Reach and Teach for Green America People's Choice Award

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We want to thank our many friends and supporters who nominated us for the Green America People's Choice Award for 2011.

THIS IS REALLY COOL! Thanks to you we are now one of the top ten finalists for this prestigious award. So we can now use the help of everyone to vote for us among the other wonderful finalists who are also trying to make the world a better place. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VOTE or visit!

So why should you vote for us?

If you want some reasons...

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Children as Combatants: A Review of Abe in Arms

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Abe in ArmsThe Pirate Tree, a blog dedicated to covering "Social Justice and Children's Literature" recently had a review of Abe in Arms (our first YA novel) and we wanted to share that with you. The post author, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, is the author of a book we love called Grongolandia. Check out the review of Abe and some of Lyn's other posts and get to know The Pirate Tree, a very cool space to find out about books deserving of your (and more) attention!

Click here to read the review.

Human Trafficking - Not a Far Away Problem

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Modern TraffickingModern-day slavery is not a topic often touched on in pleasant company, on friendly web sites, or in literature for young people. Yet if you walk down the streets of many towns, you may just walk past someone who is a modern-day slave. When you put on a shirt, walk across a carpet, or get your hair styled, the person who made that shirt, wove that carpet, or is cutting your hair may be a modern day slave. Reach And Teach's Drew Durham recently attended a presentation in San Jose where he learned about human trafficking, and the tiny yet critical local police effort to do something about it. Read more to check out his report, plus recommendations for resources you can use to learn more about this issue and take action.
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Being the Parent of a Pretty Special Kid

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My BabyBeing the parent of a special needs child has its challenges. The other day while we were tabling at the Northern California Home Schooling Conference there was a lull in the exhibit hall and I kicked back to do a little reading. The parents that share in My Baby Rides the Short Bus are amazing people, as are their children. This book, though, is less about how amazing they are but also how ordinary they are. They get cranky! They hurt. They are not paragons of virtue. The stories I read during the lull were incredible, moving, funny, sad, poignant. After the event, someone sent me a note about something that had just happened to her and her daughter. While the story is too late to fit into My Baby Rides the Short Bus, I thought I would share it with our readers. The names have been changed but the story is true.

The Mission Trip - Where Did You See God?

I spent this past week accompanying Janet on her mission trip with the youth group from our church. There were a total of 15 kids, ranging from 11-16 (Janet is 13). I was not planning to go on this trip, but circumstances shifted at the last minute and I ended up being the one who was available. The trip itself was grueling--long hours, working at service organizations and going to various neighborhoods and talking with folks living on the street, sharing a meal, etc. The kids were given repeated opportunities to introduce themselves to individuals living on the street and have conversations with them. I dreaded the trip for many reasons, most of all my suspicion that, though Janet had been a part of the youth group for the past year, she had been so mostly on the periphery--not really integrated into the group. My suspicions were immediately confirmed, and every day on this trip was more difficult than the one before. I watched as all the other kids interacted with each other and ignored Janet. When she would engage them, their response was quick and gave the sense that they were bothered and merely tolerating this "nuisance" named Janet. It was the most painful thing I've ever endured--more difficult than handing her over to surgeons at four months old to operate on her little heart; more difficult than anything.

At first Janet hung pretty close to me, carefully observing the other kids, especially three girls close to her age who were in beds next to hers and who were always together. Our second night there, as we waited together to take a shower, Janet watched intently as these three talked among themselves about the items in their shower bags, shared their lotion and lip gloss, etc. Though Janet was sitting right there with them, they never once included her in any way whatsoever. Janet just watched, never taking her eyes off them. As the week went on, Janet more intentionally inserted herself into the group, asking questions here and there, making comments here and there, and even going into rooms where kids were and trying to figure out how she could engage with them. Over and over, the various kids interacted with each other, over and over there were opportunities to include Janet--inviting her on a walk to the park, including her in a conversation, sharing a piece of candy with her--and over and over again, they chose to make no effort to include her. Any interaction Janet had with any of the kids continued to be only at her own initiation, and was always met with a sense that the kids were deeply bothered at having to answer her questions. One girl even walked out of the room while Janet was talking to her. I tried to talk to Janet here and there, checking in with her to see how she was feeling, mentioning that I thought they were being unkind. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how to get us the hell out of this situation, crying myself to sleep every night, thinking about how she must have felt.

On the last night, the kids were expected to discuss their week with the full group (all 15 kids), with a facilitator from the host organization. They were asked questions like, "Where have you seen God?", "What bothered you the most this past week?", "What do you want to remember from the week?", "How have you been changed?" Janet raised her hand and answered here and there, saying how badly she felt for the homeless, how they broke her heart, how she wanted them to have a house, a car, children . . . Then, Janet raised her hand and answered a question by saying she felt homeless. "You all laugh and play with each other and no one will talk to me and I feel homeless and alone." She proceeded to call the other kids by name, especially the three who had been particularly cruel in the way they blatantly ignored her, and told them she wanted them to talk to her. Then another question was asked of the group, and Janet raised her hand again. "What I mean to say is, I want you [naming names again] to talk to me. I want you to promise to talk to me tomorrow . . ." The youth group leader said, "I think we've seen God in this room tonight."

After this very long meeting, Janet was excited--acted as if a huge burden was lifted. One girl (the kindest one of the group) came up to her later and said, "I loved what you said. It was awesome." Janet became more animated in her interactions with them and they slowly responded with a little more attention. Then she befriended two girls from another youth group who were sharing the room with us--they sang some songs together (because the other girl started singing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, and Janet had to comment on that). Janet was invited to join her new friends on their bunks. There was an amazing new energy around Janet, as if the "rules" had suddenly been turned upside down. Today when Janet left the group a little early for an appointment, the entire group ran over to say goodbye to her (after she yelled to them, "Bye guys!"). The girl who told her she liked what she said the night before even got into the car to say goodbye to Janet and tell her she loved her.

I tried to tell myself all week that we needed to stick it out, that the trip wasn't about Janet bonding with the other kids, but that it was about the service we were there to do and what we were there to learn. Who knew that Janet would be the most profound and insightful teacher of all.


Ivy Homeless in San Francisco

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Ivy Homeless in San Francisco is an award-winning children's book published by Reach And Teach in 2011. We are now in the planning phase of a new web site called Project Ivy where children and teachers around the country can learn about the issue of homelessness from Ivy (as voiced by author Summer Brenner), get resources about homelessness, and find ways to take action. Plus, in July 2013 we'll release a comprehensive language arts study guide for teachers to use with the book in the classroom.

Below you will find an introduction to the book, information about the awards it has won so far, and resources for learning about and taking action on homelessness.

If you have resources you want to share, ideas for activities, or questions about the book or homelessness, please click here to contact us!

About the Book:

In this empathetic tale of hope, understanding, and the importance of family, readers face the difficult issue of poverty and the many hardships of being homeless through an inspiring young heroine named Ivy. Ivy is the story of a young girl who finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father, Poppy, are evicted from his artist loft.

Struggling to survive day to day, Ivy and Poppy befriend a dog who takes them to the ramshackle home of quirky siblings Eugenia and Oscar Orr, marking the start of some amazing adventures. Blending a spoonful of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with a dash of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and a few pinches of the Adventures of Lassie, Ivy's tale will appeal to young readers as well as give adults material to discuss with children.


The book has garnered a Moonbeam Book Awards Bronze Medal and the Children's Literary Classics Silver Book Award. The Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to celebrate children's books and life-long reading. Each year's entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages. Award recipients receive gold, silver and bronze medals and stickers depicting a mother and child reading and silhouetted by a full moon.

This year's awards attracted over 800 entries from throughout North America and the English-speaking world. Medals will go to a diverse group of authors, illustrators and publishers from 34 U.S. states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 2 countries overseas.

Many of Moonbeam's award-winning books encourage children to be generous and compassionate, to stand up to bullies, and to believe in fulfilling their dreams. The diversity of the winning publishers proves that promoting childhood literacy knows no boundaries, as medal-winners came not only from long-established publishers and university presses, but from small presses, foundations, and self-published entrepreneurs.

"This year's Moonbeam award winners confirm that books can change children's lives," says Moonbeam Awards founder Jerrold Jenkins, father of four children ranging in ages 8 to 18. "They've already had a big impact on the judges and the kids that read them, so we know these books were created to enrich childrens' lives. The Moonbeams are all about rewarding these books and bringing them to the attention of parents, booksellers, librarians - and to the kids themselves."

Ivy won the 2011 Children's Literary Classics (CLC) Silver Book Award for Pre-Teen Fiction.

CLC, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic children's literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations. Judging is based upon the criteria set forth by Literary Classics' highly selective awards committee which honors books promoting character, vision, creativity and learning, through content which possesses the key elements found in well-crafted literature.

The Literary Classics judging committee is comprised of experts with backgrounds in publishing, writing, editing, design, illustration, and book reviewing.

Fiction but Not Fiction:

One out of 45 children in the United States will go to sleep without a home of his or her own this year.  That represents nearly 1.6 million children. These are NOT the faces people think of when they hear the word "homeless."

Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco (a novel for ages 8 and up published by Reach And Teach in June 2011) may be a fictional story, but Ivy's difficulties represent the real tragedy faced by too many people each night and day in America. If Ivy were a real girl, she'd want you to learn about homelessness, its root causes, the effects being homeless can have on people, ways in which YOU can help people that are homeless, and ways that we can all work together to reduce homelessness in our country. 

As we release this incredible novel in June 2011, we're building this portal that will provide comprehensive information about homelessness, tools for learning and discussion, and concrete ways people can make a difference. We'll explain a bit about each section in Ivy's voice.

Ivy: I wish people could understand what it's like for a kid like me, having to wake up in the morning on the street, in a shelter, or on some kind person's floor, and having to go to school with all these other kids who have homes. I don't want them to know what's going on with me, but when they and the teachers don't know, they expect things from me that are impossible. It is so frustrating. That's why I was so excited to hear about this segment on 60 Minutes about children in Florida. Why don't you watch that now?


Ivy Says: One of my friends at the shelter, Clarisse, says that what hurts her the most is when people on the street won't even look at her. It's like she's invisible, not real, just a whisp of air that maybe doesn't smell too good.

Many people feel helpless when they encounter homeless individuals and families, wondering if there is truly anything they can do to make a real impact. The Reach And Teach team has been feeding homeless people for ten years through a program run by the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto / Innvision. We've learned a lot by spending a great deal of time talking to and working with our guests at the meal, who we also get to know on the streets. Ivy is absolutely right about her fictional friend Clarisse. One of the things that hurts people the most is when you turn away from them, ignore them, or pretend they're not there. You may not know what the right thing is to do to HELP a homeless person, but you can look at that person, acknowledge his or her humanity, and say a kind word. Beyond that, there are lots of organizations that have clear ideas of concrete ways to make a difference. In fact, that's one of the top ten things Diana Adams at suggests (click here). 

Through our web site we will compile a list of organizations across the country with which you can get involved either as a volunteer, through donations, or by helping get local and national legislation passed. We'll also offer some very practical tips for what to do when you do encounter homelessness in your community. Tip one. Look at the person and smile!

Wondering if a smile matters? Watch this video trailer of a project that Josh Hayes is working on (you can donate to the project by clicking here).

Five Things You Can Do About Homelessness

Ivy says: There's this guy named Craig Kielburger who was only 12 years old when he started Free the Children, an organization that helps children all over the world. He gave a speech to raise money for freeing children from slavery and said "Being 12 is no excuse for not doing something." You're never too young or too old to make a difference.So maybe you read my story and are wondering what you can do about homelessness, especially homeless kids. Here are five things you can do right now!

  • Ask a parent or teacher or other adult to help you identify a homeless shelter or food program in your community that serves children. Once you know where it is, contact the people running it to see if you can volunteer or if they have other needs. Let them tell you what they need and then you can decide how you can help. They may need food, toys, clothes, money, or volunteer time.
  • Talk to a parent about how to respond when you see someone on the street who you think may be homeless. Many people look away and ignore homeless people. A smile or kind word can mean the world to someone!
  • Contact your local government (city, community, County, Parish) and ask if they have a resource card or list for homeless people. Many communities have special cards or one page flyers with lists of shelters, food programs, and other services. Giving a copy of that to someone who is homeless can help that person get immediate help.
  • Ask your teacher or principal if there's a program where you could help tutor a homeless child. There may be homeless children in your school or a nearby school. Pick your best subject and offer to help!
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the issue of homeless children. Let the people in your community know how you feel about the fact that so many children are homeless!

My Schoolmate is Hungry

Ivy Says: My friend Charlie and his mom just got into a transitional housing program. That means they have a place to stay and lots of support to help them so that they can eventually take good care of themselves. One of the biggest helps is that they get to go to a food pantry once a week and load up on nutritious food. Charlie says there are lots of food pantries out there and I asked him how other kids could find one. He told me about the amazing web site,, where they have a list of places you can get food and all you have to know is your zip code to find one! 

  • Visit the food pantry finder (click here)

For more ideas and to connect with organizations working to bring an end to childhood homelessness, visit the organizations below.

Organizations to Visit on the Web:

One easy way to help people is to know what resources are available in your area. Many communities are instituting a "211" system, a phone number you can call 24 hours a day to find out what resources are available. Find out if you have a 211 in your area by just dialing 211 on your phone. 

AND, through Project Ivy, we're beginning to create maps that show where folks can find shelter, hot meals, bag lunches, groceries and other services. Here's an example map from Project Ivy.


Ivy Says: My name is Ivy, not "kid" or "hey you" or "waif" (ugh.. I hate that word). I LOVE poetry and music, especially Eugenia Orr's opera songs, and there's this one organization called Give Us Your Poor and they created this great video of poetry and music and images about homelessness you should really watch.

Ivy Says: Can you imagine what it feels like to be in a classroom full of kids who have NO idea what I'm going through? When someone invites me to her house, I say I can't go because I don't want to have to explain why I can't invite her to MY house the next time. When the teacher gives us something to take home, like a project board, and says "make sure you keep this in a safe dry place," what am I supposed to do? Golden Gate Park is NOT safe OR dry! The other day the teacher read a book about some kids who had two mommies so that we would understand that there were all kinds of different families. I wish he would read a story about a kid like me, who has NO mommy and no home. Poppy and me are a family too, but I don't think the kids would understand us without a little help. 

Can you imagine a school where almost all the kids are homeless? CBS News recently reported about one school like that, in Las Vegas.

Lesson Plans to Teach Kids about Homelessness

Minnesota Coalition on Homelessness Lesson Plans

The curriculum is segmented into grades kindergarten to third, fourth to sixth, and seventh to ninth. Download the lesson plans appropriate for your students. The Coalition grants unlimited use to the curriculum when it is used for educational purposes.

K-3 Lesson Plans4 - 6 Lesson Plans7 - 9 Lesson Plans
K-3 Lesson Plan 1
K-3 Lesson Plan 2
K-3 Lesson Plan 3
K-3 Lesson Plan 4
K-3 Lesson Plan 5
4-6 Lesson Plan 1
4-6 Lesson Plan 2
4-6 Lesson Plan 3
4-6 Lesson Plan 4
4-6 Lesson Plan 5
4-6 Lesson Plan 6
7-9 Lesson Plan 1
7-9 Lesson Plan 2
7-9 Lesson Plan 3
7-9 Lesson Plan 5
7-9 Lesson Plan 6
7-9 Lesson Plan 7
7-9 Lesson Plan 8
7-9 Lesson Plan 9


Data about Homelessness in the United States:

ReportIvy Says: I can't believe how ignorant people are about homelessness. They think you have to be some old guy with stubble on your chin, drugged out, or crazy to be homeless. Sure, there are some people like that at the shelter where we sometimes get breakfast, but most of the people are NOTHING like that. Look at Poppy! He's NEVER used drugs and he's anything but crazy. OK, sometimes he drives me crazy. When Poppy and I were cleaning up Tosca, the incredible house we got to stay in for a while, I found this Washington Post newspaper story about the top five myths about homelessness. The Orr's never threw ANYTHING away until Poppy and I came along and helped them get things cleaned up. Well, anyway, that newspaper sure had it right! 

Click here to read the Washington Post story about the top five myths about homelessness. 

One of the most significant reports to come out in recent years is called America's Youngest Outcasts by the National Center on Family Homelessness, The report presents the clearest snapshot yet of the 1.5 million children who are homeless each year-where they live and the consequences of their precarious situations. The report documents the extent of child homelessness, child well-being, risk for child homelessness and policy and planning efforts for each state. Recommendations for state and federal action are also included.

Click here to access the report plus lots of other material.

Other Data About Homelessness:

Ivy Says: Here's something I bet you didn't know! A lot of the times when we went for breakfast at the shelter there'd be one table full of guys who had all fought in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan... you know, veterans. Lots of the people who are out on the streets used to be soldiers. Poppy says that it's really sad that people who did so much for our country, risking their lives, could be forgotten by the very people they were trying to protect. Poppy never fought in a war. He's more of an artist than a fighter. Funny, artists and soldiers and little children... not who you'd expect to be homeless.

The Veterans Administration has an ambitious plan in place to end veteran homelessness in ten years but at the moment, many of the men and women on the streets of every-town USA are vets. Here are some resources where you can learn more about and do something about our homeless veterans.

Kids Can Make A DifferenceIvy Says: If you're reading this and you're a kid, and you're wondering if a kid can make a difference in the world, believe me the answer is YES! A lot of people are homeless because of poverty and a lot of poor people are really hungry. You can do a lot, from helping out at a soup kitchen to tutoring homeless children after school to making your own YouTube about homeless people in your neighborhood. Remember I was talking about how hard it was to be a homeless kid in school? Well, here's something you can do! Tell your teacher to get a copy of "Kids Can Make a Difference: Finding Solutions to Hunger."

You can also visit the organization that created that book where you'll find more resources, inspirational stories, and great quarterly newsletters. Click here to visit the Kids Can Make A Difference web site. 

Need more proof that kids can change the world? Click here to visit Free the Children and click here to visit Me To We!

Reach And Teach and Ivy Need You!

Please click here to contact us if you'd like to do any of the following:

  • Write or share a lesson plan about homelessness
  • Provide a link to data on homelessness
  • Tell us about an organization working on homelessness in America
  • Help spread the word about Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco
  • Order classroom sets of Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco at a special teacher discount

Order the Book Now

And finally, if you want to do something to truly help get Ivy's story out there, click here to order copies of Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco right now.

Words Have Consequences - Civil Discourse in the Classroom and Society

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At this point, no one knows the motives behind the recent tragedy in Arizona. The shooting spree has sparked a lot of conversations about the level of discourse in our country, the heated rhetoric, the language used in defining those with whom we disagree. These conversations provide us all with an opportunity to examine the way we communicate with each other and society about issues we care deeply about.

Our friends at Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, have a wonderful kit you can download to teach about civil discourse in the classroom and the contents can be easily applied to other environments as well. Click here to visit the main page for the curriculum. 

We're HUGE supporters of The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program, which provides materials like these and comprehensive learning kits to teachers free of charge. If you love their work too, click here to make a donation to support them.

Faithful Reform in Health Care just put out this newsletter (below) with resources they recommend for civil discourse in faith communities.

Civil discourse and dialogue resources for faith communities

The work of the Faithful Reform in Health Care coalition has always elevated the need for listening to one another and finding value in each other's perspectives on an issue as difficult as health care reform.  We fully understand the need to build consensus for the common good and know that the work we do on health care reform will contribute to how we relate to one another on other social issues.

As political tensions remain high, we affirm that one of the greatest gifts that people of faith can offer to the health care justice movement is the ability to create space for dialogue and civil discourse.  Because of our willingness to talk in the midst of our rich diversity, we are uniquely positioned to help move our national focus from debate about what is politically prudent or economically feasible to dialogue which embraces compassion and justice and the common good.

Below you will find resources to help your community of faith on this journey.  Please send an email to Faithful Reform with other resources that you have found to be helpful.

Faith resources for civil discourse about health care reform

Faithful Reform in Health Care:  The Heart in Health Care Reform - Resources to help people of faith movebeyond cable news caricatures of health care reform to intentional reflection and conversation about reform based on the faith-inspired values that give meaning to the lives we share together.     

Discussion Guide Preview:  Let's Talk about "The Heart in Health Care Reform"

Order Discussion Guide - $10 (free for 2010 and 2011 donors)

Vision and Voice:  Vision and Voice: Communities of Faith Raising Vision and Voice - Curriculum developed collaboratively by the Bon Secours Health System, St. Joseph Health System, and Faithful Reform in Health Care  (The content is perhaps a little dated because it was produced prior to the 2008 elections, but the activities to help facilitate dialogue are still very relevant.)

St. Joseph Health System (Orange, CA): Our Healthcare Future: The Dialogue – A field-tested process and materials to engage the general public in a dialogue about our health care future

Faith resources for general civil discourse

California Council of Churches:  Building Bridges of Understanding – An Interfaith Response to September 11 - A congregational study guide that has been distributed to over 20,000 congregations world-wide to help participants understand neighbors of different faiths (Though specific in content this resource offers helpful insights about leading sessions on potentially divisive topics.)

East Jefferson Interfaith Clergy Association in New Orleans, LA: Faith Statement on Civility in Public Discourse – A statement which calls for a return to respect and reasonable, issue-focused disagreement without distortion or misrepresentation. 

Maine Council of Churches: Covenant for Civil Discourse – A call to civil discourse, asking lawmakers and congregations to commit to civil discourse to make democracy work in order to build "a society of justice, compassion, and peace..."

NETWORK:  A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby: Civility and the Common Good from Connections Magazine Jan. '10 – An article by former Republican Representative Jim Leach in which he addressed the increasingly rancorous discourse on Capitol Hill and throughout the country. and says “Civilization requires civility. Words matter.”

North Carolina Council of Churches:  With All Due Respect – A policy statement urging politicians, churches, church members, citizens, and the media to create an environment in which differing views are respected and the democratic process can work; alsoGood Government - A statement that affirms the faith community's role in the governing process.

Unitarian Universalist Association:  Building the World We Dream About – A curriculum which is focused on communication across racial boundaries, but offer offers broader insights about how to have respectful civil dialogue.

Additional resources suggested by Faithful Reform partners:

The Kettering Foundation:  Democracy's Challenge - Reclaiming the Public's Role and numerous other resources that help define what it will take to "make democracy work as it should."

Johns Hopkins Civility Project: Choosing Civility, by P.M. Forni, Cofounder of Johns Hopkins Civility Project – A description of twenty-five rules of civility, with civility placed within the framework of ethics.

Verbal Judo, by George Thompson

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense; More on The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense; The Last Word on The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense -- all by Suzette Haden Elgin.

A Prayer for These Dayscandles

Because the shooting of Representative Giffords seems to be painted with undertones of her vote on health care reform, among other things, a prayer by people of faith who are committed to health care justice seems appropriate at this time.

We offered this prayer for the national moment of silence on Monday and continue to pray with these words:

In the sacred bonds of our common humanity, we give thanks for the life that we share and for our calling to care for each other.  In this time of national tragedy, grief, and uncertainty, we remember the victims of this senseless act of violence.  For those who were greeted by death, we pray for the benediction of holy light and peace.  And for those who struggle to recover from injuries, we pray for the blessing of healing. May those who hold all of these persons dear feel the compassionate embrace of their national family.

We pray also for ourselves, knowing that our most deeply held commitments to the common good and our concern for our sisters and brothers are being smothered by our inability to live together in peace. So we ask for forgiveness, that we may rediscover the ties that bind us together and give us strength for the journeys of our days. May the darkness and pain of these moments be transformed into a dawn that invites us into new relationships in which we not only give voice to our own ideals and passions, but deeply listen to one another and respect the gifts and viewpoints of others. 

In all things, may we be instruments of reconciliation and compassion. 


If you know of other curriculum Reach And Teach should be promoting on this topic, please click here to email us.

We continue to hold the victims of the shooting in our thoughts and prayers. We pray for the survivors to recover fully, their families and loved ones to feel the tremendous outpouring of love and support surrounding them, and we grieve the loss of those who died in this senseless act of violence. 

Reach And Teach a Lefty Press?

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Sometimes the SpoonWhen you publish something you send copies to all kids of places hoping to get a few reviews, especially hoping for a few GOOD reviews. On Tuesday December 7th, The Horn Book did a review of Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon.

What we at Reach And Teach loved most about the review was the way it started. "Lefty press Reach And Teach has published..." 

YES! They called us a Lefty Press! We love it. 

Click here to read the review.

Click here to buy the book.

Gifts That Transform the World - Our Recommendations for the Holidays

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While visiting a tent school in Afghanistan one of the most important lessons we learned was about the value of gifts. Something as simple as a pen could be one of the most cherished things in a child's life. Having a pen meant a lot more than just having some new thing - it could transform the life of the child who held it and the lives of his or her family and community. 

We also learned that one of the most precious gifts we could give was the gift of time and attention. Simply being there for someone, truly listening, giving 100% attention to that person and moment can mean more than the hottest toy of the year, the biggest big screen, or the shiniest diamond.  

As we enter the holiday season, with Eid, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanza, we know that our partners in peacemaking, our customers and friends, are looking for ways to express their love and friendship that also help to build a better world. With that in mind, we've put together a list of gifts we'd like to recommend you consider. We believe in these products, the outcomes they promise, and the way they are produced. And we also believe that by making recommendations like these we may be helping to save you some time, time which you can then spend being with and paying attention to the important people in your life.

To help you quickly find what you might be looking for, we're dividing our holiday recommendations by age groups and interests. And of course, you can always send someone you love a Gift Certificate! Click here to buy one or many.

New Standard Flat-Rate Shipping Option: To help simplify our online orders and save you some money on shipping, we've added a shipping option called "Standard Shipping." It is a fixed price no matter how much you order (United States orders only). Please allow up to five business days for delivery if you choose this option (though we'll try to get things there faster). 

Quick Jump Links


And... click here for news about our store in San Mateo and click here to learn how you can get $25 worth of products FREE on Saturday November 27th!

Infants and Toddlers (and their Parents)

Kit Kit Rattle

Kit Kit Rattle:  A wonderful company called Maya Organics makes these beautiful and fun rattles from sustainably harvested rubberwood, with the pretty colors made from various spices. Non-toxic, fair-trade, and great for tiny hands and mouths, these rattles make the perfect baby gifts. 

Tug BoatGreen Toys Tug Boat:  Another Reach And Teach favorite toy is this amazing tug boat. It floats, it fills, it spills, it is sturdy and little ones absolutely LOVE IT. It is made from recycled milk jugs right here in the Bay Area of California! Why milk jugs? In addition to being able to take something from the curbside recycling bin and turning it into a long-lasting toy, they contain no traceable amounts of Phthalates or BPA. They are also designed without any external coatings, eliminating the fear of lead paint.

Click here to check out all of our Green Toys selections, including the best-selling Recycling Truck and Fire Truck!

DreamlandDreamland: We recommend this music CD to all new parents and anyone who wants to give a gift to new parents. Lullabies from all over the world enchant the listener, young and old alike. Parents have told us that their children listen to these songs every night and often ask for the CD to be played in the car during trips. We play this CD in our shop all the time.

Click here to check out all of our music CDs recommended for children (and the adults who love them and don't want to go nuts listening to something that... well... drives the adults nuts).

The World Needs Your KidThe World Needs Your Kid: Parents have been telling us that they need a 21st Century guide to raising children and our friends at Free the Children and Me to We came up with the answer. The World Needs Your Kid is simply amazing. This is a book I would give to brand new parents as well as parents of children of all ages. With chapters focused on compassion, empathy, responsibility, sharing your gifts, finding your passion, putting your gifts plus your passion together to change the world, hearts on fire, curing the "gimmes," redefining success, never saying never, your heroe's journey, friends in deed, being the change, learning through service, seeing is believing, and thinking outside the box, this book provides parents and children with a roadmap for a wonderful journey, towards building a wonderful self and a better world.

Click here to see all baby toys and gifts.

How do these gifts transform the world?

The wooden toys we sell are made from rubberwood trees that in the past would have been burned after their sap ran out. Instead of polluting the environment, these trees now help to create beautiful toys that will last for many years and can be passed from generation to generation. Plus, the people who manufacture the toys are paid fairly and work in decent conditions. The Green Toys are made from recycled plastic which would typically get shipped overseas to be turned into other products. Instead, it stays right here in the USA and turned into incredibly rugged and fun toys, made in America by people who are paid a good wage and work in great conditions. Many of our music CDs come from Putumayo Records, one of the nicest publishers in the world, dedicated to cross-cultural understanding, building bridges of peace through music. Beyond the beautiful music, Putumayo is always first in line to help people, organizations and entire countries. We've partnered with them to help in Haiti, Indonesia, and New Orleans when disaster has struck, giving 100% of our mutual proceeds to disaster relief. And a portion of the profits from most titles in the Putuayo portfolio go to organizations helping to make the world a better place. 

Three and All the Way Up - Activities and Projects to Do Together!

One of the best gifts you can give someone is time that you'll spend together doing something fun. We have SO many great resources filled with projects and activities you can do with children as young as three, five, ten, twelve, sixteen and fifty-two! Give this plus a card that says "Dear Loved One - For the next year let's pick one activity/project a week that we can do together!"

Good Earth ArtGood Earth Art - Over 200 Practical, Easy, and Open-ended Art Experiences Utilizing Recycled and Natural Materials

Young Gardener - What's more fun for a child than playing in the dirt? Turning that activity into gardening, says author/illustrator team Stefan and Beverley Buczacki. In Young Gardener, the Buczackis take a green, organic, environmentally friendly approach to an activity they show can be enjoyed year-round.

A Kid's Guide to Native American History - Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.

Eco-Fun - David Suzuki has put together an incredible book loaded wtih great projects, experiments, and games for a greener earth. Kids will discover their connection with nature and have fun by doing these amazing science-based activities. They can build a solar panel, make recycled paper, build a worm composter and create a forest ecosystem in a jar.

World Myths and Legends - We're absolutely convinced that when children learn about other cultures, through stories - and in this case - myths, they learn to treasure our differences while also recognizing the many ways in which we are the same. The stories are incredible, the activities are fun, and the entire package is engaging and stunning. This book is great.

Doable Renewables - This book bumps things up a few notches on the science scale so we recommend this for children and adults who have an inner-geek just screaming to find something fun and amazing to do. (RT Co-founder Derrick LOVES these activities!). Kids will learn valuable hands-on lessons from this guide by constructing working models that generate renewable, alternative energy. Budding scientists learn how to build their own Kelvin water-drop generator out of six recycled cans and alligator-clip jumpers; a solar-powered seesaw from a large dial thermometer and a magnifying glass; and a windmill from eight yardsticks, PVC pipe, cardboard, and a converter generator. Children will investigate the energy-generating properties of a solar cell, a radiometer, a Nitinol heat engine, and a Peltier cell-there are even plans to build a human-powered desk lamp. Each project includes a materials and tools list as well as online information on where to find specialized components.

Click here to see all our recommended activity/project and coloring books.

Board Books and Picture Books (Ages 3 and up)

Board Books and Picture BooksWe choose all of our books based on the messages they convey, the lessons they teach, and the way in which they transform the lives of those who read them. The art has to be wonderful, the prose delightful, and whenever possible, the books need to be printed in an earth-friendly and labor-friendly way. With those thoughts in mind, rather than pick just a few titles we recommend, why not check out all of our board books and picture books? 

Tweens and Teens

MS ConfidentialOne of the toughest periods in most people's lives is that ten/eleven through fifteen time, the tween/teen years. We've gathered some wonderful things for kids in that age range. One of our favorites is a series called "Middle School Confidential" from our friends at Free Spirit Publishing.
Check out:

For tween/teen readers who love a good adventure, we continue to recommend one of our very favorite books EVER... The Call to Shakabaz! A vibrantly imaginative fantasy adventure, The Call to Shakabaz sidesteps many of the usual conventions of the genre and offers instead unusual and original resolutions to a variety of sticky situations.

Zinn BookYoung People's History of the United States: How do you want the young people in your life to learn about American history? Whether you think that typical textbooks are incredibly bland (most are) or terribly biased towards "American Exceptionalism" (most are), loaded with half-truths and downright lies (many are), or that the contents for all U.S. history textbooks are dictated by a group of Texans (they are), we think you might want to offer a young person in your life an alternative. Check out this Young People's History of the United States, the Howard Zinn classic made more approachable to young people. We HIGHLY recommend it!

For the parents of tweens/teens, we highy recommend The World Needs Your Kid.

Young Adults

My Masaai LifeMy Masaai Life: Our friend John Zlatnik and his wife just got back from Africa recently and his wife spotted this book in our shop and thought it would be a perfect gift for John. He "devoured" it and when he saw me a few days later, he told me that before any young person embarked on a special trip outside of the country, he or she should read this book. We think so too, and encourage this as a perfect gift for any young person about to make some big change in his or her life, this book will make a fantastic gift.

Opportunity isn't a chance; it's a choice. And the choices we make ultimately define the paths our lives will take.

Growing up in suburban Illinois, Robin Wiszowaty never pictured herself hauling water on her back four times a day up a dusty footpath, or living in a tiny hut made of cow dung. She never pictured herself meeting terminal patients in an AIDS ward, playing with starving street children in Nairobi?s slums or white water rafting down the Nile?s crocodile-infested waters.

Yet in her early twenties Robin embarked on an incredible journey that would shake her from complacency, take her to unimaginable places and change her life forever.

Follow Robin's remarkable voyage as she joins an impoverished Maasai family in rural Kenya and travels through some of the most remote areas of East Africa.

Abe in ArmsAbe in Arms: Reach And Teach was honored to have the opportunity to publish this YA novel, Abe in Arms. Young people face big struggles on the cusp of adulthood, Abe faces all the normal problems and more. This High School track star can run faster than anyone on his team, but he can't run away from his past which is now catching up with him. Join Abe on his journey to discover what's chasing him from his past during the civil war in Liberia, how he overcomes that past, redeems it, and triumphs in his new life. 

During the holiday season Reach And Teach will donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee for every copy of Abe in Arms sold through our web site or in our store.

For Teachers

New TeacherThe New Teacher Book: We offer a large number of excellent social-justice oriented resources for teachers and home-school parents. Rethinking Schools is one of our favorite sources of books for teachers and The New Teacher book is wonderful.

Teaching is a lifelong challenge, but the first few years in the classroom are typically a teacher’s hardest. Since The New Teacher Book first came out in 2004, it has sold over 50,000 copies and become an invaluable resource for new teachers entering the classroom.

This expanded collection of writings and reflections—some by new teachers, others by veterans with decades of experience to share—offers practical guidance on how to effectively navigate the school system, how to form rewarding professional relationships with colleagues, and how to connect in meaningful ways with students and families from all cultures and backgrounds.  It will help new teachers, from kindergarten through high school, sustain the passion and ideals that led them to teaching, and channel that energy into the day-to-day reality of working in a school.

Many teacher education programs give The New Teacher Book to students as they begin student teaching, or upon graduation. School districts have included it as part of their new teacher orientations.

Gift Certificates for Teachers: Another great gift for a teacher (or day care provider, or nanny, or pre-school staff) is a GIFT CERTIFICATE! Click here to give a gift certificate.

GLBTQ Friends and Allies

SpoonSometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon is our newly published runaway hit! During the holidays for each copy we sell, we'll donate $2 to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Click here to order Sometimes the Spoon or click here to check out all of our GLBTQ items.


For Adults, Raging Grannies and Activists

Cat LoversOur calendars make great gifts, with Cat Lovers Against the Bomb being our annual bestseller. The Posters for Peace and Justice calendar runs a close second along with the Syracuse Cultural Workers Peace Calendar. All of these include tidbits of social justice history and current days of activism worth noting. You can transform the world by using these calendars as your activism "lectionary" (that's church-talk) for the coming year.

AngelsIn addition to calendars, consider gifting someone you love with Angels with Attitude Christmas ornaments from our Fair Trade collection. 

These 3 inch angels (you get three in each order), made from recycled soft drink cans, are crafted by Zulu school children, many of whom are orphans, living in an area of Northern Zululand where the AIDS epidemic is very serious. The purchase of these fair-trade angels (three in each order) directly helps the students, assisting them to feed, clothe and educate themselves while teaching them new skills and giving them a sense of pride and self-worth.

Rapid 4 MoreRapid 4 More: And, if there's someone who loves games, we have an award-winning game that is also a wonderful work of art. Simple rules, addictive play. Players take turns dropping marbles through the maze of levers in order to get a winning combination of 4 in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. The removal of the fifth marble in a column allows for continuous play & unexpected twists. Click here for the original 2-player version of the game)

This next generation game not only allows for more players to enjoy the game together, but puts a whole new dimension to connection games by adding a second board and playing tray. There is still that small element of chance, which gives all the players the ability to add a twist to their strategies. Player engagement reaches a whole new level as players must choose to block their opponents at the request of other players, establish a play of their own, or make a nothing move so that others can’t win.

Purchases of this game help the Kids Ark Foundation of Thailand. Kids Ark helps children who have been somehow affected by the Aids epidemic. This is a tragic problem in Thailand as it is in many other parts of the world. One way to help these children is to make sure the parents have successful employment opportunities in their local villages, so that they do not have to be employed in high-risk occupations in the big cities. Uncle Skunkle Toys (the inventor of the game) staff, through business connections and hands on time in the villages, has helped Kids Ark secure equipment, materials, and manufacturing contracts to ensure the villages they work with have a brighter future.

Spiritual Folks

Let My People GoLet My People Go! presents a memorable analogy in song and spoken word between the story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt in the 13th Century B.C.E., as retold at the annual Passover Seder meal, and the African American struggle toward equality in America as exemplified by the mid-Sixties Civil Rights Movement, in which many Jewish activists were involved. No preaching, no heavy-handed didactics – this is an uplifting and enlightening celebration of accomplishment through action. 

Other products for spiritual/religious folks you might want to consider are:

For Everyone

Great Ball of FireGreat Ball of Fire: A Poetic telling of the Universe Story -- One of the ways we like to help make the world a better place is by helping authors and artists who have created special books to spread the word about those books, especially if places like Amazon don't carry their work. This particular book has been a best seller in our store where we keep it right next to the religion/spirituality books. It is simply stunning and could spark a child or adult's interest in science AND spirituality! 

Everything Else But the Kitchen Sink

We try to make it easy for web site visitors to find products based on their interests or the people for whom they are trying to buy something. Below are many of the ways we categorize what we offer. We're also happy to guide you personally. Send us a note (click here) or give us a call (1-888-PEACE-40) and tell us what you're trying to find and we'll be happy to help you. Even if we don't carry just the right thing, if we know it exists we'll be glad to let you know where to find it. 


Visit our Shop in San Mateo & Take Advantage of American Express' Small Business Saturday

If you happen to live in the Bay Area of California, pop into our new shop at the Dove and Olive Works building at 178 South Blvd. in San Mateo (right off 92 and El Camino between 16th Avenue and Palm -- at the very south end of B Street). Taste some Fair Trade organic olive oil from Palestine while you're visiting! Our friends at the Rebuilding Alliance have added some wonderful new products to the shop, including delicious honey, candied almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, which all go so well with Rumi and Nabali tree olive oil and Za'atar! 

Small Business Saturday November 27th

On Saturday November 27th, American Express is having its own form of a stimulus package for small businesses. Spend $25 or more at any small business that accepts American Express and you'll get a $25 credit on your next Amex bill. That means if you come into our shop, buy a $25 Green Toys fire truck, and use your American Express card when you check out, you'll get that $25 back! The toy is free! Only the first 100,000 people who register their cards will qualify so get in there and register your card and then shop at Reach And Teach (or some other small business that you love more than us... it's OK, we won't be hurt... not really..........)


Dessert, Summer vacation, and front row seats for a Jonas Brothers concert rolled into one!

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Reach And Teach is absolutely gobsmacked (go ahead look that up) by the reaction we've been getting to our newest coloring book, Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon. Julie Ross at the blog said:

I just finished reading the most marvelous coloring book! I know, I know, reading? A coloring book? How does that happen?
It happens when the words are as charming, brave, bold, humorous and touching as the pictures. It happens when the coloring book makes you not only want to go out and buy yourself a shiny new box of colored pencils to color again, but also when you want to quote the words you read to all your friends.
Click here to read the entire review.

And, a woman we'll call "Enthusiastic Mom" shared these incredibly inspiring words with us:

"I got the coloring books on Tuesday and I love love love them. A friend has a nephew who is 10 and struggling, so I passed the Spoon one on to her. She gave it to him yesterday and he spent all afternoon reading, re-reading, and coloring it. She said he relished it like it was dessert, summer vacation, and front row seats to a Jonas Brothers concert all in one. My own daughter who is 10 loves the Girls Are Not Chicks book. She started reading it and said, "Mommy, this is weird for a coloring book. I really like it." 

Click here to read more about and buy the book!

Awesome Online Games to Learn Civics

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When Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court, one of her concerns was that children were not being inspired to get involved in civics. She dreamed of creating an online resource that would be engaging, fun, and provide excellent education to young people about our courts and government.

This week, the second generation of her dream., came online and it is absolutely awesome. It includes these great new interactive games which allow players to:

 The web site has games, lesson plans, and other resources for teachers, parents, and students, and it is all available at absolutely no cost. Having played some of the games and checked out the material we highly recommend this wonderful resource.

And, it is certainly a great way to learn how to play our civil rights card game, CIVIO!  (Or is CIVIO a great way to learn how to play the games at

Click here to visit


Green America approved