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Children's Reading on Peace and Justice


Grade 4-6


Below is our recommended children's bibliography for children from fourth through sixth grade. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list.  We have concentrated on books published since 1983; however, we do have some older titles, especially those we consider near-classics.  We hope these suggestions will be helpful to you.  See also reading lists for  Preschool - Grade 3   Grades 7-12

Reading List Index






Peace/Conflict Resolution

Rain of Fire
by Marion Bauer, Clarion Books, 1983
Anti-war story about twelve-year-old Steve and Matthew, his older brother.  After Matthew comes home from World War II, Steve is confused by his brother's silence, and strange talk about the rain of fire on Hiroshima.  To impress his friends, he invents stories of Matthew's heroism.

The Fragile Flag
by Jane Langton, Harper & Row, 1984
Wonderful fantasy and realistic story about the Children's Crusade for Peace.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr, A Yearling Book, Dell Publishing, 1977
A gentle presentation and a near classic, this is the story of Sadako Sasaki, an 11-year-old victim of the bombing at Hiroshima.

Rose Blanche
by Roberto Innocenti, Creative Education, 1985
Story of a young German girl who becomes involved in a war she doesn't understand.

Hiroshima No Pika
by Toshi Maruki, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1982
Story of a Japanese family and the physical and emotional effects of the bombing of Hiroshima.

Faithful Elephants
by Yukio Tsuchiya, Houghton Mifflin, translated in 1988
Very moving and true story of what happened to the animals in Japan because of the fear of being bombed. It could be read aloud and is appropriate for all ages.





Trouble at the Mines
by Doreen Rappaport, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1987
Strike in the 1800's divides a town and a young girl's family.  Based on the life of Mother Jones.

Hazel Rye
by Vera and Bill Cleaver, Lippincott, 1983
Hazel is an unusual character who at 11 would like to quit school, drive a taxi, and make $300 a week.  Although she can barely read and write, and she has to repeat 6th grade, her teacher calls her fascinating.

Childtimes:  A Three Generation Memoir
by Eloise Greenfield and Lessie Jones Little, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979
The author, her mother and grandmother demonstrate the continuity of the African-American family through the experiences of three strong, loving and talented women.

Spirit To Ride the Whirlwind
by Athena V. Lord, MacMillan Publishing Company, 19981
Set in the spring of 1836, this story is of a 12-year-old girl, Binnie Howe, who goes to work in a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts.  When wages are cut, Binnie has to make some agonizing decisions about forming a union and striking.

Barbara Jordan:  Keeping Faith
by Linda Jacobs, EMC Corporation, 1978
Important story of a contemporary African-American political leader.

Dreams Into Deeds:  Nine Women Who Dared
by Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985
Stories of nine courageous women in the period 1880-1930, including Jane Addams, Marian Anderson and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.




Older People/Ageism

The Rocking Chair Rebellion
by Eth Clifford, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978
When 14-year-old Opie unenthusiastically goes to visit a neighbor who has been put in a nursing home, she volunteers to work there for the summer.  Opie finds herself involved in a series of adventures which point out the problems that result from the alienation of older people from society.





Native American

American Indian Myths and Legends
by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, Pantheon, 1984
An anthology of 166 Native American stories.  The introduction and commentaries between chapters show the similarities and differences between various Native American nations.

The People Shall Continue
by Simon Ortiz, Children's Book Press, 1977
Strikingly bold and colorful illustrations and a rhythmic text make this text a good book to read to young children.  Usage of the term "the people" indicates pride and identity.

Sing Down the Moon
by Scott O'Dell, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970
Bright Morning, a Navaho girl, and her family are forced against their will to move from their land.  Although she fights to prevent it, she sees the traditional way of life disappear as her friends and relatives suffer.



A Jar of Dreams
by Yoshiko Uchida, Atheneum, 1981
Story of an 11-year-old Japanese American girl living in California during the Depression



by Michael Mark, Bradbury Press, 1984
Taking place in 1913, this story describes the life of a young Jewish girl who lived in Poland.

The Jewish Americans:  A History in Their Own Words
by Milton Meltzer, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1982
Good non-fictional account by one of the best children's authors.

Night Journey
by Kathryn Lasky, Puffin, 1986
Story of a ten-year-old's journey from Russia with her family.


African American

Up with Hope:  A Biography of Jesse Jackson
by Dorothy Chaplik, Dillon, 1986
Good biography of an important current African American leader.

Malcolm X
by Arnold Adoff, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970
Biography which gives a good explanation of the importance of Malcolm X.

Thank You, Jackie Robinson
by Barbara Cohen, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988
Story of a strong friendship between two teen-agers, one Black and one Jewish, and the impact on their consciousness of the arrival of Jackie Robinson in professional baseball.

The Gold Cadillac
by Mildred D. Taylor, Dial Press
When  a young girl's father buys and expensive car, he decides to drive down south to his hometown to show his new material wealth.  The harassment that results during the trip gives a clear picture of life before the Civil Rights Movement.

Steal Away:  Stories of the Runaway Slaves
by Abraham Chapman, Praeger Publishers, 1971
Includes memories of slaves taken from Africa, slave life, slave auctions, the Underground Railroad and more.

Paul Robeson
by Eloise Greenfield, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1975
Story which tells simply of Paul Robeson's many, varied accomplishments as well as his political activism, and what he endured because of it.

Mary McLeod Bethune
by Eloise Greenfield, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1977
Author tells, with simple eloquence, of this courageous woman's fight for her people.

Fannie Lou Hammer
by June Jordan, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1975
Story is a strong statement about racism and its effects.  It chronicles the efforts of one woman, and conveys hope, because of the positive strength that results when people band together to fight in a community-building way.

The Friendship
by Mildred D. Taylor, Dial Books, 1987
Wonderful illustrations by Max Ginsburg add to a telling story about racial prejudice in the 1930's.

Mirandy and Brother Wind
by Patricia McKissack, Knopf, 1988
Based on the oral southern tradition, this is a delightful story of the relationship between Mirady and the elusive Brother Wind.



Waiting for the Rain
by Sheila Gordon, Orchard Books, 1987
Friendship between two young men, one Black and one White, provides a penetrating look at the system of apartheid.

Two Dogs and Freedom: Black Children of Africa Speak Out
Rosset& Company, Inc., 1987
Written by children in Johannesburg's Open School, these essays describe life in South Africa and share concern about the future.

Black Child
by Peter Magubane, Alfred A. Knopf, 1982
Collection of photographs which show how apartheid affects the children of South Africa.

Journey to Jo'burg
by Beverley Maidoo, J.B. Lippincott, 1985
When their baby sister becomes sick, 13-year-old Naledi and her 9-year-old brother travel alone from their village in South Africa to Johannesburg, to find and bring back their mother.  The events they witness and become a part of show them the painful struggle for freedom going on all around.


Central American

Children of the Maya:  A Guatemalan Indian Odyssey
by Brent Ashabranner, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987
Book describes the life of Mayan Indian refugees, and the role of the U.S. in Guatemala.



The Children We Remember
by Chana Byers Abells, Greenwillow Books, 1986
Moving photographs from the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem about the children who lived and died during the Holocaust make this book appropriate for all ages.



See also reading lists for  Preschool - Grade 3   Grades 7-12