Peace and Democracy Discussions

A National Approach to Preventing Violence,

Promoting Literacy, and Fostering the Growth of Democracy

For Peace, Literacy, and Democratic Voice

Peace & Democracy Discussions

Discussions With All Our Children

The goal of Peace & Democracy Discussions is to engage all of our children in discussions about how we can create a more peaceful and democratic society. Through discussions, we can build the trust, understanding, commitment, and vision needed to overcome the violence in our society and to create a more fair, just, and democratic society.

Discussions Everywhere

We seek to support these discussions everywhere and anywhere. At home with family members. In schools with friends, classmates, and teachers. In the neighborhood or community, with librarians, social workers, youth workers, police officers, doctors, nurses, clergy, and religious leaders. We want to engage our children in Peace & Democracy discussions in as many places as possible. 

Oakhaven Elementary School, Memphis

Peace & Democracy

eBooks and Digital Games

Engaging Stories and Story-Based Digital Games and Activities

We propose to support “Peace & Democracy Discussions” by developing and making available Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games which will provide digital versions of award-winning multicultural literature that integrate story-based digital games and activities that focus on important issues and social problems in children’s lives. They include the following features:

  • Synchronized audio narration track with word highlighting
  • Ability to select words and listen to their pronunciation and definitions in multiple languages
  • Intelligent tutoring system to adjust all activities to the student’s learning level
  • Interactive character perspective-taking activity where the reader stands in the shoes of one or more characters
  • Social problem-solving games where the reader, as one of the characters, seeks to work with other characters to solve a problem in the story
  • Vocabulary, reading comprehension, and critical thinking activities and assessment
  • eBook selection and curriculum fully aligned with Common Core State Standards
  • Text, narration, and digital games in English, Spanish, and/or Chinese
  • Text and activities are completely designed according to Universal Design for Learning principles

Master Twelve Peace & Democracy Tools

Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games are selected and designed to help children master twelve Peace & Democracy Tools (social and democratic competencies) that can help them overcome the social obstacles in their lives, such as violence and achieve their personal and social goals.

  1. Love values
  2. Relationship skills
  3. Freedom values
  4. Self-determination skills
  5. Perspective taking skills
  6. Identity awareness
  7. Emotional awareness
  8. Health awareness
  9. Social problem solving skills (conflict resolution)
  10. Democratic values and knowledge
  11. Social awareness
  12. Democratic voice (advocacy)

Integrate Mastery of Peace & Democracy Tools

With Learning Language, Literacy, and Critical Thinking Skills

The discussion questions, interactive classroom activities, instruction, assessment, and digital games are all designed to integrate the learning of these social and democratic competencies with Common Core State Standards aligned language, literacy, and critical thinking skills.

Blended Learning and Personalized Learning

Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games provide a completely digital online resource for children and adolescents to improve their reading comprehension, vocabulary, social-perspective taking, and selected social and democratic competencies in an integrated fashion. These resources can be easily blended into classroom instruction.

Using blended learning and digital technologies to teach both social and academic competencies make it possible to provide more personalized learning opportunities for all students. Instruction can take place anytime, anywhere. Teachers can become coaches. All learning is project based. Students can establish their own purposes and questions for learning.

Learning Through Discussions and Problem Solving

Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games are designed to help children think about these issues and provide a way for them to discuss these issues with their peers and with the adults in their lives. Hopefully, these discussions will lead to children and adults working together to improve our society.

Peace and Democracy Discussion Goals

Through these discussions and related activities, children will be able to develop the knowledge, skills and values they need:

  • to prevent violence in their lives;
  • to attain important personal and academic goals;
  • to increase their vocabulary;
  • to improve their reading comprehension;
  • to develop their critical thinking skills;
  • and to use their voices to advocate solutions to important social problems.

For more detail on Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Game click here.


“. . . Peace & Democracy eBooks . . . seek to help children and adolescents develop several skills . . . developing their voices, all of the voices that matter to them, trying to prevent violence in their lives, increasing their academic vocabulary, improving their critical thinking skills, and, finally and most importantly, helping them to improve and to be meaningful participants in a vibrant democratic society.”

—Professors Ernest Morrell and Jodene Morrell
Institute for Urban and Minority Education,
Teachers College, Columbia University

The Peace & Democracy Pilot Project

The First Digital eBook and Story-Based Digital Games and Activities

We have selected It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way: A Barrio Story (No tiene que ser así: una historia del barrio) written by Luis J. Rodríguez and illustrated by Daniel Galvez and published by Lee & Low to be the first of our Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games. It is a story about a Latino boy in Los Angeles who is being pressured to join a local gang and learns to stand up for himself and say, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” Age range is from 8-10 years, and in a school setting, it could be used in 3rd through 5th grades. Available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

 Standing In Each Other’s Shoes

The social and literacy skill focus for this first eBook, digital game, digital curriculum, and role playing activity is on social perspective taking: expressing one’s point of view and taking the points of view of others. Students learn to stand in the shoes of the characters and express the characters’ points of view and then stand in their own shoes and express their points of view about what things in their neighborhoods and communities “Don’t have to be this way.”

Pilot in Major Cities Across the Country

We plan to pilot this digital prototype in a diverse set of cities across the country. We are currently developing plans in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Memphis, Chicago, and San Francisco. We are looking for two to three additional sites. In each site we will pilot the prototype with a diverse set of neighborhoods, schools, and community organizations. In each city, the goal is to give this eBook and digital game to as many children as possible and to use this story and related activities to discuss what are the things in their city that “don’t have to be this way” and brainstorm ways to solve these problems.

Launch  Nationwide

We are planning to launch Peace & Democracy Discussions (and Peace & Democracy eBooks and Digital Games) nationwide in several phases:

  • Release It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way nationwide in spring of 2017.
  • Release complete collection of Social Perspective Taking eBooks (pre-K to 12th grade) nationwide summer 2017.
  • Develop and test complete set of 4th grade Peace & Democracy eBook titles (30) in a randomized control trial nationwide (2017-2018).
  • Develop and release complete set of pre-K to fifth-grade titles (210).
  • Develop and release complete set of Grades 6–12 titles (140).

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