Selected Resources
for Promoting Tolerance


By Jessica Fink, Librarian, Macks Center for Jewish Education

women seated in library with Holocaust books

Antisemitism is growing in our country and with events like the recent hostage situation at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX, our children often are exposed to disturbing news. How do we talk to them about antisemitism and the Holocaust in age-appropriate ways? 

Books can be a great way to start that conversation. The best way to do this is to choose stories that promote positive character values for children. That way children can develop an internal understanding before they begin to formally learn about antisemitism and the Holocaust.   

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, elementary school can be “an ideal place to begin discussing the value of diversity and the danger of bias and prejudice. These critical themes can be addressed through local and national historical events and can be reinforced during later study of the Holocaust.” 

When moving into books about the Holocaust and antisemitism, it is important that parents do the following:  

  • Think about their own child’s moral development; age, emotional and cognitive capacity.  
  • Pre-read the book to decide if it is appropriate and if it should be read to the child in its entirety or just a portion of it.  
  • Start slowly. 

Here is a list of books that educate children on tolerance, ordered by grade.  

Preschool  

Acts of Kindness 
The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig 
The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates 
Benny’s Mitzvah Notes by Marc Lumer 
I Walk With Vanessa: A Story About A Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet 

Tolerance of Others 
Can I Join Your Club? By John Kelly 
One of These is Not Like the Others by Barney Saltzberg 
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio 
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev 

Have Faith in Resilience 
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires 
Waiting by Kevin Henkes 
Trying by Kobi Yamada 

Right vs. Wrong 
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes by Shelly Becker 
Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie by Laura Rankin 

Kindergarten – First Grade 

Tolerance of Others  
Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung 
The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff 
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi 
The Sneetches: and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss 
The Elephant with A Knot in His Trunk by Nancy Patz 
One by Kathryn Otoshi 
Hey, Little Ant by Phllip Hoose 
The Starkeeper by Faith Pray  

Practicing Patience 
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

Have Faith in Resilience 
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig 
Bonaparte Falls Apart by Margery Cuyler 

Second Grade – Third Grade

* Pre-read and decide if your child is ready to for the book in its entirety or just portions of the book. Start slowly. 

Tolerance of Others  
Across the Alley by Richard Michelson 
The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice With Art by Cynthia Levinson 

Have Faith in Resilience 
The Tattooed Torah by Marvell Ginsburg 

Always Remember 
The Tattered Prayer Book by Ellen Bari 

Upper Elementary 

Tolerance of Others  
Wonder by R.J. Palacio 
The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose 
Martin and Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank by Nancy Churnin 

Have Faith in Resilience 
Hold on to Your Music: The Inspiring True Story of the Children by Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen 
Of Heroes, Hooks and Heirlooms by Faye Silton 

Courage 
Dear Mr. Dickens by Nancy Churnin 
The Rabbi and the Reverand: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight Against Silence by Audrey Ades 
The Queen to the Rescue: The Story of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah by Nancy Churnin 
The Story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Biography Book for New Readers by Susan B. Katz 

Upstanders 
Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero by Megn Hoyt 

Acts of Kindness 
Gift from the Enemy by Trudy Ludwig 

Middle School

*In history and context 

Have Faith in Resilience 
Lisa of Willesden Lane: A True Story of Music and Survival During World War II by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen 
The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman 

Courage 
I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944: The Graphic Novel by Lauren Tarshis 
What Was the Holocaust? by Gail Herman 
White Bird by R.J. Palacio 
The Story of Anne Frank: A Biography Book for New Readers by Susan B. Katz 

Upstanders  
Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sis 
The Brave Princess and Me: Inspired by a True Story by Kathy Kacer 
Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank, and the Hiding Place by Barbara Lowell 

High School

*In history and context 

Courage 
Survivors of the Holocaust Edited by Kath Shackleton 
Hiding To Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued From the Holocaust by Maxine B. Rosenberg 
37 Days at Sea Aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939 by Barbara Krasner 
The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey Young Readers Edition by Louise Borden and Allan Drummond 
Refugee by Alan Gratz 
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion 
Allies by Alan Gratz 
We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Deborah Hopkinson 

Have Faith in Resilience 
Out of Hiding: A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey to America by Ruth Gruener 
Once Series by Morris Gleitzman 

Upstanders 
Irena Series by Jean-David Morvan and Severine Trefouel 

Background on Holocaust Education 

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Students in grades six and above demonstrate the ability to empathize with individual eyewitness accounts and to attempt to understand the complexities of Holocaust history, including scope and scale of the events. While elementary age students are able to empathize with individual accounts, they often have difficulty placing them in larger historical context. 

Such developmental differences have traditionally shaped social studies curricula throughout the country. In most states, students are not introduced to European history and geography—the context of the Holocaust—before middle school. Elementary school can be an ideal place to begin discussing the value of diversity and the danger of bias and prejudice. These critical themes can be addressed through local and national historical events and can be reinforced during later study of the Holocaust.”  

Shulamit Imber is the past Pedagogical Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem. She recommends using The Spiral Age-Appropriate Approach: Together with Respective Historical Discussion. For elementary school students she recommends using “protected dialogue and providing basic historical concepts,” focusing on the relevant topics for moral development.  

In middle school, she recommends “expanding historical knowledge, and the diversity of the topics and voices, exposing the student to the complexity of the story in terms of the fate of the Jews and their coping strategies.”  

For high school students, she recommends “historical study of the complexity of the Holocaust. Deep study of moral dilemmas and identity questions among Jews. Discussion in depth about the behavior of people during the Holocaust and the question: how was it humanly possible?”  


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