[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup April 2021”]
This month in Bumblebee Hollow, we’re exploring world faiths, death positivity, reproduction, sex education, and AAPI accomplice work.
Across most world religions, springtime brings holidays centering themes of birth. We can’t fully celebrate the birth of spring without acknowledging how the harshness of winter and death incubate possibilities for hope and new things.
Here are some tools to help you navigate these topics with the kids. No one expects you to dedicate your life 24/7 to doing ALL OF THESE in one month. But maybe pick a topic below and run with it.
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April Events – Cultural appreciation vs. appropriation
Interfaith studies should be basic foundational education for kids. Faith is a huge part of a human’s personal and cultural identity, and refusing to talk about it with young kids is just another form of centering whiteness.
Most of April, we’re focusing on learning about faith and religion, the similarities and differences between our personal family views and values. We do observe some personal cultural holidays in our family (Qingming) and have dropped some ancestral holidays that no longer hold meaning for us (Easter).
But most of the holidays we’re learning (emphasis on learning about) about are completely new to us, which means taking care not to appropriate or ‘celebrate’ them – but just learn why they are significant and how we can support our friends who do.
If your family celebrates non-US bank holidays, you already know how hard it is to find children’s books and media to reflect your family traditions. There’s a huge gap in representation, even for widely-celebrated holidays such as the Lunar new year (Jan/Feb) and Nowruz (March). And now we’re learning that there are even more big events that there are zero resources for.
But regardless of how many validating stories you can find for your own holidays – our education system and publishing industry has an even bigger gap in faith acceptance resources. Meaning – the books and tools outsiders use to learn about another group’s faith.*
*Exceptions: Lunar New Year books written by white folks, for white folks, reducing it to firecrackers in China (ugh). Jewish publishers have oodles of great books to help gentiles understand the values behind traditions. And a growing list of books destigmatizing Muslim families that picked up after the US’s 2016 Muslim ban.
I even have trouble finding books explaining ‘What is Christmas‘ – which is weird because, Christmas is still a new concept for Christian babies. Everything is new to kids! I blame childism.
But this gives us hints into the expanding divide and faith intolerance growing in the US, and throughout the world. We just don’t have enough resources that humanize folks who are culturally different than us, never-mind those who hold fundamentally different values.
First up will be events & national observation days, and then further down we’ll get into our global monthly themes. I use national days because it’s a just gentle excuses to start talking about a particular subject now, instead of pushing these discussions off indefinitely. But if you’re overwhelmed and miss them, no big deal, come back to it next year!
4/1 is April Fool’s
We could flood you with books about truth and honesty – but I have zero books for you on April Fool’s hijinks. I’ve never gotten the hang of April Fool’s Day, nor found a book worth reading on the practice. It’s just a day where you lie to people, and then when they get freaked out, we all laugh? I’ve got too much on my plate to plan petty lies or an intricate con.
I’m busy and have plans on the first of April (naps & snacks) so we’re skipping April Fool’s. HOWEVER – last month during St. Paddy’s, we declared the day open-blarney season. For 24 hours, the Earthquakes were allowed to bend the truth, persuade through flattery, and tell ridiculous stories mixed with improbable truth to get what they wanted (Candy, it’s always candy. Unless it’s video games.)
Make them do the work of telling fantastical tales! As Irish, we’re celebrating the traditions of our ancestors and the unique cultural mishmash that comes with being Irish American. We celebrate a long family tradition of telling stories of whimsy, wit, and absolute bullshit.
Pretending I’m a good parent, I’m gonna tell you I do this to cultivate imagination and creative thinking. Honestly though, sometimes I just want a break from evaluating every word out of someone’s mouth for truth and integrity, and I guess April Fool’s gives us the opportunity to just drop the calculus and assume everyone is lying to us all the time.
Blarney and improbably tales are also a nice way to memorialize my grandfather, Leprechaun King of Blarney & Off-Color Jokes, who passed away one year ago just before St. Paddy’s. Erin Go Bullshit.
Parenting is Praxis for April Fool’s
- Give your kids 24 hour free-reign to just lie their asses off, on the contingency that it has to be charming.
- Get it out of their system and go back to harping about truth and integrity for the other 364 days of the year.
4/2 is Autism Bewareness Day
Autism Bewareness Day is about raising AWARENESS that autism (re: Autistic people) are a PROBLEM THAT MUST BE STOPPED! Or heck, take the whole month, if you’re drinking the Autism $peaks kool-aid and want to assault us with commercialized blue nonsense for 45 days straight. (This year the ‘autism awareness’ jabber from allistics hit my inbox hard and fast by mid-March.)
But can we just, like…not? June 18th is Autistic Pride Day. November 1st is Autistic Speaking Day – both of which were initiated by, and to amplify, Autistic folks. Over the past few years I’ve tried pushing back alongside other Autistics in re-claiming April as Autism Acceptance Month. While that helps us hook a few more hapless googlers into discovering the social model of disability – it’s still very exhausting.
We don’t have Women’s Awareness Day, because women aren’t an epidemic you gotta watch out for. Same for Autistics – knowing about us doesn’t help us if everything you know is a stigmatizing stereotype!
Thanks to all the A$ blue nonsense and virtue-signaling, in addition to the recent rainbow-washing of problematic organizations, April is a tense time for us Autistics. For some – a month of traumatic response triggers. We’re inundated with Autism Warrior Parents bemoaning how horrible it is to live with us, fundraisers for allistic folks to pat themselves on the backs, legislation to standardize abusive compliance therapy in public education, and general spooky bewareness of all the ways Autistics are Burdens On Society.
So maybe cool it and just let us get through our days without being reminded that there’s an entire month dedicated to managing, preventing, and eradicating us.
Autistics – you get through this month however you like – loud & flappy or rocking quietly in a corner, you do you.
Allistics – unless you’re quietly collecting your ableist friends and amplifying Autistic voices, just please wait until May instead of adding to the din of bewareness this month.
Parenting is Praxis: Acceptance over Awareness
- Learn why we need to include non-tokenized disabled characters in kidlit. Characters with agency, who make their own decisions, live regular lives, and go on adventures that don’t revolve solely around their disabilities.
- Choose a story normalizing disabled characters to read together.
- In addition to recognizing disabilities and obstacles, talk about the character’s story and unique identity beyond disability.
- Don’t erase or avoid talking about a character’s disability!
- Discuss the potential challenges and perks of this character’s abilities.
- Discuss how navigating the adventure with a disability might be different if society was designed to accommodate them.
- Do you fall into an existential crisis if you’re not calling attention to yourself on the internet? Need to fill a performative void in your social media feed? Today is a great day to celebrate #RedInstead! Wear red. Or at least – avoid blue or anything #LightItUpBlue (blech).
4/4 is Qingming Festival
The Qingming Festival (think: the Chinese Día de los Muertos), is a good time to talk with your kids about death positivity, honoring the contributions of our ancestors, and cross-cultural traditions in ancestor veneration.
On this day, our family heads to the graveyard where we clean up our loved ones graves, set stuff on fire, and share snacks with the dead. Given that it’s a low-key holiday here, there is something reassuringly weird and comforting about doing it in the US – where setting fires and snacking in a graveyard is normally taboo.
So far, I can’t find any books in English to help kids understand the concepts behind Qingming Festival, tomb-sweeping, or even ancestor veneration. So we’ve cobbled this collection on children’s stories for Qingming (covers some of the values, if not the actual practices) to read each year as we share stories of our ancestors and appreciate the life they made possible for us.
Parenting is Praxis: Decolonizing Death
- Read a story from our Qingming collection together.
- Discuss: What decisions and sacrifices did our ancestors make so we could have opportunities today?
- How does our family acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors?
- How do people around the world acknowledge and stay connected with ancestors who have died? What’s traditions do people use to stay connected with the dead? (HINT: Death positivity, FOOD and SETTING STUFF ON FIRE is usually involved!)
Check out the Día de lost Muertos collection if you’d like to compare & contrast – that’s one of the few non-European holidays that gets plenty of traction in kidlit.
- *Extra credit: Ask an elder in your family or community if they are willing to do an ancestor interview – where your kids can ask questions about their life as a child, what they remember of their own elders, and for stories they are willing to pass down.
- It would be good for all of us to get more connected with our dead. Non-Chinese folks: Confused about cultural appreciation vs. appropriation? If you don’t have a family holiday centering death, or want an excuse to visit and never get around to it, consider this permission to appreciate the sentiment. Go clean your ancestors’ graves and have a snack in their honor. Maybe don’t make offerings or burn stuff if you don’t know what all that is about though.
*We’ve been hosting ancestor interviews as a part of our Luminary Lessons, so if you have access to the patreon community posts home school curriculum, you can find links to our ‘Ancestor Interview Questions‘ within the archives to get started.
4/4 is also Easter
Despite being baptized Catholic, I still don’t know much about Easter beyond ashy foreheads, a special type of Friday, and Giant Rabbits That Poop Chocolate Eggs (??!), nor how that weird mess connects with the resurrection of Jesus.
So you know what? I’m gonna defer to these three great resources for progressive, interfaith-positive, intersectional feminist Christians who are all members of our Raising Luminaries Community. I like, admire, and trust these friends to explain this way better than I can:
- The Illustrated Children’s Ministry – want your bible study / Sunday school / church place to be more proactive in seeking social justice? This is where you can find progressive, anti-ableist, anti-supremacist lessons reminding folks that Jesus was an abolitionist and private prisons for profit are messed up.
- Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints – sign up for the newsletter! Daneen’s newsletters feel like a big dose of love but she doesn’t flood your inbox.
- Parenting Forward Podcast with Cindy Wang Brandt – supporting families interested in deconstructing the toxic supremacy and exclusion of fundamentalist Christianity. Click here to hear my interview with Cindy from 2018.
- Progressive Asian American Christians – Intersectionally progressive group founded by Liz Lin & Lydia Shui. Inclusive for Asian & Pacific Islanders. Even as an athiest-agnostic, I’ve been in community with a lot of Asian groups on Facebook, and this was the most inclusive, progressive group dedicated to gender equality, disability, LGBTQiA2S+, multiracial, and anti-racism.
4/9 is Carrel Hilton Sheldon’s Birthday
Carrel was Books for Littles’ biggest cheerleader from 2014-2019 until she passed away in May of 2019. BFL has never been the same without her. She was also:
- A founding mother of Exponent II, a progressive Mormon feminist publication advocating for the rights of women and mothers against the patriarchal oppression and [binary] gender inequity in organized religion. Much of her advocacy work mirrors the genesis of BFL & Raising Luminaries, and that’s not a coincidence – nothing I’ve created would exist now if she hadn’t cleared a path.
- A key voice instrumental in the 2012 presidential elections, coming out with a painful story on the end of her last pregnancy.
- A pioneer author on one of the first openly polyam children’s stories. (It’s in draft form, so we’re keeping that in-house until/if I get polish it up for public consumption.)
Parenting is Praxis:
- We went over this in the Qingming calls to action – but within the next couple of months, we’re hoping to schedule some ancestor interviews with her friends and family to gather the stories she didn’t share with me directly. If you’ve already started ancestor interviews – consider secondary interviews to gather stories of those who have passed on.
- Every kid has the right to be proud of their family constellation, and that includes kids with polyam parents and grandparents. There really aren’t many mainstream books out there. Those that do exist tend to tap-dance around and leave plausible deniability to prevent censorship. So until we get great mainstream polyamorous family constellations, you can get started normalizing and reflecting your polyam family with:
- Raf and the Robots (more about patience than family, but normalizes a three-parent family with plausible deniability as the roles of the parents isn’t clear)
- Super Power Baby Shower (clunky, hard to follow, but an explicitly polyam family)
- Six Dinner Sid (about open relationships & honesty)
- I’m Glad That You’re Happy (to discuss compersion)
- Else-Marie and her Seven Little Daddies – this is popular in some circles, although it leans a little too far into ‘Haha, wouldn’t this be BIZARRE to have so many dads!‘ enough that I’m not sure if it’s helping or hurting.
- A Color Named Love – I’m super excited about this! But I can’t get my hands on it to screen it. This kid has four, explicit parents. Anyone read it? Does it hold up?
- Ask me about Polyamory! (for teens & adults, it’s not problematic, it’s just too bland for kids)
- It’s common to retcon kids books about jealousy (friendship) on the fly to fit into the polyam family mold, but I’m not wild about this. Narrowing down on one tiny detail / stereotypical view of what monogamous folks fear about polyamory and using that as the singular entry point to polyam families still centers a nuclear-family perspective on what is natural and normal.
4/10 is National Siblings Day
Families with siblings, here’s a selection of curated reading lists for you. If you have multiple kids, may your day be quiet and free of bickering. (haha j/k OMGOSH ALL BICKERING ALL DAY LONG.)
- Healthy sibling relationships – Something to aspire to!
- Resolving Sibling Rivalry & Jealousy – My parenting method is to encourage them to join forces against a common enemy – whether it’s me and my refusal to give them candy (it’s not Blarney day!) or neo-nazi antivaxxer misinformation. They do love to perform a united front against evil.
- Validating stories of sibling conflict & healthy resolutions – My therapist says there’s a difference between knowing healthy ways to resolve conflict and internalizing them. So while the Earthquakes take their sweet freaking time internalizing conflict resolution without fists, I’ll just keep shoving these wholesome stories down their throats until they can make it through a day without kicking and screaming at each other. They do help, temporarily.
- Books for Kids Expecting a New Baby Sibling – Addressing and validating concerns without fear-mongering, also getting kids ready for this big life transition. These worked wonders for my 1.5 to 2-year-old as he prepared for the birth of his baby brother.
- Stories for big siblings getting used to a new baby – Expecting a new baby is not the same as experiencing life with a new baby. These are the validating, creative stories that helped my 2-year-old resolve any resentment or anxiety about this new loud, pooping, barfing creature that took up all the space in my lap.
4/12 Ramadan Starts (through May 11)
I’m delighted to report that there have been more and more engaging stories centering Ramadan published in the last few years, so we no longer have to settle for “This is about Ramadan” and can now get picky about which #OwnVoices stories are the most fun to read.
There are plenty of books about Ramadan – but most focus on the surface, the behaviors (fasting, donating, etc.) instead of the principles and theology these traditions represent. These are the non-didactic, engaging Ramadan stories the Earthquakes have enjoyed over the years. As they get older, we’re able to dig deeper into the principles of Ramadan and the values of Islam – which connect to us as non-Muslims with our Muslim friends.
Now all we need is way more stories centering Muslim characters beyond an intro to Ramadan.
Parenting is Praxis: (For non-practicing kids)
- Pick a story from the Ramadan book list.
- Discuss: How can we support our friends who observe Ramadan?
- Make space so observing is accessible, but don’t assume folks celebrate Ramadaan.
- Don’t eat or drink during zoom chats (many families are food insecure so we try to avoid this anyway.)
- Walk a little slower with kids who are observing if they’re feeling faint.
- Learn how to intervene as a bystander if kids are getting comments at school for for skipping lunch.
- Write a letter to your boss, your school principal, or talk with teachers asking them to make welcoming accommodations for families and extend school deadlines to make space for Eid celebrations.
- Speak up at school planning events to ask that some fundraisers be alcohol-free, offer halal treat options, and to make time for folks who need extra time for prayers.
- Choose stories centering Muslim characters that are not about Ramadan. Schedule a time to read them together between June – March.
4/14 Is Vaisakhi
I’m still learning about Vaisakhi (observed by both Hindus and Sikhs, in different ways).
For Hindus, it’s marked by a festival at the start of the solar new year and the start of spring. I don’t have any kid-friendly resources on that – so if you do, please share in the comments!
For Sikhs, it’s a religious historical event centered in resistance against tyranny and forced assimilation. We’ll focus on Sikhism this year because I’ve got some spiffy resources for you:
Parenting is Praxis: Learning about Sikh Social Justice
- Adults: Check out the maker spotlight on Navjot Kaur on responsible representation of the Sikh identity in kidlit.
- With kiddos: Read the Garden of Peace, an allegory of resistance and collaborative action (disclosure, my friend Navjot send me a free copy).
- Dino C. (1931-2020) wasn’t Sikh or Hindu, but this quote comes to mind. Discuss as a family, LGBTQ+ poet, Dinos Christianopoulos‘s quote “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
- Check out the guide, 8 ways to include Vaisakhi in the classroom.
4/18 is Velociraptor Awareness Day
I just wanted you to know.
Parenting is Praxis: Beware
We can do science to clone endangered ferrets now, so it’s only a matter of time until Jurassic park happens IRL. (Remember when worldwide pandemics were just in movies?)
- Talk with kids about why cloning endangered species isn’t enough – and why we need to create a habitat for recovering species.
- Watch out for velociraptors. Those fuckers are fast.
4/21-5/1 is Ridván
I can’t get my hands on any engaging books on the Bahá’í faith. There are some stories that point out it exists (okaaay) and didactic stories with painful rhyming, but the Earthquakes do a hard NOPE to that sort of story.
Ridván is a (the?) most significant holiday of the Bahá’í year, but I still haven’t found a good resource to help non-practicing kids understand why it’s important. So let’s explore videos.
If you have older kids (6+) who are already familiar with Bahá’í practices, this video on ‘What is Ridván‘ could work. But without a basic primer on the faith, it just left us newbies more confused. And this one, ‘The Baha’i Festival of Ridvan for children‘ is a close shot – but you’re gonna have to prepare kids to explain terms like ‘spiritual,’ ‘promised one,’ and ‘paradise.’
The Earthquakes are familiar with major world religions and what ‘religion’ is – but us secular folks can find a good intro book explaining the Bahai’i faith, we’re gonna have to settle for trying to explain it in our own words. Worth noting that while kids books on Bahá’í festivals exist – I can’t find any that are published by mainstream publishers, which essentially bans them from libraries and schools.
Parenting is Praxis: Guided Discussion
- Adults: Learn about gatekeeping in the publishing industry.
- Discuss with kids:
- What religions have we learned about in books and TV?
- Which religious festivals have we studied and talked about?
- Which religions are easy to learn about at our local library?
- Which religions are harder to find books and shows about?
- Who chooses the books in our library? And how? (Hint: most libraries won’t purchase books unless they’re published by the big 5 or reviewed by mainstream media outlets.)
- Why are books on some religions and festivals hard, or impossible, to find?
- How would it make you feel if your faith was a major part of your identity, but your local library didn’t have any books about your most significant faith traditions?
4/22 is Earth Day
You know what Earth Day is. Let’s do some good stuff for the Earth!
Parenting is Praxis: Commit to doing 1 small thing
4/23 is LGBTQ+ Day of Silence
I have no magic tricks to get young kids to stay silent for 30 seconds, never mind a day. But I just wanted you to know about this, in case you have older kids who are interested in participating. From GLSEN:
“The GLSEN Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ students and allies all around the country—and the world—take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools.”
“Started in the mid 90’s by two college students, the Day of Silence has expanded to reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Every April, students go through the school day without speaking, ending the day with Breaking the Silence rallies and events to share their experiences during the protest and bring attention to ways their schools and communities can become more inclusive.”
Parenting is Praxis:
- Read Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (ages 4+) and Our Rainbow (ages 1+) or any other book from our LGBTQiA2S+ History collection together with your kiddo.
- If you have openly LGBTQiA2S+ friends who are interested in sharing (do not pressure!) – ask them what actions you could take to help them feel safer at school.
- If they want to tell you – listen when they tell you about their experiences about feeling unsafe and unwelcome at school. It helps just to be heard and believed sometimes.
- Actions designed by a gender-creative nonbinary kiddo who had been picked on in the bathroom and wanted to spread acceptance for bathroom choice:
- Read Jacob’s Room to Choose.
- Do a web search with the kids to learn more about the different types and evolution of pride flags.
- Create posters to hang in your home or classroom that advocate for the safety and welcoming of all LGBTQiA2S+ kiddos.
- Ask a local leader if they are willing to hang your poster in school, city hall, church, etc. near the bathrooms.
- Discuss what you can do to help LGBTQiA2S+ kids feel welcomed as their whole selves in school, and how to create safer/braver spaces where they can speak up about their experiences.
Patreon members: See Week 10 of the Luminary Lesson Archives if you’d more resources and to follow along with how we created our advocacy posters.
4/24 is Armenian Martyr’s Day
I’m still learning about the Armenian genocide (1915-1923). So while I’ll be reading The Greedy Sparrow with the Earthquakes, I’ll also have to do some of my own grown-up research to learn more about the history of this event, and the impact on modern-day Armenian diaspora, Syrians, Iraqis, and the Turkish.
Parenting is Praxis:
- Read The Greedy Sparrow.
- Check out this fantastic study & activity guide companion to The Greedy Sparrow, created by the author, Lucine Kasbarian.
- Discuss: What constitutes genocide? Check out this guide from the United Nations as a framework.
- Discuss what you learn along the way about the Armenian Genocide, and how it’s similar to historical events your own family history or current circumstances.
- If none comes to mind, the fact that you’re reading this in English means your modern lifestyle was created in part by England’s colonialism & genocide against Indigenous people.
- Discuss the current efforts of the Chinese government targeting Uyghur Muslims.
- Talk about what values your family needs to embrace now to prevent future violence and resist modern genocidal regimes.
Patreon members: See Week 20 (Ethnic Internment) of the Luminary Lesson Archives if you’d more resources on discussing modern internment and ethnic genocide against Uyghur Muslims.
4/25 is Mahavir Jayanti
Another major religious holiday, this one celebrated in Jainism, that I can’t find any kid-friendly resources for. For now, we’ll be discussing the significance of Jainism. And I’ll be keeping my eye out. I won’t hold my breath though – one of the principles of Jainism is not getting too attached to things – and writing, publishing, and sending a book out into the world might make detachment a little hard to do.
I’ve got plenty of adult resources to sort through, and a few youtube cartoon videos the Earthquakes resented watching. But if you are a Jain and have any kid-engaging books or videos on the birth of Mahavira, any of the Tirthankara (great sages), or even on the principles Jainism, I hope you’ll comment below to share them with us!
Parenting is Praxis:
- Read Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story.
Gandhi was not a Jain, but he was inspired by the Jain values of non-violence, which was instrumental in his campaign for India’s independence from British colonialism. This story explains the longer-reaching elements of non-violence well.
- Discuss how non-violence intersects with our commitments from Earth Day (see above).
- Discuss one new small family habit we can choose to reduce harm and ripple out non-violence in our daily life. (For example, reducing single-use plastic with vegan floss and toothpaste tablets.)
- Read Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story.
4/25 is also Arbor Day (last Friday in April)
We already covered some of this in last month’s actions for International Day of Forests, so I’ll keep it simple.
Parenting is Praxis:
- Read Seeds of Change – you might need tobreak it down over several days. This story is dense with fantastic goodness – gender equity, education access, decolonization, re-forestation, cultural preservation, women’s history, African environmental justice, oh my!
- Schedule a day to hang out at a local park or arboretum. (Maybe not today since it’s a pandemic and there might be a crowd. Within the next couple weeks tho!)
- See if you can identify native trees, and learn how they support your bioregion.
- If you don’t have real estate to plant a native tree, see if you can volunteer to care for a city tree.
- Search for local environmental groups and see if they’re participating in any in tree-planting initiatives. Or if you don’t have the steam to barrel ahead on that, you can sponsor a tree (or a branch, or a root) to honor people who lost their lives to Covid-19.
- Want more? Check out more books on intersectional climate justice.
In April, Bumblebee Hollow Academy explores Body Acceptance, Adipositivity, Consent, Boundaries & Agency
Normally in April we study disability and all things related to the body, but in the past few years, the physicality of bodies (including non-disabled bodies) got lost in all the advocacy for neurodiversity acceptance and invisible disabilities. So this year, we’re gonna take a much-needed break from disability, and focus on bodies – caring for them, loving them, and keeping them safe.
I know we’re saying ‘in April’ we focus on this – but this is a year-round, life-long discussion. Expect kids to experiment and change in gender expression, sexuality, interests (and lack thereof). Just make sure to keep an open dialogue going so they know these topics are never taboo and they can always come to a trusted adult (you, but also find someone not in your family whom they can go to for help) with concerns or questions.
- Squeamish? No shame if you were raised to think bodies are gross. To get started, here are BASIC Anatomy & Body Awareness Books.
Or if you don’t have time or want to skip ahead to fully inclusive awesomeness, go get the 2021 latest edition of the Bare Naked Body Book. GET IT. GET IT NOW. (disclosure: Annick press sent me a free review copy because I COULD NOT WAIT.)
- Next up, start discussing the diversity of bodies and how all bodies are good with Radically Body-Positive Kids Books.
- Now it’s time to destigmatize body size with adipositivity and books about fat liberation. None of this tap-dancing-around-stigma.
- Name the fact that popular media in our society discriminates against people with larger bodies. Discuss the myth that fat bodies are inherently less good or healthy or that thinness means desirability or health. Most importantly – openly discuss with kids how another person’s size, eating habits, or exercise is not a signifier of their value as a human being.
- Talk openly with kids about visible differences. Create a family policy so kids know they are allowed to ask about physical differences, but how to do it in a way that doesn’t make folks uncomfortable or feel like sideshow freaks. This includes folks of different races, ambiguously ethnic folks, and folks using disability accommodations.
Example: From my experience as a visibly multiracial person and as a person who often wears earmuffs in public to deal with some sensory issues:
- Don’t stare.
- Or if you must stare – please don’t do it while frowning. It’s scary and I get nervous about getting yelled at or you know, attacked.
- Not conspicuously avoiding eye contact or pretending we don’t exist.
- Smiling and saying ‘hello.’ Like you’re talking to a fellow human. Because you are!
- Agreeing ahead of time with kids to save questions for when you’re alone together.
- When a kid points something out, not hushing or implying shame, just saying cheerfully “Yeah, they have a really cool wheelchair!” or “Those are some sweet earmuffs! Smart for a noisy place like this!” or “Oh a new neighbor*, let’s say hello.” or “We can learn more about this when we get home.”
*Neighbor – or any word that suggests that this person is one of us – a member of our community.
- If kids slip up and comment on someone’s appearance- actively apologizing to the person you’ve made uncomfortable and letting them know you’ve got some conversations to have with your kids. “Sorry about that, we’ve been reading about skin color and my kid got excited because we live in a bit of a bubble. I understand if it made you uncomfortable or feel singled out, no [neighbor / fellow shopper / community member, etc.] should have to deal with being spotlit like this. I’ll be discussing how to be a better community member with the the kids when we get home.”
- The point is to de-center yourself and remember that folks who look ‘different’ have to navigate daily life like this, so treat us like humans who have just as much right to take up space in public and see this place as as much our space as you do.
- Ask kids to keep an eye out and to name body-shaming, fat-shaming, wrinkle-shaming, etc. advertisements. It’s a game! The Earthquakes love this.
- Keep up with the reading all year round. For those identities where you hold privilege, make sure at least 50% of your books normalize and validate stories of people who do not look like you. Here’s an ever-expanding list of books that explicitly explain to kids that all bodies are good bodies to get you started.
Understanding consent and body boundaries
- I like to think we’re far enough into the 2000’s that we’re not just teaching girls how to avoid attack, but also teaching boys how to not attack women & gender creative folks. So if you’re raising sons, get on that.
- And if you’re raising daughters & gender-creative kids, you, too, have to teach your kids not to violate other folks’ body boundaries. Domestic violence targets boys and men, too. Basically what I’m saying is all kids need to understand consent & body boundaries! How to set our own boundaries – and how to respect the boundaries of others.
- Also a reminder that folks with disabilities also have a right to body sovereignty, and that extends to mobility and medical devices. Explicitly discuss this with kiddos.
- Practice body agency and consent early and often. I understand that this gets tricky with babies and toddlers. They need constant help and sometimes make genuinely bad decisions. (Who hasn’t had to forcibly remove goose poop from the mouth of a toddler?) Here is a booklist for consent & body sovereignty board books to practice tricky situations. And also Monica’s video of how she deals with reluctant kids in the bath in our post about respecting body agency is helpful, too.
- Regarding boundaries – this also extends to microbes. Wear a mask! Wash your hands! Don’t violate others’ rights not to get infected with deadly viruses! Motivate kids to keep up their good habits with Do Not Lick This Book.
- Teach older kids (4+) how to identify understand coercion and grooming tactics with Pretty Salma.
Understanding gender & sexuality
Lots of folks are still confused about the relationship between gender and sex. Or even gender and sexuality. So let’s get on the same page.
Okay great – at this point you know there’s a small correlation between gender and sex, but that assigned sex at birth doesn’t determine your gender. Cool? Let’s move on to understanding sexuality, and how that, too, is not tied to gender!
- Understanding reproduction (sex for making new humans)
- Understanding sexuality & masturbation (sex for recreation), and how to set boundaries.
- Go back and revisit the books on consent and body boundaries! Often! ‘Cause our boundaries are constantly in flux!
- Still got steam? Pick up a copy of How Mamas Love Their Babies and discuss how sex workers are people who deserve human rights, safety, and career autonomy.
Entering… month 14 of family semi-isolation – Spring edition
We left the house this week! We’re no longer fully isolated! Huzzah! This weekend we celebrated a social-distance, masked outdoor Holi with our Indian American friends and neighbors, and it was utterly lovely.
The Earthquakes were totally wiped and disregulated about an hour in, but I’m kind of proud of us. While we’re waiting for access to the vaccine, I’m hoping you and yours are finding opportunities to connect IRL, if that’s your thing, and a glimmer of hope that we’ll get to hug our loved again.
- Our favorite books to read for Spring
- Hilarious books that legit made the Earthquakes belly-laugh
- Kids Books For Pandemic Life
- Books To Reassure Kids During Coronavirus Isolation
- Stories Validating Big Feelings
- Our favorite books of 2021 so far.
- Q (age 8), and R2 (age 6) have been actively plowing through books in search of the best reads for peers and assorted rascals. After this many years, they are picky and have great taste with no patience for fluff or bigotry. Here they are:
April Family Calls Us To Action:
[Image: Bystander Intervention is an effective tool we can all learn and use to show up for the AAPI community. Join me & sign up for Bystander Intervention Training to stop anti-Asian/American and xenophobic harassment: ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention @ihollaback @AAAJ_AAJC ]
Action for Grownups!
Join me and our friends – sign up for free Bystander Intervention training to Stop anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment and cultivate resilience & mental health for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans. It’s 1-hour long, interactive, and there are multiple dates available right now: https://www.ihollaback.org/
For Asian & Pacific Islander Americans
Workshop: How to respond to harassment when anti-Asian/American harassment:
For Non-Asian Accomplices
Workshop: Bystander intervention to stop anti-Asian/American harassment and xenophobia
- Monday April 5th 2021. 1pm EST/ 12PM CT/ 11am MT/ 10am PT/ 7am HST. Register Here
- Tuesday April 6th 2021. 2pm ET/ 1pm CT/ 12pm MT/ 11am PT/ 9am HST. Register Here.
- Wednesday April 7th 2021. 3pm ET/ 2pm CT/ 1pm MT/ 12pm PT/ 10am HST. Register Here.
- Thursday April 8th 2021. 1pm ET/ 12pm CT/ 11am MT/ 10am PT/ 8am HST. Register Here.
- Wednesday April 14th 2021. 6:30pm EST/ 5:30pm CT/ 4:30pm MT/ 3:30pm PT/ 12:30 HST. Register Here
- Thursday April 29th 2021. 3pm EST/ 2pm CT/ 1pm MT/ 12pm PT/ 9am HST. Register Here
Gift a Little Feminist Book Club subscription for your nieghbor.
Whenever I find new children’s biographies about kickass AAPI women & femmes, I tell our partner, Little Feminist Book Club about it right away. We don’t just focus on AAPI women, but you’ll find a higher representation of us in these boxes than most places. So far, we’ve filled neighborhoods with biographies including Wu Chien Shiung, The Queen of Physics, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior, and It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew The Way.
Action for Kids:
Let’s take our practice from read a-louds to tangible art therapy and advocacy.
Gather what you’ve learned in the articles, tool kits, and books we discuss here with me, and process these deep discussions through creative art with our partners over at Revolutionary Humans – whether it’s a craft, photo, video, project board, or whatever medium that works for you.
Participation is free, but if you’re able to join the Revolutionary Humans community or send Bellamy a one-time tip to help her with groceries, you can keep projects like this free and accessible for all.
[Image: You’re invited to our Virtual Justice Fair! Share your art, poetry, ideas, + more!’ Revolutionaryhumans.com]
One more good thing…
The kids did nothing cute or enjoyable this month, just lots of screaming and bickering. So I dipped into the 2017 archives to get a sense of perspective for how much easier life is now that they’re older.
Instead, I just realized they pull this nonsense – they’re just less cute about it.
[Video description: The first ever time I succumbed to exhaustion and took a nap while my kids were awake, my eldest was 5. He got into the food coloring, turned himself blue for a week, and both the 2- & 5-year-old learned that mom napping means CHAOS REIGNS. I groggily fail to get the 5-year-old to see the error in his ways. The 2-year-old cheers enthusiastically from off camera and calls for more mommy naps. See captions in the video.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Support Your AAPI Family
You are amazing and maaagic. I appreciate the fact that you’re on this planet, raising awesome kiddos and leading this next generation of kind, clever and generous leaders.
Also I’m gonna be honest, things aren’t always sweet bean paste and dantaat. As much as I love the work AAJC is doing exposing racism against us (it’s always been here, non-AAPI are just paying attention now), I’ve had to step away from reading the news and just take a break from the media this month.
I’ve lived with the knowledge that I am the other here – and as a multiracial Asian, in all places throughout the world, the feminine Asian body, an objectified, fetishized object, dehumanized and ultimately disposable at every age. I really appreciate those of you who have checked in on me this month – but I also should wish I had words to say how this is not any worse than normal.
I am no more afraid today than I was pre-2016, or even as a child. I have just always been afraid. That said – I have the privilege of a home to shelter in, and the resources to live in a city with a large Asian population where I finally feel like I don’t stick out when I leave the house. But many do not.
AAPI fam: Please destigmatize mental health services – not just restorative, but also preventative maintenance therapy within our community. Get a therapist if you can afford one, and when you’re ready – tell your friends when you find a good one. After 37 years of allistic white therapists who couldn’t reconcile how living Asian, multiracial & Autistic in the US intertwines with my mental health, I found a multiracial, neurodiversity-positive therapist on Find a Therapist Like Me.
Oh, hey, look – here is that tantalizing button again:
You can keep these resources free & accessible for all join the Raising Luminaries Patreon community. Members get access to whatever messy capers are in the works over here in Bumblebee Hollow, including workshop recordings and sneak peeks at the home school curriculum I’m designing for next year (working title: The Ray Finishing School for Rapscallions). This includes curated videos, guided discussion questions to unpack hard topics with kids.
If you don’t need extra resources, but want to help me keep this free for the public – make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries. Thank you, friends!