Literature Guides

High quality children's books provide engaging opportunities for discussing, modeling and practicing positive social skills with children. We love using children's literature as an integral part of our Peaceful People lessons, though these books can also be used on their own - as a quick classroom activity, by parents at home with their children, or in other settings. 

Some of our favorite books for teaching and reinforcing Peaceful Skills are listed below. Each Literature Guide contains:

  • A brief synopsis of the story 
  • Pre-reading activities
  • Discussion questions
  • Follow-up activities

Click on the book title for the complete Literature Guide, or scroll down to see why we love these books! 

Please enjoy our FREE Guides to the books connected to our What is Peace? Lesson. PS_logo_Circle.png
For access to our complete library of Literature Guides, please log in or sign up for a membership today!

Title and Author pre-K K-1 2-3 4-6 6-8
Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz PS_logo_Circle.png x x x    
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae x x x x  
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud x x x x  
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow x x      
It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr x x      
Just The Way You Are by Marcus Pfister x x x    
Listen Buddy by Helen Lester x x x    
One by Kathryn Otoshi x x x x x
Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos PS_logo_Circle.png x x x x x
The Peace Book by Todd Parr PS_logo_Circle.png x x x    
The Prince Who Wrote A Letter by Ann Love       x x
Riding The Tiger by Eve Bunting       x x
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting PS_logo_Circle.png       x x
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss     x x  
Sometimes I'm Bombaloo by Rachel Vail x x x    
Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace by Shelley Moore Thomas PS_logo_Circle.png x x x    
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell x x x x  
The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson     x x x
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain x x x    
What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky PS_logo_Circle.png x x x x x
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox x x x    
Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka     x x x


See why we love these books - then c
lick on the book cover or title for the complete Literature Guide! 
Please enjoy our FREE Guides to the books connected to our What is Peace? Lesson. PS_logo_Circle.png
For access to our complete library of Literature Guides, please log in or sign up for a membership today!
   

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Can You Say Peace? PS_logo_Circle.png
by Karen Katz
Grade: pre-K - 2
Topics: Peace, Celebrating Diversity, Community

Why We Love This Book: Peace and peaceful behavior are the foundational concepts of all Peaceful People lessons. By increasing students’ understanding of what peace looks like, sounds like, and feels like, this book can help students visualize peace as a common classroom goal. We love using this book to introduce Peaceful People, to begin conversations about classroom expectations, to reinforce positive social skills, or in conjunction with activities that build classroom community. 


 

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Giraffes Can't Dance
by Giles Andreae
Grade: pre-K - 5
Topics: S.T.A.R. Power, Self-Worth, Celebrating Diversity, Teasing 

Why We Love This Book: You can tell from the illustration on the cover that there is something colorful and magical inside the pages of this book. This charming, rhyming story teaches that we can’t always believe what others may think of us; self-worth comes from believing in ourselves. This book also reminds us how helpful it can be to share some encouraging words with a friend. Students will be delighted as they watch Gerald somersault through the air, and will be inspired to find their own inner song as well. 


 

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Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
by Carol McCloud
Grade: pre-K - 5
Topics: Peace, S.T.A.R., Kindness, Community

Why We Love This Book: This charming story teaches that everybody carries an invisible bucket to hold all their good thoughts and good feelings about themselves. Having a full bucket makes you feel good about yourself, while having an empty bucket leaves you with uncomfortable feelings. Through colorful illustrations and examples, readers learn the difference between choosing to fill a bucket – by doing kind things for others – and choosing to dip a bucket – by acting in a mean or hurtful way. In this way, readers learn the importance of kind actions in their community, and the good feelings fostered by bucket filling.


 

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Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen
by Howard Binkow
Grade: pre-K - 1
Topics: Listening, Communication

Why We Love This Book:  This book's biggest strength is the way it shows the real-life consequences of listening and not listening. We love that the author describes the specific behaviors that show whether Howard is listening or not listening, and that he has the power to change his behavior and become a better listener. Depicting the ways Howard's behavior impacts his community – in school, at home, and with friends – is another great feature of this book. The simple text and the amusing illustrations make this a great choice for pre-school and primary-grade classrooms.


 

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It's Okay to be Different
by Todd Parr
Grade: pre-K - 1
Topic: Celebrating Diversity 

Why We Love This Book: We love that the simple, direct message in this book is made fun by the quirky drawings and examples. By interweaving the serious with the silly, the topic of celebrating diversity is made clear and accessible for young students. Parr’s illustrations depict people and animals of all shapes, sizes, colors, and interests, reinforcing that all people are important and all people are different. We love using many of Parr’s books in our lessons; It’s Okay to Be Different is a natural choice when teaching pre-K and primary-age students to Celebrate Diversity.


 

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Just The Way You Are
by Marcus Pfister
Grade: pre-K - 3
Topics: Celebrating Diversity, Self Worth

Why We Love This Book: A key feature of all Peaceful People lessons is giving students opportunities to practice positive social skills. We love the light-hearted tone of this book and the repetition of the affirmation “I like you just the way you are.” Young students laugh at the illustrations, and love calling out the refrain. The message that each individual can be proud of who s/he is, and has the power to help others appreciate their own special qualities, makes this a great selection for lessons on Self-Worth and Celebrating Diversity in our communities. 


 

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Listen Buddy  
by Helen Lester
Grade: pre-K - 3
Topics: Listening, Communication, Safety

Why We Love This Book: Funny, charming, and delightfully illustrated, this book is an engaging tool for teaching young students the importance of good listening skills. Buddy struggles with listening because his “mind was always wandering.” This provides a great opportunity to reinforce that listening is an active choice for students to make. Despite its silliness, the book shows that listening is important not only for being helpful and respecting parents or teachers, but that listening is also a crucial skill that can help children stay safe.


 

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One
by Kathryn Otoshi
Grade: pre-K - 8
Topics: S.T.A.R., Celebrating Diversity, Upstander, Community

Why We Love This Book: One provides an innovative way to engage young readers in hard-to-discuss subjects such as bullying, diversity and standing up for yourself and others by using something as simple as colors and numbers, along with a few clever puns. One teaches the power of being an Upstander by showing that sometimes it just takes one person to stand up to meanness or bullying behavior to see a change. It is powerful to see that in the end, Red – who used bullying behavior – is not excluded by the others but welcomed and invited to stand tall himself. 


 

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Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace PS_logo_Circle.png
by James Proimos
Grade: pre-K - 8
Topics: Peace, S.T.A.R. Power, Responsibility

Why We Love This Book: This is one of our favorite books for introducing the concept of Peace to students of all ages. Paulie is sweet and earnest in his mission to spread Peace throughout the world, from the way he reads to trees to how he recruits his father to take him on a “World Tour” to spread peace and cupcakes around town. Younger students love making the peaceful “Ahhhhhhh” sound along with the people who receive a cupcake from Paulie. Older students enjoy the word-play and humorous illustrations that accompany Paulie’s journey. The story’s focus on Peace as a feeling and an action makes this a great complement to our lessons about Peace and S.T.A.R. Power for all ages.


 

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The Peace Book PS_logo_Circle.png
by Todd Parr
Grade: pre-K - 2
Topics: Peace, S.T.A.R. Power, Celebrating Diversity

Why We Love This Book: In our minds, Peace is reading a Todd Parr book. We love his ability to make big-person concepts – such as “peace” – seem simple, fun, and accessible for even the littlest of people. We especially love that, in this book, Parr defines peace as a way to act, and suggests peaceful actions that show kindness for yourself (“thinking about someone you love”), for others (“offering a hug to a friend”), and for the world at large (“keeping the streets clean”). This makes The Peace Book a perfect complement to our What is Peace? and S.T.A.R. Power lessons, as well as for discussing peace and peaceful behavior with any pre-K or primary-grade audience.  


 

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The Prince Who Wrote A Letter
by Ann Love
Grade: 4 - 8
Topics: Listening, Communication, Rumors

Why We Love This Book: This is one of our favorite books. Students love the surprise ending, and remember its potent message about the dangers of spreading rumors and making assumptions. The story fits well into lessons on clear communication, rumors, and reflective listening. We use this book to demonstrate the responsibility we all bear as members of a community to stop gossip from spreading, and the power that each person has to prevent misunderstandings from turning into bigger conflicts.  


 

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Riding The Tiger
by Eve Bunting
illustrated by David Frampton
Grade: 4 - 8
Topics: S.T.A.R. Power, Community, Choices 

Why We Love This Book: Through David Frampton’s striking woodcut illustrations, we feel every move the characters make and witness the subtle but dynamic shifts in the tiger’s behavior. The shape of the story leaves room for plenty of discussion about what the tiger represents. Gangs? Drug and alcohol use? Getting into a dangerous situation? A truly engaging picture book for older elementary and middle school students, Riding The Tiger helps illustrate that making quick decisions can be dangerous and that taking the time to Stop and Think can make all the difference. 


 

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Smoky Night PS_logo_Circle.png
by Eve Bunting
Grade: 4 - 8
Topics: Celebrating Diversity, Community, Self Control, Choices

Why We Love This Book: We love that this story is set in a real-life event, yet addresses themes that have timeless appeal. The text is loaded with intensely truthful conversations and observations about violence and community, but from a child’s perspective with an accessible tone. Furthermore, the illustrator weaves everyday objects and vivid paintings into textured collages that make the story more tangible and relevant for students. We love using this book to prompt discussions about ways to live peacefully in communities and celebrate diversity, as well as to show the real-life negative ripples that can be spread by acts of violence.


 

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"The Sneetches" in The Sneetches and Other Stories
by Dr. Seuss
Grade: 2 - 6
Topics: Celebrating Diversity, Community, Choices 

Why We Love This Book: Dr. Seuss was a master of teaching important lessons through zany characters and stories. We love how simply and creatively “The Sneetches” shows the problems caused by judging others solely on outward appearances. The story also illustrates how peer pressure and the desire to fit in can leave people vulnerable to those who would take advantage for financial or social gain. Having kids act out this story provides a safe and silly way for them to experience the feelings associated with prejudice and exclusion. NOTE: The three additional stories in The Sneetches and Other Stories also easily lend themselves to lessons about conflict, diversity, and community.


 

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Sometimes I'm Bombaloo
by Rachel Vail
Grade: pre-K - 3
Topics: Self Control

Why We Love This Book: We love that this book shows a realistic portrayal of what happens when a young girl gives in to her anger and gives away her self-control. Kids can easily relate to the range of emotions that Katie feels, and may be comforted to learn that they are not alone in their struggle to control their actions. Readers are also reassured that, despite Katie’s poor behavior choices, she is supported and loved, and learns to make amends for her hurtful actions. The book’s simple language and colorful illustration – green when Katie is in control, red when she is Bombaloo – make this a perfect complement to our lessons on Self Control.


 

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Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace PS_logo_Circle.png
by Shelley Moore Thomas
Grade: pre-K - 2
Topics: Peace, Celebrating Diversity, Community 

Why We Love This Book: Peace and peaceful behavior are the foundational concepts of all Peaceful People lessons. Peaceful People are defined as people who show responsibility, caring, and self-control. We are each responsible for our own actions; we can choose to be peaceful every day. The words and images in this book present real-life examples of how children can show caring and responsibility through their actions. As an introduction to Peaceful People, this book helps prompt discussions about peace, the importance of our actions, and the simple things we can do each day to be peaceful.


 

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
by Patty Lovell
illustrated by David Catrow
Grade: pre-K - 5
Topics: S.T.A.R. Power, Self-Worth, Celebrating Diversity, Bullying

Why We Love This Book: We love this book because it gives everyone the confidence to stand up and be proud of who they are. Molly Lou teaches us to celebrate our differences and believe in ourselves, even when faced with challenging new circumstances. David Catrow’s adorably cartoonish watercolors magnificently bring the action to life, like when Molly stacks pennies ten high on her teeth. Molly Lou Melon is such a likeable, positive, self-assured character; we think you and your students will fall in love with her just as we have.


 

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The Summer My Father Was Ten 
by Pat Brisson
Grade: 2 - 8
Topics: Self Control, Community, Choices, Responsibility, Celebrating Diversity 

Why We Love This Book: We love this book because it gives a fantastic example of how people make mistakes and learn from them. How, with thought and hard work, the situation can be improved. It sends the message that there is always something positive and peaceful that can be done. This book has realistic watercolor illustrations that define the characters as real people, not cartoons or caricatures. Written in simple and engaging language that will capture the attention of primary and intermediate students, this book is a wonderful tool to teach the foundations for empathy and caring. 


 

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The Way I Feel
by Janan Cain
Grade: pre-K - 3
Topics: Self Control

Why We Love This Book:  We love how this book, in beautiful illustration and simple rhyme, teaches children what their emotions might look like, sound like and – most importantly – feel like inside their bodies. Each poem describes the situation that brought on the child’s feeling, helping the reader understand where feelings can come from. The connection of the named emotion, the language in the poems, and the physical response shown in the illustration lays a strong foundation for children to begin to understand their own feelings and begin to recognize peaceful ways to express them.


 

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What Does Peace Feel Like? PS_logo_Circle.png
by Vladimir Radunsky
Grade: pre-K - 8
Topics: Peace, S.T.A.R.

Why We Love This Book: Defining their own vision of peace helps motivate students to work for peace. We love using this book to help students craft their own vision and understanding of peace. The descriptive snippets from children, along with Radunsky’s evocative illustrations, suggest that peace can mean lots of different things to different people. Readers are encouraged to think beyond a static definition of peace to consider the full realm of peaceful experience, including thoughts and feelings, actions, hopes and dreams. We have been doing our Peace Senses activity (Activity Guide) with students for years; this book wonderfully supplements and enriches that activity, and serves as a great introductory text for other activities and lessons about peace. 


 

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Whoever You Are
by Mem Fox
Grade: pre-K - 3
Topics: Celebrating Diversity, Community 

Why We Love This Book:  We love how simply and beautifully this book conveys the message that, underneath our external differences, we all have the same range of feelings, and this similarity unites each of us with all of humanity. The expansive refrain reminds students that celebrating diversity extends to everyone, that nobody is left out. Moreover, the text suggests that we can add value to our diversity as we grow older and gain new skills, interests, and experiences. This is a great book to reinforce the idea of Celebrating Diversity with young students.


 

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Yo! Yes?
by Chris Raschka
Grade: 2 - 8
Topics: Communication, Listening, Celebrating Diversity, Upstander 

Why We Love This Book: We use this energetic book to teach a variety of topics. With its emphasis on body language and expression, it is a natural pick for teaching the importance of clear communication. The differences between the two characters (different races, outgoing vs. shy, confident vs. insecure, etc.) facilitate discussions about diversity and finding common ground. We also like using this book to illustrate how one person really can make a positive difference by using his/her S.T.A.R. Power and being an Upstander. 


 

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