louis Braille, a man who was born blind and went on to develop the Braille system of printing for the blind.
My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt (Yearling, 2000). Ages 9-12. Set in the South in the 1950s, My Louisiana Sky is the story of Tiger Ann Parker, a young girl who must care for her mentally-handicapped parents and deal with change and the death of her grandmother.
My Name Is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1995). Ages 9-12. The story of a young boy who struggles with dyslexia, but is able to get the help he needs through the assistance of a teacher who recognizes the symptoms.
Tangerine by Edward Bloor (Harcourt Paperbacks, 2006). Ages 10-14. The story of a legally blind boy living in the shadow of his football star older brother.
Acorn People by Ron Jones (Laurel Leaf, 1996). Ages 12 and up. Acorn People is the true story of Ron Jones, a camp counselor at a camp for disabled children and the friendship he forms with the amazing group of campers he leads.
The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-so-obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens With Asperger Syndrome by Jennifer Cook O’Toole (Jessica Kingsley Pub., 2012). This book is a how-to guide for young adults—and their parents—on being a teenager while also having Asperger’s.
Extraordinary People with Disabilities by Deborah Kent and Kathryn A. Quinlan (Grolier Publishing, 1997). Ages 11 and up. Brief stories of 48 famous people who dealt with disabilities, including Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and Tom Cruise.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Spark, 2011). Ages 11 and up. When Piper is given the task of managing a popular local band, she isn’t sure that she is the right person for the job, considering that she is deaf.
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick (Scholastic, 2001). Ages 8-12. Two boys with disabilities form a unique and powerful friendship.
Izzy, Willy, Nilly by Cynthia Voigt (Simon and Schuster, 1995). Ages 12 and up. Fifteen-year-old Isobel loses her leg in a car accident and learns to cope with her disability.
Owning It: Stories about Teens with Disabilities by Donald R. Gallo (Candlewick, 2010). Ages 12 and up. A collection of stories about individuals coping with disabilities and trying to lead normal teenage lives.
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen (Hyperion Press, 2010). Ages 9-12. Petey, who has cerebral palsy, is misdiagnosed as an infant and raised in an insane asylum. This is the story of his struggles and friendships, especially with a lonely preteen named Trevor.
Probably Still Nick Swansen by Virginia Euwer Wolf (Simon Pulse, 2002). Ages 12 and up. Written from the point-of-view of a 16-year-old Special Ed student, Probably Still Nick Swansen emphasizes that the problems faced by these students are no different than those of any other teenager.
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsay Leavitt (Bloomsbury USA Children, 2011). Ages 12-17. When Payton Gritas’ father is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis , she finds something new to focus on.
Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young, but didn’t let it stop her from creating a humane way for livestock cattle to be handled. She also obtained her doctoral degree in animal science and created the “hug box” which is used to soothe people with hypersensitive tendencies. Her life and contributions to animal science and the autistic community are also featured in the film Temple Grandin.
A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielson (Beacon Press, 2013). The history of disabled persons in the US is traced from hundreds of years ago to the present day, with emphasis placed on how they helped to shape the country’s identity.
The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation by Doris Fleischer and Frieda Zames (Temple University Press, 2011). How has the plight of people with disabilities changed? Fleischer and Zames examine their struggles and how laws have impacted them.
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Soloman (Scribner, 2013). Soloman challenges the definition of a “normal” family by profiling families made up of children with afflictions such as Down Syndrome or schizophrenia while exploring topics such as nature versus nurture and how parents fight to create a supportive and structured environment for their children.
ANIMALS AND ANIMAL RIGHTS
Preschool and Early Elementary
The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest, illustrated by Amy Bates (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008). Ages 3-7. A lonely little girl and a lonely pup find a best friend in one another.
I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm (Dragonfly Books, 1988). Ages 3-7. This book is an excellent and simple story about losing a beloved pet.
Unlikely Friendships: 47Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland (Workman Publishing Company, 2011). Ages 3 and up. While they may not be the same species, animals can still be friends with one another. Learn about the incredible bonds between a cat and a dog, a lion and a calf, and other animals in this heartwarming book.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With Chimps by Jeanette Winter (Schwartz & Wade, 2011). Ages 4-8. Told through illustrations, Jane Goodall’s life is traced from her life in London to her time in Africa, studying chimps.
One Day at Wood Green Animal Shelter by Patricia Casey (Candlewick Press, 2001). Learn about the workings of a humane society from this informative and lively book. Perfect for young animal lovers.
Every Living Thing by Cynthia Rylant (Aladdin, 1988). Ages 10-14. A collection of twelve short stories about individuals whose lives are touched by their encounters with animals.
Vet Volunteer Series by Laurie Halse Anderson (Puffin). Ages 9-12. Series of books about a veterinary clinic and its young volunteers who confront animal rights issues.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The first organization created in the United States to fight against cruelty to animals, the ASPCA’s website includes several resources for kids and families. The ASPCA’s Kids site is a site for kids featuring cartoons, pet care information, and information on animal careers.
Humane Society Youth of The United States: Just for Kids
The youth education affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org/), Humane Society Youth teaches young people about kindness and respect for animals. The website includes a book list, film list, and resource center.
Fur-Ever Home The Animal Rescue Game by Petsapalooza. Ages 8 and up. This board game allows players to strategize how best to rescue animals and find them home, while also teaching them money management skills.
The Game of Life It’s A Dog’s Life Edition board game. Ages 8 and up. Dog lovers and fans of the original Life board game will love strategizing and building a fulfilling life for their dog.
PetWorld 3D: My Animal Rescue app: Care for homeless animals and find them new homes.
Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About The Origins of Good and Evil by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Bloomsbury US, 2014). The emotions of animals are also found in humans, and Masson examines why we react so differently than animals do.
The Everything Guide to Working with Animals by Michelle C. Hollow and William P. Rives (Adams Media. 2009). Find a way to transform your love of animals and insects into a job and career.
Working with Wildlife: A Guide to Careers in the Animal World by Thane Maynard (Franklin Watts, 1999). A practical guide for teens interested in working with animals. Readers learn about the work and training required to be a vet, field researcher, nature guide, conservationist and dozens of other animal-related jobs.
Gorillas in the Mist by Dr. Dian Fossey (Mariner Books, 2000). For thirteen years, Dr. Dian Fossey studied gorillas and interacted with them by studying and mimicking their movements and tendencies. Her contribution to the study of gorillas is also chronicled in the film of the same name.
Funds to the Rescue: 101 Fundraising Ideas for Humane and Animal Rescue Groups by Susan C. Daffron (Logical Expression, 2011). Get creative with your fundraising ideas in order to raise money for animal organizations.
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals by Hal Herzog (Harper Perennial, 2011). Herzog urges reader to examine how our societal surroundings dictate our attitude towards specific animals, and why they are viewed so differently around the world.
Dog Toy Donations and Cat Toy Donations
Dogtoys.com and Cattoys.com allow individuals to donate pet toys directly to the shelter of their choice.
Educational materials on humane education and the cruelty of factory farming. Website includes an adopt-a-farm-animal program and lesson plans on “Cultivating Compassion.”
Find a pet to adopt or look for volunteer opportunities at your local shelter.
Provide comfort to shelter animals by volunteering to make security blankets called “Snuggles.” Website includes simple patterns as well as a directory of participating shelters.
PRESERVATION OF PARKS AND WILDERNESS
Preschool and Early Elementary
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers (Puffin, 2002). Ages 4-8. Adapted from a speech supposedly made by the American Indian Chief Seattle, Brother Eagle, Sister Sky encourages respect for the land and environment.
Everglades by Jean Craighead George, paintings by Wendell Minor (HarperCollins, 1999). Ages 4-8. A storyteller describes the Florida Everglades as he guides children though this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Minor’s paintings depict the beauty of this home to alligators and egrets.
The Forest Has Eyes by Elise Maclay, illustrated by Bev Doolittle (Greenwich Workshop Press, 1998) Have fun with this lushly drawn “camouflage art,” with pictures hidden within. Learn about Native American culture, their reverence for the land and the animals that inhabit the forests.
The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book: Fun Projects for Kids to Learn About the Wonders of Wildlife and Nature by Robin Michal Koontz (Learning Triangle Press, 1998). Ages 8 and up. Kids can learn about creating habitats in their own backyards for butterflies, frogs, hummingbirds and more.
Ancient Ones: The World of Old-Growth Douglas Fir by Barbara Bash (Sierra Club Books for Children, 2002). Ages 6-10. The majesty of the forest is captured in the text and watercolor paintings.
How Monkeys Make Chocolate: Foods and Medicines from the Rainforest by Adrian Forsyth (Owl Communications, 1995). Ages 9 and up. Get lots of information about the plants, animals and people of the rainforest and their intricate web of interdependence.
National Geographic Kids National Park Guide U.S.A. Maps, checklists of activities, pictures, and fun facts are all featured in this publication.
Kids’ Planet ESPECIES Fact Sheets
Learn all about endangered species around the world.
National Wildlife Federation Kids
Aimed at kids, this website allows them to learn all about wildlife and what is being done to protect it. It also has crafts and family activities.
National Geographic Kids
Website that teaches children about the world around them through games, stories, videos, and activities.
Marine Missions app by National Geographic: Jacques the hermit teaches users about the importance of taking care of the ocean.
WWF Together app: Learn all about rhinos, elephants, whales and other species.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1999 2006). The award-winning story of 13-year-old Brian Robeson’s struggle to survive after a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness. A classic.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (HarperCollins, 2003). A young Eskimo girl gets lost in the Alaska tundra after running away to find her San Francisco pen pal and is taken in by a pack of Arctic wolves. This Newberry Medal winner is a tale of survival and much more.
Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks by Philip Lopate, photography by Joel Meyerowitz (Aperture, 2009). Known for being one of the busiest cities in the United States, New York City is also home to parks. This book documents these green spaces and the efforts by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to keep these parks vibrant.
Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks by Michael Joseph Oswald (Stone Road Press, 2012). Packed full of activities for kids and picture, this guide is a perfect way to learn about national parks, whether you can visit them in person or not.
Organization that works to protect endangered forests and wild places, with a focus on climate change.
Organization that works to expose environmental problems and promote solutions.
The Great Sunflower Project
Help save the dwindling bee population by signing up to plant sunflowers and then watching and recording bee activities.
HSUS Urban Sanctuary Program
Help make urban areas more hospitable to wildlife by creating your own wildlife sanctuary.
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
Organization dedicated to the beautification of our country through the planting of wildflowers and native plants.
National Audubon Society
Organization that works to protect birds, wildlife, and their habitats. The website includes a kids’ section (http://www.audubon.org/educate/kids/) and ideas for family activities (http://www.audubon.org/educate/family/)
National Park Foundation
Find the nearest national park in your area and discover how you can help preserve these national treasures.
National Park Service
Find a national park in your area.
National Wildlife Federation
Conservation organization that works to protect endangered species and habitats.
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental action organization that works to protect wildlife through a series of campaigns on issues like global warming, protecting the oceans, and clean energy. NRDC’s Action Center allows individuals to respond to “action alerts” by sending emails to their congressperson with one click.
NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat
Create a certified wildlife habitat in your backyard, complete with an official sign. All you need to create a habitat is food, water, cover, and places for animals to raise young.
Organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans.
Organization that works to protect the world’s rainforests and promote responsible use of the land.
Organization that fights for the preservation of the wilderness, promotes respect for nature, and encourages outdoor activities.
World Wildlife Fund
Organization that protects endangered wildlife and threatened habitats.
CLEANUP AND RECYCLING
Preschool and Early Elementary
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Allison Inches, illustrated by Pete Whitehead (Little Simon, 2006). Ages 4-6. Ever wonder what happens when you recycle a plastic bottle? Follow its journey from your recycling bin to its new life as you learn about the importance of recycling.
Ellie Bethel’s Michael Recycle series features Michael encouraging people to recycle and get creative in various situations. Ages 6 and up.
Creative Cardboard Projects
This website by CreativeDisplaysNow.com offers an extensive list of links to creative, artistic projects for children of all ages that utilize recycled materials.
Arlene the Rebel Queen by Carol Liu and Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone (Emereld Book Company, 2013). Arlene and her friends face opposition when she attempts to minimize her school’s carbon footprint. How can she make them see that changes can be for the better?
50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Recycle by the Earth Works Group, illustrated by Michele Montez (EarthWorks Press, 1994). Recycle at home, at school and in your community. This book will tell you how.
Waste Disposal by Sally Morgan (Franklin Watts, 2005) Find out where waste (nuclear, dirty water, garbage, toxic) goes and how it affects the environment. Also learn about recycling metals, glass and paper, and discover what kids can do to help deal with waste.
Creative Cardboard Projects
This website by CreativeDisplaysNow.com offers an extensive list of links to creative, artistic projects for children of all ages that utilize recycled materials.
Games, activities and stories to help kids learn about reducing waste and encouraging recycling.
Garbage and Recycling: Opposing Viewpoints edited by Helen Cothran (Greenhaven Press, 2003). Ages 12 and up. Provides varying points of view on whether garbage and toxic waste are serious problems, the effectiveness of recycling and the innovations that will reduce waste.
Green Youth Movement
The goal of Green Youth Movement is to teach today’s teenagers how to cut down on energy consumption and live a more sustainable lifestyle, thus leaving a smaller carbon footprint. The website features ways to get involved, tips on being green, and literature.
The Story of Stuff Project
Founded in 2008, The Story of Stuff website aims to teach people to think critically about how wasteful we can be and how to change.
Teens Turning Green
Learn more about sustainable food, ethical living, and even a green prom on this website aimed at teens and how they can contribute to an environmental.
Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage by William Rathaje and Cullen Murphy (HarperCollins Publishers, 1992University of Arizona Press, 2001). A review of garbage research from University of Arizona’s Garbage Project.
Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson (Scribner, 2013). Create a sustainable home and work environment by following the tips provided.
Green Education Foundation
With the aim to create sustainable living through green education, this organization offers curriculum and activities for students as well as green certifications.
Learn about garbage, hazardous waste and sewage and find out what your community can do to reduce waste
Donate items you no longer need to help charities and keep goods out of landfills.
Preschool and Early Elementary
The Berenstain Bears Go Green by Jan Berenstain and Mike Berenstain (HarperFestival, 2013). When the Berenstain family discovers that the town dump is overflowing, they must find a way to fix the problem before it’s too late.
The Lorax by Dr. Suess (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1971). Ages 6-9 years. The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, warns the Once-ler that there are lasting consequences of cutting down trees. Also an animated film.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner (Holiday House, 2012). A pioneer in the field of environmentalism, this picture book tells of how Rachel Carson overcame opposition from family and friends to become the author of the famed book, Silent Spring, which linked the effects of humans to the changes in environment.
The Greening Book by Ellen Sabin (Watering Can Press, 2008). Ages 4-8. Through activities and exercises, The Greening Book teaches children that they can make a difference in the future of our planet.
All by Jen Green and Mike Gordon (Barron’s Educational Series, 2005). Ages 4-8. The four-book Why Should I? series by Jen Green answers children’s questions about the environment and demonstrates the importance of protecting nature.
An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Al Gore (Viking Juvenile, 2007). Ages 10 and up. A version of the best-selling book for younger readers, An Inconvenient Truth explains how our planet is being threatened by rising carbon dioxide levels and what we can do about climate change.
Down To Earth Guide To Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon (Orchard Books, 2007). Ages 9-12. An introduction to global warming for kids that provides suggestions on how kids can help combat the problem.
Ecology by Steve Pollock (Children, 2005). Ages 8 and up. An Eyewitness Science book filled with information, photos and drawings that teach about food webs, the water cycle, ecological niches, population growth and evolution.
Hoot by Carl Hiassen (Knopf Publishing, 2002). Ages 10 and up. An ecological mystery for the middle school set in which Roy, a new kid at school, sets out to save some burrowing owls from developers.
How to Save the Planet by Barbara Taylor, illustrated by Scoular Anderson (Oxford University Press, 2000). Fun, simple and comprehensive source for explanations of important environmental issues, including ozone depletion, pollution, garbage and habitat extinction.
True Green Kids: 100 Things You Can Do To Save The Planet by Kim McKay (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2008). Ages 10 and up. Published by National Geographic, this guide to conservation and environmental change lists several easy things kids can do at home, school, and in the community to help save the planet.
Resources and ideas for helping your efforts to connect kids with nature.
Activities, games, stories and art that get kids interested in and informed about environmental issues.
Blue Planet (2001)
Frozen Planet (2011)
Planet Earth (2006)
These BBC documentaries showcase the beauty of species within their natural habitats. Visit remote and previously unexplored locations around the world and learn about how changes to the environment can affect the species.
Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth: For Earthlings Ages 12 to 120 by Art Sussman, Ph.D., illustrated by Emiko Koike (WestEd Publishing, 2000) A systems approach to how the earth works that is compelling, well-organized and understandable. There are also recommendations for what young people can do to help save the planet.
Flush by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2005). Young Adult. The second book in Hiaasen’s series of environmental novels and the follow-up to Hoot, Flush is the story of two children who work together to expose the illegal dumping of raw sewage from a casino ship.
Generation Green: The Ultimate Teen Guide to Living an Eco-Friendly Life by Linda Silvertsen (Simon Pulse, 2008). Ages 12 and up. Generation Green offers dozens of tips on how teens can do their part to help save the earth.
Green Careers: Choosing Work for a Sustainable Future by Jim Cassio and Alice Rush (New Society Publishers, 2009). Ever wondered about a having a green job? This book will tell you about the skills, education, and expertise you’ll need, as well as what jobs are available to someone that is looking for an environmentally-friendly career.
The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet by Jenn Savedge (New Society Publishers, 2009). Get teenagers interested in living green(er) by promoting this book which is filled with ideas and stories to inspire them.
The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Environmentally-Friendly Living by Jen Savedge (Kedzie Press, 2008). Introducing green living to your children at a young age can create a life-long environmentalist. Simple tasks and fun games teach your children how easy it is to go green.
Plant a tree
Several organizations allow individuals to have trees planted in honor or memory of someone special:
POVERTY, HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS
Preschool and Early Elementary
Changing Places: A Kid’s View of Shelter Living by Judy Wallace (Gryphon House, 1992). Ages 6 and up. Eight different children, ages 6-13, describe what it is like to live in a homeless shelter.
Great Joy by Kate Dicamillo (Candlewick, 2010). Ages 4-8. This is the sweet simple tale of a kind organ grinder, his monkey, and the little girl who worries over whether they has a place to go in the storm.
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn (Lee & Low Books, 1995). Ages 5-8. A charming story about a boy who gets “lucky money” for his birthday and ventures into Chinatown to look for the best way to spend it.
A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning, illustrated by Elaine Pedlar (Children’s Book Press, 2004). Ages 6 and up. When Zettie and her mother move from Jamaica to the United States, they have to live in their car. Despite their dire situation, Zettie’s mother’s strength and love make the situation bearable.
The Teddy Bear by David McPhail (Square Fish 2005). Ages 3-6. When a child loses his teddy bear, a homeless man adopts it, showing the child how much he really has.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick, 2009 ) Ages 5-8. Jeremy wants a pair of shoes just like everyone else has, but according to his grandmother, he must learn to separate his needs from his wants.
Esperenza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic, 2002). Ages 8 and up. Set during the Great Depression, Esperenza is forced to give up her materialistic ways and work to help support her family.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004). Ages 6-10. When Wanda, a poor immigrant girl from Poland who always wears the same blue faded dress tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, the other children in class taunt her. After Wanda leaves the school because of the teasing, two of her classmates must deal with their guilt.
Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001). Ages 8 and up. Even though his family doesn’t have much, Rufus always finds ways to overcome any obstacles he faces.
Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight Against Hunger with Poems to Favorite Food edited and illustrated by Michael J. Rosen (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1996). Ages 9 and up. Thirty-three children’s poets contribute to the fight against hunger by penning poems about food. Read odes to pies, pizzas and matzo ball soup.
Breaking Night by Liz Murray (Hyperion, 2011). Liz Murray ends up on the streets at age fifteen after fleeing a broken home, and made her way to Harvard University by her sheer will and determination.
No Place to Be: Voices of Homeless Children by Judith Berck (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992). Ages 10-14. Weaves together commentary on homelessness with photos and the words of homeless kids.
For a list of websites related to world poverty, visit this website.
50 Ways to Save Our Children: Small, Medium and Big Ways You Can Change a Child’s Life by Cheryl Saban (HarperCollins, 2002). Filled with 50 ways to help underprivileged children, this book provides guidance, tips, and inspirational quotes.
52 Ways to Help Homeless People by Gary Temple (Thomas Nelson, 1991). Ideas for helping the homeless, with an emphasis on education and social action.
54 Ways You Can Help the Homeless by Charles A. Kroloff (Hugh Lauter Levin Associate, 1993). Lots of suggestions on how to fight homelessness, including a special section on what children can do.
Hunger: An Unnatural History by Sharman Apt Russell (Peresus Books Group, 2005)
This book explains all aspects of hunger from the actual process of digestion, satiety and hunger caused by 18 hours without food, 36-hours, 7 days, and 30 days. It also provides an historical overview of how hunger has impacted history including the use of hunger strikes for political ends. A possible end to hunger is described.
Donate My Dress
This national network and directory links to organizations across the United States (for example, the Glass Slipper Project- http://www.glassslipperproject.org/) that accept donations of prom and other formal dresses for high school students.
The Hunger Project
World-wide effort to help communities help themselves. Includes ways Americans can help via shopping, trips to learn more about hunger first-hand, and volunteer opportunities.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota provides and advocates for solutions to hunger by providing money, food, information and legislative support for those agencies providing food for the hungry.
New Eyes for the Needy
Donate used eyeglasses in good condition to be donated to the poor in developing countries.
Project Night Night
Project Night Night provides comforting bags to children in homeless shelters. Each bag contains a stuffed animal, security blanket, and book.
Share Our Strength
National organization that works to end childhood hunger in America. Share Our Strength is the sponsor of the Great American Bake Sale, Taste of the Nation, and the Great American Dine Out.
Soles 4 Souls
Donate new or “gently worn” shoes to individuals in need around the world.
Dress for Success
Designed to help women get back into the work force, Dress for Success provides professional attire for women to wear for interviews to create the right impression. Visit the website to learn about donating or helping out.
This organization aims to spread the word about hunger in America.
Preschool and Early Elementary
The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh by Frederick Lipp, illustrated by Ronald Himler (Holiday House, 2001). Ages 5 and up. An inspiring story of hope, with beautiful watercolor illustrations.
A Life like Mine: How Children Live Around the World by DK Publishing (DK Children, 2005). Ages 10-17. Learn about the daily lives of 18 children from around the world.
Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders by Dan Bortolotti (Firefly Books, 2010). Learn about the experiences of doctors who volunteer to help people in war-torn and dangerous locations around the world.
To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation by Paul Farmer (University of California Press, 2013). Noted speaker and Doctor Paul Farmer presents a collection of speeches meant to inspire today’s youth to support and promote social justice.
Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti (HarperCollins, 1994) Seventeen-year-old Djo tells the story of his life of hardship and poverty with social reformer Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (Random House, 2009). The true story of Deo, who flees his home of Burundi during the Rwandan Genocide in 1993.
Relief International This organization helps improve areas such as education, human rights, and agriculture within countries and communities. The website lists available volunteer as well as intern opportunities.
Preschool and Early Elementary
All Around Town: Exploring Your Community Through Craft Fun by Judy Press, illustrated by Karen Weiss (Williamson Publishing Co., 2002). Find activities, information and resources to learn about community sites such as the animal shelter, theater, airport and senior citizen’s center.
City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan (Morrow Junior Books, 1994). Ages 4-8. The story of how a community garden brings light and hope into a neighborhood and even changes the outlook of irritable Old Man Hammer.
Communities in My World by Ella Cane (Pebble Books, 2013). Ages 4-8. Learn about how communities vary across the world in this book filled with beautiful photographs and interesting facts.
Franklin’s Neighborhood by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark (Scholastic, Inc., 1999). Ages 4 and up. Franklin learns that the best thing about his neighborhood is the neighbors.
Grandpa’s Corner Store by DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan (HarperCollins, 2000). Ages 4-8. Lucy organizes the community to keep her grandfather’s small grocery store from being put out of business by an incoming supermarket. A true celebration of community spirit.
The Green Truck Garden Giveaway: A Neighborhood Story and Almanac by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Alec Gillman (Simon and Schuster, 1997). Ages 6 and up. A couple of gardeners in a green truck convert some bored and grumpy neighbors into a community by creating gardens and passing out almanacs. The book includes related tips and anecdotes on everything from the history of pumpkins to plans for a butterfly garden.
The Name Jar written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Dragonfly Books, 2003). Ages 3-7. When no one at her school can pronounce her name, new girl Unhei wonders if she should choose another one in order to fit in with her peers.
Know Your Hometown History: Projects and Activities by Abigail Jungreis (Franklin Watts, 1992) Here are projects that will give kids the tools to get to know their community’s past.
Neighborhood Odes by Gary Soto, illustrated by David Diaz (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992). Ages 8-12. A series of odes to a Hispanic neighborhood in which sprinklers, piñatas, grandparents and the library are celebrated.
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (HarperTeen, 2004). Ages 9-12. The story of a garden planted by a young girl in an abandoned lot and how it brings together a troubled neighborhood.
Some Good News by Cynthia Rylant (Simon and Schuster Children’s Books, 2001). Ages 7-10. Three nine-year-old cousins start a newspaper about the activities and personalities on Cobble Street, where they are living with their Aunt Lucy.
Kids and Community
Kids can learn about city planning and find activities.
Learning Adventures in Citizenship
Would your child like to design a park, solve a community problem or write poetry in honor of his or her hometown? Kids will find lots of ideas for helping their communities at this PBS Web site celebrating community.
Eight Habits of the Heart: Embracing the Values That Build Strong Families and Communities by Clifton L. Taulbert (Penguin Group, 1997). Taulbert, who’s written well-known memoirs of growing up in the segregated south, presents the wisdom of the people who raised him and explains how their values built a strong community.
145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers (Delacorte Press, 2000). Ages 12 and up. Ten stories originating from Harlem residents allow you to learn about community.
The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods by John McKnight and Peter Block (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2012). What resources already exist within your community that can be used to strengthen it? McKnight and Block tell readers how looking internally can connect citizens and create community pride and prosperity.
How to Start a Community Garden: Our Journey by Anthony Lane (Anthony J. Lane, 2013). A how-to guide for starting a community garden.
Social Problems: Community, Policy and Social Action by Anne-Leon Guerrero (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013). Learn how to recognize and strategically handle community problems.
American Community Gardening Association
Find or start a community garden in your neighborhood.
Wholesale and Farmers Markets
Support local farmers by shopping at a farmers’ market in your area.
Community Supported Agriculture
Participate in the joys and struggles of farming by purchasing shares of a local farmer’s produce.
Local Harvest is a national directory of organic and local farms, CSAs, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants.
SCHOOLS, EDUCATION, LIBRARIES AND LITERACY
Preschool and Early Elementary
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School written and illustrated by Lauren Child (Candlewick, 2005). Ages 3-7. A child learns why school is important from her older brother and best friend.
The Inside Outside Book of Libraries by Julie Cummins, paintings by Roxie Munro (Penguin Books, 1996). Ages 3-7. This book will expand a child’s perceptions of libraries. Readers discover that libraries can be found aboard aircraft carriers, in homes, in a single room and on the busy streets of New York.
Born To Read by Judy Sierra (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008). Ages 4-8. Born to Read is the story of a little boy who is able to rid his town of a giant through his love of reading.
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2005). Ages 4-8. The story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the courageous librarian who saved 30,0000 books from her library before it burned to the ground during the war in Iraq.
Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1995). Passionate reader Elizabeth Brown comes up with a splendid idea for what to do with her too many books.
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick, 2006). Ages 4-8. The story of a lovable lion that comes to the library during story hour and how he saves the day.
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007). Ages 4-8. Sam is a mouse who lives behind the books at the library and spends most of his time reading. When Sam decides to write his own books, he inspires the children in the library to start writing as well.
Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley (Walker Childrens, 2003). If Miss Malarkey can convince students to read 1,000 books, the school principal will dye his hair purple and sleep on the school roof!
The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer (Grosset & Dunlap, 2005). Ages 3-5. Billy is unable to sleep the night before starting preschool.
Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller, illustrated by Gregory Christie (Lee & Low Books, 1997). Ages 6 and up. This is a powerful story from the life of author Richard Wright. Readers discover how Wright got access to the magic of books and libraries at a time when they were strictly off-limits to African-Americans.
Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raul Colon (Alfred Knopf, 1997). Ages 3-7. This is the inspirational story of Tomás Rivera, chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, and how a librarian helped him learn the joy of reading as a young boy.
The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting (Clarion Books, 1989). Ages 4-8. The story of a young girl who teaches her grandmother how to read.
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004). Ages 4-8. When a librarian accidentally drives her bookmobile to the zoo, the animals there learn about the joy of reading.
Read Me Stories – Children’s Books app: Everyday, a new book is featured for your child to read.
Reading Rainbow: Read Along Children’s Books, Kids Videos & Education app: Based on the popular television show, this app offers millions of books that children can read along with and sing-along stories.
The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Jacques Bosser, photography by Guillaume de Laubier (Harry N. Abrams, 2003). Explore some of the most famous libraries in the world through this visually stunning book.
My Librarian is a Camel by Margriet Ruurs (Boyds Mill Press, 2005). Ages 9-12. Ruurs examines thirteen different countries and explains how librarians there provide books to patrons (for example, by camel in Kenya).
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by John O’Brien (Calkins Creek, 2013). Ages 8-11. Learn how Thomas Jefferson’s love of books helped shaped his future.
Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright. Ages 8-12. Simply use the picture prompts on the dice and become a storyteller. This game can be played by an individual or by numerous people.
Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar, illustrated by Adam McCauley (HarperCollins, 2003). Ages 8-12. Mrs. Jewls’ class on the top floor of Wayside is full of zany characters and their stories.
Brain Quest Smart Game by University Games. Ages 8-12. Win the game by correctly answer a question in each category: science, math, art, reading, and the world. Game cards for every grade are provided.
Book Crush: For Kids and Teens – Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Interest by Nancy Pearl (Sasquatch Books, 2007). Young Adult. If you are looking for a new book to read, take some advice from the well-known librarian, Nancy Pearl. In Book Crush, Pearl lists hundred of suggestions of what she considers quality literature based on reading level, theme, etc.
Falling in Love With Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts—And Life by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts (Heinemann, 2013). Ages 10-17. Close reading, the method of analyzing short passages, is explored by the authors who also encourage students to love reading and analyze books, songs, and video games.
Episode – Choose Your Story app: A new take on a choose your own adventure book, this app allows you to create stories in a variety of genres and even solve mysteries along the way.
Good Reads http://www.goodreads.com Good Reads allows users to create book lists and share them with other users as well as get recommendations based on what books they have liked. Also available as an app.
Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader by Melissa Taylor (Imagination Soup, 2012). Tips on gently encouraging children to embrace reading and how to react to common issues that adults face when faced with a reluctant reader.
At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care For Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis and Caroline Seebohm, illustrated by Christopher Simone Sykes (Potter Style, 1995). A how-to guide on creating and designing your ideal home library.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley (Jossey-Bass, 2013). Steps for adults to follow to help children become lifelong readers.
Pocket (formerly Read it Later) app: Store articles, videos, and websites to read for later using this app.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Preschool and Early Elementary
Can You Find It? America: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 20 Works of Art by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Linda Falken (Harry N. Abrams, 2010). Look beyond the overall picture to discover details and otherwise overlooked features within famous works of art.
Visiting the Art Museum by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (E.P. Dutton, 1992). Ages 4 and up. A charming look at a family’s visit to the museum. See it all — Rousseau, Pollock, mummies and arms and armor — along with the kind of comments you’d truly hear from kids touring a museum. (“I’ve seen enough. Let’s eat lunch.”)
Ella’s Trip to the Museum by Elaine Clayton (Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996). Ages 3 and up. Ella uses her vivid imagination – dancing with the ballerinas in the paintings, frolicking with a statue of a Roman goddess — to make her visit to the museum memorable.
How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jesse Hartland (Blue Apple Books, 2010). Follow the journey of the Sphinx over the span of thousands of years from its journey from Egypt to New York City.
Mrs. Brown on Exhibit and Other Museum Poems by Susan Katz, illustrated by R.W. Alley (Simon and Schuster, 2002). Ages 6-10. A collection of poems from a teacher and her class who love museums. From an insectarium to clocks to a giant heart, kids learn about exhibits in museums all over the country.
The Museum by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Harry N. Abrams, 2013). A wonderful story about the emotions that art can evoke in people.
Recycled Art Ideas for Kids
This fun site not only provides great ideas for creating pieces of art using recycled goods, but also gives an explanation for why recycling is important and some tips on what materials you might find in your own home.
Composers Card Game by US Games. Similar to Go Fish, collect cards to learn about famous composers and their works.
African American Quilting: The Warmth of Tradition by Sule Gregc Wilson (Rosen Pub Group, 1999). Ages 10-13. The tradition of creating quilts is deeply rooted in numerous cultures and in particular can act as a snapshot of African-American history. With beautiful pictures and interesting stories about quilters such as Harriet Tubman, this is an excellent way for students to learn about a commonly overlooked piece of art history.
7 Wonders board game by Asmodee. Ages 10-14. Decide how to best build your civilization and enhance it with art, scientific, and military advancements and inventions.
Passport to Culture board game by Passport to Culture. Ages 10 and up. Make your way around the board and test your knowledge of world cultures.
Graffiti World: Art from Five Continents by Nicholas Ganz (Harry N. Abrams, 2009). Seen as vandalism, graffiti is now seen by many as the future of art. Learn about graffiti artists, their roots, and what inspires them to create these public displays.
Street World: Urban Art and Culture from Five Continents by Roger Gastman et al (Harry N. Abrams, 2007). A new generation has brought with it a new form of art. Outside of conventional homes of art, urban art and its artists express emotions and opinions for spectators to see.
Metropolitan Museum of Art for Teens: Blogs, videos, and programs are hosted by the Met and specifically aimed towards teen art enthusiasts.
Teens in Museums: Learn about the different way that teens are working together to make their museums more interesting, accessible, and relevant to their audiences.
Visions Services Adventure Visions offers not only an opportunity to volunteer in exotic locations—ranging from the British Virgin Islands to Peru—but to become immersed in culture. Students can choose to volunteer in English, Spanish, or French-speaking communities.
Civilization Board Game by Eagle Games. Ages 14 and up. Build a civilization and experience natural disasters, political strife, and war along the way.
Art that Changed the World (DK Publishing, 2013). From the origins of art in 30,000 BC to the end of the twentieth century, this book provides a timeline and photos of the most crucial art pieces in history.
Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in the Public Places edited by Erica Lehrer et al (Palgrave MacMillan, 2008). A must for parents and educators to understand how museums decide what exhibits to display and the politics that surround controversial pieces.
Disability Art and Culture Project Founded in 2005, this organization works to promote and support people with disabilities that want to enhance and demonstrate their artistic abilities.
Want to know about local museums so you can inquire about volunteer opportunities? Curious about whether there’s an arts and crafts show coming? Want to get some ideas about where to take a group of homeless kids on an outing? This web site can connect you to what’s going on in cities all over the country.
POLITICS AND CANDIDATES
Preschool and Early Elementary
America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (Simon and Schuster, 2002). Ages 5 and up. An ABC’s of American history and government that celebrates democratic principles and famous figures from our country’s past. Lots of detailed illustrations.
Clifford for President by Mark Mcveigh, illustrated by Tom Lapadula (Scholastic, 2004). Ages 4-8. Can Clifford be elected President of the dog park?
D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet by Elissa Grodin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2007). Ages 8 and up. In this rhyming democratic primer, each letter of the alphabet introduces a different concept to the reader, such as “A” for “amendment” and “B” for “Bill of Rights.”
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin (Atheneum, 2008). Ages 4-8. Humorous story of a duck who decides to hold an election to replace Farmer Brown and eventually works his way up to governor, and then president.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio (Hyperion Book, 2006). Ages 5-9. When Grace discovers that there has never been a woman president of the Unites States, she decides that she will run for president one day. Her teacher encourages her by holding a school election.
If I Ran For President by Catherine Stier (Albert Whitman & Company, 2008). Ages 6-9. Six children discuss what they would do if they were running for president, describing the election process all the way from making the decision to run to being sworn in on Inauguration Day.
If I Were President by Catherine Steir, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan (Albert Whitman and Co., 1999). Ages 5-8. A kid-friendly introduction to the duties of the President of the United States.
What Are Elections? (First Guide to Government) by Nancy Harris (Heinemann First Library, 2007). Ages 6-8. With photographs, simple explanations, and a glossary, this book is a great introduction for children to learn about elections.
My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Scholastic Inc., 2006). Ages 4-8. Senator Kennedy’s dog, Splash, describes a typical day in Washington including a discussion of an education bill, a press conference, and a floor vote.
So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small (Penguin Putnam Books, 2001). Ages 6-8. An entertaining look at our president’s lives with cartoon illustrations.
We the Kids by David Catrow (Dial Books for Young Readers, New York , 2002). Ages 5-8. With laugh-out-loud cartoony illustrations, and the actual words of the Preamble as the only text, Catrow depicts a camping trip taken by a diverse, bumbling group of friends, demonstrating the rights and responsibilities the Constitution places on all Americans, young and old.
The Kid Who Ran for President and The Kid Who Became President, both by Dan Gutman (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2000). Ages 9-12. What would happen if a kid became the President of the United States? Find out in Dan Gutman’s story of Judson Moon, the first kid president.
How the U.S. Government Works by Syl Sobel (Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1999). Ages 8 and up. A simple guide to the workings of the U.S. government.
Kids Guide to Local Government
Kids Guide to State Government
Kids Guide to National Government
All by Ernestine Giesecke (Heinemann, 2000). Ages 9-11.
These books offer good information for students beginning to explore and understand the purposes and functions of different governmental systems.
Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Douglas B. Jones (HMH Books for Young Reader, 2008). Ages 9-12. Trace the path that women have made in American politics and learn about their struggles and triumphs.
The Presidency (True Books) by Christine Taylor Butler (Children’s Press, 2008). Ages 8 and up. An introduction to the presidency and the executive branch of government.
The White House for Kids: A History of a Home, Office, and National Symbol, with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Katherine L. House (Chicago Review Press, 2014). Ages 9-12. Take a tour of the White House and learn about its rich history through stories and photographs.
Vote (DK Eyewitness Books) by Philip Steele (DK Publishing, 2008). Ages 8-17. Provides a look at the history of voting and voting practices around the world.
Vote! by Eileen Christelow (Clarion Books, New York 2003). Ages 6-9. All aspects of the voting process are explained by dogs in a comic book style. The book includes a timeline of voter rights in American history and information on political parties.
You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? By Jean Fritz, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan (Putnam Publishing Group, 1999). Ages 8-12. This biography of 19th century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton is a fun way to learn about the women’s suffrage movement and what it takes to stand up for what you believe in.
PBS President for a Day
As acting President, plan your day and learn fun facts about former Presidents and the White House along the way.
Website that encourages parents to introduce their children to the democratic process by taking them to the polls on Election Day. Includes other ideas for getting children more involved in the political process, such as holding dinner table debates and participating in polls created especially for kids.
The Presidential board game by The Presidential Game, LLC. Ages 11 and up. Plan a campaign and strategize as you run for office and see how well you’d do as President of the United States.
Declare Yourself by various authors (Collins, 2008). Young Adult. Declare Yourself was created by 55 actors, musicians, athletes, writers, and political figures to demonstrate the importance of voting to young people. Contributors include Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, and America Ferrera.
Rock the Vote www.rockthevote.com Aimed at young adults, this website promotes the importance of voting and exercising your political rights.
Loaded Questions Political Party board game by All Things Equal, Inc. Ages 16 and up. If you were President, how would you run the country? No political expertise needed, only a sense of humour and a creative mind.
The United States Constitution: What It Says, What It Means: A Hip Pocket Guide, JusticeLearning.org (Oxford University Press, 2005) An in-depth look at the entire text of the U. S. Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Each Amendment and Article is accompanied by sidebar material on the history of its application, including profiles of important Supreme Court cases, texts of related primary source documents, and contemporary news articles. Double page timelines for several of the Articles and all the Amendments highlight important events and legal cases.
The One-Hour Activist by Christopher Kush (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco , 2004) This book is your guide to influencing lawmakers, candidates, and reporters. It reveals fifteen powerful, proven grassroots actions that persuade lawmakers and candidates to see things your way.
The Political Campaign Desk Reference: A Guide for Campaign Managers, Professionals and Candidates Running for Office by Michael McNamara (Outskirts Press, 2012). Everything you need to know about running an effective campaign.
What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t: A Non-Partisan Guide to the Issues That Matter by Jessamyn Conrad (Arcade Publishing, 2012). Make sure you know the fundamentals of politics by reading this well-respected and popular book that explains it all in simplistic language for the average reader.
FairVote the Center for Voting and Democracy
The organization works for election reform and has information on its website about election issues and possible solutions, including Instant Runoff Voting.
Library of Congress: The Learning Page for teachers
For teachers, with lots of resources and activities about the election process.
A directory of federal agencies sorted alphabetically and includes links to the websites for each agency.
The Government Printing Office (GPO)
GPO is the Federal Government’s primary centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing and preserving published information in all its forms. Use this site to find any government document from the federal budget to the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.
The US Government’s Official Web Portal
As the U.S. government’s official web portal, this site makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web.
Celebrate People’s History!: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution edited by Josh MacPhee (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2010). A visual history of revolutions in America. Each poster is pair with the historical background of the event.
Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World by Elizabeth Rusch (Beyond Words Publishing, 2002). Ages 8 and up. A series of inspiring stories of young people who have made a difference. These preteens and teens raised money for school supplies for needy children, testified against a ban on gay marriage, collected boxes of cereal for the hungry and initiated a variety of other community service and social action projects.
I Will Make a Difference: Students Aspire to Inspire by Gary Martin Hayes and Adam Christopher Weart (We Published That: 2014). 35 students tell of how they plan to make a difference in the world, and how the steps that they take now and in the future will allow them to reach their full potential.
It’s Your World- If You Don’t Like It, Change It: Activism For Teenagers by Mikki Halpin (Simon Pulse, 2004). Ages 12 and up. A guide for teenagers who wish to become activists, It’s Your World provides an overview of several topics, including animal rights, women’s rights, and civil liberties, and provides ideas for getting involved. Includes a list of additional resources.
Photography as Activism: Images for Social Change by Michelle Bogre (Focal Press, 2011). Images can be used to bring attention to much-needed subjects. An alternative to writing letters and protesting, photography and the pictures taken can have just as much of an impact on its audience.
Take Action: A Guide to Active Citizenship by Marc Kielburger and Craig Kielburger (Gage Learning Corporation, 2002). Learn the practical tools you’ll need to take action on issues that matter, including raising funds and awareness, writing petitions, surveys and letters, using the media and holding meetings.
Better Together: Restoring the American Community by Robert D. Putnam et al (Simon & Shuster, 2004). Learn about new forms of social activism within communities across the country, and how they aim to unify people.
Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time by Betty Christiansen, photographs by Kiriko Shirobayashi (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2006). Learn about the history and tradition of knitting for others and how to start your own charity-based knitting group. Also included are knitting patterns.
The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs (University of California Press, 2012). Noted activist Grace Lee Boggs draws on her own past experiences to show readers how they can fix the social problems present today.
Provides tools you can use to make a difference in your world and community such as online petitions and other “take action” opportunities.
Preschool and Early Elementary
Better Fundraising for Kids http://www.better-fundraising-ideas.com/fundraising-ideas-for-kids.html Find fundraising ideas for churches, schools, sport, and other sectors that can be done by kids.
Money Making Ideas for Kids and Teens: Starting Your Own Business-A Guide for Teen Entrepreneurs (Kids and Money) (Volume 2) by Debbie Madson (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014). Find ways to make—or raise—money by drawing on personal interests and talents and creating a job that is a perfect fit.
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun (Scribner, 2014). Take inspiration from the story of Adam Braun, who went from working for a hedge fund company to starting a charity after a chance encounter with a young boy.
Go Fund Me www.gofundme.com Set up an online profile of your charity or project and raise money online. You can post videos, updates, and even offer incentives for people to donate.
Fundraising for Dummies by John Mutz (Wiley Publishing, 2000). An introduction and step-by-step guide to fundraising.
How To Make Fast Cash: Fun and Legal Ways To Earn More Money In A Weekend (Welcome Abundance) (Volume 1) by Judy Helm Wright (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013). Filled with ingenious ways to make “easy” money, this book contains suggestions that could be utilized for fundraising purposes.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND PEACE
Preschool and Early Elementary
Across the Alley by Richard Michelson (Putnam Juvenile, 2006). Ages 4-8. The story of two boys, Abe and Willie, who become friends despite racial differences by talking through their bedroom windows at night and sharing their talents.
An Apple for Harriet Tubman by Glennette Tilley Turner (Albert Whitman & Company, 2006). Ages 4-8. An Apple for Harriet Tubman is the story of the life of Harriet Tubman, from her childhood working in the apple orchard on a plantation to her adulthood as a free woman and the conductor on the Underground Railroad.
For Every Child by Caroline Castle (Phyllis Foelman Books, 2002). Using simple text and illustrations from acclaimed artists, this book portrays 14 of the principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport (Hyperion Book, 2007). Ages 4-8. The true story of John Parker, an African-American businessman who was able to buy his own freedom and then help free other slaves through the Underground Railroad.
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine (Scholastic Press, 2007). Ages 4-8. The amazing (and true) story of a slave who escaped to freedom by mailing himself in a crate to Philadelphia.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Wilson (Putnam Juvenile, 2001). Ages 4-8. The story of Clover and Annie, two young girls who are able to become friends despite the racial divide in their community.
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki (Lee & Low Books, 2003). Ages 4-8. The story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who helped free thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Peace Bell by Margi Preus (Henry Holt and Co., 2008). Ages 4-8. Yuko’s grandmother never expects to see her town’s temple bell again when it is taken away to be used as scrap metal during World War II, but it is later found and returned as a gesture of friendship by the United States. Based on the true story of the American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2005). Ages 4-8. In this cheerful, brightly-colored picture book, Todd Parr explains the concept of peace in words that children will understand.
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting (Voyager Books, 1999). Ages 4-8. Inspired by the L.A. race riots and the civil rights movement, this is the story of a neighborhood that learns to bridge differences during hard times.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Viking Juvenile, 1936). Ages 4-8. The story of a gentle bull who would much rather sit under a tree smelling the flowers than fighting with the other bulls.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2004). Ages 4-8. The story of the only African-American child to attend a New Orleans elementary school after desegregation in 1960.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (Dragonfly Books, 1996). Ages 4-8. The struggles of a close-knit African-American family living in Harlem in 1939.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008). Ages 9-12. The story of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who has planted over 30 million tees in Kenya.
We Are All Born Free by Amnesty International (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008.) Ages 4-8. Published by Amnesty International, We Are All Born Free is an illustrated, commemorative edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly after the atrocities of World War II. Royalties from the sale of the book are donated to Amnesty International.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Bantam, 1993). Ages 9-12. The classic story of a courageous young Jewish girl who is forced to hide in an attic to escape persecution by the Nazis.
Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2004). Ages 9-12. The story of a little girl who stands up for her beliefs when her community is shaken by the controversy resulting from desegregation.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Laurel Leaf, 2004). Ages 9-12. The story of Bud Caldwell, a young African-American boy growing up in 1930s Michigan who is on the run from abusive foster homes and is convinced that a famous standup bass player is his father.
The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (Puffin, 2004). Ages 9-12. Twelve-year-old Hannah is tired of hearing her relatives talk constantly about their memories of the Holocaust. However, when she is transported back in time to a 1940s Polish village, she learns how important it is to remember.
Just Like Martin by Ossie Davis (Puffin, 1995). Ages 10 and up. Written by a famous Civil Rights activist, Ossie Davis’ story tells the tale of fourteen year-old Martin, who is a proud supporter of the Civil Rights Movement until his faith and dedication are shaken following the death of his friends.
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic Press, 2006). Ages 9-12. The story of Elijah, the first free-born African-American in his Buxton, Canada settlement and his brave attempts to help free a group of slaves.
Frederick Douglass: Rising Up From Slavery (Sterling Biographies) by Frances E. Ruffin (Sterling, 2008). Ages 9-12. Biography of the former slave who became one of the central figures of the abolitionist movement.
The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor (Puffin, 1998). Ages 9-12. The Friendship is the story of the devastating effects of racism on the friendship of a white man and a black man in Mississippi in the 1930s.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry (Amistad, 1995). Ages 9-12. Biography of the courageous woman who led over 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Iggie’s House by Judy Blume (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2002). Ages 9-12. When an African-American family movies into Winnie’s neighborhood, she must confront prejudice in her community.
The Jacket by Andrew Clements (Aladdin, 2003). Ages 9-12. A young boy learns about prejudice after wrongfully accusing an African-American boy of stealing his brother’s jacket.
Jacob’s Rescue by Malka Drucker (Yearling, 1994). Ages 9-12. The story of a young boy who is rescued by a brave family during the Nazi occupation of Poland
Kids on Strike! by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2003). Before child labour laws existed, children across America were subjected to long hours of work in deplorable conditions. Learn about their place in history and what they did in order to try to better their situations.
Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe (Aladdin, 2008). Ages 9-12. Written in graphic novel form, Little Rock Nine is the story of two high school friends, one black and the other white, caught in the middle of the conflict surrounding desegregation of public schools.
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt (Laurel Leaf, 2008). Ages 9-12. When the town of Phippsburg, Maine threatens to turn nearby Malaga Island, settled by former slaves, into a tourist spot, Lizzie Bright and the minister’s son, Turner Buckminster, must join together to preserve her home.
Mississippi Bridge by Midred D. Taylor (Puffin, 2000). Ages 9-12. Mississippi Bridge is a powerful and haunting story about the effects of racism and segregation on a town in Mississippi in the 1930s.
Number the Stars by Lowis Lowry (Laurel Leaf, 1998). Ages 9-12. The story of 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen and her courageous attempt to save her best friend during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in 1943.
Out of Bounds by Beverley Naidoo (HarperTrophy, 2008). Ages 9-12. Out of Bounds is a collection of stories from the point of view of children living in South Africa under the apartheid.
Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1999). Ages 9-12. The story of Charlotte Parkhurst, a woman who spent most of her life disguised as a man and became the first woman to vote in the state of California.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Puffin, 2004). Ages 9-12. The Newberry Award-winning story of Cassie Logan, a young girl living in Mississippi in the 1930s whose family must deal with poverty and racism.
Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins (Puffin, 1999). Ages 9-12. Rosa Parks’ first-hand account of her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (Aladdin, 2008). Ages 9-12. The story of Jesse Boller, a teenager who is kidnapped and forced to work on a slave ship and the horrors he witnesses there.
Sounder by William H. Armstrong (HarperTrophy, 1995). Ages 9-12. The classic story an African-American family affected by poverty and racism in the South, and their loyal dog, Sounder.
Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me by John A. Stokes (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2007.) Ages 9-12. Stokes, one of the students who took part in the strike at R.R. Moton High School in 1951 to protest separate schooling for blacks and whites, gives his own first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges (Scholastic Press, 1999). Ages 9-12. An account of the life of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American student at an all-white elementary school in New Orleans, as seen through her own eyes.
The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (Laurel Leaf, 2000). Ages 9-12. When Kenny’s parents decide that his older, troublemaker brother, Byron, should be removed from the bad influences of the city for the summer, the family heads to Birmingham, Alabama, just in time to witness one of the most terrible incidents to occur in response to the Civil Rights Movement: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside.
Witness by Karen Hesse (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2003). Ages 9-12. When a small town in Vermont is infiltrated by the Ku Klux Klan, it is met with both support by some of the townspeople and trepidation by others. Told through the voices of both the victims and victimizers, the story shows how a small town can be gripped by prejudice, and how ultimately, the rights of the many overcome the hatred of the few.
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Puffin, 1989). Young Adult. First published in 1951, Amos Fortune, Free Man is the story of a man who is captured and sold into slavery, but is eventually able to buy his own freedom and that of other slaves.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (Dover Publications, 2001). From her teen years to her young life, Linda Brent struggled to survive at the height of slavery prior to the Civil War, even living in an attic for seven years to hide from her master. Based on Jacobs’ own personal experience.
The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2008). Young Adult. The Glory Field traces the history of one African-American family, the Lewises, all the way from the beginnings of slavery, through the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, to a family reunion in the 1990s.
Irrepressible Spirit: Conversations with Human Rights Activists by Susan Kuklin (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996). Powerful interviews with courageous people who are fighting for human rights. The stories are searing, but the message is hopeful.
Peace Jam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace by Ivan Suvanjieff (Puffin, 2008). Ages 12 and up. Peace Jam profiles Nobel Peace Laureates (such as the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and their work with teens in the PeaceJam movement, and provides tips on how the reader can get involved.
Stand Up, Speak Out: A Book About Children’s Rights (Two-Can Publishing, 2001). Ages 9-12. An examination of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child through the drawings and writings of young people around the world.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Grand Central Publishing, 1988). Young Adult. The story of two children, Scout and Jem, and their father’s attempt to defend the honor of an African-American man who has been wrongfully accused of a serious crime.
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals (Simon Pulse, 2007). Ages 12 and up. The first-hand account of one of the nine black students who was part of the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013). A free man from New York, Solomon Nothup is kidnapped and kept as a slave in Kentucky for 12 years. His undeniable courage and unswayable strength have made this book a must-read. Now also a major motion picture.
Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing our World by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, photographs by Eddie Adams (Crown Publishers, 2000). Portraits and interviews of human rights advocates from around the world. Look at this book with your children so they might know the true meaning of the word “hero.”
Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). Controversial topics such as abortion, the bailout, same-sex marriage are approached from a philosophical stance in an effort to better understand these issues.
How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas by Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega and Zahara Heckscher (Penguin Books, 2002). Everything you need to know about being an international volunteer, including organizational profiles, how to volunteer without an organized program and how to pay for it. An index lists the organizations that accept families.
Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others by Bill McMillon (Chicago Review Press, 2009). A comprehensive guide to volunteer vacationing. Most of the 275 opportunities McMillon discusses are not suitable for younger children, but he has scores of possibilities for families with teenagers.
Volunteer Vacations Across America: Immersion Travel USA by Sheryl Kayne (Countryman Press, 2009). This book lists over 200 volunteer programs across the country for people of all ages as well as groups.
Action Without Borders: Organizations Promoting Volunteering
This site lists dozens of organizations that sponsor volunteer vacations abroad with links to their Web sites. Take a tour and see what opportunities exist. You’ll need to be selective, because these are not specifically for families.
You’ll find all you need to know about volunteering, working or studying abroad. You can search for volunteer opportunities by country.
International Volunteer Programs Association
This site provides comprehensive information for anyone interested in volunteering abroad.
This organization generally arranges volunteer trips for pre-established groups, but it also has openings for individual volunteers or families within these groups.
Service Leader: Guide to Volunteering Outdoors in Parks and Wilderness Areas
This site provides links to volunteer opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. If this is your family’s passion, you’ll want to discover the possibilities.
Global Volunteers http://www.globalvolunteers.org/ Aimed at students, families, couples, individuals, and others, find volunteer opportunities from around the world.
Me To We http://www.metowe.com/ Me To We offers volunteer trips for youths, schools, university students, families, and corporate organizations.
The Giving Box: Create a Tradition of Giving with Your Children by Fred Rogers (Running Press, 2000). Ages 7 and up. The folktales and fables in this small volume encourage children in the spirit of giving. A “giving box” is also included — a simple way to make donating to charity a family ritual.
The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis (Free Spirit Publishing, 2009). Ages 8 and up. Find services ideas—big and small–that inspire or interest you and learn how to expand on them.
Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World by Garth Sundem (Free Spirit Publishing, 2010). Ages 9-13. Children from around the world, motivated by their own beliefs and ingenuity, found creative ways to raise money for causes that they believed it.
A Kid’s Guide to Giving by Freddi Zeiler (Innovative Kids, 2006.) Ages 12 and up. A Kid’s Guide to Giving challenges young people to give to charitable causes, whether through monetary donations, donations of items, or volunteering.
Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change by Chuck Collins, Pam Rogers and Joan P. Garner (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000). Supports the dictum “Change, not charity!” Explains how to give your money to get at the roots of social problems, rather than supporting short-term “band-aid” solutions. Provides guidance for choosing worthwhile causes and strategies for social change.
Preschool and Early Elementary
Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Halub (Puffin, 2003). Ages 2-6. Lift the flaps to discover the traditions and fun that happen during the Chinese New Year.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (United Features Syndicate, Inc., 1965). DVD. Watch Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang discover the real meaning of Christmas.
Imani’s Gift at Kwanzaa by Denise Burden-Patmon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992). Ages 4 and up. Learn about Kwanzaa through Imani, a little girl who reaches out with a special gift to a child with few friends.
The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook (Kids Can!) by Deanna F. Cook (Williamson Books, 2008). Ages 8 and up. Introduce a new tradition at your holiday feasts by preparing multicultural food. This is a great way to teach your children about how other cultures celebrate holidays with food.
Moishe’s Miracle: A Hanukkah Story by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by David Slonim (New York: HarperCollins, 2000). Ages 3-7. A magical Jewish folktale that teaches the lessons of generosity and sharing.
One Magic Christmas (Walt Disney Home Video, 1985). When Ginny wishes for Santa to save her family’s Christmas, she never expected himt o take her on such a magical journey of hope and love.
One Yellow Daffodil: A Hanukkah Story by David A. Adler (Voyager Books, 1999). Ages 6-10. A Holocaust survivor who owns a flower shop meets two children who share with him a very special Hanukkah tradition.
Holidays Around the World Series by Deborah Heiligman. Ages 6-9. Author Deborah Heiligman has written nine books that introduce readers to a variety of different holidays that are celebrated around the world.
Children of Christmas: Stories for the Season by Cynthia Rylant, drawings by S.D. Schindler (New York: Orchard Books, 1987). Six stories that convey how people are able to find joy and comfort in the holidays even under the most difficult circumstances. These poignant tales are likely to spark discussion.
Horrible Harry and the Holidaze by Suzy Kline (Puffin, 2004). Ages 7-9. Harry’s class learns about five different holidays that students in the class celebrate: Three King’s Day, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Korean New Year’s, and Christmas.
Date and Time http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/ Use this website to learn about holidays and days of observance in countries around the world. Users can also build their own customized calendars.
Kids’ Turn Central Holiday Glossary http://www.kidsturncentral.com/holidays/glossary/holidaysgloss.htm Month by month, learn about a variety of holidays that are celebrated around the world. Also includes links to external websites that provide more information.
The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day by Meg Cox (Running Press, 2012). Take a break from technology and find ways to bond with your family during holidays, mealtimes, and other occasions in creative and funny ways.
Alternative Gift Registry
Create a different kind of holiday wish list this year. Created by New American Dream (http://www.newdream.org/), the Alternative Gift Registry de-emphasizes store-bought gifts and focuses on more immaterial gifts, such as time spent with family.
Changing the Present
Give meaningful gifts in honor of loved ones, such as books for children in low income neighborhoods or a roof for a family in need. The website also offers personal fundraising drives and gift registries.
Salvation Army Holiday Angel Tree Program
Consider sponsoring an angel tree in your community this year. In the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, a Christmas tree is placed in a high-traffic area with tags attached that list the first name, age and gender of a child in need. Individuals can remove a tag and purchase a holiday gift for the child.
You can find more ideas in the book, The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering, available at bookstores or by clicking here. If you have ideas to include, we’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.We don’t vouch for any organizations mentioned. We simply provide the information for you to check out.