Racism Annotated Bibliography


Dr. Ava L. McCall



Children’s Literature

Adult Literature Dealing with Racism

Background Resources On Racism

Social Action Projects To Address Racism



Books dealing with events leading up to and including the Civil Rights Movement are highlighted in red.


Children’s Literature


Ada, A. F. (2011). Dancing home. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


This realistic fiction chapter book deals with a young girl’s struggle with her Mexican American identity. She longs to fit into majority American culture and deny her Mexican heritage, but ultimately learns to embrace both cultures. The process of arriving at this realization is a long and complex one. She changes her name from Margarita to Margie, speaks only English, becomes friends with European American students, gets a perm, and endures the prejudicial comments and teasing from some of her classmates. When her cousin Lupe arrives from Mexico to live with Margarita and her parents and attend school, Margarita appears ashamed of her cousin’s inability to speak English and resistant to her teacher’s and principal’s requests to translate for her cousin in school. Margarita also seems to resent the closeness among her parents and Lupe when they speak Spanish, talk about Mexico, and celebrate Mexican traditions, but eventually becomes drawn into it. The text seems to address the issue of internalized racism when people of color want to deny and denigrate their own race and culture.


Adler, D. A. (1994). A picture book of Sojourner Truth. New York: Holiday House.


Picture book, elementary level. Adler depicts Sojourner Truth's life from birth on when she carried the name of her owner and the injustices of slavery including having her brothers and sisters sold away from her parents, living in cold, wet, one-room cellars, and being kept from choosing one's own mate. After Sojourner was promised freedom by her owner and then denied it, she ran away and her freedom was paid for by someone sympathetic to the unfairness of her servitude. Sojourner became a preacher who spoke out against slavery and women's inequality. She became an inspirational speaker despite being unable to read or write. During the Civil War, Sojourner raised money to feed African American soldiers, worked with soldiers in chasing away slave traders, counseled freed slaves in the Freedman's Hospital, and protested against segregated streetcars until they were integrated.


Adler, D. A. (2004). Enemies of slavery. New York: Holiday House.


Picture book, elementary level. Adler profiles 14 people whom he believes fought against slavery. Well-known abolitionists are included, such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman. He also includes people who published books, newspapers, and pamphlets criticizing slavery, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elijah Lovejoy, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Theodore Dwight Weld. Those who used or planned violence to free slaves, such as John Brown, Nat Turner, and Denmark Vesey are portrayed. One questionable enemy of slavery is Abraham Lincoln who freed slaves only in the Confederate states during the Civil War.


Bausum, A. (2006). Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The well-researched text includes the perspectives and experiences of African American John Lewis and European American Jim Zwerg and their participation in civil rights movement, including the Freedom Rides in 1961. The book documents the challenges and sacrifices African American and European American civil rights activists encountered who were equally disparaged by proponents of racial segregation and inequality. The author investigates reasons for Lewis’s and Zwerg’s involvement in the civil rights movement, clarifying their diverse backgrounds but common experience of their families’ disapproval of their participation. Both Lewis and Zwerg completed training in non-violent protest, were beaten during their protest activities, arrested, jailed, and believed they would be killed during the Freedom Ride. Lewis became a leader in the civil rights movement and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives representing Georgia in 1986 and has served since then. Zwerg first served as a minister and later became involved in community service and business. At the end of the text is an annotated list of Freedom Riders, a timeline of key events in the two men’s lives, a list of additional books and resources for learning more about the civil rights movement, and the author’s research notes, citations, and bibliography.


Beals, M. P. (1995). Warriors don’t cry: A searing memoir of the battle to integrate Little Rock’s Central High. New York: Pocket Books.


Middle school level/adult resource. This text is Melba Pattillo Beals’ fascinating, painful account of her experiences as one of the nine African American teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. The text is based on the author’s diary as well as her mother’s notes and collection of newspaper clippings during the 1957-58 school year. It reveals the deeply rooted racism among people in Little Rock in the resistance to the integration of African Americans in the previously all-White Central High School. The governor and the Arkansas National Guard refused to allow the African American students to enter the school until President Eisenhower insisted. Mobs of European American parents shouted insults, spit on, and threatened violence against the students. European American students verbally abused, threatened, and physically attacked the African American students. Some teachers and administrators refused to provide any help or support to the African American students when they complained about the attacks. The only time the author spoke of feeling relatively safe was when she had a personal body guard, a member of a federal troop sent to protect the African American students and control the violence. The author credits the prayer and support from her grandmother, mother, and church in helping her cope with these painful racist experiences.


Bial, R. (1995). The underground railroad. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text contains many photographs, sketches, and other printed materials related to slavery and the Underground Railroad. Pictures of where slaves and their owners lived show the contrast in the lives of these two groups. Pictures also reveal rivers slaves crossed as they escaped, wagons, tunnels, and secret rooms they hid in, and signals from stations indicating safe houses. The text provides important information about slavery and the Underground Railroad, and the photographs help to make the hardships of slavery and the dangerous conditions of escaping on the Underground Railroad come alive for the reader.


Bial, R. (1997). The strength of these arms: Life in the slave quarters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text is embellished with many photographs illustrating the contrast in life between slaves and slave owners in their housing, furniture, and eating utensils. The author emphasizes the strength and spirit of the slaves in holding onto their African heritage; developing their own social system; building strong, extended families; teaching each other to read and write; developing skills in such crafts as iron work, quilting, and basketry; making their crude dwellings into homes for their extended families; stretching the limited food allotted to them through gardening, fishing, and hunting; and recognizing the injustice of being denied the benefits from their own work on farms. Bial encourages readers to recognize that slaves were not inherently slaves, but people who were wrongfully enslaved and resisted this life with dignity and courage. We should respect how well these slaves coped with a racist society.


Bland, C. (1995). The conspiracy of the secret nine. New York: Silver Moon.


Upper elementary level. This novel is based on an actual event, a riot led by the White Government Union to force many African Americans out of the town of Wilmington, North Carolina. The story is told by a young African American boy, a friend of the son of a man who became a member of the White Government Union. At the time (1890), Wilmington was sixty percent African American with many African Americans participating in the local government and owning their own businesses. Wilmington also had one of the few African American daily newspapers. The White Government Union or Redeemers feared the growing power of African Americans within the community and wanted to ban African Americans from government, deny them voting rights, close schools for African Americans, and prevent the racial integration of neighborhoods. The riot ended the boys' friendship and resulted in deaths and the loss of homes for many African Americans.


Blue, R. & Naden, C. J. (2009). Ron’s big mission. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is a fictionalized account of a real event in Ron McNair’s childhood in 1959. Ron grew up, became an astronaut, and was killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. When Ron was growing up in South Carolina in the 1950s, African Americans could not hold library cards and check out books for themselves. Although Ron usually spent hours reading books in the library, one day he insisted on checking books out to take home to read. After calling the police and his mother who could not convince Ron to allow someone else to check the books out for him, the head librarian created a library card for Ron, which allowed him to check out the library books in his own name.


Bridges, R. (1999). Through my eyes. New York: Scholastic.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author tells her story of being the only African American child to integrate William Franz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960 and many of her later experiences precipitated by this bold action. She describes her memories of being escorted by U.S. marshals to school, the yelling, racist crowds outside before and after school, and spending most of the school year being the only child in her classroom. The racial threats made against Ruby outside the school were tempered with the kindness of Ruby’s teacher Mrs. Henry. These childhood memories are interspersed with broader explanations of the riots caused by European American resistance to racial integration, the conflicting views of her parents about her role integrating the public schools, ways her family was both punished and supported for Ruby’s attendance at a “White” school, and documentation of her experience by Robert Coles, John Steinbeck, and Norman Rockwell. The author includes Mrs. Henry’s description of the year she spent with Ruby in first grade and her own experience in second grade with a teacher who did not seem to like her. The book closes with the author’s description of her current work with the Ruby Bridges Foundation to strengthen the school she first integrated.


Bruchac, J. (1997). Eagle song. New York: Puffin.


Elementary level. The author tells the story of Danny Bigtree, a contemporary Mohawk boy, who moved to New York city from Akwesasne, the Mohawk reservation on the U.S.-Canadian border. Danny, his mother, and father had to move due to the reservation’s high unemployment rate, but Danny encountered considerable prejudice and discrimination from other children at his school. They called him “chief” and “redskin” and implied he should be wearing a headdress and living in a teepee or ignore him completely. After Danny’s father comes to school and explains some of the cultural beliefs of the Iroquois people, that enemies can become friends, Danny has the courage to initiate friendship with a former “enemy.”


Bruchac, J. (1998). The arrow over the door. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Upper elementary level. Within the text, the author describes an historical meeting between Quakers and Native people in 1777. Although he creates fictional characters and dialogue and interactions among the characters, Bruchac bases the text on considerable research on Quakers, Native nations in the northeast, and the historic meeting between a small group of Quakers and Native people at a meeting house in 1777. The text illustrates some of the racist views of Native people at this time, especially the “dangerous savage” image and the lack of acceptance from colonists, even when Native people spoke English and adopted European style clothing, housing, and the Christian religion. In contrast, Quakers viewed Native people as children of God and sought friendships with them. The text provides very interesting insights into how Native people might have viewed “Americans” and “English” at this time.


Bruhac, J. (1998). The heart of a chief. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author creates a fictional character living on a fictional reservation in the northeast in order to raise some of the problems on reservations today. He also raises the issue of racism by portraying the demeaning and harmful effects for Native people when sports teams use Indian names for their mascots. Residents of the Penacook Reservation struggle with poverty and alcoholism and are divided in a decision to build a casino as one means of ameliorating their poverty. When the main character, Chris, and a small group of junior high school students choose the topic of using Indian names for sports teams as the topic for their language arts project, they engage in a type of social action against racism. They raise awareness among students, teachers, administrators and other members of the community about the negative impact of Indian mascots on everyone.


Bruchac, J. (1999). The trail of tears. New York: Random House.


Picture book, elementary level. The author traces Cherokee history, including their early trading relationship with the English, their adoption of some aspects of an European American lifestyle, several members’ growing wealth, and the development of the Cherokee alphabet. He also describes the recurring conflicts between the Cherokee and the U.S. Government and European Americans over Cherokee land. In order to gain Cherokee’s valuable land in the east in parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina and any resources on the land, the government used the racist practices of breaking treaties and allowing European Americans to take Cherokee land. The author explains the events leading up to the trail of tears, including the questionable treaty signed by Cherokee who did not represent the entire nation, the denial of the Cherokee people’s civil rights by herding them into camps and taking away all weapons, and the poor conditions of the camps which resulted in many deaths. Fortunately, one of the Cherokee leaders negotiated for the people to make their own arrangements to travel west to Indian Territory, during which 4,000 people died. Despite the hardships and oppression at the hands of the U.S. Government, the Cherokee became prosperous and today two Cherokee Nations exist, one in North Carolina and another in Oklahoma.


Bruchac, J. (2000). Crazy Horse’s vision. New York: Lee & Low.


Picture book, elementary level. The author’s notes provide additional context for this brief biographical sketch of Crazy Horse while the illustrator’s notes explain the influence of ledger art on the beautiful illustrations he created for the text. The author focuses on the Lakota leader Crazy Horse’s early years, when his parents first named him Curly. As a boy, Curly was quiet, brave, generous, and a good rider. However, his people’s traditional life was disrupted by conflict with Wasichu settlers and soldiers. When Curly witnessed several Lakota people’s attack by White soldiers, he sought a vision to help his people. His vision advised him to “keep nothing for yourself” and he would be unharmed. When his father eventually learned of the vision, he gave Curly his own name, Tashunka Witco which means Crazy Horse in English. Readers can gain additional insight into the cultural values of the Lakota and such leaders as Crazy Horse, which enabled them to resist U.S. Government efforts to diminish them.


Bruchac, J. (2002). Navajo long walk: The tragic story of a proud people’s forced march from their homeland. Washington DC: National Geographic Society.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author begins the text with the Navajo or Dine (the Navajo people’s name for themselves) creation story, which illustrates the close connection of the Navajo people to their homeland, Dinetah. He then describes the Navajo lifestyle and how it was changed by the Spanish introduction of sheep and goats, and the Pueblo’s introduction of agriculture. The text includes American racist actions directed against the Navajos in not understanding the Navajo political system, in taking land away from the Navajos through treaties, in aligning themselves with Navajo enemies, and in forcing the Navajo people to leave their homeland. The forced 470-mile walks from Fort Canby to Fort Sumner were staged for humiliation and hardship for the Navajo people. Soldiers rode while the Navajo walked, slept outside with no shelter or blankets, and fed poorly. When over 8,750 Navajo crowded into Fort Sumner in 1865, there were not enough food or other resources. The new reservation itself was too small for the number of people, forced enemies (Mescalero Apaches and Navajo) to live together, and had inadequate housing, firewood, food, blankets, and medicines. Conditions were so dismal on the reservation that a Congressional hearing was held. Finally, in 1868 a treaty was signed which allowed the Navajos to return to their homeland. The Navajo nation grew, their herds increased, and they regained most of their homeland. The Navajos now live on the largest reservation in the United States.


Bruchac, J. (2003). The warriors. Plain City, OH: Darby Creek.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author portrays the changes a contemporary fictional character, Jake, an Iroquois boy living on a reservation in Canada, must experience when he moves to an elite boarding school in Maryland. Jake is a skilled lacrosse player who understands the deep meaning of the game to the Iroquois people. After his move to the boarding school, he encounters racist depictions of Native people in a lacrosse display, stereotyped and racist stories about Native people in history class, and boys who try to befriend him with nicknames such as “Chief” and “Super Chief.” The fictional story illustrates the discomfort a Native youth feels when he is surrounded by European American, wealthy boys whose culture permeates the school with no regard for Native culture. No one shows any interest in learning about the Native youth, his beliefs, and cultural background. Instead, most other students and faculty concentrate on how Jake’s lacrosse skills can bring honor to the school. When the lacrosse coach is hurt, Jake is able to bring the students and faculty together to play lacrosse as a prayer for the coach’s healing.


Bruchac, J. (2004). Jim Thorpe’s bright path. New York: Lee & Low Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text portrays the early years of Jim Thorpe’s life, his birth to a Pottowatomi woman and a Sac and Fox father in Oklahoma and his unhappy years in Agency Boarding School where he was forced to wear strange clothes and punished for speaking his first language. Because of the poor sanitation and crowded conditions at the boarding school, Jim’s twin brother died from pneumonia. Jim ran away from this school and later attended Haskell Institute in Kansas, another boarding school for Native children and youth. At this school the Native students learned trades, and Jim discovered his interest in football and track. Despite the tragic death of both parents, Jim continued with his education at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where he became an outstanding athlete in track and football. In the author’s note, Bruchac expands on Jim Thorpe’s life as the dominant sports figure of the 20th century and Thorpe’s effort to improve conditions for American Indians.


Buckley, G. (2003). American patriots: The story of Blacks in the military from the Revolution to Desert Storm. New York: Crown.


The author provides a detailed account of the racism, discrimination, and prejudice African Americans experienced as they served in the armed forces from the beginning of U.S. history through today. They were forced into segregated units, given the least desirable tasks, and prevented from becoming commanding officers. However, despite this oppression, greater percentages of African Americans volunteered for duty than their representation in the general population. They fought for “freedom” in different places in the world when they did not experience “freedom” in their own country. Only recently have African American military heroes been honored for their contributions during World War II. Readers finish the text with considerable understanding of the racism within the armed forces and African American individuals and units who overcame such oppression with heroic actions.


Bunting, E. (1995). Cheyenne again. New York: Clarion.


Picture book, elementary level. The author portrays the main character, Young Bull, and his experiences of being forced to attend an Indian boarding school away from his home and family. Young Bull's mother does not want him to go, but his father believes he must "learn the White Man's ways." Young Bull describes his perceptions of the boarding school including the lonely looking sleeping room, the cutting of his braids, the exchange of his buckskins and moccasins for a scratchy wool uniform and boots which hurt his feet. Young Bull and the other students are forbidden to speak Cheyenne and forced to attend church, learn carpentry and a Eurocentric version of U.S. History in order to lose their Native American cultures and become assimilated. With one teacher's encouragement, Young Bull remembers his culture and being able to be "Cheyenne again."


Bunting, E. (1998). So far from the sea. New York: Clarion.


Picture book, upper elementary level. Laura Iwasaki, the narrator, tells about her family’s visit to her grandfather’s grave at the Manzanar War Relocation Camp in California before they move from California to Massachusetts. The colored illustrations reveal the gravity of the family visit while the black and white illustrations depict scenes from the relocation camp when it was filled with 10,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Although Laura’s father explains why the U.S. Government interned Japanese Americans and insist they must “move on,” Laura expresses the injustice of this action toward American citizens of Japanese descent. Despite these two distinct perspectives on this historical event, both Laura and her father know the devastating effects on Laura’s grandfather, whose broken spirit led to his death in the relocation camp. In the “Afterword,” the author clarifies the Iwasaki family is fictional, but many Japanese American families had similar experiences in these internment camps.


Burleigh, R. (2007). Stealing home: Jackie Robinson against the odds. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. The book has two texts. The simple, main text describes Jackie Robinson’s style on the baseball field as he steals home and the hearts of the baseball fans who cheer him during the World Series game in 1955. The run contributes to the Brooklyn Dodgers ultimate victory in the World Series that year. The smaller, more complex text provides the historical context of racial segregation in the U.S. and in baseball in the 1940s and 1950s. It also portrays the racism Robinson endured from teammates and opponents, despite his successes on the baseball field. After retiring from baseball, Robinson fought against racism in the U.S.


Capaldi, G. & Pearce, Q. L. (2011). Red Bird sings: The story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American author, musician, and activist. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is a biography of Zitkala-Sa or Gertrude Simmons, who was born on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota. Gertrude asked to attend a boarding school in Indiana when missionaries from the school came to her village in 1884. However, she did not realize all the ramifications of this change. Gertrude’s mother consented to allowing her to leave because she understood Gertrude would need an education. Gertrude was forced to have her hair cut and spent considerable time during the day completing “vocational training” or learning to be a housekeeper at the boarding school. She also loved reading, writing, and, on Saturdays, music lessons. The text shows the conflicting nature of education in boarding schools for Gertrude. She loved and excelled in her studies and music which helped her to become an excellent speaker, writer, teacher, musician, composer, and activist for Native people. On the other hand, she became estranged from her traditional culture and home until her return home in 1901. The Afterword provides additional background on Zitkala-Sa, resources used in preparing the biography, and additional resources for readers to learn more about Zitkala-Sa.


Carvel, M. (2002). Who will tell my brother? New York: Hyperion Books for Children.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is realistic fiction written in free verse and based on the author’s son’s experience of protesting the use of Native mascots in his high school. The main character, Evan Hill, is a high school student of Mohawk and European American background. Verses portray Evan’s sense of shame, injustice, and anger when cheerleaders paint their faces and wear Indian headdresses during cheers, when other students imitate Indian warriors, and the school walls, banners, and football field continue to be decorated with an Indian face. Evan first speaks with the school principal about changing the mascot, then makes several formal requests of the school board to change the mascot, to no avail. He follows in his older brother’s footsteps, who also tried and failed to change the school mascot. After Evan experiences verbal and physical harassment at school and his family faces violence at home, some of his friends join him in protesting the Indian mascot.


Charbonneau, E. (1996). Honor to the hills. New York: Tor Books.


Middle school level. In this historical fiction text, the main character, Lily Woods and her mostly European American family become involved in racial issues of 1851. From their large home in the Catskills Mountains of New York, they quietly help escaping slaves, resist enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, invited a community of freed African Americans to settle near them, and endure the racist attitudes toward the grandfather, the son of a Frenchman and a Native American woman. The author portrays the closeness among the family members as providing the strength to cope with the disapproval from the community for their anti-racist activities and for the courage to rescue a member of the freed African American settlement from slave catchers.


Clements, A. (2002). The jacket. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Upper elementary level. The fictional story explores a European American boy’s emerging awareness of race in his school and neighborhood. After Phil, the main character, accuses an African American boy of stealing his brother’s jacket, he recognizes the accusation comes from his own racial prejudices. This revelation leads him to acknowledge racial segregation in his school and neighborhood and his and his family’s lack of friendships with African Americans. Instead, Phil’s family’s main relationship with an African American is with Lucy Taylor, who cleans their house. As Phil attempts to make amends with Daniel, whom he accused of stealing the jacket and is also Mrs. Taylor’s grandson, Phil recognizes many commonalities among the two of them. The text stimulates thinking about racial awareness, differences, and similarities.


Clinton, C. (1998). I, too, sing America: Three centuries of African American poetry. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is a collection of 36 poems composed by 25 African American poets. The poems are arranged chronologically, beginning with Lucy Terry in the 1700s and early 1800s through 20th century poets Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni, and concluding with the recent poet laureate Rita Dove. The poems describe exclusion, discrimination, and racism present during slavery, legal racial segregation, and the continuing racial inequalities in the U.S. as well as affirm African Americans, hope for freedom, and the creation of a better world. The brief biographies of the poets also document the racism that affected their abilities to write and be heard.


Cohen, B. (1983). Molly's pilgrim. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.


Picture book, elementary level. Molly, the third-grade main character, is made fun of by other children at school because of her Russian accent and her lack of knowledge about the American holiday Thanksgiving. When Molly understands the concept of pilgrim and explains it to her mother, her mother makes the connection between the family's flight from Russia for religious freedom to the Pilgrims' immigration to the U.S. for similar reasons. Molly's mother makes a special Russian pilgrim doll which Molly's teacher uses to broaden the concept of pilgrim and to link Thanksgiving to the Jewish holiday of Sukkos.


Coleman, E. (1996). White socks only. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, elementary level. The text illustrates the consequences of an African American child innocently challenging racial segregation by drinking from a water fountain labeled "Whites only." When a European American man threatens to punish her for her act, other African American people from the community began drinking from the fountain. Despite some punishment from the European American man, the story demonstrates the power of resistance to racism.


Coles, R. (1995). The story of Ruby Bridges. New York: Scholastic.


Picture book, elementary level. Based on the true story of Ruby Bridges, an African American student ordered by the court to be the first to integrate a White elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. For months when Ruby walked to school, she was escorted by federal marshals while European Americans yelled at her and carried signs communicating their anger that African Americans could attend the school. Other European American parents kept their children home so Ruby was the only student in first grade for most of the year. Every day as Ruby walked past the angry mob, she prayed for God to forgive the people who were harassing her. Her prayers also helped to keep her spirits up during the year.


Connelly, B. (1997). Follow the drinking gourd. Lancaster, PA: Rabbit Ears Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text also includes a compact disk which portrays Morgan Freeman’s dramatic oral version of the story and the folksong “Follow the Drinking Gourd”sung by Taj Mahal. The author communicates slaves’ deep desire for freedom by their willingness to risk many dangers and hardships in order to escape. The story focuses on a slave family’s flight from slavery on the Underground Railroad after they learn the master plans to sell one of them. The family had already undergone the pain of their father’s and husband’s sale away from them. Peg Leg Joe, other slaves, and Quakers help the family escape and offer different hiding places until the family is reunited with their father and husband. Together, they continue their flight toward freedom.


Cooper, A. (2009). My name is Henry Bibb: A story of slavery and freedom. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is historical fiction based on Henry Bibb’s autobiography, published in 1848. Henry’s mother was a slave in Kentucky, but his father was a slaver owner who never claimed Henry as his son. Henry began working as a household domestic by the time he was eight years old, but was also hired out at different times. Readers learn about the constant injustice of slavery with physical punishments, lack of food and clothing, punishments for learning to read or write, and the constant reminders that slaves were property, had no rights, and were viewed as inferior to Whites. The text also portrays the closeness among Henry, his mother, and younger brothers, as well as other slaves working on the same plantation. As Henry matured, his anger toward his owners increased and he could not always show the proper deference demanded of slaves. After his mother became ill, and he married and became a father, Henry decided to escape to freedom. He used the help of abolitionists who planned his escape to Ohio, then to Michigan, and finally to Canada. The epilogue explains that Henry successfully escaped, but returned to rescue his family and was caught. Henry became a dramatic speaker about slavery, published his autobiography in 1848, founded literary, antislavery and debating societies, established churches and schools in Ontario, and established the first Black newspaper in Canada. Henry was eventually reunited with his mother and younger brothers in Canada.


Cooper, M. L. (1999). Indian school: Teaching the white man’s way. New York: Clarion.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text describes the oppressive, racist purposes and practices of Captain Richard Pratt and the staff at Carlisle Indian School, the first governmental boarding school established for Native American children. The school was established to extinguish Native cultures and inculcate Native American students with European American values, religion, language, clothing, and ways of life. The text also depicts some of the experiences of Native students who attended Carlisle between 1879 and 1918, the years of the school’s existence. Readers are able to compare differences between traditional ways of life for Native families from several nations and the enforced changes in Native students’ dress, hair, names, language, food, and daily rituals at Carlisle. However, students also resisted these changes and sometimes benefitted from opportunities provided by the school. Beverly Slapin from the Oyate organization does not recommend this text because of its “sloppy research and superficial treatment of boarding schools.” Readers should use this text in combination with other texts which provide more authentic portrayals of boarding schools. For a complete critical analysis of the text, visit the Oyate web site.


Delano, M. F. (2013). Master George’s people: George Washington, his slaves, and his revolutionary transformation. Washington DC: National Geographic.


Picture book, upper elementary and middle school level. The text is illustrated with paintings of Washington, his family and the Mount Vernon estate as well as photographs of historical interpreters and current buildings on the estate. The author focuses on the slaves who lived at Mount Vernon during the time that George and Martha Washington lived there, their varied responsibilities, how the slaves were procured for the plantation, how the slaves contributed to Washington’s wealth, and some profiles of individual slaves. The author also explains how Washington came to accept slavery as a child growing up with slaves and becoming a slave owner himself when he was 11. He sold slaves even when it meant families were broken up and was willing to have slaves physically punished for not working or stealing. However, Washington’s views toward his slaves changed during the American Revolution when he decided not to sell slaves against their will, no longer beat them, and wrote his last will freeing his slaves (not his wife’s slaves) upon his and his wife’s death. However, Martha Washington chose to free George’s slaves prior to her death since she did not feel safe around slaves who knew they would be freed upon her death. The author speculates that Washington changed his views about slavery from working with African American troops in the Revolutionary War, contact with Phillis Wheatley, an African American poet, observations of successful farms in the North that did not depend on slave labor, the idealism of such officers as Marquis de Lafayette who opposed slavery, and the irony of fighting for freedom while enslaving African Americans.


Demi. (2001). Gandhi. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text is embellished with beautiful illustrations to portray Gandhi’s inspirational life. Readers gain insight into important events which influenced Gandhi to embrace simplicity, love, nonviolence, and service to others, especially the most oppressed and discriminated against. He experienced racism firsthand when living in South Africa from 1893 - 1915. Rather than retaliate, Gandhi formed a nonviolent mass resistance movement to work for the rights of Black South Africans, Indian people, and women living in South Africa. After returning to India in 1915, Gandhi focused on eliminating the caste system which privileged priests, princes, and soldiers. He also resisted British oppression. Gandhi encouraged Indian people to weave their own cloth rather than purchase British cloth, led a nationwide strike which shut down the country, and headed a Salt March in defiance of British law forbidding Indian people from making their own salt rather than purchase British salt. Although British control was lessened, the British also punished Gandhi by imprisoning him. When India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947, Gandhi was saddened by the civil war between Indians of Hindu faith and Indians with Muslim beliefs. His goal was that Indian people would be united despite religious differences, a belief which cost Gandhi his life. Readers may be inspired to address racism through nonviolent actions.


Diouf, S. A. (2001). Growing up in slavery. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author provides a portrayal of the experience of slavery for children. She emphasizes that despite the many cruelties of slavery, children received care and love from adult family members or other adults within the slave community. The text reviews the different circumstances leading to the enslavement of children, the unique experiences of mulatto children, and the constant fear that children would be separated from their parents. One of the cruelties of slavery was that slave children usually did not have a childhood because they were expected to begin work at the age of five or six. They often had little to eat, wore meager clothing, and slept on a pallet on the dirt floor of the slave cabin. They were expected to work hard and punished severely if they did not. Recreation was restricted to story-telling from adults, “frolics” with music and dancing, corn-shucking, a few holidays, typical games as tag, jumping rope, hide-and-seek, and circle games, and more disturbing slavery games simulating whippings, auctioning, and holding funerals. Education consisted of learning survival strategies, although some slave children learned to read and write. Gaining freedom was important for children. They ran away, were purchased by their family, or joined the Union army.


Duggleby, J. (1998). Story painter: The life of Jacob Lawrence. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is a biography of African American artist Jacob Lawrence and is illustrated with a number of Lawrence’s paintings as well as photographs of him at different times in his life. The author describes the effects of racism on Lawrence, including his family’s financial struggles, the Eurocentric school curriculum, and the racial segregation of the military and public facilities. When Jacob Lawrence lived in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, he learned about African American history and began painting to record African American events and people. Through special projects to support artists, the recognition of his talent by galleries and museums, and his own hard work and artistic gifts, Lawrence became a well-known and prolific artist in the 1940s. He continued to document the struggles African Americans fought for equality through his paintings and teaching through the late 20th century.


Duncan, D. (1996). People of the West. Boston: Little, Brown.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text and numerous photographs portray the diversity of people who have lived at one time in the "West." The text portrays the racist policies of the U.S. government and the racism of European Americans toward native people, specifically the Hidatsas, the Nez Perces, and the Cayuse. European Americans and the U.S. government destroyed many tribes' food and shelter, forced them to move from their homelands, and tried to make them change their way of life and beliefs. For Chinese men, the West provided opportunities for work by building the transcontinental railroad, although these men received fewer benefits than European and European American workers earned and endured racism. The contributions these men made in helping to complete the railroad was not acknowledged, despite the loss of 1,200 Chinese lives in the process. For African Americans, opportunities to homestead in Kansas offered some respite from the few economic opportunities in the South after slavery was abolished. Racism directed against African Americans also existed in Kansas.


Echo-Hawk, R. C. & Echo-Hawk, W. R. (1994). Battlefields and burial grounds: The Indian struggle to protect ancestral graves in the United States. Minneapolis: Lerner.


Middle school level, adult resource. The authors want readers to understand how Native American graves have been dug up in order for archeologists to study deceased Native Americans and the objects buried with them. This desecration of graves is in violation of Native people’s beliefs and practices of protecting their dead and the laws which protected European Americans’ graves. The destruction of graves and the display of remains in museums is another example of the institutional racism Native people have had to contend with. The authors explain the significance of Native burial practices and the view that most Native people hold which is that archeological interest in Native American culture does not justify the digging up of Native American graves. After the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was passed in 1990, Native people have claimed Native remains from museums and reburied them.


Edwards, D. D. (2011). My name is not easy. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is historical fiction, but is based on real events and places in Alaska history during the 1960s. It portrays some of the racist policies of the government in forcing Native Alaskan students to attend distant boarding schools because no high schools were available in their own communities. The main characters of the text are Inupiaq and Athabascan, but at the parochial school they separate themselves into “Eskimos” and “Indians” until they find some common experiences to bind them as a family. The main character, Luke, does not use his real Inupiaq name because he knows no one can pronounce it correctly. When he and his two younger brothers arrive at the school, the youngest brother Isaac is taken away to “live with a good Catholic family” because he is too young to attend the school. The priests and nuns try to prevent Luke and Bunna from finding him, but Luke discovers Isaac was taken to Dallas, Texas to live, even though their family never approved. The text portrays the Native students’ perspectives on the racist, cruel treatment from one of the priests, military experiments performed on them without their permission or understanding of the potential harm, and governmental actions on their villages which disregarded Native people’s health, safety, culture, and rights.


Edwards, P. D. (1997). Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad. New York: HarperCollins.


Picture book, elementary level. This text provides an interesting perspective on the Underground Railroad, how plants and animals help "barefoot" or slaves escaping along the Underground Railroad. Because many field slaves were familiar with animal signs, they used this knowledge in their escape. When slaves heard frogs croak, they knew fresh water was nearby for drinking. When slave catchers closed in on the escaping slave, herons made warning cries, mosquitoes attacked the slave catchers, and a deer led them away from the hidden slave. Then fireflies illuminated a quilt on the outside of a house, a sign of welcome for escaping slaves. Although the text's depiction of animals' intentional assistance to escaping slaves is questionable, it does illustrate how astute slaves must be to understand plants and animals and use them in their escape from slavery.


Evans, F. W. (2001). A bus of our own. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on real events in Madison, Mississippi, a racially segregated community, after World War II. By focusing on one African American family, especially Mable Jean and her brother, readers learn of the “separate and unequal” education provided for African Americans and European Americans within the same community. African American children must walk five miles to school because they have no school bus while European American children ride a bus to their school. Even though African American families pay taxes, their tax money supports buses for only European American students. By working together, the African American community provides a school bus to allow their children to attend school throughout the school year.


Evans, S. W. (2012). We march. New York: Roaring Book Press.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The simple text and illustrations portray the 1963 march on Washington DC for jobs and freedom. It portrays a family preparing to leave home for the march, going to church and praying for strength, creating signs, traveling on buses, following their leaders, singing, and listening to such speakers as Martin Luther King, Jr. The author provides additional background information on the march and other marches to lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Ferris, J. (1988). Walking the road to freedom: A story about Sojourner Truth. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda.


Elementary level. This book is a biography of Isabelle Hardenbergh, a slave, who was sold away from her parents, forced to marry another slave, and had five children. It tells of the hardships and escape from slavery and her struggle to keep her children with her. When she was separated from her family at midlife, she felt God's call to ministry and claimed the name Sojourner Truth. She became a well-known speaker at religious, antislavery, and women's rights meetings. Even after emancipation, Sojourner continued her fight for better lives for African American women and men.


Forrester, S. (1995). Sound the jubilee. New York: Puffin Books.


Middle school level/adult resource. The main characters in the text are fictional, but the text is based on real events which happened during the Civil War. Maddie, her older sister Angeline, younger brother Pride, and their parents were slaves on a North Carolina plantation during the Civil War. Maddie’s parents were consistently teaching their children how to survive as slaves and endure the regular humiliation of being owned by others. When the owners were concerned that the Union army may attack them and burn their property, they decided to escape to their vacation home on Nags Head, an island on the North Carolina coast, and take Maddie’s family to care for them. While they were here, Maddie’s family escaped from slavery and moved to Roanoke Island, which was recently captured by the Union army and a safe haven for escaped slaves. Unfortunately, Maddie and her family encountered the racism of some of the Northern soldiers who were supposed to help the escaped slaves settle on the island. Soldiers destroyed the simple church the growing African American community built to use for worship services and a school, threatened to whip any African Americans who came near government property, and ridiculed the African American recruits while they trained for battle. In addition, the African American soldiers were paid less than the European American soldiers and often the Union Army delayed or failed to pay this smaller amount. Although the U.S. Government initially gave land and helped the African Americans build homes on Roanoke Island, they eventually restored the land to the previous European American owners and forced the African Americans to leave.


Fox, M. (1997). Whoever you are. New York: Harcourt Brace.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The author emphasizes the similarities among children despite differences in skin, homes, schools, lands, lifestyles, and languages. She encourages young readers to recognize that other children have hearts, smiles, laughs, hurts, cries, joys, and pains just like them. By acknowledging similarities, perhaps cultural and racial differences can be embraced rather than disparaged.


Freedman, R. (1996). The life and death of Crazy Horse. New York: Holiday House.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text is a detailed, moving narrative of Crazy Horse’s life, one of the most well-known Teton Sioux warriors. It is embellished with ledger art created by Amos Bad Heart Bull, a cousin of Crazy Horse, who lived in the late 1800s and completed 400 pictographs depicting the history of the Oglala Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Teton Sioux. The author encourages readers to empathize with Crazy Horse and his people by providing a strong “insider’s” perspective on the Sioux and the hardships they endured at the hands of the U.S. Government. During the mid 1800s when Crazy Horse was growing up, the Teton Sioux were the strongest and largest Native American nation. By the time Crazy Horse became a man, the Teton Sioux were fighting to save their hunting grounds and lifestyle, which were threatened by invading European Americans and U.S. Government’s efforts to take their lands. Crazy Horse was a very quiet man who spent a great deal of time alone. When in battle, he did not wear war paint, dressed according to a vision he had as a young boy, and took no scalps. He was also humble and refused to boast about his accomplishments as a warrior. The author describes in detail the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 when Crazy Horse led his warriors in defeating General Custer as well as his surrender to soldiers at Camp Robinson in 1877, his betrayal by rivals in his own tribe, and his murder at the camp.


Giovanni, N. (2005). Rosa. New York: Henry Holt.


Picture book, elementary level. Giovanni’s text shows Rosa Parks as an African American woman concerned about her own job and family, yet aware of the racial injustices she and other African Americans endured during racial segregation. Instead of attributing Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama because she was physically tired, Giovanni explains, “. . . she was tired. Not tired from work but tired of putting white people first. Tired of stepping off sidewalks to let white people pass, tired of eating at separate lunch counters and learning at separate schools.” The text also emphasizes the efforts of the Women’s Political Council in organizing a boycott of the city buses. They were joined by the NAACP and the churches, and the boycott was supported by people all over the U.S. Following a year-long boycott, on November 13, 1956 the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation illegal.


Goble, P. (1987). Death of the iron horse. New York: Bradbury.


Picture book, elementary level. This book is loosely based on the one incidence of a Native American tribe derailing a train as an act of resistance to European American invasion into their land. In 1867, a Union Pacific freight train was derailed by Cheyennes during its journey from Omaha to North Platte, Nebraska. The book portrays a Cheyenne perspective on how they were treated by European Americans including European Americans' greed for land and their destruction of Cheyenne people and villages. However, as the book explains, the Cheyennes were not just victims, they also fought against these injustices.


Goble, P. (1992). Red Hawk’s account of Custer’s last battle. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.


Picture book, upper elementary/middle school level. Paul Goble not only provides an Oglala perspective on the Battle of Little Bighorn, but also illustrates the text in a style used by Plains people in paintings on their tipi or buffalo robes. The text includes a fictional young Oglala male, Red Hawk’s narrative of the battle, but also background information on Custer, Chief Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, who led the warriors in battle. Goble explains that the U.S. Government wanted to force the Sioux and Cheyenne onto reservations so European Americans were free to move west. Custer wanted to be part of this effort in order to gain personal glory and become president. Red Hawk describes the bravery of the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Oglala warriors as well as that of the U.S. soldiers in his narrative of the battle. However, despite their victory, Red Hawk communicates the destruction of the battle for warriors, horses, and children. The final outcome of the interaction between European Americans and Native people was the removal of Native people to small pieces of land White people did not want.


Gold, S. D. (1997). Indian treaties. New York: Twenty-First Century Books.


Middle school level, adult resource. The author provides a strong description of the many injustices the U. S. Government inflicted on Native people throughout the country through treaties from the 1600s through 1871. The treaties resulted in the loss of two billion acres of land for the Native people frequently for pennies an acre. The text also explains that treaties themselves were part of European American culture, but not Native American culture. Native people did not believe that individuals could own land, but the land was given by the Creator for all to use to survive. They also did not believe an individual chief had the right to sign treaties. European Americans forced Native people to sign treaties to give up land and then often broke the treaties to take the limited land set aside for the Native people. Readers can easily conclude that European Americans' lack of regard for and racism directed against Native Americans were at the root of most treaties, removal to reservations, and other U.S. Government policies regarding Native Americans throughout this country's history.


Golenbock, P. & Bacon, P. (1990). Teammates. New York: Voyager Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text explains how racial segregation was part of the professional sport of baseball with fewer opportunities for African Americans. African Americans were confined to the Negro Leagues which paid less money and prevented from being customers in hotels or restaurants due to racial segregation. For European American baseball players, they could play in the Major Leagues and enjoy higher pay, stay in good hotels, and eat in better restaurants. The manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted to challenge racial segregation so hired Jackie Robinson, an African American, as a team member. The text portrays the courage Jackie Robinson had to endure the cruelty at the hands of his teammates and baseball fans; however, he was also befriended by one of his teammates.


Govenar, A. (2000). Osceola: Memories of a sharecropper’s daughter. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author collected stories from Osceola Mays, an African American woman, over a 15-year time period and involved Osceola in writing the book. The stories depict Osceola’s memories of growing up in the small, segregated town of Waskom, Texas which clearly delineated the differences between European Americans and African Americans. Her father worked as a sharecropper, which meant hard work for few benefits and the necessity of working additional jobs for survival. Osceola had few memories of receiving a toy for Christmas, but after her mother died during childbirth, received a new dress each year from her stepmother. Osceola was significantly influenced by her mother’s and grandmother’s stories, songs, and poems which portrayed family history, the history of the country, and slavery. She wrote and recited poetry as a student in school.


Grady, C. (2012). I lay my stitches down: Poems of American slavery. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The poems reflect various aspects of slave life from slaves’ perspectives. “Basket” illustrates the comforting effects of quilting while remembering one’s people and motherland. “Underground Railroad” depicts how escaping slaves outwitted bounty hunters while “Traditional Fish” and “Schoolhouse” portray how young slaves may fish with the “master’s” children or walk them to school and stay to listen to the lessons. “Anvil” and “Rail Fence” illustrate slaves’ skills in blacksmithing and racing horses while “Tree of Life” and “Wagon Wheel” portray the agony of terrible slave whippings and slave children being sold away from their parents. “North Star” shows how even when slave owners educated their slaves, slaves still desired freedom from slavery above all else, and “”Kaleidoscope” reflects the joy slaves could find in music during the little time they were not working for their “masters.”


Gray, L. M. (1993). Dear Willie Rudd,. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Picture book, elementary level. The main character, Miss Elizabeth, reminisces about her childhood with Willie Rudd, her African American housekeeper who helped raise her, her mother, and her grandmother. She writes a letter to Willie Rudd and apologizes for the ways she and her family went along with racial segregation and promises to treat her as an equal if she would return. The beloved housekeeper can enter the front door, eat with the family in the dining room with the good china, sit together at the movie theater, and ride together on the bus.


Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. (2010). The fair housing five & the haunted house. New Orleans: Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.


Upper elementary. Samaria and her mother are African Americans and want to move into a new apartment and find one close to the mother’s work and Samaria’s school. However, Samaria and her friends believe the house with the new apartment is haunted. When Samaria and her mother meet the landlord, he refuses to rent the apartment to families with children. Samaria and her friends are confused by this decision, investigate, and discover that the landlord will also not rent the apartment to other African Americans and people with guide dogs. When they study the civil rights movement in school, they learn how housing discrimination is another form of discrimination the civil rights movement fought against. Samaria’s teacher encourages her to report the landlord to the Fair Housing Center, who proves that the landlord was discriminating against them and ensures the landlord will treat people fairly. The text also includes a glossary of important terms and thought questions.


Green, J. (2000). Talking about racism. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.


Picture book, elementary level. According to the author, “racism is saying or doing something to hurt someone who comes from a different culture.” She elaborates that racism may be based on skin color, culture, or religion, offers examples of racist actions among children today and historically with slavery, and suggests reasons why children may become racist. Although the definition for racism is very broad, one of the most valuable aspects of the text involves suggestions for eliminating racism. Notes to parents and teachers are also included.


Grunsell, A. (1991). Let's talk about racism. London: Gloucester.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book explains the concepts of racism, prejudice, and stereotypes. Grunsell's definitions may not necessarily be in agreement with other definitions. For example, she describes racial discrimination as giving houses, jobs, or educational opportunities on the grounds of race which other authors describe as examples of racism. Prejudice means deciding in advance what someone is like; a stereotype is a fixed idea about what people are like. Other important ideas included are the European invasion of America, Africa, and Asia which was the beginning of racism, how racism is learned, why it exists, the harm of racism in Nazi Germany and South Africa, and the possibilities of students' challenging racism.


Hamanaka, S. (1990). The journey: Japanese Americans, racism, and renewal. New York: Orchard Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This text provides a brief history of the mistreatment of Japanese Americans in the United States. When Japanese first immigrated to the U.S., they were relegated to the most menial jobs and forced to live in culturally segregated housing. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, all persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were taken to concentration camps. Residents of the camps had to leave property and possessions and crowd into tar-paper shacks without running water. Prisoners protested cruel treatment in the camps and were in conflict with one another over proving their loyalty to the U.S. and being angry over their mistreatment. Many Japanese Americans fought for the U.S. in the war. Finally, in 1988, the U.S. government formally apologized to Japanese Americans for their internment.


Hamilton, V. (1985). The people could fly: American Black folktales. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Upper elementary/middle school level. Hamilton's collection of twenty-four African American folktales represents the main body of African American folklore. Hamilton wanted to preserve the oral tales in print for African Americans as well as children and youth from all cultures. Trickster tales show Bruh Rabbit outwitting larger and stronger animals which are similar to slaves' abilities to outwit slave owners. The most notable section of the book is the collection of slave tales including "The People Could Fly" a moving slave narrative and fantasy escape from slavery. This tale shows the cruelty of slavery and the refusal of slaves to allow their spirit to be enslaved. Virginia Hamilton and James Earl Jones also provide powerful oral versions of the folktales on audiotape.


Hamilton, V. (1993). Many thousand gone: African Americans from slavery to freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text portrays the history of slavery, its horrors, and the power of resistance to such an inhumane existence through the voices and stories of those who lived it. The first section focuses on the development of slavery in America beginning with the sale of twenty slaves to the colony of Virginia in 1619. At first slaves were indentured servants, then increasingly stringent regulations led to their becoming slaves for life. Stories in this section include Africans being taken as slaves and those who resisted slavery during the 17th and 18th centuries. The second section focuses on stories of running away including the development of the Underground Railroad and the Quakers, Black freewomen and freemen and slaves who helped escaping slaves along its path. Stories of running away include those of individual slaves and slave uprisings. The last section deals with stories of the final years of slavery when slaves continued to escape until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution when all slaves were legally free.


Hamm, D. J. (1997). Daughter of Suqua. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Upper elementary/middle school level. As historical fiction, the text is based on events among the Suquamish people in Washington state in the early 1900s through the fictional characters of Ida, Little Grandma, Mother, and Father. The text portrays the effects of the government’s racist policies in dealing with Native people during the 19th and 20th centuries. Ida’s family, along with other Suquamish families were being forced to move from their old village near Miller’s Bay on Puget Sound to their allotted lands further away from the shore. The government was also encouraging families to become farmers on their allotted lands and discontinue their traditional lifestyle based on seasonal fishing. Ida and other Suquamish children were also being forced to attend boarding schools away from their families. Through Ida’s family’s story, readers can glimpse a little of the pain children and their families experienced when children were forced to attend boarding school away from their families.


Hansen, J. (1986). Which way freedom? New York: Avon Camelot.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text precedes Out From This Place and is also a fictional story based on factual accounts of the Civil War. The main characters, Obi, Easter, and Jason are slave children and adolescents with no other family except each other working on a small farm in South Carolina. Although their owners are more humane than many, they still endure the brutal treatment of being owned and worked hard. When the Civil War breaks out, their owners respond with increased restrictions and cruelty. After they learn they are about to be sold, Obi and Easter escape only to be captured by Confederate soldiers who force Obi to work with other slaves in hard labor and Easter cooks for one of the colonels. Obi escapes from this Confederate camp and eventually fights in an African American regiment for the Union, but still encounters much inequality directed at African American soldiers.


Hansen, J. (1988). Out from this place. New York: Walker.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This book is fiction, but is based on actual events that happened during the Civil War. In 1861, when the Union army gained control of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina, most of the planters fled to the mainland. African Americans were Confederate property confiscated by the army. They worked on the abandoned plantations for wages from the federal government. In January, 1865, the former slaves were given temporary title to the abandoned lands; however, in May, this decision was reversed and the land was returned to the former owners. The community New Canaan in the text is based on an African American community in South Carolina developed after the Civil War. The book portrays the experiences of Easter, an adolescent slave, in her efforts to find Obi and Jason, the only family she knew from the farm where they all worked as slaves. The text reveals the hardships of life for former slaves immediately following the abolishment of slavery.


Hansen, J. (1997). I thought my soul would rise and fly: The diary of Patsy, a freed girl. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The diary is fictional, but is based on diaries, journals, oral histories, and narratives of people who lived during the period when slavery was abolished and the following Reconstruction era. The diary shows the very slow changes for slaves after slavery was abolished in 1865-66. Although some slaves left the large plantation, others, like Patsy, remained and continued their daily work. The master promised each slave family five acres of land, a school, and payment for their work in the fields or house, but these promises were not kept. Since Patsy secretly had learned to read and write, she became the unofficial teacher of the school, attended by the youngest and oldest slaves who did not work in the fields. The diary shows freed slaves taking more control of their lives and new ways slave owners and wealthy European Americans maintained their power.


Hansen, J. (1998). Women of hope: African Americans who made a difference. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text contains large photographs of twelve African American women who fought against sexism and racism and often became the first African American women to enter certain occupations. The one-page descriptions of each woman reveal the activism of Ida Wells-Barnett, Septima Clark, Ella Josephine Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Marian Wright Edelman in fighting for the rights of African Americans and children of poverty; the artistry of Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker in addressing sexism and racism through drama and literature; and the courage of the Delany Sisters, Alexa Canady, and Mae Jemison in entering fields frequently closed to women and African Americans, such as dentistry, neurosurgery, and space science.


Hansen, J. & McGowan, G. (2003). Freedom road: Searching for the Underground Railroad.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The authors assert that in order to learn about the Underground Railroad, historians rely on different types of evidence. When disparate evidence provides similar ideas, historians can draw defensible conclusions. Examples of evidence for Underground Railroad activities include: (1) local and national laws; (2) legal petitions, court records, census records, and wanted posters; (3) household records, plantation and farm records, bills of sale, receipts, ship registers, and information-wanted ads in newspapers; (4) personal writing and accounts such as biographies, autobiographies, diaries, and oral history narratives; (5) music and art such as spirituals and quilts; and (6) archaeological evidence such as buttons, coins, and pottery. From archaeological evidence, colonial records, and thermal imaging, historians document the first settlement of freed women and men in America at Fort Mose near St. Augustine, Florida. It was originally built in 1738 by African Americans who escaped from slavery in South Carolina. Archaeological evidence and oral family history confirm a secret room used to hide escaping slaves in the Lott house in Brooklyn, New York. Plantation records and ships’ logs document that during the American Revolution, slaves escaped to British ships. The Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850 illustrate that slaves successfully escaped to free states. However, legal documents do not portray the perspectives of slaves or abolitionists who helped slaves escape. When narratives, such as the WPA slave interviews of 1930 or Wilbur Siebert’s interviews of abolitionists after the antislavery slavery struggle ended, are combined with other evidence, historians provide a broader view of the Underground Railroad.


Harper, M. (1993). "Mush-hole:" Memories of a residential school. Toronto: Sister Vision.


Picture book, upper elementary/middle school level (some of the language and description of alcohol abuse make this book appropriate for more mature elementary and middle school students). The author describes the painful experiences she was forced to endure at Brantford, a residential school for native children in Canada. During the process she and other native children could not speak their language, learn about their culture, or exercise many choices. The author eventually runs away from the school and returns to the reservation where she learns she no longer fits in there. Alcohol becomes a solace for her as she struggles with understanding her identity as a native person. The racist, assimilationist practices at the residential school teaches her to devalue herself. The author learns to value herself by learning about her own culture and teaching others.


Harrington, J. N. (2004). Going north. New York: Melanie Kroupa Books.


This book-length poem is based on the author’s family’s experience of moving from Vernon, Alabama to Lincoln, Nebraska during the summer of 1964. The family moved North to find better jobs and schools for their children and to escape racial segregation in the South. The poetry depicts the family driving past the cotton fields and red sand as well as their anxiety about finding a “Negro” gas station which will serve them during the journey. Arriving in Nebraska, they are pioneers beginning a new life and hoping for a better future.


Haskins, J. (1993). Get on board: The story of the Underground Railroad. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text provides an excellent overview of different aspects of the Underground Railroad, which allowed many African Americans to escape the racist oppression of slavery during the 19th century. It clarifies how the Underground Railroad was named and its genesis around 1830. The author describes different Underground Railroad routes and stations along the way, which were used to hide and shelter escaping slaves. Also included are well-known stationmasters, or individuals or groups of people who offered food and shelter to runaway slaves. Conductors led slaves along the Underground Railroad routes and were both European American and African American former slaves. A chapter is devoted to Harriet Tubman, the most famous Underground Railroad conductor. Readers learn about the meanings of different songs related to the Underground Railroad. Sometimes songs encouraged slaves to escape or provided directions for escaping. Slave catchers are renamed “train robbers” and their actions described in capturing escaping slaves; however, some “passengers” or fleeing slaves are also very clever and resourceful in finding unique ways to escape. The author seeks to refute the idea that slaves were passive victims.


Haskins, J. (2005). Delivering justice: W. W. Law and the fight for civil rights. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.


Picture book, elementary level. The author highlights aspects of the life of Westley Wallace Law, his motivations for ending racial segregation and oppression. The beginning of the text documents some of the racial inequality W. W. experienced early in his life, including African Americans being helped at the local department store after all the European American customers were served and remaining poor despite working hard. As an adult, W. W. became a letter carrier and a leader in the Savannah NAACP. In this organization, W. W. trained students and organized groups in nonviolent protest, such as sit-ins, boycotts, and picket lines, to pressure local department stores to treat African Americans equally. W. W. was a leader in the efforts to declare all Savannah citizens equal and end desegregation in 1961, which was achieved without violence.


Haskins, J. & Benson, K. (2001). Building a new land: African Americans in colonial America. New York: HarperCollins.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text provides important background on African American history during the colonial period, 1607 - 1763 in the United States. The first Africans came to the U.S. as explorers, navigators, “freemen,” indentured servants, and slaves. African slaves first arrived in the 1500s and early 1600s, but they were treated similarly to Native American slaves and European indentured servants. During the early colonial period, free Africans in some parts of the 13 colonies had legal rights to own land and slaves, marry, be baptized, and go to court to redress wrongs, but these were revoked in the late 1600s with slave codes, English rule, and eventually laws recognizing the legality of slavery. The growing economic need for cheap labor for such crops as rice, tobacco, sugar, and cotton and the slave trade led to the acceptance of slavery. This acceptance was reinforced by laws denying more rights to African American slaves. Race became synonymous with slavery as Blacks lost the right to move freely, meet with other slaves, strike White people, testify in court except against other Blacks, hold any office, and learn to read or write. However, African American slaves resisted such oppression by escaping, revolting, and uniting with Native Americans in taking action against settlements. In many cases, African Americans maintained some of their African traditions and contributed folklore, music, and agricultural skills to the colonial lifestyle.


Haskins, J. & Benson, K. (2002). Following freedom’s star: The story of the Underground Railroad. New York: Benchmark Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is embellished with many historical photographs, paintings, drawings, and original documents, such as newspaper clippings and notes. The author focuses on two former slaves, Harriet Jacobs and John P. Parker, who escaped from slavery and eventually wrote or dictated their autobiographies. Their stories communicate the racist oppression they experienced as slaves and as African Americans. However, the autobiographies also reveal the important role African Americans had in the Underground Railroad, which provided an avenue for 75,000-100,000 slaves to gain freedom. Harriet Jacobs hid for nearly seven years in her grandmother’s house in North Carolina before escaping to New York. Her escape was carefully prepared, but Jacobs was in danger of being captured by slave catchers in the North until one of her employers eventually purchased her. Once John P. Parker escaped from slavery, he became active in the Underground Railroad movement as a conductor. He recorded many close calls in protecting escaping slaves from slave owners, slave catchers, and paid informants. The text includes maps of Underground Railroad routes and the use of music and quilts to communicate important information about escaping among slaves.


Haskins, J. & Benson, K. (2006). John Lewis in the lead: A story of the civil rights movement. New York: Lee & Low Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text is a biography of John Lewis, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives as the Democrat representative from Georgia since 1986. The text focuses on Lewis’s involvement in the civil rights movement during the 1960s. He experienced racial segregation growing up and fought against segregation by applying for a library card, organizing lunch counter sit-ins, riding buses with other Freedom Riders to protest racial segregation on buses, leading protests, speaking at the March on Washington, and leading efforts to register African Americans to vote. A timeline of Lewis’s life is provided at the end of the book.


Haskins, J. & Benson, K. (2008). The rise of Jim Crow. New York: Marshall Cavendish.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The researched text is illustrated with historical photographs, drawings, and paintings and summarizes the oppression that African Americans faced from the end of Reconstruction in the late 1870s through the first decades of the 20th century. In 1879 approximately 6,000 African American women, men, and children left the South to settle in Kansas on land made available by the Homestead Act of 1862. Although the majority of African Americans could not afford the homestead fee at first, eventually most were able to purchase their own home and farm or establish a business. The authors explain the roots of Jim Crow and the intention to limit the rights and freedoms of former slaves. Under Jim Crow, African Americans found it very difficult to vote and find equal access to public transportation, education, and other public services and businesses. During this period White Supremacists, such as the Ku Klux Klan, used lynchings of African Americans as a tool of intimidation, southern courts reinforced racial inequality, and African American prisoners were exploited through “convict leasing.” The text closes by reviewing the “accommodationist” views of Booker T. Washington as the way for African Americans to improve their lives with the views of W. E. B. DuBois who, along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, advocated for equal political and civil rights for African Americans and an end to racial segregation. Despite all the obstacles to African American economic and social progress during this period, the importance of African American churches, the rise of African American clubs, businesses, schools, and newspapers set the stage for the coming Civil Rights movement. The authors suggest additional books and websites for readers to develop additional background knowledge on the main ideas in the text.


Holland, I. (1994). Behind the lines. New York: Scholastic.


Middle school level/adult resource. The main character Katie O’Farrell is part of a recent Irish immigrant family struggling to survive in a New York city slum in 1863. The father, older brother, as well as Katie must work in order to provide the necessary income for the family. Katie worked as a kitchen maid for a wealthy Protestant English family and regularly suffered humiliating anti-Irish comments from her supervisors. Despite the disruption of the Civil War, many Irish immigrants refused to fight for the Union because they believed freed slaves would move north and take the few jobs the Irish have. Since Irish immigrants came to the U.S. with few resources and regularly experienced discrimination in hiring, they often remained among the poorest citizens. The conflicts between wealthy and poor, Irish and African Americans were illustrated by Katie’s wealthy employer’s offer that Katie’s brother take his son’s place in the Union Army for a price. The money offered exceeded what her brother made working on the docks and could be used to buy land in the west after the war. When young Irish male immigrants were among those drafted into the Union Army, they retaliated by rioting, attacking the draft offices, and hanging African Americans. Despite the racial tensions between the Irish and African Americans, Katie developed a friendship with an African American. The text illustrates the cross cultural alliances which can be formed amidst racial tensions.


Hoobler, D. & Hoobler, T. (1992). The trail on which they wept: The story of a Cherokee girl. New York: Silver Burdett.


Elementary level. The story of the Cherokee removal from Georgia to Oklahoma is told through a young Cherokee girl, Tsaluh. Even though the Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee could stay in Georgia and the Cherokee believed the Great Spirit had given them the land, they were forced by soldiers to move to Oklahoma. The Cherokee were outraged by such demands, but knew they were outnumbered and did not have weapons to fight. The text describes the injustice of the Cherokee being forced to leave much of their belongings behind, the exhausting trip, the cold weather, the lack of food, and the diseases and deaths of many of their people, including Tsaluh's grandmother. The text portrays Tsaluh's anger toward the unakas or White people for the cruelty they inflicted on the Cherokee and for forcing them to move to such a harsh environment.


Hoobler, D. & Hoobler T. (1994). The Mexican American family album. New York: Oxford University.


Middle school level and adult resource. The text provides a concise summary of Mexican American history from the time Mexicans became Mexican Americans after the United States acquired parts of Mexico in the mid 19th century through contemporary times. The authors described the first Mexican Americans who were already living within the current U.S. borders; those who chose to leave Mexico due to the Mexican Revolution, the poverty and lack of jobs; Mexican Americans who traveled between Mexico and the U.S. to live and work; fluctuating U.S. policies which both encouraged and discouraged Mexican American immigration to the U.S. to work; the Mexican American contributions to agriculture and hardships as migrant agricultural workers, miners, and railroad workers; the establishment of Mexican American communities or barrios; Mexican American efforts to win equal rights; and contributions to the arts, sports, politics, and culture. Each section begins with an overview of an era, then is embellished with profiles of people living during this period and quotations from Mexican American biographies and interviews to provide authentic perspectives on the era. The racism and inequalities Mexican Americans experienced at the hands of Anglos who controlled different jobs, schools, and the government is highlighted throughout the text.


Hoobler, D. & Hoobler, T. (1995). The African American family album. New York: Oxford University.


Middle School level and adult resource. The authors review different chronological periods in African American history from life in Africa, to the middle passage, slavery, life after slavery in the South and North, the importance of families, religion, and schools in improving life for African Americans during the early 20th century, and concluding with the civil rights movement and opportunities in sports, music, films, writing, and publishing for African Americans during the late 20th century. For each section, the authors provide an overview of important people and events, then include quotations from African Americans who lived during these periods and described their personal perspectives. The racism African Americans experienced from the time they were brought as slaves to the United States through the present is a constant theme throughout the text. The quotations reflect the impact of racism on individuals and families as well as their efforts to counteract racism.


Hooks, W. H. (1990). The ballad of Belle Dorcas. New York: Dragonfly Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text illustrates the oppression of slavery for slave women, men and "free issue" children. Belle Dorcas was a "free issue" African American, the daughter of the slave master and her mother, the master's house slave. Belle, like most "free issue" African Americans, was given freedom at birth. Although Belle's mother wanted her to marry another free issue and experience a little better life than slavery, Belle loved and married Joshua, a slave, and lived in the slave quarters. After Belle's father died, another master planned to sell some of the slaves, including Joshua. In order to save Joshua, Belle sought help from Granny Lizard, a free-issue cunger woman, who created a powerful spell to keep Joshua close. Despite the difficulties of living with all the consequences of the powerful spell, Belle and Joshua were able to stay together.


Hooks, B. (2004). Skin again. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.


Picture book, elementary level. The author encourages readers to look beyond skin and go inside to learn about another person. She invites people to come inside her skin, but be real themselves, and find the real person with her stories, history, and dreams. The text can be used to stimulate discussions of prejudice and racism based on skin color.


Howard, E. F. (2000). Virgie goes to school with us boys. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the author’s family history and focuses on one African American girl’s determination to accompany her brothers to school during the period following the Civil War. Virgie relentlessly asks to go to the Quaker school for former slaves when her five brothers attend. Although Virgie’s brothers complain that she is too young, the walk to school is too long, and school is too difficult and unnecessary for girls, Virgie’s parents agree to allow her to attend school “learning to be free.” The author’s note elaborates on the family history on which the text is based and the special cruelty of slavery in denying slaves their desire to learn. This lack of education was a major hurdle for freed slaves after emancipation.


Hubbard, J. (1994). Shooting back from the reservation: A photographic view of life by Native American youth. New York. The New Press.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is a collection of photographs taken by Native American children and youth from different tribes on different reservations in Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The photographs are embellished with the children’s poetry and prose which depict children and youth at play, their pets, families, friends, homes, and the physical environment around the reservations. Readers are offered glimpses of the beauty as well as the poverty around the reservations. Some of the narratives from the children and youth try to refute stereotypes about what reservations are like and emphasize the sense of community among the residents as well as the problems. Both the foreword by Dennis Banks and the introduction by Jim Hubbard detail the racism directed against Native people which has contributed to their poverty and lack of opportunities for living dignified lives.


Johnson, A. (2005). A sweet smell of roses. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. In the text, the author honors the children who participated in the civil rights movement. Two young girls quietly leave home without their mother’s knowledge to participate in a civil rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The text portrays the solidarity among the marchers as they hold hands, clap, and sing while their numbers grow during the march. The illustrations also depict people who loudly disagreed with the marchers as well as unsympathetic police.


Johnson, C. (1998). Soulcatcher and other stories: Twelve powerful tales about slavery. San Diego: Harcourt.


Upper elementary/middle school level. For the 12 short stories about slavery, the author uses different literary styles, making the reading more interesting and challenging. He also focuses on different aspects of slavery, such as the passage from Africa to America during which the oral history of a people is passed from one brother to another and slaves’ revolt against their masters and escape to St. Augustine, Florida, where the King of Spain promised freedom. Additional, interesting stories include African Americans who fought for the British during the American Revolution; Martha Washington’s experience with freeing her husband George’s slaves after his death; African American contributions in fighting the yellow fever epidemic during 1793 in Philadelphia; the decision against returning African Americans to Africa; and Liberty Association’s actions to protect escaped slaves from capture. One of the most fascinating stories described a northern city’s complete dependence on escaped slaves’ labor, which was immobilized after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law and escaped slaves left their jobs.


Johnson, D. (1993). Now let me fly: The story of a slave family. New York: Macmillan.


Picture book, elementary level. The text provides a valuable introduction to slavery for younger students. Minna, the main character, tells her life story as a free person in Africa who is kidnapped by a banished member of her tribe and sold into slavery. During the terrible voyage to America, Minna met Amadi, a young boy, and they help each other survive the trip. After arriving in America, they are sold like cattle to work on a plantation and their names and language taken away. Despite the harsh work and living conditions, Amadi and Minna find some comfort in each other, marry, and have four children. When Amadi is sold suddenly, Minna deals with the sale of her son, helps one daughter escape by going North, helps a son escape to Florida to live with the Seminoles, and dreams of freedom for herself and her youngest daughter.


Kallen, S. A. (2000). Life on the underground railroad. San Diego: Lucent Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author clarifies the terms used in the Underground Railroad, which disguised its illegal activities. Slaves were parcels or passengers, those who helped slaves escape were conductors, homes where slaves hid were depots or stations, and people who hid slaves in their homes were stationmasters. The intention of the text is to provide readers with insight into the lives of slaves which caused them to escape; the lives of escaping slaves with the many dangers they faced; the lives of slave trackers who searched for and punished escaping slaves; the lives of conductors who employed different strategies and followed various routes to help slaves escape; the lives of stationmasters who devised diverse means to hide slaves; and the lives of escaped slaves once they reached Canada. Readers discover Canadian cities and towns where escaped slaves settled as well as the opportunities, challenges, and prejudice they faced.


Katz, K. (1999). The colors of us. New York: Henry Holt.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The text does not explicitly deal with racism, but affirms the beauty of various skin colors, which is often the basis of race and racism. Children’s and adults’ skin colors are compared to foods and aspects of nature, such as cinnamon, peanut butter, chocolate or light cocoa brown, butterscotch, pizza crust, peach, honey, ginger, chili powder, coconuts, coffee toffee, fall leaves, and bronze and amber jewels. The author communicates an appreciation for diversity to counteract racism among young children based on skin color.


Katz, W. L. (1995). Black women of the old West. New York: Atheneum Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text includes historical photographs to illustrate African American women's presence in the settlement of the West in the 19th century. African American women as well as men escaped from slavery to live with Native Americans in the West, moved into free states in the Midwest and west and insisted on their freedom, and moved west more freely after the Civil War and emancipation. African Americans faced discrimination in the West in jobs, housing, education, and restaurants, but they also found less racial anger and violence than they experienced in the South. African American women ran laundries, hotels, farms, carting firms, taught school, wrote for newspapers, herded cattle and horses, and protested for civil rights in addition to caring for their homes and families and improving the spiritual and economic conditions of their people.


Keeshig-Tobias, L. (1991). Bird talk. Toronto: Sister Vision.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The book is written in both Ojibway and English. It portrays the hurt feelings of an Ojibway girl when her classmates want to play cowboy and Indians and when she protests, do not believe she is an Indian because she does not wear feathers or have red skin. Her mother reassures her about the value of her Ojibway culture, much of it learned on the Ojibway reservation they lived on earlier. She also explains two different versions of how Native people were named Indians by Columbus. One version is that he called the people Indeo which means in the image of God and another version is he called them Indians because he thought he had landed in India.


King, W. (2000). Children of the emancipation. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author uses old photographs to illustrate brief descriptions of African American children who were slaves, children who were free before slavery was legally abolished, and children who were free after the 13th Constitutional Amendment which freed all slaves. Readers gain some insight into African American children’s work, play, educational opportunities, family struggles, and racial discrimination while enslaved and free. The author clarifies which slaves were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation, how the mother’s status as free or slave determined her children’s freedom, and how being free did not correspond to equal opportunities and the elimination of racist oppression.


Kissinger, K. (1994). All the colors we are: The story of how we get our skin color. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The Spanish/English text addresses the scientific process of how people obtain their skin color to counter the prejudice, discrimination, and racism often directed at those with dark skin. The author simply explains that our skin color stems from our ancestors, the sun, and melanin. If our ancestors lived in a place with a great deal of sunshine and heat, they probably had dark skin, which was passed on to their descendants. However, everyone’s skin becomes darker as we spend time in the sun, due to melanin’s work to protect us from sunburn. The author also includes activities to help children understand the concepts presented in the text.


Kordon, K. (1992). The big fish. New York: Macmillan.


Picture book, elementary level. This book provides an allegory of racial relations. The two main characters, Jolko and Mila, have a good life on a small island except for the child they desire but do not have. After a bad storm, they find a huge fish lying on their beach. The fish promises to grant them a wish if they help it back into the water. Jolko and Mila push the big fish back to the water and explain their desire for a child. The fish takes them to other lands and offers them a black child, then a brown child, and finally a yellow brother and sister whom Jolko and Mila refuse because the children do not share their white color. The fish becomes increasingly impatient and flings them off its back. The people on the island save Jolko and Mila from drowning, but do not provide food and water for them because of their skin color. Finally, the sister and brother help Jolko and Mila build a new home on the island and everyone learns acceptance of others from a different race.


Knight, M. B. (1993). Who belongs here? An American story. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book has a double text. One is the story of Nary's immigration to the United States from Cambodia to escape civil war there. The second is an overview of the different people living in the United States, how they arrived here, what they have contributed, why people have come here, and a glimpse of the discrimination some immigrant groups faced. Nary describes differences he finds in the United States from his life in Cambodia and his anger and hurt when he is called "gook" and "chink" and told to go back where he belongs. In class Nary and the other students learn about the difficulties of being a refugee.


Kramer, B. (2003). Mahalia Jackson: The voice of gospel and civil rights. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This biography of Mahalia Jackson illustrates the importance of music in her life from childhood on. Growing up in poverty in segregated New Orleans, Jackson sang in the Baptist church choir, but listened to the Pentecostal Church music and blues and jazz which influenced her singing throughout her life. She focused on singing gospel music, and made records, toured nationally and internationally, performed for Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, and won awards for her music. When Jackson met Martin Luther King, Jr., she became involved in the civil rights movement, often singing for events or to raise money. Because of her own experiences with racism in racially segregated schools and trains, the refusal of service in hotels and restaurants, and the struggle to purchase a house, Jackson understood the importance of racial equality. She believed her music was an avenue to diminish hate and fear between Whites and Blacks.


Krass, P. (1988). Sojourner Truth: Antislavery activist. New York: Chelsea House.


Upper elementary, middle school level. The text contains a detailed account of Truth’s “Ain’t I a woman?” (although Krass uses the phrase “aren’t I a woman”) speech at the 1852 women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio. The author then traces Truth’s life from her years as a child born into slavery around 1797 until her death in 1883. The text describes the various families who owned her and separated her from her family as a child, her efforts to keep her children as an adult, her escape from slavery and eventual freedom in 1827, and her years as a traveling preacher, abolitionist, and suffrage speaker. Readers are invited to understand Sojourner Truth’s commitment to equality for African Americans and women, the hard work she did to gain better conditions for freed slaves, and her dedication to achieving equality without violence.


Kudlinski, K. V. (1993). Night Bird: A story of the Seminole Indians. New York: Penguin.


Upper elementary level. This text is historical fiction set in the 19th century when the U.S. Government was removing Native people from their homelands to the western part of the U.S. The main character and the clans described are fictional, but the events which led the Seminoles to hide in the Everglades in Florida or forced to move to Oklahoma are accurate. The author illustrates the hardships for the Seminoles of years of European Americans and the U.S. Government forcing the Seminoles to move further south in order to take their homeland. The Seminoles had to learn to adapt to a different physical environment. The text also illustrates the dilemma for many Seminoles of choosing to move to Oklahoma, an unknown place but with possibilities of owning the land and peace with the U.S. Government, or hiding in the Everglades in order to stay in their environment.


Lacapa, K. & Lacapa, M. (1994). Less than half, more than whole. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland.


Picture book, elementary level. Within the text the authors encourage readers to consider the challenges for multiracial youth who do not fit completely within one cultural group. The main character, Tony, has an European American or “Anglo” mother and a Native American or Tewa father. When one of Tony’s friends calls him “half or less than half” Indian, Tony talks with his grandfather about his identity. His grandfather explains that, like multicolored corn, Tony is a gift from the Creator and a whole, beautiful person.


Lawrence, J. (1993). The great migration. New York: Museum of Modern Art.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book is based on a series of paintings created by the author/artist in 1941-1942. It explained the movement of African Americans from the South to northern, industrial cities, beginning at the time of World War I. The main impetus for this migration was better jobs in the North due to the number of workers who were fighting in the war and the racism of the South. African Americans in the South could seldom find equality in the justice system, in work, and in education. However, life in the North was also difficult with inadequate housing and northerners' resentment that they had to compete for jobs with African Americans. African American migrants helped each other survive and benefited from opportunities for education and voting.


Lester, J. (1968). To be a slave. New York: Scholastic.


Middle school level/teacher resource. The author provides a stark portrayal about the experiences of being a slave. He combined interviews with former slaves conducted in the 19th century by members of the American Anti-Slavery Society and other northern abolitionists groups with interviews with ex-slaves completed by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s and added general descriptions of slave life. Graphic descriptions of slaves being inspected and sold on the auction block and the hard work and cruel punishments slaves suffered are hard to forget. The author provides valuable depictions of how slaves quietly and cleverly resisted their condition, more openly fought against their servitude, and divisions among slaves themselves.


Lester, J. (1972). Long journey home. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. A collection of six excellent pieces of historical fiction which have some basis in fact, but are embellished with details of character and setting. The stories provide a glimpse into the life of an African American blues singer who moves from place to place, an African American cowboy who developed the skill of leading wild mustangs into a corral, an African American who escaped from slavery along the Underground Railroad, the ignorance of European Americans about the inhumaneness of slavery, the difficulties of slave families trying to reunite after emancipation, and ways slaves would resist slavery, including death.


Levine, E. (1988). If you traveled on the underground railroad. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary level. This book provides excellent, concise background knowledge on the Underground Railroad. Written in a question-and-answer format, the text explains what the Underground Railroad was, why slaves escaped, where slaves escaped to, methods owners used to capture escaping slaves, examples of disguises slaves used to help their escape, descriptions of stations or hiding places along the route, people who served as conductors and station masters helping escaping slaves, the number of slaves who escaped on the Underground Railroad, views of several presidents about slavery and the Underground Railroad, what slaves did after escaping to freedom, and when the Underground Railroad ceased to exist.


Levine, E. (1993). Freedom's children: Young civil rights activists tell their own stories. New York: Avon.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author provides the first-person stories of 30 African Americans who were involved as children or teenagers in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They experienced racially segregated schools, public buses, restaurants, hospitals, movie theaters, parks, water fountains, and libraries. Their parents often did not vote because of the intimidation strategies used to prevent African Americans from voting. Through the involvement of children, youth, and adults during the 1950s and 1960s, racial segregation was challenged and some changes made. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the sit-ins at lunch counters, and the Freedom Rides were inspiring examples of large-scale social action in which many "ordinary" people collectively created extra-ordinary social change. The African Americans who present their stories in the text knew the price of their actions, but also believed by working together they were able to make a difference.


Littlechild, G. (1993). This land is my land. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author is a member of the Plains Cree Nation in Canada and also created the beautiful paintings which illustrate his text. George Littlechild comments on and illustrates the effects of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas; the destruction of the Plains Cree way of life due to the White man’s theft of Native land; the hardships resulting from the movement of Native people to urban areas after World War II; and the devastating effects of boarding schools on Native children. Through words and paintings, the author encourages readers to question who owns this land and the challenges of “being the only red horse in a sea of white horses.” Not only does the author raise racism issues for Native people, but also describes his pride in his family and important beliefs of his people.


Littlesugar, A. (2001). Freedom school, yes! New York: Philomel.


Picture book, upper elementary level. According to the “Author’s Note,” the text is based on the1964 Mississippi Summer Project involving 600 volunteers (both European American and African American) who traveled to the South to teach African American children and adults how to read and write, learn about African American history, and register to vote. In the story, readers are introduced to the dangers involved when an African American family houses a Freedom School teacher and an African American church community offers their church for the Freedom School. The text depicts the courage and determination of an African American community to provide basic education for their members and resist educational inequality.


Lorbiecki, M. (1998). Sister Anne’s hands. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. When Sister Anne, an African American, arrives at an all-White parochial school in the early 1960s to teach, she is the first African American person Anna Zabrocky, the second-grade narrator, has ever seen. Although the students and Sister Anne enjoy teaching and learning together, this atmosphere is clouded by a paper airplane with a hurtful message about Sister Anne’s race. Sister Anne then decides to teach the students about the oppression African Americans have faced, the hatred of racists, the pain of oppression, and African American leaders, as well as writing, computing, and painting. Even though Sister Anne only teaches at this school for one year, she seems to have influenced the narrator to appreciate racial diversity.


Lowery, L. (1996). Wilma Mankiller. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text provides a brief history of Wilma Mankiller's life from her origins in Oklahoma to moving to San Francisco during the Indian Relocation Act to becoming a leader of the Cherokee people. The author also briefly describes the hardships and cruelty of the Trail of Tears which Wilma's ancestors endured. Although Wilma had happy memories of her life in Oklahoma, financial worries prompted her parents to take advantage of the Indian Relocation Program which encouraged native people to move to urban areas for homes and jobs. Wilma's experiences portray the racism and cruelty when they moved away from their reservation; others made fun of her name, dress, and manner of speaking. Shop owners placed racist signs in store windows, "NO DOGS, NO INDIANS!" When Wilma ran for deputy chief of the Cherokees, others in her tribe said women should not hold such jobs, a European American view rather than a Cherokee tradition. Despite harassment and threats, Wilma spoke of her goals and visions for the Cherokees and was elected deputy chief in 1983. In 1985, she became chief of the Cherokees.


Lowery, L. (2002). One more valley, one more hill: The story of Aunt Clara Brown. New York: Landmark Books.


Middle school level. The text is based on historical research of secondary sources and original documents, including letters, diaries, newspapers, magazines, and recorded interviews. It focuses on the inspirational life of Aunt Clara Brown, who was born a slave, but was freed at the age of 56 and eventually became one of the wealthiest women in the West. The text provides descriptions of the racism African Americans experienced during and after slavery as they moved west into “free” states. It also provides an African American perspective on the racism directed against Native people as “pioneers” traveled through and settled on Native people’s land. Aunt Clara was a deeply religious woman, which helped her bear the painful losses of one daughter to drowning and her husband and children to the auction block. Throughout the remainder of her life, Aunt Clara sought to find the one daughter she believed was still living. In an effort to live in a state where she felt free, Aunt Clara obtained the job of cooking and washing for trail hands on a wagon train as they traveled from Kansas to Colorado. In Colorado, Aunt Clara’s laundry business prospered, but rather than spend money on herself, she fed and housed people, especially miners, who needed a place to live, and held prayer meetings at her home. In exchange for food and shelter, miners shared their profits with Aunt Clara, which enabled her to purchase houses and land and grow her nest egg. Aunt Clara became one of the most respected members of her community and one of the Colorado Pioneer Society members. However, as long as she was able, she helped ex-slaves and people in need. When Aunt Clara suffered financial losses, community members supported her search for and union with her one surviving daughter.


Lyons, K. S. (2012). Ellen’s broom. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.


Picture book, elementary level. The text deals with the time period following the end of slavery when African Americans could legally marry. During slavery, African American slaves were only allowed to “jump the broom” as a symbol of marriage, and families could still be sold away from each other at the whim of the “master.” The young girl narrator describes her family’s travel to a court house so her parents could have their marriage legally documented, which is commemorated with a marriage certificate. Even though her parents view the broom as a remnant from slavery, their daughter’s interest in the importance of the broom appears to help them embrace this tradition during slavery as well as their new legal rights. The author’s note explains the “1866 Cohabitation List of Henry County, Virginia,” which inspired the book.


Lyons, K. S. (2012). Hope’s gift. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is set during the period of the Civil War and focuses on the experiences of slavery from Hope and her family. Hope’s father escapes from slavery to join the Union and fight in the war while his family stays behind working long hours in the cotton fields. Hope’s family hears about President Lincoln’s plan to free the slaves, but their lives do not change until Hope’s father returns home to tell them they are free. Hope and her family leave the plantation to begin a new life as free people.


McCurdy, M. (Ed.). (1994). Escape from slavery: The boyhood of Frederick Douglass in his own words. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text is an edited, shortened version of the first of Douglass’s three autobiographies, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. The editor selected passages which clearly illustrate the injustices of slavery for Douglass from the time he was a child until he escaped from slavery as a young man. The details of slave life are especially enlightening, including the meager allocations of food, clothing, and housing; the separation of family members; and the whippings and cruelty slave owners directed at their slaves. The text also illustrates Douglass’ courage and resistance to slavery through reading and teaching other slaves to read, fighting back when a “slave breaker” tried to subdue him, and planning to escape with other slaves. Douglass clearly expresses the power of reading and education for liberating oneself from slavery.


McDonough, Y. Z. (2002). Peaceful protest: The life of Nelson Mandela. New York: Walker.


Picture book, elementary level. The author provides insight into Mandela’s courage, convictions, and compassion as a leader for racial equality in South Africa. Through his family, Mandela learned and valued African history and culture despite his people being ruled by White settlers, mostly English. He also witnessed his father standing up for what was right even when it meant losing power and resources. Nelson was the first in his family to attend school, which led to his education in law, but also emphasized the superiority of British history and culture to African history and culture. After moving to Johannesburg and experiencing racist segregation and oppression through apartheid, Mandela joined the African National Congress and organized protests, boycotts, and strikes to end apartheid, or racial segregation. For these activities, Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. When he was released, Mandela continued to work for a free and democratic South Africa. In 1994, South Africa held its first free election which elected Mandela president, the first elected Black leader. As president, Mandela focused on creating a country in which people from all races could live together in peace.


McGovern, A. (1965). Wanted dead or alive: The true story of Harriet Tubman. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary level. The text provides a biography of Harriet Tubman and portrays the cruelties of slavery she endured as a child, including beatings and suffering a serious head injury when she aided an escaping slave. Despite such hardships, Harriet became very strong physically and dreamed of freedom. When Harriet discovered she was going to be sold to work in the deep South, she and her brothers began their escape, but her brothers turned back. With the aid of station masters along the Underground Railroad, Harriet escaped to Pennsylvania and became a free Black. Harriet then helped the rest of her family escape and led so many others to freedom that she earned the name of Moses. The book portrays Harriet Tubman's cleverness and strength in guiding slaves to freedom, her work as a nurse and spy during the Civil War, and ways she continued to help free Blacks after the war.


McKee, T. & Blackshaw, A. (1998). No more strangers now: Young voices from a new South Africa. New York: DK Publishing.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text portrays interviews and photographs of 12 South African youth, including the most privileged Afrikaners from European descent, lesser privileged mixed race Coloureds and Indians, and the most oppressed Black Africans. Black Africans include Pfano who lived a traditional life in a rural village, Ricardo whose family lived in a “squatter camp” on the perimeter of a city, Nomfundo who lived in a shack on a White farm where her parents worked, Michael who lived in an orphanage after being abandoned by his mother, Vuyiswa who returned to South Africa after being in exile in Angola due to her parents’ involvement with the African National Congress, Bandile and Lebogang whose families were active in resisting apartheid, and Nonhlanhla whose family became involved in the conflicts between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party. The White youth reflect on their growing awareness of apartheid and its injustices while Nithinia describes her Coloured status as being neither Black nor White. All express hope for a better South Africa following the abolishment of apartheid, the racial segregation which denied Black South Africans basic human rights.


McKissack, P. C. (1997). A picture of freedom: The diary of Clotee, a slave girl. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text is a fictional diary based on the author’s research of plantations in Virginia’s Tidewater area. In the “Epilogue,” the author provides additional factual information regarding Clotee Henley who was interviewed in 1939 about her life as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her efforts to educate former slaves and work for equal rights. The diary portrays how Clotee, a house slave, learned to read and write in the late 1850s and her efforts to hide this knowledge due to the illegality of helping slaves become literate at the time. Through Clotee’s writing, readers learn more about how slave women bore their master’s children who then became slaves, were forced to marry other slaves, were prevented from having control over their own children because they were the master’s property, were punished for minor flaws in their work and sometimes beaten severely, were rewarded for spying on other slaves, and were worked hard. On the other hand, readers learn about abolitionists posing as tutors to help slaves escape, how the woods on the Belmont plantation became a station on the Underground Railroad, and the beginning of Clotee’s involvement in the Underground Railroad. A strong message in the text is the ethos of cooperation and sharing among slaves to help everyone survive this inhuman existence.


McKissack, P. D. (2001). Goin’ someplace special. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. According to the “Author’s Note,” the story is based on McKissack’s childhood experiences of growing up in racially segregated Nashville, Tennessee in the 1950s. Readers are introduced to the injustices and racism of segregation through a child’s eyes. However, the text portrays resistance to racism among the African American community by their affirmations of one another. As ‘Tricia Ann travels to “someplace special,” in her community, she rides a segregated city bus, cannot rest on a park bench reserved for “Whites only,” passes a restaurant with an African American cook but disallows African American customers, is forced to leave a hotel because “no colored people allowed,” and reminded she had to enter the back door and sit in the “Buzzard’s Roost” of the local theatre. However, when she arrives at the library, the “doorway to freedom,” she is happy to read “Public Library: All Are Welcome.” The author explains that the library was one of the first public places in Nashville to integrate their facilities.


McKissack, P. C. (2005). Abby takes a stand. New York: Viking.


Upper elementary. The author clarifies that the book characters are fictional, but the events and places are real. The text describes the sit-ins to protest department stores’ policies of not serving African Americans at their lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee in 1960. At this time, public buses and the public library were desegregated, but schools, jobs, neighborhoods, theaters, hotels, amusement parks, and restaurants remained racially segregated. Through the main character Abby’s experience of not being served at the lunch counter at Harveys Department Store, readers develop some understanding of the humiliation African American customers experience when they innocently attempt to cross racial boundaries. The text also portrays the collective efforts of many African Americans and some European Americans to challenge segregation in Nashville’s stores through nonviolent protest, such as sit-ins at their lunch counters, demonstrations outside the stores, and boycotts. However, it clarifies that not all African Americans agreed with this activism and that protestors faced being yelled at, spit on, doused with food, and being arrested.


McKissack, P. & F. (1990). Taking a stand against racism and racial discrimination. New York: Franklin Watts. 


Middle school level, adult resource. The text distinguishes among racism, racial discrimination, and prejudice, explains the history of racism in the U.S. and the world, and clarifies economic greed as the primary cause of racism in the United States. It reveals ways the government has supported racism and helped to move the country toward racial equality. When racism and racial discrimination are not interrupted, they can escalate from racial jokes to mistrust to avoidance to segregation to eliminating educational, legal, economic, and housing opportunities to violence. Victims of prejudice and racism also respond by building ego defenses, showing aggression toward one's own group, withdrawing and hating oneself, and becoming angry and hostile. One valuable aspect of the text is the explanation of such racially charged words as "nigger," "boy," and "yo' mama," the history of the Ku Klux Klan, and recent efforts to file civil suits to limit its power. The hopeful tone of the text is apparent in sections portraying historical and contemporary leaders and organizations which have fought for racial equality. The authors provide examples of students working for equality and encourage readers to become activists.


McKissack, P. C. & F. (1992). Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a woman? New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary, middle school level. The text is a biography of Sojourner Truth portraying her experiences growing up in slavery in the North, being freed from slavery as an adult, and her struggles to help her own children. As an adult, Sojourner Truth was inspired to become involved in the abolitionist and suffrage movements and spent much of her adulthood speaking publicly in the midwest and east about the importance of equality for African Americans and women. The authors quote some of Truth’s more well-known speeches, including her “Ain’t I a woman” address at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851. Readers are invited to admire Truth’s determination, courage, integrity, and vision for a better life for women and African Americans through nonviolence.


McKissack, P. & F. (1996). Rebels against slavery: American slave revolts. New York: Scholastic.


Middle school level, adult resource. The authors call attention to the women and men slaves, free African Americans, European Americans, and Native Americans who led rebellions against slavery. As soon as slavery began in North America in 1619, slaves rebelled against the harsh conditions of chattel slavery and continued until slavery was legally abolished in 1865. The authors highlight leaders of slave revolts such as Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown and the development of maroon societies formed by runaway slaves and Native Americans in North America. Toussaint Louverture's influence is also documented since he led the slave revolution which led to the abolition of slavery and the formation of Haiti, the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere. The authors also portray Cinque's story, a slave from Sierra Leone, who led a revolt on a slave ship which finally resulted in the slaves being able to return to their homeland.


McKissack, P. & Zarembka, A. (2004). To establish justice: Citizenship and the Constitution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Middle school level and adult resource. The authors review the basis for legalized racial inequality in the U.S. Constitution and the struggle for equality among Native Americans, African Americans, Chinese Americans, and Japanese Americans as reflected in subsequent constitutional amendments. The text documents the evolution of our government’s understanding of justice and equality, which initially legalized slavery and did not grant voting rights to African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants. Readers are introduced to the struggle over land among European settlers and Native nations. Initially, the U.S. Government’s treaties with Native nations recognized each Native nation as an independent, sovereign nation. However, the struggle over land led to the 1830 Indian Removal Act and subsequent court cases which defined Native nations as domestic, dependent nations. The text addresses such issues as segregating public facilities for African Americans, excluding Chinese from immigrating to the U.S., denying citizenship to Chinese immigrants, detaining Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II, and denying equal opportunities in employment, education, and voting based on race or national origin. The authors present legal arguments used to increase and impede equality for various groups as well as continuing equal rights issues which courts may consider. The full text of the U.S. Constitution and all amendments are included at the end of the book.


Medearis, A. S. (1997). Princess of the press: The story of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York: Lodestar.


Upper elementary level. The author portrays the family influences and early experiences which led to Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work as an activist fighting for racial equality for African Americans and women. After her parents and youngest sibling died from yellow fever, at the age of 14, Ida passed the teacher’s examination and became a teacher to support her five younger sisters and brothers. In 1884, the experience of being forced to move to the Black section of a train which was not equal to the first-class White section which she paid for led Ida to fight racial segregation through the courts. Although she eventually lost the case, this experience motivated her to continue to speak out against racial inequality through writing and publishing newspaper articles. What made Ida’s work so notable was the strong language she used and her focus on exposing lynching as a means of racial oppression and maintenance of White supremacy. Although Ida eventually married and had four children, she owned her own newspaper, maintained her family name, and traveled to speak about racial equality and women’s suffrage.


Meltzer, M. (1972). Underground man. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.


Middle school level. The text is historical fiction, but is based on the life of Calvin Fairbank who was active in the antislavery movement and the author's extensive research on African American history and the abolition movement. Josh Bowen, the main character, is working as a logger on the Ohio River when he meets his first runaway slave, learns about the physical abuse and emotional distress of slavery, and discovers his true calling, abolition. He works in the slave state of Kentucky and cleverly uses different disguises to help slaves reach the safety of Ohio and the Underground Railroad. After dozens of successful rescues, he is captured and convicted of helping runaway slaves. The description of the cruel, inhuman prison life Josh endured for five years is especially graphic in revealing the poor food, hard work, and absence of light. His work as an abolitionist made him an especially hated prisoner and some dialogue in prison portray the hatred European Americans have for African Americans. However, the severe hardships of prison do not deter Josh from returning to aiding slaves after he is released from prison which results in another conviction and imprisonment.


Meltzer, M. (2001). There comes a time: The struggle for civil rights. New York: Landmark Books.


Middle school level. The author begins with the forced migration of African women, men, and children from their homelands to the United States in the 1600s and concludes with the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The text highlights the irony between the formation of a country based on freedom and equality and the simultaneous legalization of slavery, the seizure of Native people’s land, and the disenfranchisement of women and poor Whites. It chronicles the emancipation of slaves, but the reassertion of racist oppression through Black Codes, the Ku Klux Klan, the sharecropping system, the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision, lynchings, and segregation and discrimination in the armed services, education, and employment. Advances in civil rights are also described through the passage of constitutional amendments eliminating slavery, making African Americans citizens, and guaranteeing the right to vote. Civil Rights Acts provided additional rights in equal treatment in public places, outlawed discrimination, and created vehicles to enforce the job discrimination ban. The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision declared separate schools for African Americans and Whites unequal. African Americans fought for additional rights through the formation of such organizations as the NAACP, CORE, SCLC and the use of bus boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides. An interesting part of the text is the author’s analysis and evaluation of each president’s support for civil rights and concludes racial equality has not been achieved. He hints at future directions for the struggle and includes a timeline of civil rights history from 1940 through 1968.


Meltzer, M. (2004). Hear that train whistle blow! How the railroad changed the world. New York: Random House.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author offers an interesting account of racism directed against Chinese and African American railroad workers as well as Native Americans whose lands were invaded by the railroads as he reviews the development of railroads in the U.S. Meltzer describes the lower pay, extremely dangerous jobs, long hours, and forced labor the railroad company inflicted on Chinese railroad workers which saved the railroad companies money. He also portrays the conflict between the building of the railroads and Plains Native people’s focus on hunting and careful use of resources on the same lands. The U.S. government took land and exterminated Native people and the buffalo they depended on in order to create a White supremacist view of civilization through the railroads. African Americans worked on building the railroads as slaves with railway overseers replicating the harsh working conditions of slavery. After emancipation, African American men served as porters, but received less pay than conductors, no raises or promotions, and were banned from joining railroad unions.


Michelson, R. (2010). Busing Brewster. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


The text is historical fiction and portrays Brewster, a fictional young African American male, who is based on many young African American children bused to racially segregated, all-White schools in the 1970s. Brewster’s mother seems happy he is attending a school with better facilities and resources than the Black school he was supposed to attend. When Brewster and his older brother arrive at the school, they see protestors outside and encounter unwelcoming students inside the school. After an encounter with one of these students, Brewster and his older brother spend their first day at school serving detention in the library. However, Brewster meets a librarian who helps him find books he’s interested in and believes he can become president, just like his mother! The author’s note clarifies the historical context for the book and the importance of librarians and teachers to provide equal educational opportunities for all students.


Middleton, D. (1999). Dealing with discrimination. New York: PowerKids Press. 


Picture book, elementary level. The author defines discrimination as “treating someone badly just because he or she is different from you” and prejudice as “[the] hating of others for no good reason” and gives examples which should be understandable to children. It reviews different groups who have been discriminated against (immigrants, African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and women) for various reasons and also offers some situations illustrating prejudice and discrimination in action in children’s lives.


Miller, W. (1995). Frederick Douglass: The last day of slavery. New York: Lee & Low.


Picture book, elementary level. The author provides a brief portrayal of some of Frederick Douglass’ experiences as a slave and his strong desire for freedom. The pain of living away from his mother, of watching other slaves beaten for small mistakes, of working from dawn to midnight, and of being beaten himself is clearly illustrated. The text also illustrates a “slave breaker’s” efforts to shatter Douglass’ spirit and Douglass’ resistance. Although Douglass remained a slave at the end of the text, the author hints at Douglass’ efforts to escape and his determination not to think or act like a slave.


Miller, W. (1997). Richard Wright and the library card. New York: Lee & Low Books.


Picture book, elementary level. According to the author’s note, the text is a fictionalized account of a significant episode from Richard Wright’s life. Wright, who became a well-known author with his books Native Son and Black Boy, grew up loving reading, but had few opportunities to attend school. His family was very poor, so he could not buy books, and libraries would not lend books to him because of he was African American. However, Wright found a sympathetic White man in the office where he worked who lent him his library card. In order to circumvent the library’s racist policies, Wright pretended to check out books for the card’s owner. Wright read extensively, found that books changed him and were in their own way, a “ticket to freedom.”


Miller, W. (1998). The bus ride. New York: Lee & Low.


Picture book, elementary level. The story is set at the beginning of the civil rights movement, but portrays the racial segregation of city buses and both the resistance to and support for change. Sara, the main character, and her mother ride a city busy every day to her mother’s job in European American people’s kitchens and Sara’s school. One day Sara walks to the front of the bus to find out why this location is so privileged over the back where African Americans must sit. Sara is then arrested. The publicity of Sara’s action and arrest contribute to the African American boycott of city buses and the eventual integration of the buses.


Mitchell, M. K. (1993). Uncle Jed's barbershop. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Picture book, elementary level. The main character, Sarah Jean, is a young African American living with her family in the segregated South during the 1920s. These are tough economic times because most African Americans in the South are poor sharecroppers. Sarah Jean's uncle is a barber who must travel to cut other people's hair while he saves enough money to own his own barbershop. When Sarah Jean becomes very ill, her parents take her to the hospital. Because of segregation, the doctors do not examine her until after they finish with the White patients. They discover Sarah Jean needs an operation, but will not perform it until her family pays the cost. Uncle Jed lends them the money, he loses yet more savings through a failed bank during the Great Depression, but finally opens his own barbershop on his 79th birthday. Despite racial discrimination and oppression, he realizes his dream.


Mitchell, M. K. (1997). Granddaddy's gift. Mahwah, NJ: Bridgewater Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The narrator is a young African American girl who lives with her grandparents in Mississippi during the period of legalized racial segregation. She is especially close to her granddaddy. The main character describes her grandfather's commitment to education since he had to quit school after the eighth grade. He is also dedicated to African Americans having the right to vote by being willing to register to vote at a time when laws prevented many African Americans from voting. The author portrays her granddaddy's study for the test on the Mississippi Constitution in order to vote, the community's protest of his attempt to register to vote, and the burning of his church. However, her granddaddy's courage inspired others, including his granddaughter, to complete her education, register to vote, and to be proud of who she was.


Mochizuki, K. (1993). Baseball saved us. New York: Lee & Low.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The main character of this text describes his experiences of living in an internment camp in the desert during World War II because he and his family are Japanese American. Because everyone is forced to live together in barracks, stand in line to eat and go to the bathroom, the tensions mount. The main character's father realizes they need some diversion, so everyone helps build a baseball field, make uniforms, and built bleachers. Friends send them bats, balls, and gloves. Adults and kids were able to play baseball all the time and the main character improves his game significantly. When he returned to school after the war, he is shunned by other students. The author portrays the main character's hurt when he is called "Jap" by people attending his baseball game and his determination to prove himself.


Mochizuki, K. (1995). Heroes. New York: Lee & Low.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author portrays the prejudice and discrimination Donnie, a young Japanese American boy, experiences in the U.S. because of his Japanese American culture after World War II. Other children point and stare as Donnie’s father drives him to school each day. Donnie is regularly coerced into playing “war” with other boys who make him perform the role of the “enemy” because of his cultural background. When Donnie explains that both his father and uncle fought on the side of the U.S. during the Korean War and World War II, his friends don’t believe they could serve in “our” army. Finally, when the boys chase Donnie to his father’s gas station while shooting at him with imaginary weapons, Donnie’s father and uncle decide to prove their “hero” status by wearing their military uniforms and medals to school.


Mohr, N. (1994). Growing up inside the sanctuary of my imagination. New York: Julian Messner.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author describes her diverse experiences growing up as the youngest child and the only daughter in a poor, Puerto Rican family in New York City. Her most poignant stories of the racism she encountered were at school when teachers insisted that speaking Spanish was forbidden and a route to failure. Teachers often ignored the author, generally disrespected her and other Latino children in class, and punished her for speaking Spanish or for not looking directly at the teacher (which was disrespectful in Puerto Rican culture). School counselors discouraged her from applying for the High School of Music and Art because of her poverty and encouraged her to learn to become a seamstress. Nicholasa remembered only one teacher who encouraged her art and cared for her while a student in the New York City school system. When she and her family attempted to live for a short time in a White, ethnic neighborhood, residents let them know they were unwelcome through name-calling, isolation, destruction of mail, and a priest's suggestion they move to a different neighborhood where people might understand them. Nicholasa's mother's strong belief in her talents and her encouragement to live out her dreams helped her resist the racism and classism she encountered.


Monceaux, M. & Katcher, R. (1999). My heroes, my people: African Americans and Native Americans in the West. New York: Frances Foster Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. Monceaux also illustrated the text with drawings of African Americans and Native Americans who played important or minor roles in the history of the “West,” despite racism and discrimination. He described African Americans who were fur traders, cowboys, criminals, lawmen, stagecoach drivers, and buffalo soldiers and some of the ways they were unequal to European Americans in similar positions. Only a few African American women were depicted, but these women spent their lives helping others find more opportunities in the West. Several Native leaders were portrayed who were involved in conflicts with the U.S. Government over Native people’s land.


Monjo, F. N. (1970). The drinking gourd: A story of the underground railroad. New York: HarperTrophy.


Picture book, elementary level. The text explains the role a European American family plays as conductors on the Underground Railroad. Tommy, the main character, discovers his father believes slavery is evil and the immorality of people owning other people. He is willing to break the law in order to aid runaway slaves. Through the story the author explains the meaning of the drinking gourd and the Underground Railroad and shows how escaping slaves were hidden in barns, secretly transported in hay wagons, and helped across rivers in boats to the next station.


Moore, C. (2002). The daring escape of Ellen Craft. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The author bases her book on William Craft’s text Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery first published in 1860. Moore’s book clearly describes Ellen and William’s clever escape from slavery through Ellen’s disguise as a White man with his slave. Ellen’s disguise necessitated cutting her hair, donning men’s clothing, wrapping bandages around her face (to hide her smooth skin), and wearing her arm in a sling (to conceal her inability to write). They traveled from Georgia to Philadelphia by train and boat with Ellen experiencing White male privileges while William endured racist oppression as a slave. Their years of slavery ended when they arrived in Philadelphia.


Moore, Y. (1991). Freedom songs. New York: Puffin Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The main character, Sheryl, is an African American adolescent who visits her relatives in the South and encounters "Whites only" water fountains and buses, African Americans being waited on last in stores, and not being able to try on clothing before they purchase them. She learns about African American schools having old textbooks and poor facilities. Sheryl's Uncle Pete is one of the freedom workers protesting all of these inequalities, often at great personal danger. As Sheryl understands more about their efforts, she helps organize children and youth in her Brooklyn community to give a concert to raise money to support the freedom workers. Their concert demonstrated the power of kids to address a major social problem like racism.


Morrison, T. (2004). Remember: The journey to school integration. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Picture book, elementary level. The author uses archival photographs of events surrounding school desegregation and integration, including protests and classroom scenes. She also sketches in the historical context of school integration, including racial segregation in movies, restaurants, and other public facilities and efforts to achieve racial equality through bus demonstrations, marches, and speeches. For some of the photographs, Ms. Morrison creates fictional dialogue and thoughts of some of the people in the photographs in order to tell the story of the fight for racial equality, including school integration. The author also includes an explanation for each photograph used in the text and a timeline for the history of civil rights and school integration.


Morrow, B. O. (2004). A good night for freedom. New York: Holiday House.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is historical fiction based on facts detailed in the author’s note. It portrays Levi and Catharine Coffin’s efforts to help slaves escape on the Underground Railroad, despite the potential retribution from the Fugitive Slave Law and violence from slave catchers. The story also depicts a young European American girl’s willingness to risk danger by protecting two young female runaway slaves hidden in the Coffin’s home. The author explains the Coffin home in Indiana is now an historic site and recommends additional books and websites for learning about the Underground Railroad.


Myers, W. D. (1996). Toussaint L'Overture: The fight for Haiti's freedom. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is illustrated with haunting paintings by Jacob Lawrence to give a history of Haiti from the time of Columbus until 1804 when Haiti became free from colonial rule and slavery. After Columbus claimed the land for Spain in 1492, France and Spain struggled for control over the island of Haiti and divided it into two countries, Santo Domingo and Saint Domingue. Europeans captured Africans as slaves and brought them to work on plantations owned by Whites who not only treated the slaves cruelly, but also ruled Saint Domingue. Toussaint was one of the slaves who saw this cruelty and the rebellion of slaves. He joined the rebellion and eventually became a leader because of his abilities to organize soldiers and plan battles. Toussaint and his forces were able to free Saint Domingue and Santo Domningo from French and Spanish rule and abolish slavery by around 1800. When France tried again to win control of Saint Domingue, Toussaint agreed to stop fighting in exchange for freedom for Blacks. Sadly, Toussaint was captured and died in prison and did not live to see Blacks win back their freedom.


Naidoo, B. (2007). Burn my heart. New York: Amistad.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is historical fiction based on real events in Kenya in the 1950s during the period of the Mau Mau movement among the Kikuyus, or Black Kenyans, to regain their land from British White colonists. The Mau Mau were a secret society who pledged to fight to the death to get back their land. The story is of two young Kenyan boys, Mathew, the son of a British White colonist, and Mugo, the son of a Black Kikuyu who cared for the White colonist’s horses. Mathew’s grandfather had taken the land from Mugo’s grandfather. It portrays their changing friendship and relationship during the Mau Mau movement and the resulting British government’s State of Emergency to crush the Mau Mau. The narration of the story alternates between Mathew and Mugo to allow readers to understand different perspectives on events. However, the author illustrates how racism and racial conflict over land and rights erode long-standing friendships and trusting, working relationships and the violent suppression which results when British colonists’ power is threatened by Black Kenyans fighting for equal rights.


Nelson, S. D. (2010). Black Elk’s vision: A Lakota story. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text is a biography of Black Elk who was born in 1863 and witnessed the spread of the Wha-shi-choos, the White people, into Lakota and other plains nations to take gold, kill most of the buffalo, and demand the Lakota sign treaties to give up land and move onto reservations. For those Native nations who resisted, White soldiers attacked the villages of Native people. Black Elk experienced his own people’s hunger when they had no buffalo to hunt and their helplessness against so many White solders’ guns. They moved to a reservation; however, Black Elk shared his great vision and message of hope that each is part of the tree of life and should grow strong. The text also describes Black Elk’s experiences of traveling and performing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, his people’s suffering and death with little food, clothing, and shelter on the reservation, their escape to and attack at Wounded Knee. Although Black Elk was shot at Wounded Knee, he survived, moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation, married and had children. The author’s note explains Black Elk’s vision of hope in contrast to a time of destruction of his people, elaborates on the history of the Lakota and their oppression by White people, and the first biography of Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks, published in 1932. The text also includes a timeline of the history of the Lakota and Black Elk, notes for direct quotes included within the text, and a bibliography of sources apparently used in the preparation of the book.


Nelson, V. M. (1993). Mayfield crossing. New York: G. P. Putnam.


Upper elementary level. It was 1960 and the main character, Meg, is an African American, nine-year-old girl who loves to play baseball with her brother Billie and other friends from Mayfield Crossing. However, the neighborhood school in Mayfield Crossing closed and all the students were moved to the more affluent Parkview Elementary School which contained children from different neighborhoods. Meg was the only African American in her class and she discovered the other students shunned the students from Mayfield Crossing and tried to keep them off the baseball diamond. Meg also encountered racial prejudice for the first time when other students used name-calling "tar baby" and "pickaninny" and said, "Those coloreds are filthy" and "I don't want to be associated with coloreds." After she won a geography contest, another student accused Meg of cheating. Racial prejudice was present among some of the teachers, too, as teachers patronized the African American students with "Your people have come a long way" and doubting their academic abilities. The book closes with some hope that the Mayfield kids will be able to play baseball with the Parkview kids.


Olivas, D. A. (2005). Benjamin and the word. Houston, TX: Pinata Books.


Picture book, elementary. The book is written in Spanish and English and deals with the hurtful effects of children’s name-calling. Although the text does not specify the “name” which hurt Benjamin’s feelings, his father helped Benjamin understand why his friend might have called him a hurtful name. They clarify that anger and a desire to hurt others who are from different cultures or religions often precipitate name-calling. The text models how family members can support their children who deal with the hurtful effects of racist acts and how children can confront and reconcile with friends who call them names.


Ortiz, S. (1988). The people shall continue. San Francisco: Children's Book Press.


Picture book, elementary level. This book describes different Native people living in different parts of the United States and the destruction imposed by different groups of Europeans. The Spanish sought treasures and slaves among the nations of the South; the English, French, and Dutch wanted to take their land and enslave the nations in the East. Although the Native people fought back, they grew weak from 300 years of fighting and began to make treaties. The treaties forced them to live on reservations with poor land and few resources which grew even smaller as more and more European Americans moved west. The book also describes the efforts to extinguish Native people's cultures by sending their children to boarding schools. Despite all these efforts by European Americans to weaken Native people, the people continued to struggle and hold onto their culture. Native people invite other oppressed groups to struggle with them for a better life.


Parks, R. (1997). I am Rosa Parks. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, lower elementary level. Parks herself provides readers with valuable background information about her resistance to racial segregation and corrects the misconception she initiated the African American bus boycott in 1955 because she was too tired to give up her seat to a White passenger. Her participation in this civil rights action stemmed from childhood experiences in the racially segregated community of Pine Level, Alabama and the work she and her husband did in Montgomery, Alabama documenting and assisting African Americans who had been harmed by racial segregation and oppression. Parks not only provides her perspective on the sacrifices African Americans had to make during the bus boycott and her work for racial equality today, but also credits many people with starting the civil rights movement.


Pferdehirt, J. (1998). Freedom train north: Stories of the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin. Middleton, WI: Living History.


Upper elementary level with illustrations and photographs. The author tells stories about Wisconsin people’s involvement in helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. Several stories of slaves’ difficult escape are portrayed, such as Caroline Quarles and Joshua Glover. The author also describes different abolitionist individuals and groups who helped slaves toward freedom, including church members, the Stockbridge tribe, missionaries and preachers, innkeepers and tavern owners, steamship captains, and Union troops. The author communicates the significance of the little-known contributions abolitionist steamship captains make in taking escaping slaves from Wisconsin ports through Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to Canada. Readers begin to appreciate the dangers for abolitionists who help slaves escape as well as the perils slaves are willing to endure in order to own themselves.


Pferdehirt, J. (2008). Caroline Quarlls and the Underground Railroad. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.


Upper elementary level with illustrations, maps, and photographs. In 1842, Caroline Quarlls escaped from slavery in Missouri and traveled over 1,000 miles through Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan to safety in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada, where she was free. The journey took her three months. Caroline was helped by abolitionists and other Underground Railroad participants, betrayed by a free African American living in Milwaukee, and pursued by slave hunters. She hid in barrels, in people’s homes, underneath hay in wagons and under furs in buggies, and in corn fields. She traveled by riverboat, ferry boat, stagecoach, wagon, and horseback. Toward the end of her journey, she wore gloves and a veil as a disguise. Although Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were free states, Caroline was not safe until she reached Canada. The author not only describes the complicated journey of Caroline Quarlls’ escape and the people who helped and hunted her along the way, but the historical sources used to construct Caroline’s story.


Pinkney, A. D. (1994). Dear Benjamin Banneker. San Diego: Gulliver Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author provides a brief biography of Benjamin Banneker, his self-taught knowledge of astronomy, and his almanac. During the 18th century, many people believed that African Americans were not intelligent enough to create almanacs, so Benjamin Banneker had trouble finding a publisher. He also realized most African Americans could not read his almanac because their "masters" prevented them from reading. Banneker wrote to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson criticizing slavery and calling Jefferson a hypocrite for owning slaves while writing "all men are created equal."


Pinkney, A. D. (2001). Dear Mr. President Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a slave girl. New York: Winslow.


Upper elementary, middle school level. The text is letters exchanged between President Abraham Lincoln and Lettie Tucker, a young slave girl living on a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina from 1861-1863. The letters are fictional, but are based on research. Although it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write, many did develop literacy and were courageous enough to write to the president. The author portrays Lettie as an intelligent, thoughtful, bold 12-year-old girl. She was very aware of her status as property of her owner, that slave families were usually sold away from each other, and the relentless work slave owners demanded of their slaves. Lettie asked Lincoln to free the slaves even though her father accused Lincoln of being more concerned about keeping the Union together than ending slavery. Lincoln’s letters revealed his contradictory views on slavery while Lettie’s letters disclosed the great joy among slaves when they learned of Lincoln’s decision to end slavery in the Confederate states.


Pinkney, A.D. (2008). Boycott blues: How Rosa Parks inspired a nation. New York: Greenwillow Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author uses a blues story-telling style to relay the historical event of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a White passenger in the Whites-only section of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama in December, 1955. Andrea Pinkney used the blues metaphor to depict the weariness of struggle along with hopefulness for better times. At the time Jim Crow laws maintained racial segregation and African Americans had to sit in a separate section of city buses. However, Rosa Parks’ refusal to follow this unjust law led to African Americans’ boycott of city buses for nearly a year. The text depicts the challenges of the boycott for African Americans in walking in all kinds of weather or finding other means of transportation to school, work, and church. The Supreme Court struck down segregation laws on November 13, 1956 and the law became official on December 21. African Americans in Montgomery and elsewhere no longer were restricted in where they could sit on city buses. The author’s note provides additional background on the bus boycott, Jim Crow laws, and the blues musical tradition.


Pinkney, A. D. (2010). Sit-in: How four friends stood up by sitting down. New York: Little, Brown.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the author’s research of the sit-ins begun by David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and Ezell Blair at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina when the four men were college students in 1960. They followed Martin Luther King, Jr.’s principles of nonviolent protest to take action against racially segregated lunch counters. At first they were ignored by waitresses and police, who declared they were not breaking any laws. As their numbers grew, others came to protect racial segregation and poured hot coffee, milkshakes, pepper, and ketchup on the protestors. News cameras documented the protest, which grew and spread to complaints about segregated libraries, buses, parks, and pools. Ella Baker and college students formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to support racial equality demonstrations. These demonstrations led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned segregation in public places, an important goal of the civil rights movement. The text contains a timeline of the civil rights movement and information from the author on the research she conducted to write the book.


Polacco, P. (1994). Pink and say. New York: Philomel.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book is based on a story passed orally from one generation to another until the author created this text. Say was Polacco's great great grandfather and the story takes place when he was a youth from Ohio fighting on the Union's side in the Civil War. Say was wounded and lying in a Georgia field when he was found by Pink, a young African American Union soldier. Say took him home to his mother to care for on the deserted, burned plantation. Say described the harshness of slavery for Pink and the importance of fighting the war to end it. When Confederate marauders came by, Pink and Say hid, but Pink's mother was killed. Later both Pink and Say were captured by Confederate soldiers and taken to prison. Pink was hanged in prison whereas Say lived to tell the story.


Polacco, P. (2009). January’s sparrow. New York: Philomel.


Upper elementary level. The text is historical fiction based on research completed on the Crosswhite family, who escaped from slavery in Kentucky to a free town in Marshall, Michigan in the 1840s. The author uses “Black dialect” for the main characters’ speech, modified from entries in Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. The Crosswhite family, parents and four children, were helped by conductors along the Underground Railroad when they crossed the Ohio River, hid in a barn loft, and stayed at other safe houses or safe farms as they traveled through cornfields, climbed bluffs, and waded through mud. When they arrived at Marshall, Michigan, the family was assured that many citizens in the town were against slavery and protected runaway slaves who settled there. The Crosswhite parents and oldest son got jobs while the younger children attended school in Marshall, but they were warned never to admit they were runaways. Although the Crosswhite family was very diligent about watching for strangers in town, after four years in Marshall, slave catchers and their former owner came to take them back to Kentucky. Marshall citizens, Black and White, came to the family’s aid and prevented them from taking the Crosswhite family. The slave catchers and former owner were held in jail until the Crosswhite family could leave for Canada. The story is an example of European Americans and African Americans working together to help runaways.


Polcovar, J. (1988). What was it like? Harriet Tubman. Stamford, CT: Longmeadow.


Upper elementary level. The text is a biography of Harriet Tubman and she is the narrator of highlights of her life. The book portrays briefly the physical cruelty she endured as a slave, the physical strength she developed, and her escape from slavery along the Underground Railroad. It also reveals how Harriet Tubman became a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her bravery in helping slaves escape along its route. Harriet Tubman explains the route she took after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed which necessitated slaves going to Canada and ways she helped inform slaves of their freedom during the Civil War. One valuable aspect of the book is the explanation of the meaning of singing to slaves as they worked in the fields.


Powell, P. H. (2017). Loving vs. Virginia: A documentary novel of the landmark civil rights case. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.


Middle school and high school level. The text is written in verse, alternating the voices of the two main characters, Mildred, an African American and Richard, a European American. The book describes how Mildred and Richard became acquainted and eventually loved each other enough to want to marry. However, they lived in Virginia at a time when it was illegal for African Americans and European Americans to marry. Even though they marry, they must live outside of Virginia to avoid being sent to jail. Along with their story, readers learn about the racial inequalities Mildred experienced in schools, African Americans’ unequal access to entertainment, such as movies and dances, and their observations of how African Americans and European Americans were treated differently by law enforcement. The author portrays the long struggle Mildred and Richard had to endure in order to live together as a married couple in Virginia. It took the Supreme Court in 1967 to overturn the Virginia state court decision prohibiting intermarriage. The book also contains additional background on the court case, anti-miscegenation laws, school integration efforts and laws, and civil rights actions to protest racial inequality. The end of the book includes a time line of the major laws and events in the Loving vs. Virginia court case.


Qualey, M. (1993). Revolutions of the heart. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Middle school and high school level. Although the text is not well-written and contains some language and content inappropriate for middle school readers, it highlights the racial isolation between Native Americans and European Americans at a small high school in northern Wisconsin. It deals with the subtle and blatant racism of the school and community when the main character, Cory, a European American girl, dates Mac, a Native American boy. The author includes brief descriptions of the community’s protest at a boat landing when the Ojibwa exert their spear fishing rights. One of the strengths of the text is the inclusion of background information on the treaty rights to help readers understand the history of these rights. A few characters take stands against the community’s racism, including Cory, her friend, and step father. The author implies that racism can be changed one person at a time through “revolutions of the heart.”


Rappaport, D. (2001). Martin’s big words: The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.


Picture book, elementary level. The author focuses on quotations from Martin Luther King, J. and his family members to illustrate resistance to racist oppression and his leadership in fighting for racial equality. King emphasized love, freedom, and peaceful resistance in the civil rights movement. The text also includes important dates and additional resources for learning about King’s life and the civil rights movement.


Rappaport, D. (2002). No more! Stories and songs of slave resistance. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.


Picture book, elementary level. The author uses African American spirituals, slave narratives, folktales, autobiographies, and interviews in constructing many stories illustrating how slaves never accepted slavery, but fought against it through many avenues until they were legally freed in 1865. The songs included within the text illustrate slaves’ hope for freedom (“Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?”and “Steal Away to Jesus”), signals for slaves to escape (“Gospel Train” and Go Down Moses”), and joy in new freedom (“Many Thousand Gone”). She describes the actions and feelings of such slaves as Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, John Scobell, William Still, Suzie King Taylor, Nat Turner, and Booker T. Washington. Readers learn how slaves escaped to live with the Cherokee or Seminoles or to find freedom in Mexico or Canada.


Rappaport, D. (2004). Free at last! Stories and songs of emancipation. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is the second in the trilogy of African American experiences created by the author and illustrator. The author focuses on African American experiences in the South, from Emancipation in 1863 to the 1954 Supreme Court decision declaring school segregation illegal. Readers learn about emancipated slaves trying to become reunited with their children or spouses, gaining voting rights for African American men and electing them to governmental positions, moving to Kansas to own land or moving North to get better jobs, and desegregating major league baseball and schools. Along with signs of progress are assertions of white privilege through the Ku Klux Klan; poll taxes, tests, and grandfather clauses limiting voting rights, and imprisonment and lynchings for African Americans accused of crimes. Poems, songs, memoirs, letters, and court testimonies provide many voices in the text. The Negro National Anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” is included, along with “Free at Last” and “John Henry.”


Rappaport, D. (2005). The school is not white! A true history of the civil rights movement. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the lives of Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter, African American sharecroppers, who decided to send their seven children to an all-white school in 1965 in Drew, Mississippi when a federal law offered African American families the freedom to attend any school they wanted. The family knew a good education, which was not available at the all-Black school, would give their children more options beyond sharecropping. As a result of attending an all-white school, the parents lost their jobs and home and their children faced consistent mistreatment from teachers and name-calling, spitballs, and exclusion from other students. After five years of daily attendance, the Carter children’s courage to attend an all-white school led other African American families to send their children to the school too. The author’s note explains the resources used in writing the book and updates the Carter family history since the time of their story.


Rappaport, D. (2006). Nobody gonna turn me ‘round: Stories and songs of the civil rights movement. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.


Picture book, elementary level. The last book in the trilogy of African American experiences by the author and illustrator, the text includes songs, poems, direct quotations, and brief stories to portray the civil rights movement beginning with the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing school segregation through the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The author cites sources for the content and introduces readers to less well-known civil rights participants, such as Mose Wright, Jo Ann Robinson, John Lewis, Diane Nash, and Sheyann Webb. Many heroic people courageously acted to integrate schools, boycott buses that were racially segregated, sit-in at segregated department store restaurants, participated in “freedom rides” to protest segregated public buses, and marched and demonstrated for voting rights. Songs were rewritten (“Keep Your Hand on the Plow was changed to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”) to express the feelings of civil rights activists while the song “We Shall Overcome” became the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement. The author gives a timeline of the civil rights movement, a list of sources used in preparing the text, and recommends additional texts for readers to learn more about the civil rights movement.


Raven, M. T. (2005). Let them play. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear.


Picture book, elementary level. The text documents the influence of racial segregation on Little League prior to the civil rights movement in a true story. In South Carolina in 1955, European American Little League teams did not play African American Little League teams because of the separate but equal policy. When the only African American Little League team of Cannon Street YMCA All-Star team formed in Charleston, the team’s coach hoped they could play other Little League teams and advance to the state, regional and perhaps the Little League World Series. Rather than play an all-African American team, other Little League teams in South Carolina boycotted Little League and started a new baseball program. The only hopeful aspect of this issue was the invitation to the Cannon Street All-Star team to attend the Little League World Series as guests and to warm up on the field in front of a cheering audience. The crowd chanted “Let them play!” but the team was not allowed to play.


Raven, M. T. (2006). Night boat to freedom. New York: Melanie Kroupa Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on stories from the Slave Narrative Collection, compiled in the 1930s by writers who interviewed ex-slaves abut their years in slavery. The two main characters in the book are created from these stories. The text describes a young male slave, Christmas John, who for four years rows escaping slaves across the Ohio River from the slave state of Kentucky to the free state of Ohio. He continues this practice only at night, despite the dangers, until he must escape from slavery himself. The second character is Granny Judith, who dyes thread from plants and roots and weaves cloth from these bright threads. The author embellishes the stories with her own imagination, including Granny Judith’s role in helping slaves escape and the quilt she creates representing all those who find freedom with Christmas John’s help.


Ringgold, F. (1995). My dream of Martin Luther King. New York: Crown.


Picture book, elementary level. Faith Ringgold’s text offers a creative twist on King’s life. The main character, an African American girl, dreams about King and the possibility of many people around the world trading in their bags of prejudice, hate, ignorance, violence, and fear for hope, freedom, peace, awareness, and love. She reviews important events in King’s life and the racism he and his family endured, including the racial segregation of schools, buses, and the use of diminutive terms for adults. In addition, Ringgold portrays how King was inspired Mahatma Gandhi to resist racial injustice peacefully, a philosophy he followed through protests of racial segregation and speaking of his dream of racial equality. At the close of the book, the main character dreams of people destroying their bags of prejudice in exchange for King’s dream. This image of trading racism for racial equality offers a good discussion starter with students.


Ringgold, F. (1999). If a bus could talk: The story of Rosa Parks. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. Ringgold uses a talking bus to teach readers as well as a young African American girl named Marcie about the life of Rosa Parks. Throughout the bus ride, a voice describes Rosa Parks’ experiences with racism through Ku Klux Klan activities; her attendance at crowded, inferior schools for African American children only; and her mistreatment on racially segregated buses. The talking bus also informs the young rider of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a White passenger, her arrest, and the resulting bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, along with organized protests against racist practices of department stores, restaurants, and public swimming pools. At the end of the bus ride, Mrs. Parks herself enters the bus and the young girl and other passengers, who are leaders from the civil rights movement, have a birthday party honoring Parks.


Ringgold, F. (1999). The invisible princess. New York: Crown.


Picture book, elementary level. Ringgold has created a fairy tale which transforms African Americans’ racial oppression during legalized slavery into a tale of freedom and hope. Ringgold briefly describes the oppressive living conditions for African Americans during slavery, but also creates a beautiful princess, who would otherwise have become a slave, into a magical being who helps form the Invisible Village of Peace, Freedom, and Love. The Invisible Princess is helped by natural forces, such as the Prince of Night, the Giant of the Trees, the Sun Goddess, the Sea Queen, and the Queen of Bees, who use their power to protect her and help slaves escape to the Invisible Village. The text contrasts the oppression of slavery with the liberating possibilities of a place based on freedom, peace, and love. The story is also portrayed in one of Ms. Ringgold’s story quilts “Born in a Cottonfield” and is part of her American Collection series of quilts that combine painting, quilted fabric, and storytelling.


Robinet, H. G. (1998). Forty acres and maybe a mule. New York: Jean Karl.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author created a fictional story of several freed slaves endeavoring to take advantage of some of the promise of free land to freed slaves during the Reconstruction period of 1865. This promise was a factual, although short-lived, effort to compensate African Americans for 200 years of forced, unpaid labor. The text portrays the courage and resourcefulness of a small group of African Americans who escaped from their owners, endured many efforts to return them to slavery, claimed 40 acres in Georgia offered by the Freedmen’s Bureau, and began to farm. In one season, they built a house, planted and harvested a good cotton crop, and planted a garden. However, the text also portrays the strategies used by some Southerners to assert White supremacy: burning the Freedman’s school and the nearby community settled by all African Americans, enforcing the Black Codes which necessitated all African Americans carry work contracts or be arrested for vagrancy, destroying farms owned by African Americans, and finally, reclaiming the 40 acres originally promised to freed slaves. The main characters move in search of other land to farm.


Rockwell, A. (2000). Only passing through: The story of Sojourner Truth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Picture book, elementary level. The author focuses on a few events in Sojourner Truth’s life to illustrate her courage, intelligence, and speaking talents during the cruelties of slavery and after freedom. Sold away from her parents, whipped when she could not understand her new master, forced to marry in order to produce slave children for her master, the escape when her master reneged on his promise of freedom, and the illegal sale of her son to a plantation owner in Alabama provided stories she shared with people about the cruelties of slavery. As she learned about Bible stories and became familiar with slave laws from abolitionists, she gained the courage to challenge the sale of her son in court and sojourn around the northeast telling the inhumane stories of slavery. In the author’s note, a timeline and additional background is provided about Sojourner Truth.


Rodman, M.A. (2004). Yankee girl. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.


Upper elementary/middle school level. Although the text is historical fiction, it is based on the author’s experiences of living in Jackson, Mississippi during 1964 when schools were beginning to be integrated. The main character Alice Ann Moxley’s father is an FBI agent assigned to protect African Americans who are asserting their right to vote and other rights. Alice, a European American, is a typical sixth-grader who desires to be accepted by others, although she is usually treated as an outsider because she is a Yankee. Her wish for acceptance leads her to remain silent about the racist norms of the other sixth-graders who treat cruelly Valerie, the only African American girl in the class. The racism and racist language are blatant with students refusing to drink after Valerie, talk, eat, or play with her. They place her clothing in the waste basket, trip her as she walks to her seat, put paste on her chair, skunk oil in her desk, and gum in her hair. Valerie’s classmates regularly use racist terms when talking to or about her. For most of the school year, Alice remains mostly silent about this treatment, although she knows it is not right to do so. When Valerie and her family experience a tragedy, Alice decides to challenge the racist rules of the community, her school, and classmates, and reaches out to Valerie’s family.


Ryan, P. M. (2002). When Marian sang. New York: Scholastic.


Picture book, elementary level. Marian Anderson grew up singing and her singing talents were recognized and supported by her family and African American community in Philadelphia. However, Ms. Anderson encountered racism not only in everyday experiences in stores and public transportation, but also when she applied to a music school. She was rejected solely on the basis of being “colored”rather than musically untalented. As Ms. Anderson’s musical gifts became more widely recognized, she traveled on Jim Crow train cars to different states and sang to segregated groups. African Americans were relegated to the balcony while European Americans sat in the best seats. When Ms. Anderson went to Europe to learn different languages and develop her voice further, she was able to sing to mixed racial audiences and travel freely. The most outrageous expression of racist oppression in the U.S. occurred in 1939 when Ms. Anderson was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington DC because of the “White performers only” policy. In response to many protests about this decision, Ms. Anderson sang to an audience of 75,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This powerful text illustrates that racism limits opportunities, but oppressed and privileged groups can work together to remove such boundaries.


Sawyer, K. K. (1997). The underground railroad in American history. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text contains valuable information about the differences between slavery in northern states and southern states in the U.S. and offers reasons for northern states to abolish slavery. However, free African Americans did not find equality in the North. The author describes groups, individuals, and events which contributed to antislavery views; methods slaves used to escape on the Underground Railroad; and the routes they followed. He clarifies that not all slaves fled north, some fled to live with the Seminoles, the Everglades in Florida, the Bahamas, and Mexico. The text portrays well-known escaped slaves, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, and the strategies they used to flee as well as famous conductors, such as Harriet Tubman and Levi Coffin, who helped escaping slaves. Finally, the author describes Canada as the “promised land” for fugitive slaves, where they settled, and some of the economic and educational opportunities offered. Some fleeing slaves sought refuge in Great Britain.


Say, A. (2013). The favorite daughter. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The book is about Yuriko, Allen Say’s daughter and the effects of the teasing she experienced for her name and for being of Japanese American descent with blond hair. When a teacher and other students call her “Eureka” instead of her proper name, Yuriko wants an American name that is more common. Through a series of conversations and activities, Yuriko’s father helps her appreciate her name and aspects of Japanese culture. The book can be used to discuss the harm that can occur from teasing someone for her cultural background.


Schroeder, A. (1996). Minty: A story of young Harriet Tubman. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. In the author's note, Alan Schroeder explains the text is historical fiction. Some scenes are fictional, but facts are also included. The author provides an accessible portrayal which younger children can understand about the hardships of slavery. Slave children are forced to work extremely hard, have little time for play, and often are treated very inhumanely. Children could identify with Harriet's pain of having a favorite toy destroyed as well as her joys during her father's teachings about the secrets of the forest and skies. This knowledge of the north star, which side of trees moss usually grows on, and how to catch the food she might need all were part of her father's preparation for her escape from slavery in the future. The text provides an excellent illustration of how slave parents taught their children how to cope with slavery and plan for escape.


Shange, N. (1997). White wash. New York. Walker.


Picture book, elementary level. According to the book jacket, the racist event portrayed in the text is based on a series of true incidents. When Helene-Angel and her older brother Mauricio walk home together after school one day, they are accosted by members of the Hawks gang. The gang members call Helene-Angel and Mauricio “mud people,” then hit Mauricio and spray paint Helene-Angel’s face white. Despite the comfort Helene-Angel’s grandmother offers, Helene-Angel hides in her room for a week. She comes out when her friends from school arrive to promise to stick together so no one else will bother Helene-Angel or anyone else. The text illustrates the trauma racial incidents can cause and the potential for healing when people (children or adults) join together to fight against them.


Shange, N. (2009). We troubled the waters. New York: Amistad Collins.


The poet Ntozake Shange devotes her poetry to events leading up to and including the Civil Rights movement in this text. She highlights Booker T. Washington schools created for African American students, typical jobs open to African Americans (cleaning homes and collecting garbage), living in “shotgun houses,” drinking at segregated water fountains, and being intimidating through hanging and other Klu Klux Klan activities when African Americans tried to vote. The author also creates poems to honor Civil Rights movement leaders, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and Civil Rights sit-ins, marches, and pray-ins. Finally, Shange recognizes the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the promise of equality among all people with her final poems.


Shore, D. Z. & Alexander, J. (2006). This is the dream. New York: HarperCollins.


The book-length poem documents racial inequalities in public facilities, transportation, restaurants, libraries, and schools, and actions people took to achieve equality. African American students integrated schools, African Americans boycotted buses, sat at “Whites only” lunch counters, and marched to protest racial inequalities. The poem also offers a vision of racial equality in public facilities, such as transportation, libraries, restaurants, and schools.


Siegel, B. (1992). The year they walked: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. New York: Four Winds.


Upper elementary/middle school level, adult resource. The text is a factual account of the injustices of the segregated South in the 1950s including the humiliation for African Americans of riding segregated buses. The drivers were usually EuroAmerican men who insisted that African American passengers pay the fare in the front of the bus, exit, reboard at the rear of the bus, and sit or stand in the rear even when seats were empty in the front, EuroAmerican section. The arrest of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a EuroAmerican passenger on the bus galvanized the African American community, the majority of bus passengers, to boycott the buses in Montgomery, Alabama for one year. The text reveals the power of collective action in helping to bring about social change and the development of several leaders in the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr. After the city of Montgomery tried various strategies to disrupt the boycott, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that state and city laws requiring segregation on buses unconstitutional.


Sigelson, K. (2000). Escape south. New York: Random House.


Upper elementary level. The text is fictional, but based on the experiences of runaway slaves from Georgia and South Carolina who escaped south to live with the Seminole. In the story, Ben and his family escape from their owner in Georgia, travel south through the Okefenokee Swamp and down the Suwannee River to Many Ponds, a village composed of “Black Seminoles” who are part of the Seminole Nation. Ben’s family build their own house and farm for a year, until a conflict with the U.S. government over Seminole land disrupted their new-found freedom. The government wanted the land for White settlers and plantation owners wanted their runaway slaves returned. Finally, by the late 1830s, Ben and his family move west with other Seminoles and Black Seminoles to a different home in Oklahoma, where they are free.


Slade, S. (2014). Friends for freedom: The story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.


Picture book, elementary level. The biography of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass compares the differences between their lives and the historical period they lived in, which made it unlikely that the two of them would become friends. However, their commitment to equality for African Americans and women drew them together. They spoke out publicly together about equality for African Americans and women even when others attacked them for their ideas. When the Fifteenth Amendment was proposed to give Black men the right to vote, but not women, Douglass agreed with this amendment, but not Anthony. She believed women should not wait for the right to vote, which caused a rift in their relationship. However, they were able to maintain their friendship, communicate with each other in letters, give speeches together, and attend conventions together for over 45 years. In the author’s and illustrator’s note, the author and illustrator explain the research involved in preparing the book and include source notes and a selected bibliography.


Smucker, B. (1977). Runaway to freedom: A story of the underground railroad. New York: HarperTrophy.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is a fictional account of Julilly's and Liza's experiences of the hardships of slavery and their escape on the Underground Railroad from Mississippi to Canada. However, it is based on first-hand experiences found in narratives of fugitive slaves, on a study of Underground Railroad routes, and on activities of two abolitionists. Julilly was sold from her mother into the deep South where slavery was especially cruel. The text provides a grim description of slave owners treating slaves as animals and the slaves' broken spirits from such cruelty. Julilly and Liza, another slave on the same plantation escape at their first opportunity. They go disguised as boys, hiding by day and escaping at night, and are helped by many people along the route. The text portrays the pass words, hiding places, food, signals at "safe" houses, the many dangers, and the route Julilly and Liza followed along the Underground Railroad to St. Catharines, Canada where Julilly was reunited with her mother.


Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee. New York: HarperTrophy.


Upper elementary/middle school level. Maniac Magee is a homeless European American youth who makes friends with African American kids from the east end of town and European American kids from the west end. He discovers each group’s prejudice and misunderstandings result from and help to maintain the racially segregated sections of town. Maniac does several things to help break down the racial barriers including inviting Mars Bar, a tough African American boy, to eat with a welcoming European American family and introducing him to a very neglected European American family. Mars Bar eventually rescues two of the young boys in the family and takes them home briefly for his mother to care for. The story illustrates that racial prejudice can be broken down through personal relationships.


Srivastava, V. (1991). A giant named Azalea. Toronto: Sister Vision.


Picture book, elementary level. Azalea is a giant living inside Shanti, a young Indian girl. Shanti and Jackie are friends who play together at school and at each other's houses. However, Jackie's mother decides she doesn't want Jackie to play with Shanti because Shanti is "different" (the implication is racial and cultural differences). Shanti is saddened by this news, but Azalea comes out as a symbol of Shanti's abilities to solve problems, and helps Shanti devise a plan to change Jackie's mother's mind. For parents' night, Jackie and Shanti sing a special song about harmony which appears to have positive responses from their parents.


Staub, F. (1996). The children of the Sierra Madre. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda.


Picture book, upper elementary level. Through many beautiful photographs and a brief text, the author portrays the three cultural groups of children living in the canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain chain. The largest group is the mestizos, those with Indian and Spanish ancestors. A small number of children have only European or Spanish ancestors and another small group are those with only Indian ancestors. Most of the Indians in the area are the Tarahumara who were forced by the Spaniards in the 1600s to work in mines, give up their best farmland to the Spaniards, and encouraged to convert to Catholicism. This racism and exploitation still exist with the Tarahumara having the worst farmland, struggling to earn a living from this land, working for mestizos in low paying jobs, dying from childhood diseases resulting from drinking dirty water, living in simple dwellings with little furniture, and having few educational opportunities because of the distance to schools. Despite the Tarahumara being looked down upon by the mestizos and White Mexicans, the Tarahumara want to hold onto their cultural traditions, have integrated their traditional religion with Catholicism, and are creating their traditional crafts for sale.


Sterling, S. (1992). My name is Seepeetza. Toronto: Groundwood Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This book is based on journals kept by the author during her years at a Catholic residential school in British Columbia for native children. The author clearly describes the painful, racist, assimilationist experiences which also reveals her strength. Most experiences are painful because the author is forced to live away from home, given a different name, prevented from speaking her first language, made to wear uniforms, have her hair cut, eat drab food, complete housework, attend classes and church, suffer pain from questionable dental practices, learn Irish songs and folk dances, and endure physical punishment and public humiliation for any infraction of the rules. The native children are punished for day dreaming, speaking Indian, wetting the bed, or exposing unethical practices by the nuns and priests. The author seeks solace in reading, writing, and remembering the joys of life at home on her family's ranch.


Surat, M. M. (1983). Angel child, dragon child. New York: Scholastic.


Picture book, lower elementary level. Ut, a young Vietnamese girl, finds school in the United States difficult and much different from her school in Vietnam. Other children laugh at her because she cannot speak English, dresses in traditional Vietnamese dress, and uses Vietnamese customs in the classroom. Although one boy, Raymond, in particular is very mean to her, they become friends. He records her story of her family coming to America without her mother because they do not have enough money for her trip. Raymond suggests the school sponsor a Vietnamese fair to raise money for Ut's mother's trip which eventually enables Ut's mother to be reunited with the family.


Taylor, M. D. (1973). Song of the trees. New York: Dial.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The first in a series of powerful stories Taylor created about the Logans, an African American family living in Mississippi. This story occurs during the Depression and is narrated by Cassie, the young Logan daughter. Cassie's family is close-knit, religious, educated, and proud. They live better than most African Americans and many EuroAmericans in the area. They are courageous as they deal successfully with the EuroAmerican landowner who tries to gain control of the land legally and illegally. He forces Cassie's grandmother, Big Ma, to sell the giant trees in the forest surrounding the house, but Cassie's father prevents their complete destruction.


Taylor, M. D. (1976). Roll of thunder, hear my cry. New York: Bantam.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The sequel to Song of the Trees, this book is a powerful, superbly written story of the Logan family as told by Cassie. Cassie is a bright, spirited fourth-grader who encounters racism and its many injustices throughout the book. She learns that shopkeepers wait on EuroAmerican customers before African Americans, that African American students receive the old, worn books from "White" schools when they purchase new ones, and the EuroAmerican school bus driver enjoys forcing them to the side of the road when he passes. Cassie also discovers the "night men" who terrorize and intimidate those who challenge racism and the dangers that result when African American boys look for friendship and acceptance from EuroAmerican boys. The book chronicles the erosion of Cassie's childhood innocence as she encounters and tries to understand racism. Cassie's grandmother, mother, and father are politically astute and involved in the local community. They try to shield their children from the harm of racism. They are not afraid to speak their views which at times has harmful consequences. Cassie's mother is fired for teaching African American history which is missing from the texts. However, Cassie's parents and grandmother also know they must temper their speech and actions at times because of the racist society in which they live.


Taylor, M. D. (1981). Let the circle be unbroken. New York: Penguin.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This powerful book follows Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and portrays the strength and love of the Logan family amidst the constant injustices and tragedies of racism in the 1930s. Cassie continues to serve as narrator and describes the injustices of the legal system for African Americans through the trial and conviction of an African American boy by an all-White jury. When Cassie's cousin comes to live with the Logans, she tries to pass for White since her mother is White. However, such deception leads to outrage by White boys who show an interest in Cousin Suzella and they humiliate her father in front of her in retribution. Cassie discovers the injustices of the political system when Mrs. Lee Annie, an older African American woman, tries to vote after a year of studying the Constitution. Despite knowing the answer to the test question she is given in as a requirement to vote, Mrs. Lee Annie's response is judged "failing" and she and her family are driven from their home for her attempt to exercise her right to vote. The injustices of the sharecropping system for African Americans as well as EuroAmericans are described and the powerful efforts of the EuroAmerican landowners to prevent Blacks and Whites from joining together to form a union.


Taylor, M. D. (1987). The friendship and the gold cadillac. New York: Bantam Skylark.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The Gold Cadillac is a story Taylor created by weaving together several of her experiences growing up. 'lois and her sister Wilma are proud of their father's brand-new shiny gold Cadillac and excited the family will travel in it from Ohio to Mississippi. However, as they travel further south, they discover "White only, colored not allowed" signs at motels and restaurants and the police pulling them over and accusing their father of stealing the car. This trip is a profound introduction of the injustice of racism to 'lois and Wilma. The Friendship is based on a story Taylor's father told. Cassie Logan, an African American young girl, narrates the story of a neighbor in Mississippi, Mr. Tom Bee, who dares to call a EuroAmerican storekeeper by his first name. Even though Tom had saved the White man's life long ago which led to their friendship, he was challenging the racist culture in its use of language to remind African Americans of their lower status. African Americans may not use EuroAmericans' first names when they speak to them. Instead, they must always use "mister," "missus," or "miss" while EuroAmericans use first names when they address African Americans. Tom paid for this challenge by being shot in the leg by his "friend."


Taylor, M. D. (1990). The road to Memphis. New York: Puffin.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The fourth book Taylor created about the Logan family as narrated by Cassie Logan, now a 17-year-old high school senior in 1941. Cassie has dreams of college and law school. However, the text is her moving story of her experiences of humiliating racist attacks on African Americans. After Moe, a friend of Cassie's, finally lashes out at his EuroAmerican tormentors in self-defense, he flees to Memphis with the help of Cassie, her brother, and their friends. On the trip, Cassie discovers the extent EuroAmericans will go to maintain segregated restrooms and the tragedy for African Americans when they are barred from "White" hospitals. The story chronicles the life of African Americans just prior to World War II in the United States and Cassie's transition from adolescence to adulthood. Cassie realizes her parents can no longer protect her from some of the harmfulness of racism especially as she travels away from them.


Taylor, M. D. (1992). Mississippi bridge. New York: Bantam Skylark.


Elementary level. Taylor tells a story depicting the life of African Americans and EuroAmericans in rural Mississippi during the Great Depression. African American passengers are forced off the bus to make room for several EuroAmerican passengers who arrive late to travel by bus. At this time racism denies African Americans equal opportunities to use public transportation, to sit anywhere on the bus, and to try on clothing in the general store. Racism is part of the anger EuroAmericans feel if African Americans have jobs and property which EuroAmericans do not. Tragically, the bus crashes through the bridge's railing and falls into the swollen creek. Josias, an African American man who was literally kicked off the bus, works to rescue the passengers but, unfortunately, some still drown.


Taylor, M. D. (1995). The well. New York: Dial.


Elementary level. This story focuses on the Logan family and is narrated by David as a young boy growing up with his three brothers in the segregated South. Although the Logan family is African American, they own a 200-acre farm which is the envy of other, poorer European American tenant farmers. Not only does the Logan family own a good farm, but they also have plentiful, sweet well water while other wells have gone dry. The family willingly shares their water with everyone who asks, even with the Simms' family who hates the Logans' financial success and race. David's brother, Hammer, refuses to be pleasant and subservient when the Simms' boys demand it due to their racial privilege which leads to much conflict between the two families. This short novel portrays the difficulties of African Americans maintaining pride and dignity in a very racist community and the extent to which European Americans will go to reinforce their racial privilege.


Taylor, M.D. (2001). The land. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This powerful text is the prequel to Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder: Hear My Cry. It portrays the life of Paul-Edward Logan, Cassie Logan’s grandfather, and his hard work to purchase his own land in Mississippi in the years following the Civil War. Paul-Edward was the son of a European American plantation owner and a slave mother of African-Native American descent who grew up in Georgia. Unlike other children of slave owners, his father claimed him as his own child, included him in family activities with his White children, and educated him. However, he was still taught his place as an African American in a racist society who must endure racist insults without anger in order to stay alive. Since Paul-Edward looked European American, he was not always accepted by African Americans, but he regularly endured racism at the hands of European Americans. Although he was very talented as a horse trainer and wood worker, Paul-Edward’s dream was to own land, like his father. He endured years of working long days, bargaining with racist business owners and farmers, and being cheated from what he earned. With the help of his estranged birth family and his new family, he was able to purchase 200 acres of land that was not only beautiful but touched his heart.


Tillage, L. W. (1997). Leon’s story. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text is the author’s memories of growing up as an African American boy in the 1930s and 1940s near the small town of Fuquay, North Carolina. The power of the text is the author’s personal experiences of his family’s sharecropping, living in meager housing with no running water or electricity, and attending school when the farm work was done. At this time Jim Crow laws existed which required separate facilities for African Americans and European Americans. The author contrasts the school he attended with those of European American students, including the lack of kitchen facilities, heating facilities, buses, textbooks, and college-educated teachers. Readers can empathize with the cruelty of the many forms of racism during this period, the ultimate being the murder of the author’s father with no criminal investigation or penalty for the prominent, European American murderer.


Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. The author explains the efforts of the Mendez family and other Mexican-American families to allow their children to attend neighborhood schools rather than the inferior Mexican schools in Orange County, California. They decided to file a lawsuit to force the school districts to desegregate the schools. During the trial, school superintendents claimed that Mexican-American children should attend segregated schools to help them improve their English, learn appropriate social behavior, develop better personal hygiene, improve their scholastic abilities, and boost their economic outlook. No proof was provided for these claims. The judges in the Court of Appeals in San Francisco finally ruled in favor of the Mendez family in April, 1947, which allowed students of all backgrounds to attend school together. The author’s note explains the significance of the court case in paving the way for school desegregation in the United States. The book also includes the resources used in preparing the book., including interviewing Sylvia Mendez to obtain her first-person perspective on attending both the neighborhood and Mexican schools and the trial itself.


Turner, A. (1987). Nettie's trip South. New York: Macmillan.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book is based on the author's great-grandmother's diary and describes her strong reactions to slavery. When Nettie, her sister, and brother travel South before the Civil War, Nettie is shocked and sickened to see the living conditions of slaves and the inhumaneness of slave auctions. She discovers slaves have no last names, are considered three-fifths of a person, and are not allowed to read. The author portrays the main character's sense of outrage and horror at the injustices of slavery.


Turner, G. (1989). Take a walk in their shoes. New York: Cobblehill.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text contains the biographies and short skits of fourteen African Americans who achieved success despite the odds against them. Included are Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., leaders in the civil rights movement and Frederick Douglass, a talented speaker and writer who was punished as a slave for trying to learn to read and write. Charles White is an artist who created "social art" which portrays the struggles and endurance of African Americans. Garret Morgan endured racism as an inventor, but made a lasting contribution through the invention of the first stoplight. Charles Drew, director of the Red Cross Blood Bank, spoke out against the armed forces' practice of blood being separated according to the race of the donor and worked to make blood transfusions available to people in emergency situations. However, when he was seriously injured in a car accident, the "White" hospital closest to the accident refused to admit him, he lost a great deal of blood traveling to the "Black" hospital further away, and he died.


Uchida, Y. (1993). The bracelet. New York: Philomel.

Picture book, upper elementary level. The main character, seven-year-old Emi, is a Japanese American whose family is sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Emi describes her hurt and confusion since she and her family love America, but they feel America is treating them as if they are enemies because they are Japanese Americans. Emi's father worked for a Japanese company, so he is sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Montana while the rest of the family is forced to move to an abandoned racetrack converted to a prison camp. When Emi and her family realize their temporary home is a horse stable, the reader understands their sadness. Emi's friend gives her a gold bracelet which Emi vows never to take off as a reminder of her best friend. When she loses the bracelet at the prison camp, Emi is very upset, but learns she does not need a bracelet to remember her best friend.


Vander Zee, R. (2004). Mississippi morning. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The text is historical fiction and is based on the author’s experiences of growing up with accepted prejudices. The main character is a European American boy who enjoys hunting, fishing, and helping his ma at home and his pa at his hardware store in a small Mississippi town in 1933. James William learns about White men’s worries about providing for their families while his friends reveal the town’s racist acts. The “hanging tree” was used by the Klan to hang African Americans and a deliberate fire burned the “colored” preacher’s house down because he encouraged other African Americans to vote. Readers are invited into a perspective of acceptance for such racist acts as calling African American men “boy,” while European American men are called “sir,” African Americans being able to sit only in the balcony at the theater, and being served in stores only after European American customers. The ending offers possibilities for discussion of White privilege and racism during this time period.


Vigna, J. (1992). Black like Kyra, white like me. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.


Picture book, lower elementary level. The main character of this book is Christy, a young European American girl who develops a good friendship with Kyra, an African American girl. Because Kyra's neighborhood is unsafe, Christy tells Kyra about a house for sale in Christy's neighborhood. After Kyra and her parents move into the house, they are shunned by others in the neighborhood. One parent will not allow his children to play with Christy and Kyra. When Kyra and her parents came to the neighborhood block party in Christy's yard, everyone else in the neighborhood leaves and Kyra's family van and the picnic area are vandalized. The text makes explicit ways people show racial discrimination, some possible causes, and the harm it does.


Viola, H. J. (1990). Sitting Bull. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.


Picture book, upper elementary level. Sitting Bull was one of the most well-known leaders of the Lakota people, or Sioux. The book portrays the changes for the Lakota brought about when European Americans moved west and disrupted their dependence on buffalo. The conflict over land led to warfare between different tribes and European Americans. Sitting Bull and other tribes resisted moving to reservations because they viewed them as little more than prisons which disrupted their lifestyle and forced them to adopt European Americans' lifestyle. Sitting Bull was a leader in the defeat of Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn, but this victory was short lived due to the greater power of the U.S. government. However, his life is a symbol to people who resist oppression and fight for freedom.


Viola, H. J. (1993). Osceola. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.


Picture book, upper elementary level. Osceola was a leader of the Seminoles who were a mixture of Creek Indians, African Americans who escaped from slavery, and European Americans who moved to Florida to live with the Indians. However, slave owners and the U.S. government were angry with the Seminoles for hiding escaped slaves and several armed conflicts resulted. After Florida became part of the U.S., the government forced the Seminoles onto a reservation on some of the poorest land in Florida. During this hardship, there was a continued conflict between slave owners and the Seminoles which led to the pressure to remove the tribe from Florida into Indian territory and make it more difficult for slaves to be protected by the Seminoles. Osceola lead the resistance to the move resulting in several battles, his imprisonment along with many of his people, and his eventual death.


Viola, H. J. (1998). It is a good day to die: Indian eyewitnesses tell the story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. New York: Crown.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author has collected the accounts of several Native people who participated in or saw first hand the Battle of the Greasy Grass, sometimes called “Custer’s Last Stand” or “Battle of the Little Bighorn” by European Americans. Since none of the U.S. soldiers survived this battle, the only first hand accounts must come from Native people. In the introduction, the author provides a context for the battle by describing the many events which led to this conflict, including European Americans invading Native people’s lands; building railroads and trails through their lands; finding and mining gold in the Black Hills, a sacred place to Lakota and Cheyenne; and finally, trying to force the Lakota to move to the Great Sioux Reservation. Although the Lakota did not want to fight the U.S. soldiers, they fought back when attacked. Sitting Bull urges the warriors to fight, warriors dress for battle, and women take down tepees and urge the warriors on. The accounts portray the confusion, bravery, and death the Native people saw as well as the motivations for fighting.


Walker, A. (1974). Langston Hughes: American poet. New York: HarperCollins.


Elementary level. Alice Walker updates the text with a note in 2002 explaining how she met Langston Hughes and why she wrote the children’s book about him. She wants all children to benefit from Langston’s writing. Walker reviews the challenges Langston faced in his family life, including his father’s stinginess and disdain for African Americans and his mother’s economic struggles because she was an African American. Langston himself endured the menial jobs that resulted from racism while becoming established as a writer. However, his writing called attention to African American experiences for all audiences. Throughout his life, Langston continued to help his mother and other writers.


Walker, P. R. (2006). Remember Little Bighorn: Indians, soldiers, and scouts tell their stories. Washington, DC: National Geographic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author attempts to present a balanced, well-reasoned perspective on the Battle of Little Bighorn, by quoting primary sources of Native people who wanted to hold onto their land and maintain their traditional way of life, soldiers who wanted to take Native people’s land for the U.S. government, and Native scouts who helped the U.S. soldiers. However, readers learn about the U.S. government’s relentless efforts to take Native people’s land, including the Black Hills of South Dakota despite treaties guaranteeing these lands for Native people. The text is embellished with paintings, drawings, and photographs of the battlefield as well as photographs of battle participants. The author provides a timeline of battles for Native people’s land from the 1600s through 1850 and the daily timeline for the Battle of Little Bighorn.


Walter, M. P. (1982). The girl on the outside. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This book is a fictional account of the first African American students who integrated the racially segregated high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Sophia, a European American high school student appears to be against the integration of her school and discusses with her friends ways to ignore the first African American students when they enter the school. Eva, one of the African American students, is apprehensive but excited to take another step for racial equality by attending a previously all-White school. On the first day the African American students are to attend school, Eva misses the message to wait and arrives at the school to find the National Guard blocking her entrance. The angry mob around the school then turns on her and drenches her with spit. Sophia, for an unclear reason, ends up helping Eva return home on a city bus.


Walter, M. P. (1996). Second daughter: The story of a slave girl. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is historical fiction based on actual events occurring during the period of the American Revolution. The narrator Aissa (which means "second daughter") tells about the lives of her and her sister Fatou (meaning "first daughter" in Fulani) as slaves in New York and Massachusetts. The main characters are descendants from first-generation slaves who were captured in Africa and still know the story of their parents' capture. Aissa's anger and resistance to being a slave are recurring themes throughout the text as she and her sister are given different names by their owners, sold and moved against their will, forced to work six or seven days a week without pay, and suffered from their owners' physical punishment. When Fatou (also called Bett) waits on the master's guests during discussions of all people being equal and free, she and other slaves discuss whether that idea includes slaves. A severe injury from the mistress serves as the catalysis for Fatou suing her owners for freedom under the Massachusetts Constitution and wining it. The author includes a helpful postscript distinguishing between factual and fictional portions of the text.


Walter, M. P. (2004). Alec’s primer. Middlebury, VT: Vermont Folklife Center.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the childhood of Alec Turner who was born a slave in 1845 in Virginia and eventually moved to Vermont as a free man. His story and the history of the Turner family were shared by one of Alec’s daughters with the Vermont Folklife Center. As a child Alec was forced to work hard as a slave, but his mistress’ granddaughter Miss Zephie defied the law and her grandmother and taught Alec to read. During the Civil War, Alec ran away from his plantation and joined the Union army. The text illustrates the power of literacy and the courage of slaves and slave owners to defy legal barriers to reading as a step toward freedom for enslaved people.


Watkins, R. (2001). Slavery: Bondage throughout history. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text provides a comprehensive description of slavery from early civilizations in Sumeria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe to slavery today in Sudan and Mauritania and the enslavement of children into forced labor in Pakistan and Thailand. The author clarifies that slavery has not always been linked to racism when different cultures enslaved members of their own ethnicity or culture. However, slavery has always meant one person owned by another as a piece of property with slaves having no rights nor ability to make any decisions about their lives. The author reviews different reasons for people becoming slaves, including a consequence of war, kidnapping, punishment for crime, poverty, and through birth to slave parents. The main motivations for slavery throughout history have been either economic, to generate wealth for slave owners from slave labor, or political, to maintain control over, punish, or eliminate unwanted groups of people. The text helps readers understand the historical and cultural context for the enslavement of Native Americans and African Americans by Europeans and European Americans in the New World.


Weatherford, C. B. (2005). Freedom on the menu: The Greensboro sit-ins. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Picture book, elementary level. The text portrays a young African American girl’s desire to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split, but due to racial segregation in Greensboro, South Carolina, she could not. Connie’s family became involved in civil rights activities, including registering African Americans to vote, sit-ins, and protests, which eventually led to some changes in racial segregation. Although her sister is jailed for participating in the sit-in, the protests are successful. At the close of the book, Connie sits with her mother and brother at the Woolworth lunch counter and enjoys a banana split.


Welch, C. A. (2000). Children of the relocation camps. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author briefly explains the racism resulting in loss of civil rights directed against Japanese Americans following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. This racism led to the removal of many Japanese American families on the west coast to assembly centers and eventually to relocation centers. Families often lost their homes and businesses and were forced to live in uncomfortable horse stalls and barracks. However, Japanese American families made the best of an unjust situation by building their own crude furniture, setting up simple schools for children and youth, offering Japanese flower arranging classes, growing food and raising livestock, creating Japanese-style gardens, and playing sports such as baseball. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that keeping the Japanese Americans in relocation camps was illegal in 1944, most families had to start over. Some wanted to forget their internment, but others wanted to remember the experience as an example of what should never happen again.


Welch, C.A. (2001). Children of the Civil Rights era. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author clarifies the meaning and time period of the Civil Rights movement. She briefly describes the racial segregation and unequal conditions which led to the actions children, youth, and adults took to gain equal rights. An interesting aspect of the text is the explanation of why Civil Rights leaders turned to African American high school students (and sometimes children) to march or sit at lunch counters rather than adults who feared losing their jobs and homes. High school students were trained in nonviolent strategies for protesting; however, they were targets of violence and verbal abuse when they sat at lunch counters, marched, and entered all-White schools. The author’s message is that children and youth significantly contributed to the struggle for equality for African Americans.


Whelan, G. (1996). The Indian school. New York: HarperTrophy.


Elementary/upper elementary level. This text portrays life in a mission school for Native children and youth in 1839 in Michigan. The description is provided by Lucy, the main character, who was taken in by her aunt and uncle after her parents died. Lucy's Aunt Emma and Uncle Edward run the mission school. At the school, the children's Native names are replaced by European American names. Their hair is cut and their traditional clothing is replaced by identical European American style clothing supplied by the mission. The children learn a European American version of history as well as trades such as farming, carpentry, and weaving. Lucy and Uncle Edward are more open to learning about the Native students' backgrounds and culture while Aunt Emma is more concerned about "Americanizing" the students. The author provides a glimpse into the efforts of such schools to assimilate Native students into European American culture as well as questions the fairness of this purpose.


Wiles, D. (2001). Freedom summer. New York: Atheneum.


Picture book, elementary level. In the author’s note, Wiles explains the historical background for the text. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, African Americans had the right to use public places such as public schools, move theaters, ice-cream parlors, and swimming pools. This was a major change from the racial segregation of the South in which many public facilities were open only to European Americans. Many businesses closed rather than give African Americans equal treatment. The story focuses on two boys, one African American and one European American who are anxious to swim together in the public pool, but discover the pool is filled with tar and closed rather than admit African Americans.


Wong, J. S. (1994). Good luck gold and other poems. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.


Upper elementary level. In this text the author uses poetry to express some of the racism she has experienced in the United States. As a daughter of Chinese and Korean immigrant parents, she has been ignored in restaurants, ridiculed for her physical appearance by other children, witnessed the disparagement of other Asian Americans at sporting events, and encountered a teacher’s stereotypes of Asian American students. The author’s first person poems are a powerful, credible portrayal of current racism directed toward Asian Americans in the U. S.


Woodson, J. (2001). The other side. New York: G. P. Putnam’s.


Picture book, elementary level. Clover, an African American girl, is warned about climbing over a fence which separates the White side of town from the Black side. When Clover questions the reason for the fence, her mother explains “because that’s the way things have always been.” However, one day, Annie, a White girl, sits on the fence and eventually invites Clover to join her. When Clover, Annie, and Clover’s friends all play together and sit on the fence, the text closes with the possibility that the racial divide in the town may not last.


Wright, C. C. (1995). Wagon train: A family goes West in 1865. New York: Holiday House.


Picture book, elementary level. The author provides valuable information on African American history through the portrayal of the movement of African Americans to the West after the Civil War. The text focuses on an African American family who traveled with other African American families, all newly emancipated slaves on two plantations in Virginia, as they traveled to California along the Oregon Trail. The hardships of slavery provided the training to endure the difficulties of the trip and the incentive to begin life in a different part of the country. The author emphasizes the racial segregation of travel along the Oregon Trail with African Americans forced to travel separately from the bigger European American wagon trains. Despite the numerous challenges the family faced during the trip, the book closes with their safe arrival in California.


Yee, S. & Kokin, L. (1977). Got me a story to tell: A multi-ethnic book: Five children tell about their lives. San Francisco: St. John's Educational Threshold Center.


Picture book, upper elementary level. An African American girl, a boy from El Salvador, a Chinese girl, a girl from the Fiji Islands, and a boy from the Philippines speak about their lives in the U.S. They speak of immigrating to the United States, the hard work their parents must do to survive, and the ways other students at school have discriminated against them. In some cases, the children have been made fun of because of their race and at other times because of their limited English. All families have experienced economic hardships and are living in cramped apartments. Some children miss their lives in their native countries. The text does not glorify America as "the land of opportunity."


Yep, L. (1975). Dragonwings: Their dream was to fly. New York: HarperTrophy.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author created this historical fantasy based on newspaper accounts of a Chinese man flying a plane he created by improving on the Wright brothers' original design. He also incorporated his knowledge of Chinese American history during the first decade of the 20th century in the text. The main character and narrator is Moon Shadow, a Chinese boy, who leaves his mother and grandmother to travel from China to San Francisco to be with his father, Windrider. Windrider is one of many Chinese men who came to the United States to work to earn money they could not earn in China, but sent home to help support their families in China. However, Chinese men faced racism and violence in the U.S. while they worked. Moon Shadow's experiences with the "demons" or European Americans in California reveal the name-calling, violent actions, the fear of encountering "demons" in groups, the stereotypes, and the general lack of understanding which Chinese endured at the hands of European Americans. Following the San Francisco earthquake when people created a tent city in Golden Gate Park, the police forced the Chinese men (including Moon Shadow, his father, and other male relatives) to move to different grounds. The text also portrays Moon Shadow and his father developing a good relationship and building cross cultural understandings with their landlady Miss Whitlaw and her niece Robin. During this time, Windrider not only continues working to earn money, but also pursues his dream of building an aeroplane he can fly with Moon Shadow's help.


Yep, L. (1991). The star fisher. New York: Puffin Books.


Upper elementary/middle school level. When the main character, Joan Lee, and her Chinese American family are the first Chinese Americans to move into Clarksburg, West Virginia, they face significant prejudice from others. Their landlady Miss Lucy welcomes the Lee family who are renting the old private school building behind her house as both their home and new laundry business. However, others write messages on the Lee's fence telling them to leave and do not patronize their laundry business. Joan faces prejudice and isolation from most of her classmates and a principal who communicates surprise at Joan's ambition to attend college. The text portrays the Lees as a close family despite intergenerational conflicts as the children become more Americanized and question their parents' Chinese practices, the development of a friendship between Miss Lucy and the Lees, and a growing acceptance of the Lees by people in Clarksburg.


Yep, L. (1993). Dragon’s gate. New York: HarperTrophy.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The text is fiction, but is based on the author’s research of Chinese American’s participation in constructing the railroad during the 1860s. The text opens with the main character Otter attending school and living with his mother in China. However, an accident precipitates his escape to “safety” in the United States or the “Land of the Golden Mountain” to join his uncle and father in building the transcontinental railroad through the mountains. At this time, a number of men left their families in China to earn money in the United States, but planned to return to China. Readers are introduced to the racism directed against the Chinese men who helped construct the railroad and were forced to work longer hours, use explosives and complete other dangerous jobs, but were paid less than European American workers. If they resisted, they were whipped. Frequently, overseers would not allow Chinese men to leave the work camps to seek other employment. At one point the work group led by Otter’s uncle organized a strike and asked for higher pay, an eight-hour work day, and freedom from whippings by the railroad workers’ overseers. In the “Afterword” the author clarifies that an estimated 1200 Chinese workers died during the construction of the transcontinental railroad during the late 19th century, and countless others were injured. The strike portrayed in the text also occurred, although it received scant attention in California newspapers. Readers finish the text with some understanding of the racism and hardships Chinese men endured as they contributed to an important event in U.S. history.


Yin. (2001). Coolies. New York: Philomel Books.


Picture book, upper elementary level. The author and beautifully illustrated text portrays the story told to a young Chinese American boy about how his great great great grandfather and his brother came from China to the United States and help build the transcontinental railroad in the mid-1800s. The text reveals the dangerous, difficult work the Chinese American men experienced, but also the ridicule, racial discrimination, and threats to deport them to China if they protested. “Coolies” are defined as “lowly workers,” but the text encourages pride in the important contributions Chinese American men made to the completion of the transcontinental railroad.


Adult Literature Dealing with Racism


Armstrong Dunbar, E. (2017). Never caught: The Washington’s relentless pursuit of their runaway slave, Ona Judge. New York: Atria Books.


The author completed extensive research to portray the life of Ona Judge, a personal slave for Martha Washington, wife of President George Washington. Although Ona Judge had a more comfortable life than field slaves, she was still enslaved and had little control over her life. Ona was on call for most of the time each day and night and slept in the Washingtons’ bedroom. Martha and George Washington believed they provided better lives for their slaves than they could have on their own, but they did not understand their slaves’ deep desire for freedom. When George Washington became president in 1789, he, his family, and some of their slaves moved to New York, then to Philadelphia while the new capital at Washington DC was being built. Slavery was much less accepted in Philadelphia than it was in Mount Vernon, Virginia, and the city had a law that required slaveholders to free their slaves after living in Philadelphia for six months. George and Martha Washington viewed their slaves as economic assets and had no intention of freeing their slaves. They chose to move their slaves every six months to a southern state to avoid following the law. When Ona Judge learned of Martha Washington’s plan to give her to her granddaughter as a wedding gift, she decided to escape from slavery. The rest of the book describes Ona Judge’s escape and struggle to remain free for the remainder of her life. At first, she escaped into the free black community of Philadelphia, then she traveled by boat to live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When she was discovered there, she moved to Greenland, New Hampshire. Ona Judge always had to be alert for slave catchers because legally, she was still a slave even while she lived in a “free” state and subject to the Fugitive Slave Law. She also had to think critically about offers to return to George and Martha Washington with the promise she would eventually be freed. Ona Judge married, struggled to earn enough money to provide for her family, but remained free for the rest of her life.


Devlin, R. (2018). A girl stands at the door: The generation of young women who desegregated America’s schools. New York: Basic Books.


The author focuses on the African American young women and girls who attempted to register at White schools, testified in courts, met with White administrators and school boards, and talked with reporters from the White and Black press. Devlin wants readers to know that it was mostly African American girls and young women who were in the forefront of contested school desegregation cases in the Deep South and were the first to attend previously all-White schools. These females led efforts to desegregate graduate schools, high schools, and elementary schools while becoming targets of persecution from White officials, violence from White students in school, and sometimes backlash from their own Black communities. Although there was debate on whether the educational equality goal should be equalization of school facilities and teacher salaries or desegregation, the young women and their families knew Black schools did not have the funding and facilities of White schools, which forced African American children to experience an inferior education. They did not want to wait for the possibility that eventually Black schools would be funded equally. The young women and girls who led the fight to integrate schools had the physical courage, social finesse, intellect, and experiences interacting appropriately with White people to handle all the challenges they faced. They stepped forward courageously to provide greater educational opportunities not only for themselves, but also to further the goals of the civil rights movement. The young women who first integrated schools later believed that their battles were worth the fight, had successful careers, often in newly segregated schools and offices, and went on to nurture the careers of other Black women and men.


Du Bois, W. E. B. (1989). The souls of black folk. New York: Bantam Books.


This classic text documents the racism experienced by African Americans following emancipation after the Civil War. The author explains the progress African Americans made as well as reasons for their lack of progress. He critiques the Freedman’s Bureau and Reconstruction as not providing the economic assistance African Americans needed to become independent, but the value of the schools for freed African Americans. Du Bois criticizes Booker T. Washington for accepting racial segregation and advocating for technical schools for African Americans rather than various educational opportunities, including universities. The author asserts the importance of the right to vote, civic equality, education, and religion as important for African American progress. Du Bois critiques an emphasis on materialism as a goal of education. He documents the struggles of African Americans in rural Georgia as well as how racism limits the potential of individual African Americans.


Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press.


The author clarifies that the text is not a collective Indigenous peoples’ perspective on United States history, but an explanation of the United States as a colonialist settler-state that subjugated the original people who lived here. The original people of the current United States included 15 million people from different nations. Now more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous communities and nations composed of nearly three million people live in the United States. The author contends that the United States was founded on the ideology of white supremacy, the practice of African slavery, and a policy of genocide and land theft directed toward Indigenous peoples. From the colonial period through the 20th century, the United States used such practices against Indigenous people as torture, massacres, military occupations, removal from their ancestral territories, and removal of children to military-like boarding schools. Most U.S. presidents implemented policies that harmed Indigenous peoples, but the author lists four distinct periods of US administration genocide policies: (1) the Jacksonian era of forced removal; (2) the California gold rush in northern California; (3) the post-Civil War “Indian Wars” in the Great Plains; and (4) the 1950s termination period. Overall, the goal of settler colonialism was to eliminate Indigenous populations to make land available to settlers. However, Indigenous nations and communities still exist through their resistance to colonialism. The author suggests that the United States can acknowledge responsibility for past inhumane actions toward Indigenous peoples by: (1) honoring the treaties made between the U.S. government and Indigenous nations, (2) restoring all sacred sites (including the Black Hills) and returning all stolen sacred items and body parts; and (3) making reparations for the reconstruction and expansion of Native nations. Additionally, there must be an extensive educational program about the history of the United States and Indigenous peoples with the support and participation of different groups in society.


Gyasi, Y. (2016). Homegoing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


The text is fictional, but the author lists books and articles she consulted in the creation of the novel. The book describes slavery, the slave trade, and the Fante and Asante nations of Ghana who participated in the slave trade through the lives of one family beginning in the 18th century to the present. One part of the family are the descendants of Effia, who remained in Ghana, and participated in or were affected by the slave trade and British colonization. The other part of the family are the descendants of Esi, Effia’s half-sister, who was sold as a slave and transported to the United States. Each generation endures their own challenges in fighting colonization and contending with missionaries in Ghana, or dealing with slavery, racism, drug addiction, and poverty in the United States. In Ghana, the struggle seems to be for the Fante and Asante people to retain their culture and sovereignty while in the United States, the struggle seems to be to obtain basic human rights for African Americans. The author emphasizes the connections between African history and United States history. Readers cannot completely understand African American history without knowing African history.


McLaurin, M. A. (1991). Celia, a slave. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.


The author used primary and secondary sources to describe some of the moral dilemmas of slavery by focusing on the life of Celia, a slave who lived and died in Callaway, County, Missouri in the 19th century. Robert Newsome, a widower, purchased Celia in 1850 when Celia was 14 years old. He expected Celia would become a domestic servant and cook as well as meet his sexual needs. Newsome raped Celia on the way to his farm and regularly forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. Her two children were fathered by Newsome. When Celia became sexually involved with George, a male slave, George demanded that Celia stop the relationship with her master. Celia told Newsome she would no longer have sex with him, but Newsome said he was coming to her cabin that night. When Newsome arrived at her cabin and demanded sex, Celia hit him with a club, killing him, and burned his body in her fireplace. Celia’s trial dealt with the moral issues of whether slaves had the right to defend themselves from rape, part of slaves’ essential humanity, the extent to which slave owners controlled their slaves, and the consequences of not allowing slaves to testify against their owners. Celia’s attorneys provided a “brilliant” defense, but the judge’s directions to the jury resulted in a conviction and eventual execution of Celia at the age of 19.


Noah, T. (2016). Born a crime: Stories from a South African childhood. New York: Spiegel and Grau.


The author describes his experiences growing up as the son of a Black Xhosa mother and a White Swiss father in South Africa when it was illegal for Blacks and Whites to have sexual intercourse. Noah was evidence that his parents had broken the law. For many of the chapters, the author sketches in the historical or cultural context before beginning his narrative of his personal experiences. Readers learn a great deal about the racism of apartheid and how a white minority of the population oppressed black South Africans, who were the majority of the population. Black South Africans were divided into different tribes speaking distinct languages, which contributed to the lack of unity among blacks. The South African government also gave different rights to each group to contribute to the divisions. Noah also describes the various groups in South Africa: coloreds composed of certain mixed-race people, mixed composed of black and white mixed race, Indians, whites, and blacks. Noah identified as black, even though he was often considered mixed. He was most comfortable around black family and friends, although he learned to speak different languages so he could interact with various groups. The author describes racially segregated living areas, inadequate schools for blacks, harsh laws and punishments for blacks, and lack of advanced education and stable employment opportunities. He also recounts his debt to his mother who held him to high standards and taught him responsibility and respect for women. Noah, in turn, helped his mother when she encountered domestic abuse from her husband and an attempt on her life.


Painter, N. I. (2010). The history of white people. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.


The author focuses on the concept of “whiteness” as a social construct beginning with the Greeks and Scythians to the current time in the United States. In the early European societies of the Greeks and Romans, race was not used as a category to classify people. Instead, they used ethnicity and social class. Slaves were white and constituted the lowest class. White slaves existed throughout most of European history. In the United States, slavery became associated with African ancestry in the mid 19th century. During the exploration of the concept of race, writers and scientists focused on Europe and identified three or four different races among Europeans. Writers and scientists used such data as head shape, skull measurements, skin pigmentation, and height to identify different races. People from northwestern Europe were rated most positively, while those from eastern and southern Europe were identified as lower races. When less favored immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Iberia came to the United States during the 19th century, they were treated as less than fully “white.” However, once these immigrants obtained voting rights, they became more accepted. The author deals with the issues of the belief in racial superiority with one group identified as superior (one considered “white”), and a fear of the loss of racial purity for the most prestigious “white” race during the 19th and 20th centuries. Intelligence tests were used to rank different races and ethnicities and influenced immigration laws to limit immigration from people identified as less intelligent. Ranking different races and ethnicities led to a rise in eugenics in which some prominent Americans encouraged higher reproductive rates among the most desirable races while discouraging population growth among the less desirable. The author elaborates on how American “whiteness” was enlarged to allow Irish, Italians, Jews, Hispanics, and others experiencing discrimination became more accepted into white society. At the close of the book, the author acknowledges that we are all multiracial due to continuous human migration; however, the concept of race has not disappeared from American society.


Picoult, J. (2016). Small, great things. New York: Ballantine Books.


The text is fictional, and the author is a European American woman who tackles the issue of racism. Although she has not experienced racism herself, she consults with anti-racism and white privilege educators, activists, medical, and legal experts in order to prepare a more believable novel that deals with racism. The author tells a very engaging story through the eyes of an African American nurse who experiences racism in many aspects of her life, a European American public defender who is often oblivious to racism around her, and a white supremacist who believes white people are superior to people of color. The author delves into each character’s early experiences in order to explain how each came to be the person she or he was in the story. Ruth, an African American nurse, is a well-respected, experienced, professional labor and delivery nurse who is told she cannot care for a newborn child of white supremacist parents. Turk is a white supremacist parent who is taught to be tough by his grandfather and finds a sense of identity and purpose with other white supremacists. Kennedy is a public defender who is able to act on her belief that justice should be available to all no matter their income, gender, or race because her husband has a high-paying job. Although she believes she is not racist, Kennedy is often unaware of the racism African Americans experience in very subtle and blatant ways. When Ruth is tried for killing the white supremacist parents’ newborn, Kennedy defends her and despite her objections, race becomes an important factor in the trial. The experience changes all three characters in a very hopeful conclusion to the novel.


See, L. (2012). On gold mountain. New York: Vintage Books.


The author documents her family’s history from her great-grandfather Fong See who left China in 1871 to live on the Gold Mountain (the Chinese name for the United States) to her current life in 2012. Much of the book describes her great-grandfather who lived to be 100, became wealthy, had four wives, and fathered 12 children. His wives were both Chinese and European American and lived in China and the United States, although many of his offspring identified as Chinese even though they were Eurasian. Fong See became a wealthy merchant from his Chinese antique store, clothing manufacturing, and other stores and businesses over the years. He supported his family in the United States and his home village in China. Fong See and his family also experienced racism and discrimination with laws prohibiting Chinese from entering the United States, owning land, marrying a “White” or “Black” person, attending school with White children, and working on public works projects. At times, the Chinese were driven from specific cities or industries in the United States. The Fong and See families overcame such racism and discrimination and both assimilated and maintained their Chinese culture. The book shows the history of the Chinese in the United States through one family’s experience.


Shetterly, M. L. (2016). Hidden figures: The American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. New York: William Morrow.


The author’s intention is to document the contributions of African American women mathematicians who worked at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia beginning in the 1940s through the 1980s. The author at first focuses on the first few African American women who were known as “West Computers” and worked at Langley’s racially segregated west side, ate lunch at racially segregated lunch tables, and used racially segregated restrooms. She documents the women’s struggles to be recognized for their contributions, be named as authors or co-authors of research reports, and receive promotions. The women contributed to Langley’s research on the development and faster production of improved military planes during World War II, improved commercial airplanes following the war, and rockets for space travel beginning in the 1950s. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden are profiled. By the end of her research, the author confirms there were almost 50 African American women who worked as computers, mathematicians, engineers, or scientists who worked at Langley from 1943 through 1980. She also documents the historical context of racial segregation within Virginia and the rest of the United States as well as the struggle for equal rights during the period when the women worked at Langley.


Stevenson, B. (2014). Just mercy: A story of justice and redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau.


The author, an African American lawyer, provides a very moving description of his work in finding justice for people, largely poor African Americans, who did not have proper representation, a fair trial, or were the targets of extreme punishments. Stevenson sketches in the broad historical and cultural contexts for the individual cases portrayed in the text. Readers learn about the high incarceration rate in the U.S. (highest rate in the world), the country’s practice of incarcerating children and people with mental disabilities for long terms in adult jails and prisons for committing crimes when their mental reasoning processes are not fully developed, and the money spent in the U.S. to build and support the growing number of jails and prisons ($80 billion when the book was written). Stevenson established the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to helping people on death row, outlawing the death penalty, improving prison conditions and excessive punishments, freeing those who were wrongly convicted, ending unfair sentences and eliminating racial bias in criminal cases, providing better legal defense for those unable to afford legal assistance, and offering assistance to children and people with mental illness to prevent them from being sent to adult prisons for long terms. The author posits that mass incarceration is part of the legacy of racism in the U.S. He cites as evidence the overrepresentation of people of color in prisons, the disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, the prosecution of drug crimes in poor communities, the criminalization of new immigrants and undocumented people, the consequences of voter disenfranchisement (due to imprisonment), and barriers to re-entry into society following people’s completion of prison terms. One of the most poignant cases described in the book is that of Walter McMillian who was convicted of killing a young woman based on false testimony, the disregard of evidence proving he did not kill the young woman, a racially biased process of jury selection, and an improper change of venue for the trial. Even though the jury recommended a life sentence, the judge sentenced McMillian to death. McMillian spent six years on death row before Stevenson won a dismissal of the charges against McMillian. The book exposes the pervasive racism in the criminal justice system and the possibilities for changes.


Background Resources On Racism


Guggenheim, C. (1995). The shadow of hate: A history of intolerance in America. Montgomery, AL: The Southern Poverty Law Center.


Middle school level, adult resource. A 40-minute video, student text, and teacher's guide which documents the prejudice toward Native Americans, African Americans, religious minorities, and European and Asian immigrants. Also available from the same source is The history of the Civil Rights Movement which contains a teacher's guide and video.


National Civil Rights Museum. (n.d. ). NCRM Interactive Tour: Unremitting Struggle [On-line]. Available: http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/  


The on-line tour of the National Civil Rights Museum reviews injustices against African Americans throughout their presence in the United States and protests against such inequities. Different means of protests are described, including petitions, pickets, boycotts, and lawsuits as African Americans sought education, employment, respect, and freedom.



Social Action Projects To Address Racism 


1. When new immigrant students enter your school, set up a "helper" program in which students already familiar with the school help the new students learn about the school and where things are, introduce them to friends, sit with them at lunch, and play with them on the playground. Encourage experienced students to do things outside of school with new immigrant students in order to understand cultural differences and appreciate commonalities. Invite a guest speaker from the new immigrant group and talk with new immigrant students to learn about the problems they are experiencing adjusting to a new school and community. Create a picture book to show their difficulties, share the picture book with other classes at school and with the parent-teacher organization to inform, develop empathy, and encourage action to address some of the problems. Role play how to address discriminatory or racist remarks made against members of the new immigrant group.


2. Analyze the textbooks in your classroom, children's books in the media center, and posters and pictures throughout the school for examples of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. Write letters to the publishers, principal, superintendent, and board of education to compliment the publication and adoption of texts, trade books, pictures, and posters which include different cultural groups or to encourage the development and adoption of materials which contain more cultural diversity.


3. Celebrate the diversity that makes the U.S. so unique. Invite all students to learn more about their family history in order to appreciate their own heritage and ethnicity. Include the cultures of people of color in the U.S. (African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics). Explore ways each group contributes to our country and the special problems they experience. Invite guest speakers, artists, dancers, musicians, and writers to share their knowledge of their culture. Read poetry, fiction, and biographies by writers from diverse cultures, sing and listen to music from various cultural groups, and examine art from people of color. Explore positive messages we can communicate about diversity.


4. Survey the jobs which people of color hold in local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Write to owners of these businesses to encourage them to hire more people of color, especially for top positions. Boycott those businesses which refuse to hire people of color for the better positions.  


5. Collect newspaper accounts of unfair treatment of individuals or groups due to their race. Write letters to the editor of the local newspaper explaining your view of this treatment. Explore ways other groups have been treated unfairly in U.S. history; for example, the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, the exploitation of Hispanic migrant workers, the enslavement of African Americans, and the forced movement of Native Americans onto reservations.


6. Investigate the use of Native Americans as logos or mascots in the local schools, a practice most Native people condemn as examples of racism. Possible social action strategies include: write a letter to the editor for the local newspaper explaining the harmfulness of these logos; circulate a petition in support of legislation that would remedy the use of offensive logos and send to your state assembly representative and senator; take photographs of the use or abuse of Native American logos in your community to accompany the letter to the editor or petition; join the efforts of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s “Indian” Mascot/Logo Taskforce. You may contact the taskforce for additional information: 231 Steeple Road, Mosinee, WI 54455, (715) 693-6238 (phone), (715) 693-1756 (fax), munson@prodigy.net (e-mail).


7. For additional suggestions on strategies to overcome prejudice in homes, schools, the workplace, places of worship, and communities, see “No Place for Hate: 101 Ways You Can Beat Prejudice: A Citizen’s Action Guide” developed by the Anti-Defamation League. The suggestions are available on-line: http://www.adl.org/Prejudice/default.htm.


Social problems/social action

Annotated bibliography list