Sticking Up For Each Other: Books Highlighting the Power of Allies

Produced by the HRC Foundation

Find books featuring children becoming allies. These books could be paired with the Welcoming Schools lesson plan, Making Decisions: Ally or Bystander.

Download the Book List

Picture Books

Across the Alley. Richard Michelson. (1 – 2)  Willie, an African American boy, who is supposed to play baseball has a secret friendship with Abe, a Jewish boy, who is supposed to play violin. They teach each other their skills.

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate Janice Cohn. (2 – 6)  Based on real events that happened in Billings, Montana, in 1993. This powerful narrative tells how two children, two families--one Jewish, one Christian--and a community resolve to stand together against the shameful actions that have been happening in their home town.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom. Tim Tingle. (2 – 5)  Set in the 1800s, this story about the friendship between a Choctaw girl and an enslaved African boy dramatically evolves into one about responsibility for others and their well-being.

Gifts from the Enemy. Trudy Ludwig. (3 – 6)  Tells one moving episode during Alter Wiener's internment in Nazi prison camps, when an unexpected person demonstrates moral courage in repeated acts of kindness towards him during his imprisonment.

My Name Is Bilal. Asma Mobin-Uddin & Barbara Kiwak. (3 – 5)  A brother and sister are the only Muslim students at their school. When the sister is teased for wearing a headscarf, Bilal finds the courage to stand up for her.

The New Girl … and Me. Jacqui Robbins. (K – 2)  Mia is intrigued by the new girl, Shakeeta, but shyness holds her back. When a bully bars them both from playing soccer, the pair strike up a conversation and become friends.

One. Kathryn Otoshi. (Pre-K – 1)  Red picks on Blue. The other colors don’t know what to do until One shows them how to stand up, stand together, and count.

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin. (3 – 5)  In 1856 John Price escaped to freedom in Oberlin, Ohio. When he was recaptured two years later, the town rallied to free him. A dramatization of the events illustrated with rich oil paintings.

Red: A Crayon's Story. Michael Hall. (PreK – 1)  A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis. Almost everyone tries to “help” him be red until a friend offers a new perspective. He’s blue! About finding the courage to be true to your inner self. This can be read on multiple levels.

Teammates. Peter Golenbock, (1 – 3)  The moving story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black player on a major league baseball team and how, on a fateful day, PeeWee Reese took a stand and declared Jackie his teammate.

Wings. Christopher Myers. (1 – 5)  Take flight with Ikarus Jackson, the boy with wings who remains true to his dreams despite taunts. One girl realizes he must be lonely and resolves to stop the hurtful words.

Zero. Kathryn Otoshi. (Pre-K – 1)  While learning about numbers and counting, students are introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.


Chapter Books

Better Nate than Ever. Tim Federle. (3 – 6)  Thirteen-year-old Nate runs away from his small town in Pennsylvania to New York City to audition for E.T. the Musical. With the help of his best friend, can he come back home before anyone notices he’s gone?

Ghost. Jason Reynolds. (4 – 8)  Ghost has a natural talent for running. But can he run fast enough to get away from his past or does he have to figure out how to deal with it and his raw emotions. Bullied at school, Ghost reacts in both bad and good ways. Gets help from his coach and his teammates. (First in a series of four.)

Gracefully Grayson. Ami Polonsky. (5 – 7)  Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?

A Handful of Stars. Cynthia Lord. (3 – 6)  This powerful middle-grade novel from the Newbery Honor author of RULES explores a friendship between a small-town girl and the daughter of migrant workers.

The Liberation of Gabriel King. K. L. Going. (4 – 5)  In Georgia in 1976, Gabriel, a white boy, and Frita, an African American girl, overcome their fears of bullying and prejudice together as they enter 5th grade.

The Lions of Little Rock. Kristin Levine. (5 – 8)  As twelve-year-old Marlee starts middle school in 1958 Little Rock, it feels like her whole world is falling apart. Until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. But when Liz leaves school without a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was caught passing for white.

The Misfits. James Howe. (6 – 9)   Four best friends try to survive seventh grade in the face of all-too-frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence and sexual orientation/gender expression. The characters though are not cast as victims, but as agents of change. The series continues with Totally Joe, Addie on the Inside, and Also Known as Elvis

Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. (4 – 7)  In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis. 

Return to Sender. Julia Alvarez. (4 – 7) After Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, his family hires migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm. Can Tyler and Mari find a way to be friends despite their differences? Full of hope, but no easy answers.

The Revealers. Doug Wilhelm. (5 – 7)  Three bullied seventh graders start an unofficial e-mail forum to publicize their experiences. Unexpectedly, many others come forward to confess their similar troubles.

Sailing to Freedom. Martha Bennett Stiles. (4 – 6)  In 1852 twelve-year-old Ray sets sail on his uncle’s ship and discovers he is part of the Underground Railroad.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War. Helen Frost. (5 – 8)  Two twelve-year-old friends, Native American Anikwa and European American James, are caught in the growing conflict between their communities during the War of 1812. Written in verse.

Seeing Red. Kathryn Erskine. (5 – 8)  In 1972 in a small Virginia town, twelve-year-old Red Porter learns the unsavory racial history of his own family and tries to remedy the past injustice.

Wonder / La lección de August. R.J. Palacio. (5 – 7)  Auggie was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school until 5th grade. Told from multiple perspectives that highlight different struggles with empathy and acceptance. English and Spanish editions.

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