Peace Jam: How Young People Can Make Peace in Their Schools and Communities, by Darcy Giffords, is a survey of a program of the same name that works with youth to promote nonviolent conflict resolution. Each chapter outlines a problem that youths face, such as racial discrimination or gun violence, then goes on to global challenges faced by the 12 Nobel Laureates featured in the book, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Burmese democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi. 155 pages. $22. Jossey-Bass, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 433-1740, www.josseybass.com.
Building Assets is Elementary: Group Activities for Helping Kids Ages 8-12 Succeed, by the Search Institute, offers exercises for children in grades four through six. Activities focus on situations that might be encountered as the children get older. The exercises include facing curfews, negotiating with parents and valuing neighborhood institutions such as libraries and bookstores. This book, the use of which requires an adult leader, could be a valuable tool for children who are about to enter adolescence. 123 pages. $26.95. Search Institute, 615 First St., NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413. (800) 888-7828, www.search-institute.org.
Dare to Be King: A Survival Workbook for African American Males, by David Miller, is a guide with a vision to help urban black youth avoid becoming predators and prey of violent crime. In a moving introduction, the author writes of a friend who found the key to success in education and was attending college, but was murdered. The book offers important lessons and role-playing activities to help black youth deal with problems such as gun violence and domestic abuse. 237 pages. $74. Hotep Press, 28 Allegheny Ave., Suite 503, Towson, MD 21204. (410) 339-4630, www.urbanyouth.org.
Acts of Achievement: The Role of Performing Arts Centers in Education, by the Dana Foundation, documents the important contribution of arts programs to school curricula. Profiles of performing art center collaborations with school districts in 34 states, along with studies of eight performing art centers, illustrate the programs’ measurable impact. Additional resources on the subject are listed. 64 pages. Free online or by written request. The Dana Foundation, 745 Fifth Ave., Suite 900, New York, NY 10151. (212) 223-4040, www.dana.org.
Global Discovery Activities for the Elementary Grades, by Elizabeth Crosby Stull, is an excellent collection of artistic, culinary and musical activities to get children interested in cultures from around the world. Activities include coloring in Thai elephants, learning about the importance of rice to various Asian cultures, performing Russian dances, and decorating houses for winter holidays of all faiths and ethnicities. This book should be in every K-6 classroom as a tool for tearing down racial, religious, ethnic and national boundaries. 453 pages. $29.95. Jossey-Bass, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 433-1740, www.josseybass.com.
What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated? And More Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other Follies, by Alfie Kohn, critiques the processes of learning and succeeding in academia today. The essays cover a range of radical opinions, including ending the Scholastic Aptitude Test and grading in general, eliminating merit pay, and overhauling approaches to dealing with children’s behavior. As always, Kohn provides a thought-provoking read for any advocate of education reform. 208 pages. $16. Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. (617) 742-2110, www.beacon.org.
Physical Activity for Children: A Statement of Guidelines for Children Ages 5-12, by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, is a study of the importance of physical activity for children. The study explains what must be done to ensure children’s proper physical development, then reviews several models, such as an exercise pyramid similar to the more widely known food pyramid. 19 pages. Free. National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 1900 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. (703) 476-3410, www.aahperd.org.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in Children and Adolescents, edited by Raul Silva, is a guide for clinicians on PTSD issues pertaining specifically to children and adolescents. The 15 essays, pieced together with help from practitioners working exclusively with adolescent traumas, broach an array of issues, including wartime trauma, clinical procedures and differentiating between indicators for children and adults. 371 pages. $22.95. W.W. Norton, 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110. (212) 354-5500, www.wwnorton.com.
Amachi: Mentoring Children of Prisoners in Philadelphia, by Linda Jucovy, is a brief report on a program called “Amachi,” an African word that means, “Who knows what God has brought us through this child?” The Philadelphia-based program – run by Public/Private Ventures, which published the book – recruits volunteers from churches to mentor the children of prisoners and help keep these at-risk kids from going to jail. After an introduction to the frightening statistics that justify the need to provide guidance to these children, the report discusses the structure of the program and the expectations of success. 48 pages. Free. Public/Private Ventures, 2000 Market St., Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215) 557-4400; www.ppv.org.
Prisoners Once Removed, edited by Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul, is a comprehensive look at an issue highlighted this year in the president’s State of the Union address: children of prisoners. Travis and Waul describe the broad issue, and in 11 essays examine the impacts of incarceration and re-entry on the prisoners, on children and families, and on communities. An excellent reference on this burgeoning problem, well-written and amplified by research. 396 pages. $32.50. The Urban Institute Press, 2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20037. (202) 833-7200, www.uipress.org.
Slow Way Home, by Michael Morris, is the touching fictional story of an eight-year-old boy abandoned by his mother and living in the home of his grandparents. Morris takes the reader through the life of Brandon Willard as he deals with the grief of his mom’s desertion and begins to enjoy life with his grandparents. Life gets more complicated when Brandon’s mom returns to town and his grandparents flee the state with him. A well-written novel with a distinct Southern flavor, and an excellent read for teens in kinship care who need to know they are not alone. 280 pages. $22.95. HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022. (212) 207-7000, www.harpercollins.com.
A Voice for Non-Profits, by Jeffrey M. Berry, is a comprehensive examination of the role of nonprofits in the lives of Americans. The book contains a detailed review of the nonprofit tax code and a thorough description of the politicking and interactions with government agencies that nonprofits typically undertake. Berry contends that liberal nonprofits have “outperformed” conservative ones. 210 pages. $26.95. Brookings Institution Press, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036. (202) 797-6000, www.brookings.org.
Please Stop the Rollercoaster, by Sue Blaney, does not pretend that there is a magic formula to end the ceaseless push-pull of raising a teenager. Instead, Blaney presents a guide for parents who want to handle the fragile balance between giving teens the freedom to mature and reining them in enough to keep them safe. 288 pages. $24.95. ChangeWorks Publishing, P.O. Box 3085, Acton, MA 01720. (978) 264-0692, www.pleasestoptherollercoaster.com.
Understanding the No Child Left Behind Act: A Parent’s Handbook, by Channing Bete, sets out to help parents understand what the 2-year-old federal education law means to their children. It provides a basic explanation of accountability standards for schools, school safety and supplemental services available to parents, along with contacts for information more germane to specific school districts. 32 pages. $2.99. Channing Bete, One Community Place, South Deerfield, MA 01373. (800) 828-2827, www.channingbete.com.
The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action, by Cathryn Berger Kaye, is a complete how-to guide for promoting this type of volunteer work among youth. Part 1 describes what service learning is and explains how to start successful service-learning programs. In Part 2, the author offers themes for service-learning programs and ways to build on these choices. An informative book for those interested in creating or overseeing service-learning programs. 227 pages. $29.95. Free Spirit Publishing, 217 Fifth Ave. N., Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401. (800) 735-7323, www.freespirit.com.
Brain Smarts and Fragile: Handle With Care, by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are two activity guides for middle-school-age youth that could be useful and important to children. The books explain the importance of not interfering with cerebral development during the first two decades of life. They also describe the parts of the brain and its endocrinal reactions, as well as the effects of alcohol on the brain. Free. MADD, 511 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Irving, TX 75062. (800) GET-MADD, www.madd.org.
Teen Ink: Written in the Dirt, edited by Stephanie Meyer and John Meyer, presents works from 125 teenage authors. Short fiction pieces, ranging in tone from comedic to harrowing, are interspersed with poetry. “Written in the Dirt,” part of the ongoing Teen Ink collections of youth essays, is a good read for youth as well as for youth workers who want to gain perspective on teen expression. 400 pages. $12.95. Health Communications, 3201 SW 15th St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. (800) 441-5569, www.hcibooks.com.
Watch Out for Jamie Joel, by Mike Dumbleton, tells the simultaneous stories of a new high school principal and one of his most troubled students. Jamie is a girl with the baggage of a person much older, wizened by her mom’s desertion and the cold and violent behavior of her caretaker, Aunt Pat. Craig Elliot is determined to make a difference in Jamie’s life, but finds himself conflicted between handling school issues and messing with family business. A great read for youth workers, who often face similar predicaments about crossing the line between helping and encroaching. 144 pages. $7.95. Independent Publishers Group, 814 Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610. (800) 888-4741, www.ipgbook.com.
The Divorce Helpbook for Teens, by Cynthia MacGregor, is an excellent guide for teenagers whose parents are going though divorce. The introduction suggests the kinds of interactions a teen should have with his or her parents, while the rest of the book explains some of the divorce jargon, such as “custody,” as well as the feelings of awkwardness, anxiety and sadness. Many of the descriptions are illustrated by common scenarios of which teens in this situation should be aware, while others are clear and to the point about what kinds of feelings the youth may experience. To be published in May. 144 pages. $13.95. Impact Publishers, P.O. Box 6016, Atascadero, CA 93423-6016. (800) 246-7228, www.impactpublishers.com.
Shooter, by Walter Dean Myers, is a chilling novel about the involvement of an “outsider” in a school shooting that seems all too real. Appearing as a collection of interview transcripts, police reports, newspaper articles and diary entries, this book exposes the problems faced by many youth who feel alone and turn to the wrong peers to feel important. To be published in May. $15.99. 240 pages. Harper Collins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. (212) 261-6500, www.harperteen.com.
Let’s Get Real draws on the insight and experiences of adolescents to alert kids to the stupidity of bullying and gossip. The variety of children used in the video is its greatest asset. Each has been bullied or taunted for something different, such as race, weight or intelligence. Although the video comes off as a bit dated in its jargon and style, it should still drive home a salient point for kids: The vast majority of bullying comes from an insecurity brought on by the bullying of others, creating a vicious cycle. 35 minutes. $99. New Day Films, 190 Route 17M, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926. (888) 367-9154, www.newday.com.
Jenny’s Reasons is a short drama about an adolescent girl who grows depressed over a six-month period. Problems with her best friend, Tanya, her parents and her boyfriend result in a downward spiral that leaves Jenny thinking about suicide. Leaving a series of clues for her parents and her aunt, she cuts school and goes down by the railway tracks with a bottle of pills. As she is about to pop them all at once, Tanya comes to the rescue and talks about her own brother’s suicide. A good tool to use with kids who are entering those tenuous teenage years, fraught with dramatic physical and mental changes. 20 minutes. The Guidance Channel, 135 Dupont St., P.O. Box 760, Plainview, NY 11803. (800) 999-6884, www.guidancechannel.com.
Behind the Wheel covers a well-known problem that leaves 6,300 15- to 23-year-olds dead on the road each year. The video flows like a long news feature, balancing youths and parents offering different perspectives on teen driving. Street-racing teens proclaim their willingness to die for the adrenaline that comes with a good drag, while a paraplegic teen laments the irresponsibility of her decisions. For parents who fear that the situation is beyond their ability to manage it, the video wraps up with information on a new system that can help parents track their children as they drive. 30 minutes. $49.95. Active Parenting Publishers, 1955 Vaughn Rd., NW, Suite 108, Kennesaw, GA 30144. (800) 825-0060, www.activeparenting.com.
Not Like Me looks at the racist and prejudiced messages that are passed on from some parents to youth across America, at a time when more young people than ever are choosing to ignore such rubbish. The video does well to incorporate all sides of the stories, not just the easily anticipated white hatred of minorities. A young Mexican teen and a young black girl discuss their families’ disapproval of dating outside the race; both choose to ignore those wishes. “Not Like Me” does an excellent job of balancing the frustration of racism and discrimination with an upbeat tone that should give teens confidence in a more diverse and colorblind future. 24 minutes. $69.95. Active Parenting Publishers, 810 Franklin Court, Suite B, Marietta, GA 30067. (800) 825-0060, www.activeparenting.com.
Just One More is a weak effort at warning teens about the perils of drinking and driving. It begins with a high school track star, nervous about her performance at the big regional finals. Strange, then, that she would head straight to the keg after a grueling workout, just days before the race. Kim pays the price, crashing her car and ending her track career. But wait! In the end, it’s all a daydream, and Kim returns home safely. Keeping score, she has now made it home drunk, in the dead of night, while being distracted by a vision of the future that only a sober person could have. A questionable plot line, coupled with some pretty horrible acting, makes “Just One More” a likely source of ridicule among teen viewers. Facilitator’s guide included. 20 minutes. $129.95. AIMS Multimedia, 9710 DeSoto Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311. (800) 367-2467, www.aimsmultimedia.com.
Alcohol and Sex: Prescription for Poor Decision-Making captures the clash of evils that often occur when youth make decisions about sex while under the influence of alcohol. The essence of the message is epitomized in a story the video repeatedly returns to: A college student recounts a drunken hookup with a freshman girl, who he says took him up to her room for some shots of tequila and, eventually, sex. Meanwhile, the girl tells the story with one noteworthy difference: that she passed out and was raped. The issue is not so much who is correct. The female feels violated and is fearful of being a social outcast, and the male fears the stigma of a potential rape charge. Both are worse off for the decisions they made, a point the filmmakers convey well through anecdote and professional input. Facilitator’s guide included. 22 minutes. $139.95. Human Relations Media, 41 Kensico Drive, Mount Kisco, NY 10549. (800) 431-2050, www.hrmvideo.com
Facts on Drugs and Facts on Alcohol are two disks designed to provide viewers with basic information on a number of illicit substances and alcohol. “Drugs” profiles such narcotics as PCP, heroin and marijuana, identifying their short- and long-term effects, common street names and chemical origins. “Alcohol” delves more deeply into consumption, emotional effects and avenues for treatment of addiction, paying particular attention to teenage alcohol use. The disks are honest in their assessments, offering valuable information on substances that are commonly referred to only as “illegal” and “harmful” – vague castigations that sometimes entice youth rather than deter them. $89.95. Cambridge Educational, 2572 Brunswick Ave., Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. (800) 468-4227, www.cambridgeeducational.com.
In the March issue, purchase and contact information for “Grounded in the Word,” by Eugene Williams Sr., and Eugene Williams Jr., was incorrect. The book is available for $15.95 at www.groundedintheword.org.