Mississippi Trial, 1955 , by Chris Crowe (New York: Penguin, 2003)
A 16-year-old white boy returns to Mississippi to visit his racist grandfather who raised him. He finds himself surrounded by controversy in the midst of the lynching of Chicago teenager Emmett Till. Written from the perspective of a white teenager who deals with racism and his role as a bystander, this novel lays the basis for discussions of the need for whites to be allies against racism. 6th grade and up.
A Real American, by Richard Easton. (New York: Clarion Books, 2002)
Eleven-year-old Nathan is increasing lonely when other native-born families move from his town in Pennsylvania and Italian immigrants move in to work in the coal mines. Despite his parents’ and the townspeople’s anti-immigrant sentiments, Nathan befriends Arturo, who works with his brother and father in the mines. When Arturo is injured and there is threat of a strike, Nathan’s family comes to the support of the immigrants. The attitudes toward immigrants are similar to those sometimes encountered today. 4th grade and up.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic, 1995)
Fourth grader Kenny Watson tells the story of his family in Flint, Mich., and their trip to Birmingham during the tumultuous year of 1963. Funny, riveting, and genuine, this story will bring this aspect of the civil rights struggle alive for students. 4th grade and up.