Books and Curricula to Promote Justice

All starred resources [*] are available from the Teaching for Change catalog,; 800-763-9131.

*Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, Sonia Nieto. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1996, second edition. Of the scores of books on multicultural education, Nieto’s is one worth reading. The central message of this 422-page book is that multicultural education is essential to promote the academic achievement of students of color; it is a message that comes through powerfully in her clear explanations of related issues of bilingual education and critical pedagogy, and her numerous case studies that give voice to students of different backgrounds.

*Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, Louise Derman-Sparks and the A.B.C. Task Force. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1989. Perhaps the best book for the early child/primary level on how to teach about all forms of bias and what to do about it.

*Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development, edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, and Margo Okazawa-Rey. Washington, DC: Network of Educators on the Americas, 1998. A 463-page collection developed by educators, parents, and activists determined to create a valuable resource for change. Lesson plans and staff development activities are included, as well as critical examinations of controversial school issues such as bilingual education and tracking. Contains an extensive resource guide of teaching and learning resources and many helpful Internet sites.

*Caribbean Connections, edited by Catherine Sunshine. Washington, DC: Network of Educators on the Americas/EPICA, 1991. Stories, interviews, songs, drama, and oral histories, accompanied by lesson plans for secondary language arts and social studies. Separate volumes on: Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Regional Overview, and Moving North.

Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement,F. Arturo Rosales. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1997. A comprehensive account of the struggle of Mexican Americans to secure and protect their civil rights, starting with the U.S. invasion of Mexico and subsequent annexation of most of what is now the U.S. Southwest. The book is designed to accompany a PBS series that is available on video

*Child Labor is Not Cheap,( Amy Sanders and Meredith Sommers. Minneapolis, MN: Resource Center of the Americas, 1997. A three-lesson unit for grades 8-12 on the 250 million children throughout the world who spend most of their days on the job. First lesson is designed to accompany the video, Zoned for Slavery (see listing under Audio/Visual Resources).

*Classroom Crusades: Responding to the Religious Right’s Agenda for Public Schools, edited by Barbara Miner. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1998.Classroom Crusades covers the religious right’s efforts to stamp their own brand of politics and religion on the country’s schools. It includes an overview of key issues such as censorship, creationism, gay rights and sexuality education, with resources and examples for defending the freedom to learn.

*Colonialism in the Americas: A Critical Look (1991) and Colonialism in Asia: A Critical Look, Susan Gage. Victoria, BC: VIDEA. Sophisticated descriptions of colonialism in an easy to read, comic book format. Through dialogue and cartoons, each booklet traces the development of colonialism and its legacy. Teaching ideas are included in each volume.

*A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Ronald Takaki. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1993. Beginning with the colonization of the ‘New World’ and ending with the Los Angeles riots of 1992, this book recounts U.S. history in the voices of Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and others. Takaki turns the Anglocentric historical viewpoint inside out and examines the ultimate question of what it means to be an American.

*Days of Respect: Organizing a Schoolwide Violence Prevention Program,Ralph Cantor, et al. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, 1997. Step-by-step instructions for putting together an event that unites students, parents, teachers and community leaders for a common goal: preventing violence and creating an atmosphere of respect in school.

De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century,Elizabeth Martinez. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1998. Martinez’s more than 30 years of experience in the movements for civil rights, women’s liberation, and Latina/o empowerment are reflected in these readable essays. Particularly good on the struggles of Mexican Americans.

*Education Is Politics: Critical Teaching Across Differences, K-12, edited by Ira Shor and Caroline Pari. New York: Heinemann, 1999.In memory of Paulo Freire, the essays in this collection describe critical practices by teachers committed to transformation in and beyond the classroom. They show culturally diverse educators constructively taking sides and refusing to fit students or themselves quietly into the status quo.

*Failing Our Kids: Why the Testing Craze Won’t Fix Our Schools,edited by Kathy Swope and Barbara Miner. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 2000. More than 50 articles provide a compelling critique of standardized tests and also outline alternative ways to assess how well children are learning. The long arm of standardized testing is reaching into every nook and cranny of education. Yet relying on standardized tests distorts student learning, exacerbates inequities for low-income students and students of color, and undermines true accountability.

The Field Guide to the Global Economy, Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, with Thea Lee. New York: TheNew Press, 1999. Illustrated with charts, graphs, and political cartoons, this accessible and engaging guide reveals the harmful effects of corporate-driven globalization. It explains current trends in the global economy, the driving forces behind globalization, and the organizations and individuals working to reverse these destructive forces.

*Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make a Difference, Stephanie Kempf. New York: World Hunger Year, 1997. Engaging, interactive and challenging lessons for middle school, high school and adult education on the roots and solutions to domestic and global hunger. Examines colonialism, the media, famine vs. chronic hunger, the working poor, and more.

*Flirting or Hurting? A Teacher’s Guide on Sexual Harassment in Schools for 6th through 12th Grade Students, Nan Stein and Lisa Sjostrom. Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1994. An excellent teacher-friendly curriculum, with stories and role plays. Widely used.

*Freedom’s Unfinished Revolution: An Inquiry Into the Civil War and Reconstruction, The American Social History Project. New York: The New Press,1996. Lively prose, primary documents, illustrations, and photographs bring this key period of U.S. history to life and invite students to study Reconstruction in depth. A 302-page book that includes exercises and discussion questions. By the authors of Who Built America?

*Funding for Justice: Money, Equity and the Future of Public Education, edited by Stan Karp, et al., Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.1997. Presents the complicated issues of school finance in readable form for teachers, parents, and the community. In more than 25 articles packed with information, background, and analysis, Funding for Justice makes a strong case for providing adequate and equitable funding to all schools.

*Honoring Our Ancestors, edited by Harriet Rohmer. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press,1999. A must for teachers of all grade levels. Through portraits and stories, 14 outstanding artists from diverse communities honor the ancestors who touched their lives. This book 32-page book includes Joe Sam’s beautiful portrait of his three aunts who raised him in Harlem during the 1940s while working as maids in the white neighborhoods of Manhattan; and Hung Liu’s portrait of her grandmother who made shoes for the family in China. Can be used at any grade level.

*Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement, Vincent Harding. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1990. A series of essays from Harding’s consultation on the Eyes on the Prize series. The 246-page book provides good ideas and poses challenging questions for a course or a teacher study group.

*Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children,Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Inc.,1988. Features a collection of North American Indian stories and related hands-on activities designed to inspire children. An interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the earth and Native-American cultures.

*Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, James W. Loewen. New York: New Press, 1994. Loewen’s book is an entertaining and eye-opening de-mything of key aspects of American history. It’s both an effective critique of some of the most widely-used history texts as well as an alternative history.

*The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities, Sonia Nieto. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999. Nieto takes us beyond individual learners to discuss the social context of learning, the history and manifestations of educational equity, the influence of culture on learning, and critical pedagogy. Centering on multicultural education as a transformative process, the text includes reflections of teachers who have undergone this process.

Making the Grade: A Racial Justice Report Card. Applied Research Center, 1999. 510-653-3415. Free. An extremely user-friendly tool to measure racial equity in schools. The heart of this CD is an interactive reporting mechanism through which the user inputs raw data that are available from most school districts and the program then issues a ‘racial justice report card.’ Designed for anyone who wants to document patterns of institutional racism in schools, the CD has everything from sample letters to send school administrators to background information on racial inequality in schools. [Although this resource is no longer available in CD format, it is on the ARC Web site, at]

*Making the Peace: A Violence Prevention Curriculum, Paul Kivel and Allen Creighton. Hunter House. A comprehensive teaching handbook with all the information needed to implement a 15-session core curriculum. It offers step-by-step instructions for sessions, anticipates difficult issues that may arise, and suggests ideas for follow-up both within the classroom and within the school or youth program.

*Multicultural Education as Social Activism, Christine Sleeter. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1996. Sleeter connects multicultural education with issues of power. Chapters include: ‘This curriculum is multicultural … isn’t it?’ ‘Teaching science for social justice,’ ‘Reflections on my use of multicultural and critical pedagogy when students are white,’ and more.

Multicultural Voices in Contemporary Literature: A Resource for Teachers, Frances Ann Day. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999. Day’s updated book provides classroom teachers and librarians with a quick reference for hundreds of multicultural titles as well as some thoughtful writing prompts.

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie V. McKay. W.W. Norton,1996. Too many teachers have never read African-American literature. Most who have read individual works have not systematically explored the tradition and come to understand how it draws upon the vernacular language of African Americans. This anthology is where teachers who work with African-American children can find direction in their study of the African-American literary tradition.

*One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards, Susan Ohanian. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 1999. This hilarious, unsparing, and touching narrative recounts the author’s quest to make sense of the Standards movement. Ohanian explores the ironic results of the movement in schools (e.g., failure to pass students who lack ‘necessary knowledge’ on topics such as covalent bonds and the Edict of Nantes), the absence of critical dialogue in the media regarding standards, and ultimately, issues a callto action.

*Open Minds to Equality: A Sourcebook of Learning Activities to Affirm Diversity and Promote Equity, (second edition) Nancy Schniedewind and Ellen Davidson. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. This resource both inspires teachers to teach for justice and provides classroom-ready ideas that work. The lessons integrate various curricular areas and are presented in a sequential fashion. Includes an excellent resource bibliography. Also by Schniedewind and Davidson is Cooperative Learning, Cooperative Lives: A Sourcebook for Learning Activities for Building a Peaceful World, W.C. Brown Company, 1987.

*Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, Lisa Delpit. New York: The New Press, 1995. Gives an excellent background on issues related to language and literacy. Delpit shows how educators’ unconscious assumptions about race and culture play out in classrooms with harmful, if unintended, consequences. A vital resource for teacher education.

*Peters Projection World Map New York: Friendship Press. This is a map, not a book, but it comes with a teaching guide. It presents all countries according to their true size. Traditional Mercator projection maps distort sizes, making Europe appear much larger than it actually is. A New View of the World by Ward Kaiser is a handbook on the Peters map.

*A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, Howard Zinn; New York: HarperCollins; revised 1995. The best single volume history of the United States. No teacher should be without a copy. Some sections are readable by high school students.

*The Power in Our Hands: A Curriculum on the History of Work and Workers in the United States, Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. New York: Monthly Review Press,1988. Role-plays and writing activities help students explore issues about work and social change. An essential curriculum for history and economics teachers, or for school-to-work programs.

Preventing Prejudice, Marta Hawthorne, et al. Buena Vista Lesbian and Gay Parents Group.1999. Age-appropriate gay-positive curriculum for grades K-5.A valuable resource for teachers to talk openly and respectfully with their students about gays and lesbians and take concrete steps to diminish homophobia.

*Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word, by Linda Christensen. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 2000.In this practical, inspirational book, Christensen draws on her20-plus years as a high school teacher to describe her vision of teaching reading, writing, and language courses that are rooted in an unwavering focus on social justice. Includes essays, lesson plans, and a remarkable collection of student writing.

*Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Antisemitism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Ableism & Classism, edited by Maurianne Adams, et al. Routledge, 2000. An invaluable anthology of over ninety readings by some of the foremost scholars in the fields of education and social justice, including Gloria Anzaldua, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Michael Omi, Ronald Takaki, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Cornel West and Iris Marion Young. Covers the scope of social oppressions, emphasizing interactions among racism, sexism, classism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, and ableism.

*The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language and the Education of African-American Children, edited by Theresa Perry and Lisa Delpit. Rethinking Schools,1998. Educators, linguists, writers and students examine the lessons of the Ebonics controversy and unravel complexities of the issue that have never been acknowledged.

Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America, edited by Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.This anthology includes work from such notable authors as LeslieSilko and Louise Erdrich and lesser-known writers from a variety of Native cultures. It is groundbreaking in its depth, breadth, militancy, and beauty.

*Resistance in Paradise: Rethinking 100 Years of U.S. Involvement in the Caribbean and the Pacific, edited by Deborah Wei and Rachael Kamel. Philadelphia: American Friends Service Committee, 1998. In 1898, the United States annexed the Pacific Islands of Guam, Hawai’i, and Samoa, as well as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. This major event in U.S. history is barely mentioned in school textbooks. Resistance in Paradise fills the gap with over 50 lesson plans, role plays and readings for grades 9-12. Includes illustrations, cartoons, maps, and photographs.

*Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 2nd edition 1998. This widely acclaimed book asks educators to think about the racial and cultural biases in traditional tales of ‘discovery,’ and provides numerous teaching ideas that encourage students to think critically about these myths. An essential volume for teacher education. Greatly expanded from the first edition, which sold almost a quarter of a million copies.

*Rethinking Schools: An Agenda for Change, edited by David Levine, et al. 1995. Highlights from the country’s leading education reform journal on curriculum, testing and tracking, national education policy, anti-bias education, and school communities.

*Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice (Volume1), edited by Bill Bigelow, Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Barbara Miner and Bob Peterson. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools; 1994.This collection includes creative teaching ideas, compelling classroom narratives and hands-on examples of ways teachers can promote values of community, justice, and equality ‘ and build academic skills.

*Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice (Volume2), edited by Stan Karp, Brenda Harvey, Larry Miller and Bill Bigelow. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools; 2001. Supplements the first volume of Rethinking Our Classrooms, which has sold over 100,000 copies. Practical from-the-classroom stories from teachers about how they attempt to teach for social justice. Extends and deepens many of the themes introduced in the first volume of Rethinking Our Classrooms.

*Roots of Justice: Stories of Organizing in Communities of Color, Larry R. Salomon. Chardon Press. 1998. Roots of Justice recaptures some of the nearly forgotten histories of communities of color. These are the stories of people who fought back against exploitation and injustice ‘ and won. From the Zoot Suiters who refused to put up with abuse at the hands of the Navy to the women who organized the welfare rights movement of the 1970s, Roots of Justice shows how, through organizing, ordinary people have made extraordinary contributions to change society. In a time of cynicism, this is an especially needed book.

*Selling Out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets and the Future of Public Education, edited by Robert Lowe and Barbara Miner. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1996. Covers the major issues surrounding ‘school choice,’ vouchers, and other efforts to privatize our public schools. More than 35 articles by nationally respected educators and policy-makers explain how vouchers and marketplace approaches to education threaten our basic concepts of equality and opportunity. Ideal for communities facing charter, voucher or other privatization initiatives.

*Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America, Smitherman, Geneva. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.This wonderful book is still the best introduction to the study of Black language. It is required reading for teachers who work with African-American children.

*Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin. New York: Routledge, 1997. A compilation of course syllabi, lessons, and resources for college courses and staff development on issues of racism, sexism, classism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, and ableism.

*Teaching Economics As If People Mattered: A High School Curriculum Guide to the New Economy, Tamara Sober Giecek. United for a Fair Economy. 2000. Field-tested by high school teachers, this innovative economics curriculum looks at the human implications of economic policies. These 21lesson plans are designed to stimulate dialogue and encourage active student participation in the high school or college classroom.

*Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy and Education Reader,edited by William Ayers, Jean Ann Hunt and Therese Quinn. NewYork: Teachers College Press/New Press. 1998. A unique mix of hands-on, historical and inspirational writings. The topics include education through social action, writing and community building, and adult literacy.

*That’s Not Fair: A Teacher’s Guide to Activism with Young Children,Ann Pelo and Fran Davidson. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press. 2000. Children have a natural sense of what’s fair and what’s not. This book helps teachers learn to use this characteristic to develop children’s belief that they can change the world for the better. Includes real-life stories of activist children, combined with teacher’s experiences and reflections. Original songs for children and a resource list for both adults and children.

*Transforming Teacher Unions: Fighting for Better Schools and Social Justice, edited by Bob Peterson and Michael Charney. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1999. A vital tool for anyone working in or with teacher unions today. The 25 articles look at exemplary practices of teacher unions from the local to national level, and present new visions for the 21st century. Addresses the history of teacher unionism and connects issues of teacher unions, classroom reform, local communities, and social justice.

*We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools, by Gary Howard. New York: Teacher’s College Press. 1999. With25 years of teaching experience as a multicultural educator, Gary Howard looks into his own racial identity to search for what it means to be a culturally competent white teacher in racially diverse schools. His lively stories and compelling analysis offer a healing vision for the future of education.

*Who Are the Arabs: The Arab World in the Classroom, Steve Tamari. Washington, DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 1999. History, poetry, photographs, maps, short stories and articles by and about the Arab-speaking world. This 12-page booklet is available free if requested along with an order for other titles from the Teaching for Change catalog,

*‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’ and Other Conversations About Race, Beverly Daniel Tatum. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. In 270 pages, Tatum, a psychologist and a professor at Mount Holyoke College, provides a detailed explanation of racial identity development for people of color and whites. This remarkable book, a road map filled with wisdom and humanity, tells those looking to explore issues of race where to begin.

*Women of Hope. New York. Bread and Roses Cultural Project. A poster and curriculum series on African-American, Native American, Latina, and Asian American women. The posters and study guides provide a powerful tool for challenging stereotypes by teaching about the real history and contemporary reality of extraordinary women of color.