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Tales of Upheaval, Mindfulness

Tina Athaide is a 30-year educator who works at Santa Rosa Academy, a newly unionized charter school in Menifee. Her debut as a writer was Orange for the Sunsets (grades 6-7), an award-winning book inspired by her childhood in Uganda. It follows two friends, Asha (Asian Indian) and Yesofu (African Ugandan), who’ve never cared about their differences until Idi Amin announces that Indians have 90 days to leave the country. As tensions between Indians and Africans intensify, the pair find that nothing seems sure — not even their friendship. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

Athaide has also published Meena’s Mindful Moment (grades pre-K–2), a picture book with illustrations by Åsa Gilland. Meena is a rambunctious child whose energy becomes an imaginary character she calls her hurly-burly hullabaloo. But when Meena makes a mess, her grandfather teaches her how to handle it with deep breaths and meditative poses.

Both books are on multiple outlets online. Athaide offers activity guides and other teaching resources at

Bully on the Ballot

Tracy Waddles Williams, special education teacher and United Teachers Los Angeles member, has written No, Mr. President, That’s Not OK! It’s a timely, funny children’s book with a multicultural cast of children of diverse races and abilities, illustrated by Uroosa Aslam Faiq. It’s also a multisubject teaching tool featuring the election process, which tackles social-emotional issues such as bullying and treating other people fairly.

Ronald, an overly confident fifth grader, enters the race to become the president of his grade level. He uses bullying and manipulation to win. When he continues to use these same tactics while president, his classmates begin to fear him, causing him to question his leadership abilities. He speaks with his dad and realizes he must become a better president and friend. But how?

Available on Amazon and

Honoring the Children of the Holocaust

In 2008, Lisa Liss, an educator at Woodlake Elementary in Sacramento and member of Twin Rivers United Educators, embarked on an awe-inspiring commitment with her students: collecting 1.5 million bandages to honor the lives of children killed in the Holocaust. In June 2019, they reached their goal.

The Bandage Project was spearheaded by a group of fourth graders who called themselves “Tolerance Kids,” and was continued by students over the years. Bandages were donated from classrooms and communities all over the world. Liss and her students would write the name of a child victim of the Holocaust on each bandage.

A glass case with the bandages is now on display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, next to the Anne Frank exhibit. Liss wrote a book, Bandage Project, documenting what it took to complete the project and sharing inspiring moments, such as a visit from the director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Liss hopes the book will inspire others to make a difference in the world.

The book is available from Liss: @lisaliss22 (Venmo) or Visit

O&M Comic Books

Roselle Tamayo is a certified orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist and United Educators of San Francisco member. She is also an editor of a series of educational comic books called My O&M, written and illustrated by Lorena Cipri. The comics are designed to help educate people about the importance of O&M services for students with visual impairments, teaching them safe, efficient, effective travel skills. “We are passionate O&M teachers, who just want to share more about our field,” says Tamayo.

The 12-page comic books are designed for grades 1, 2, 8, 10, 11 and 12, and include descriptions of various visual impairments. Each comic has a main character who shares their story of how O&M helps them to further develop their independence. Tamayo edited My O&M in the 1st Grade: Inclusion, Independence, and Sensorimotor Development, as well as the 11th and 12th grade comics.

My O&M comics can be used by teachers as a supplemental educational tool in the classroom. They are colorful and easy to read and are available in large print and Braille. On

The Many Wonders of Black

Black is a wonderful color. Black is special. It is true. It’s the sky when the morning is new.

Black: The Many Wonders of My World is a new picture book from author Nancy Johnson James, San Leandro Teachers Association, and illustrator Constance Moore, Alameda Education Association, the team that created Brown: The Many Shades of Love. In this loving and lovely celebration of the color black, a girl describes the many wonders of her world — from the black of starry nights to her own black eyes, clear and bright. On Amazon.

Got something for this section — a book, blog, album, video series or podcast? Tell us at with “Lit From Within” in the subject line. We lean toward new(ish) work that can be used in the classroom.