Here is a list of books that can be used to start discussions about history, heroism, and social justice. Most can be read in one or two sittings.
J222 CHI. Exodus. Adapted from the Bible by Miriam Chaikin. Locusts, frogs, boils, blood and darkness--plus a persevering hero. What's not to love?
J294.5 DAV.The Wheel of King Asoka by Ashok Davar. The powerful king of India gives up his army, makes peace with neighboring countries, and builds parks and animal hospitals.
J303.48 DOL. Oasis of Peace by Laurie Dolphin. Jewish Shlomo and Moslem Muhammed make friends in a progressive school in Israel.
J323.1COL. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. Most of us aren't up to praying for our enemies, but Ruby Bridges' piety helped her to survive her solitary predicament as the first black child in a white school.
J398.2 DEM. One Grain of Rice by Demi. Yes, it's a math folk tale, but it's also good for morality. A clever peasant tricks a king out of taking the lion's share of the rice supply.
J398.2 DEP. The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola. An orphan girl gives up her cherished doll in order to save her people from drought. Adapted from a Comanche legend.
Jj398.2 HOD. The Hero of Bremen by Margaret Hodges. Hans, who can only walk on his hands and knees, crawls through marsh and briars to win more land for his overcrowded town.
J398.2 HOD. The Wave by Margaret Hodges. A wise grandfather saves his village from a tsunami.
J398.2 LEE. The Song of Mu Lan by Jeanne Lee. Verses from the Sung and Ming Dynasty tell of a young girl who goes to war in order to spare her father.
J796.357 GOL. Teammates by Peter Golenbock. Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reese love and support each other in major league baseball. A favorite among kids; it's worth another read.
J796.8 WAT. Gladiator by Richard Watkins. Just kidding. This is a fascinating book, but completely devoid of role models. Take Teammates, instead.