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“Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human,” UNESCO 1995 Declaration on Principles of Tolerance

The United Nations declared 1995 to be a Year of Tolerance and created a Declaration of Principles of Tolerance to provide guidance to governing bodies and organizations around the world. Every year since then, the organization that celebrated an International Day of Tolerance in November to remind the world how important tolerance is.

One of the best ways to build respect, acceptance and appreciation for others is to step into their world through stories. Reading about different cultures and life experiences is one of the best ways to help break down intolerances you may not even know you have, as well as increase your knowledge and awareness of intolerances that exists around the world.

When authors write stories based on their own lives, they invite readers to understand very real experiences. Kids can make these connections through middle grade novels by reading about characters their own age. In fact, these kinds of “own voices” books can be a powerful way for caregivers to talk to kids and celebrate diverse families like these ones, compiled by our Mattawa Librarian Tiffany and all found in our library collection.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

In this bestselling story of kindness, friendship and hope, an oak tree helps a neighborhood come together to protect and welcome a new immigrant family. Grade level: 4-6

New From Here by Kelly Yang

This novel about courage, hope and resilience follows an Asian American boy fighting to keep his family together and stand up to racism during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. Grade level 3-7


Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

An award-winning story of a girl, her special needs brother, and the summer they will never forget. Grade level 3-4

Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling

Armed with a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, a 12-year-old girl sets out on a journey across the treacherous Arizona desert to rescue a young pilot stranded after a plane crash in this tale of survival, friendship and rescue. Grade level 3-7

Recipe for Disaster by Aimee Lucido

Hannah’s schemes for throwing her own bat mitzvah unleash family secrets, create rivalries with best friends, and ultimately teach Hannah what being Jewish is all about. Told in a mix of prose, poetry and recipes. Grade level 3-7


The Real Riley Mayes by Rachel Elliot

Queer author Rachel Elliot explores school and family relationships through the lively personality of a young person discovering their gender identity. Grade level 3-7

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