Peace is elusive. It is a goal of some people at some time in some parts of the world. As John Lennon wrote: “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people sharing all the world …”
Is peace possible? Do we give up because there will always be people who want power, money, land … or just plain don’t like the kid next door?
Kudos and plaudits to teachers, parents, librarians, and children who continue to talk about, teach, and model peacemaking, conflict resolution, and getting along.
Here’s an important resource, published in 2010 by Educators for Social Responsibility: Book by Book, an annotated guide to young people’s literature with peacemaking and conflict resolution themes, prepared by Carol Spiegel. You will find 108 pages of picture book recommendations and 74 pages of chapter book recommendations. There is an index arranged by book theme as well as an index of authors and illustrators.
I found Ms. Spiegel’s “theme clusters” to be valuable. For example, Under the topic of Cultural Competence and Social Responsibility, she has listed:
• Appreciating cultural diversity
• Community in action
• Prejudice and dislike, stereotypes, oppression, racism, discrimination
• Gender roles
• Diversity of cultures
• Diversity of individuals
• Respect for elderly and disabled
• Respect in general
Ms. Spiegel worked with elementary schools in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to set up peacemaking and conflict resolution programs. She began keeping an annotated list of useful children’s books, compiling more and more good books until she realized she had enough to create her own book. We’re glad she has shared her work!
Here are just a few of the books listed in Book by Book:
Bauer, Marion Dane: Double-Digit Club; Early Winter; On My Honor; Rain of Fire
Bausum_Ann: WiIth Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote
Bruchac, Joseph: Heart of a Chief; Warriors
Bryant, Jen: Pieces of Georgia
Calmenson, Stephanie: May I Pet Your Dog?
Cameron, Ann: Most Beautiful Place in the World; Stories Huey Tells
Carlson, Nancy: Accident; Harriet and the Garden
Casanova, Mary: Wolf Shadows
Casilla, Robert: First Day in Grapes; Up Country
Compestine, Ying Chang: Revolution is NOT a Dinner Party
DiCamillo, Kate: Because of Winn-Dixie
Fleming_Candace: Boxes for Katje
Grimes, Nikki: Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope; Danita Brown, Class Clown; Oh, Brother!, What is Goodbye?
Hesse, Karen: Cats in Krasinski Square; Out of the Dust; Witness
Jonell_Lynne: When Mommy Was Mad
Joosse, Barbara: Stars in the Darkness
Minor, Wendell: Sky Memories
O’Connor, Barbara: How to Steal a Dog: Beethoven in Paradise
Park_Linda-Sue: Project Mulberry; When My Name Was Keoko; Yum! Yuck! a Foldout Book of People
Rocklin, Joanne: For Your Eyes Only
Sidman, Joyce: This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology & Forgiveness