Books in this category address a wide range of historical and current forms of bigotry, prejudice that is both intentional and systemic and prejudice that is unintentional, but just as hurtful. In some books prejudice is the primary focus of the story; in others it is part of the fabric of the book but not its central theme.
Blue Jasmine Written by Kashmira Sheth When twelve-year-old Seema and her family move from their small Indian town to Iowa City, Seema feels like an outsider to the language and traditions, and must cope with the unfamiliarity of a new school system and the hostility of an intolerant classmate. As she begins to plant roots in the foreign soil, however, Seema’s confidence starts to bloom, she learns the coping skills necessary to deal with the antagonistic classmate, and discovers that she can build a bridge between two homes. [Grade Level: 4 - 7]
Blue Jay in the Desert Isao Kikuchi (Illustrator), Marlene Shigekawa (Author) This is the story of a Japanese-American boy and his family, who are interned during World War II. The boy doesn't quite understand what the internment is all about, but through his eyes we are able to see how it has affected the adults around him. The book includes a brief historical overview of the Japanese-American internment. [Grade Level: 2 - 4]
Drita, My Homegirl Written by Jenny Lombard Drita and her family come to New York as refugees from war-torn Kosovo. Even though she barely speaks English, Drita can’t wait to start school and make a new best friend. But her new classmates don’t make it easy, teasing her about virtually everything. The worst is Maxie, a tough African-American girl whose sassy attitude hides a painful secret. When Maxie takes things too far, their teacher assigns Maxie a paper on Drita and her journey to America from Kosovo. Suddenly, Maxie realizes she and Drita have more in common than she thought. And when Drita’s mother gets sick, there’s only one person who can help—Drita’s new homegirl. [Grade Level: 3 - 5]
Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez Rudolfo A. Anaya (Adapter), Gaspar Enriquez (Illustrator) Chicano novelist Rudolfo Anaya was greatly influenced by the heroic life of labor and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. This poem eulogizes Cesar and his work, expressing the grief of la gente and calling all peoples together to continue the nonviolent struggle for freedom and justice. Includes a chronology of Cesar's life. [Grade Level: 4 - 6]
La Mariposa Francisco Jimenez (Author), Simon Silva (Illustrator) Francisco, an immigrant from Mexico and the son of migrant workers, has difficulty adjusting to first grade in a new school because he doesn't speak English and, to make matters worse, the class bully seems to have it in for him. Francisco becomes fascinated with a jar containing a caterpillar and fantasizes about flying out of the classroom like a butterfly and back to his Papa in the fields. Francisco’s interest in butterflies also inspires a drawing that earns Francisco a prize and the respect of his classmates. The author, who was himself held back in school because he did not speak English well enough, weaves Spanish, without translation, through the text. The author and illustrator are both immigrants who worked in the fields of California.
[Grade Level: K - 3]
Land of Hope Written by Joan Lowery Nixon A young immigrant, arriving in New York City in 1902, almost abandons her dream of getting an education when she is forced to work in a sweatshop. [Grade Level: 4 - 6]
Story of Latino Civil Rights: Fighting for Justice Jose E. Limon (Author), Miranda Hunter (Author) Today, there are millions of Hispanics in the country, spread across every state of the nation. They are the fastest growing minority in the United States-but the fact that they are spread out tends to weaken their influence in any single region. Hispanics must unite to make their case known. This book explains both the history and the current reality of the Latino civil rights movement.
[Grade Level: 4 & Up]
The Gold-Threaded Dress Written by Carolyn Marsden In Thailand she was named Oy, but in the U.S. they call her Olivia. Other things are not so easy to change. When Oy draws a portrait of herself, her classmate makes fun of her and calls her Chinese. And the popular girl Liliandra barely speaks to her, until she sees a photo of Oy's special Thai dancing dress from her grandmother, and wants to wear it. Oy risks shaming her family to win Liliandra's approval, as she searches for acceptance in a complex culture and learns to treasure all that she is. [Grade Level: 2 - 5]
Triumphs and Struggles for Latino Civil Rights Written by Bárbara C. Cruz Over 42 million Latinos live in the United States, making up America's largest ethnic minority group. As their population grows, Latino people and organizations continue to fight for improved education, equal employment opportunities, and fair immigration laws. Author Barbara C. Cruz describes the long journey of Latinos in the United States, from the founding of the oldest city on the American mainland at St. Augustine, Florida, to the continued struggle for civil rights today.
[Grade Level: 4 & Up]