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Peace Books

In 2010, Car­ol Spiegel pub­lished Book by Book: An Anno­tat­ed Guide to Young Peo­ple’s Lit­er­a­ture With Peace­mak­ing and Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion Themes, chock full of books that edu­ca­tors could use in their class­rooms, libraries, and at home. As hap­pens with book lists, some of the books in that guide are out of print. We’re pub­lish­ing some of the more recent books on this top­ic, anno­tat­ed by Car­ol, a long-time K‑8 edu­ca­tor for peace and con­flict resolution.

Change Sings: A Chil­dren’s Anthem

writ­ten by Aman­da Gor­man
illus­trat­ed by Loren Long
Viking Press, 2021

com­mu­ni­ty build­ing, coöper­a­tion, diver­si­ty of cultures

A young girl with a very large gui­tar invites oth­ers as her poem unfolds in a sequence of scenes show­ing the young peo­ple help­ing oth­ers, car­ing for the Earth, and cel­e­brat­ing their diversity.

Far Apart, Close in Heart

writ­ten by Becky Birtha
illus­trat­ed by Maja Kastel­ic
Albert Whit­man, 2017

cop­ing, over­com­ing obsta­cles, prison

A col­lec­tion of sce­nar­ios shows how var­i­ous chil­dren cope when their loved ones are incar­cer­at­ed. Con­tains tips for par­ents, teach­ers, caregivers.

I Walk with Vanes­sa
A Pic­ture Book Sto­ry
about a Sim­ple Act of Kindness

writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Keras­coët
Schwartz & Wade, 201

kind­ness

This book with­out words shows a new stu­dent, Vanes­sa, who is exclud­ed by her class­mates and then encoun­ters a boy who is mean to her. Anoth­er stu­dent observes what is hap­pen­ing and is both­ered by it. She gets an idea and goes to Vanessa’s house to walk with her to school. Neigh­bor chil­dren join one by one. As they con­tin­ue, more and more join them, until the end of the sto­ry when the entire set of pages is cov­ered by a mul­ti­tude of chil­dren walk­ing with Vanessa.

Pinkie Promis­es

writ­ten by Eliz­a­beth War­ren
illus­trat­ed by Char­lene Chua
Hen­ry Holt, 2021

com­mu­ni­ty build­ing, gen­der roles

After try­ing to engage in sev­er­al activ­i­ties, only to be told that they are “Not what girls do,” her moth­er takes Pol­ly to a ral­ly where Eliz­a­beth, who is run­ning for Pres­i­dent, tells her, “THAT’S WHAT GIRLS DO!” Eliz­a­beth and Pol­ly make “a pinkie promise to remem­ber. ” After that, Pol­ly accom­plish­es sev­er­al things from being brave and help­ing a boy find his lost dot to run­ning for class pres­i­dent and learn­ing to dream a bit.

Red: A Cray­on’s Story

writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Michael Hall
Green­wil­low Books, 2021

gen­der roles, indi­vid­ual diver­si­ty, prejudice

This sto­ry can be under­stood by young chil­dren and has mean­ing for every age. This cray­on can­not ful­fill any of the expec­ta­tions of every­one else, because he is a blue cray­on with a red label. Every­one around him tries to help Red col­or red objects, but he can only make them blue. Final­ly, a boat asks him to col­or the water, and he finds his true calling.

Seeds of Change

writ­ten by Jen Culler­ton John­son
illus­trat­ed by Sonia Lynn Sadler
Lee & Low Books, 2010

Earth Day, ecol­o­gy, envi­ron­ment, over­com­ing obstacles

Seeds of Change tells the cap­ti­vat­ing sto­ry of Wan­gari Matthai of Kenya, the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Vivid art­work cov­ers the pages with illus­tra­tions that have a stained-glass vibran­cy and cap­ture images of the sto­ry as well as its plot. The text is alive with hope that grows from Wan­gar­i’s thirst for learn­ing, her per­sis­tence in protest­ing injus­tice, nur­tur­ing the envi­ron­ment, and her courage when con­fronting cor­po­rate greed. This is an uplift­ing sto­ry that teach­es an impor­tant les­son in social jus­tice with­out a hint of preachiness.

Small Walt and Mo the Tow

writ­ten by Eliz­a­beth Verdick
illus­trat­ed by Marc Rosen­thal
Paula Wise­man / Simon & Schus­ter, 2018

coöper­a­tion

Gus oper­ates Small Walt the snow­plow, and Sue dri­ves Mo the tow truck. All are need­ed (and the cre­ative sound effects con­vey the dif­fi­cul­ty of the task) as they res­cue a dri­ver and his car strand­ed in a blizzard.

The Stuff of Stars

writ­ten by Mar­i­on Dane Bauer
illus­trat­ed by Ekua Holmes
Can­dlewick Press, 2018

diver­si­ty of indi­vid­u­als, prejudice

An explo­sion of rich illus­tra­tions and a swift­ly mov­ing poem tell the sto­ry of the Big Bang and ongo­ing cre­ation. At first we see the speck that “float­ed, invis­i­ble a thought, weighty as God.” In the end we see “anoth­er speck [float­ing], invis­i­ble as dreams, spe­cial as Love.”

Those Shoes

writ­ten by Mari­beth Boelts
illus­trat­ed by Noah Z. Jones
Can­dlewick Press, 2009

Christ­mas, cop­ing, kindness

Jere­my longs for a pair of black high-top with white stripes like the oth­er boys have. When he buys a used pair of high-tops, they don’t fit, and he has to set­tle for the blue Vel­cro shoes, giv­en to him by his guid­ance coun­selor, Mr. Alphrey. In the end, Jere­my gives that pair to kind Anto­nio Park­er in his class, and both play in the snow, Jere­my in his brand new boots bought by his grandmother.

Z is for Moose

writ­ten by Kel­ly Bing­ham
illus­trat­ed by Paul O. Zelin­sky
Green­wil­low Books, 2012

friend­ship, inclusion

Zebra is direct­ing the col­or­ing for an alpha­bet book. All along, Moose tries to get on the page. He is real­ly upset when Mouse gets the “M” page. Final­ly, Zebra finds a way to get Zebra’s friend Moose on the “z” page.

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