Books for Middle School & High School

The Return of Gabriel. Armistead, John. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2002. Grade 6 and up. Cooper, Jubal, and Squirrel, three thirteen-year-olds in Mississippi, begin the summer of 1964 preoccupied with how to take revenge on a local bully. But the arrival of civil rights workers in their small town, and the Ku Klux Klan's violent response, causes Cooper to change his focus. He ends up putting himself at great risk to help his friends.

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement. Bausum, Ann.Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006. Grade 6 and up. This book profiles two participants in the 1961 Freedom Rides, Jim Zwerg (who is white) and John Lewis (who is black). The book details their lives up until, and including, their days as Freedom Riders and the courage it took to participate in the nonviolent civil rights movement. It also includes historical information and resources.

The Misfits. Howe, James. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2003. Grade 6 and up. A group of four "misfits" decides to confront their middle school about name-calling (especially the names the four of them have been called) by running for class office. This book was one of the inspirations for the No Name Calling Week project.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee, Harper. New York, N.Y: Warner Books, 1982. Grade 6 and up. This classic by Harper Lee explores the consequences-for himself and his children-of Atticus Finch's decision to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small town in 1930s Alabama. Its themes of looking beyond race, class, and other labels to see people's humanity and to defend that humanity still speak to modern readers.

Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories. Levine, Ellen. New York: Puffin Books, 2000. Grade 5 and up. Thirty first-person accounts of acts of courage and participation bring the civil rights movement to life in this book. It includes stories of young people like Claudette Colvin, who was arrested for sitting in the front of a bus just weeks before Rosa Parks was arrested for doing the same.

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer. Opdyke, Irene Gut, with Jennifer Armstrong. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Grade 8 and up. This true first-person account tells the story of Irene, who was a seventeen-year-old Polish nursing student when World War Two broke out. Irene details the different ways in which she helped Jews who were being imprisoned in concentration camps or forced to work for Germans, at great risk to herself.

The Revealers. Wilhelm, Doug. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. Grade 5 and up. Russell is bullied for being socially awkward, Elliot is made fun of for being a "geek," and Catalina is targeted because she is a recent immigrant. Sensing they are not the only students in their middle school affected by bullying, these three students set up a forum on the school website called The Revealer, where students can talk about their differences and backgrounds, as well as their experiences being harassed by other students.

The Traitor. Yep, Laurence. New York : HarperCollins, 2003. Grade 6-9. This novel takes place in 1885 Wyoming, where prejudice and violence marked the relationship between American and Chinese miners. Despite these circumstances, Michael Purdy, a white boy marked as an outsider because of his illegitimate birth, and Joseph Young, an American born to Chinese parents, become friends. Joseph, Michael, and Michael's mother all find themselves having to make decisions based on humanity rather than prejudice.

The Long Shadow of Little Rock: A Memoir. Bates, Daisy. David McKay, 1962.

Warriors Don't Cry. Beals, Melba Patillo. (Pocket Books, 1994.) Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Melba Pattillo became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm.Warriors Don't Cry is her autobiographical account of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. This book explores not only the power of racism but also such ideas as justice, identity, and choice. Facing History and Ourselves has published a study guide to accompany this book.

The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. Edelman, Marian Wright. (Beacon Press, 1992.)

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. Goodwin, Doris Kearns. (Simon and Schuster, 1997.)

The Children. Halberstam, David. (Random House, 1998.)

All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960's. Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs. (Harvard University Press, 1998.)

It's Our World, Too! Hoose, Phillip. (Little Brown, 1993.)

Crisis at Central High: Little Rock 1957-58. Huckaby, Elizabeth. (Louisiana State University Press, 1980.)

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.