Diversify your bookshelf

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

By Duncan Tonatiuh

Published in 2014 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

For Grades 2-5


In 1947, seven years before Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was Mendez vs. Westminister, an early desegregation case whose ruling stated that all children in California were allowed to go to school together regardless of race, ethnicity, or language. Using illustrations influenced by ancient Aztec art, Tonatiuh tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family’s struggle against racist policy. Mendez being of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent in the 1940’s, only had the option of attending an inferior school designated solely for Hispanic children. Her parents did not accept this and made it their mission to change the injustice their children faced. Mendez went on to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for her work in educating others about her family’s work towards ending school segregation.

Pair this with a short listen to an NPR story also focusing on Sylvia Mendez.


Squirrel vs. nut

Aw, Nuts!

By Rob McClurkan

Harper 2014


Come September, I’m always on the lookout for quality fall-themed picture books that work well as a read aloud. There is an abundance of books with leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, or scarecrows but not a lot that will keep the attention of a classroom of kindergartners who just had fruit loops & powdered doughnuts for breakfast.

Then I came across a copy of Aw, Nuts! and figure kids will basically get hooked solely on the exaggerated frustration the title implies. Of course the squirrel narrator utters “Aw, nuts!” no less than ten times throughout the slapstick story of a squirrel who doesn’t quite understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


Check out the book trailer

If you like contrasting could things get any crazier/Whew! structuring of this story I would also recommend Remy Charlip’s adventurous book Fortunately (1964).