[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup December 2020”]
“Because of you, there is one more person who will grow and learn, and one more person who can teach others” –
While our family does our winter holiday thing, I wanted to take a moment and send a bit of happiness and gratitude your way and say Happy Holidays!
You, my friends, are a gift.
For those of you sticky with candy cane goop, snoozled on eggnog, and muddling through each day wearing the same pajamas you put on back in March, I hope you’re finding ways to use this pandemic as an opportunity to say ‘screw it!’ to all the tedious busywork that made pre-pandemic holidays exhausting.
Beyond just survival – I’m hoping you’ll find pockets of genuine joy. I’m grateful for you, your insight, and our community as a place where we’re all learning how wonderful all of our traditions are. Our friendship is a gift.
And of any of you not doing holidays this season, Happy Regular Days to you. You, too, are a gift to the world.
No matter what, you are worthy and deserving of safety, health, happiness. This coming year, we will fight to ensure that.
For today, though, I’m taking a minute to think about what a gift it is to have this community – where we can be together from around the world.
You’re great. Your voice is a gift that matters, and I’m grateful you’ve chosen to lend it here.
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What we discuss with the kids in December
Over in Bumblebee Hollow, here are the themes and events we discuss with the Earthquakes, along with a very brief resource for those of you who need simple, practical steps to keep pushing.
In December, we rest
Last December, I wrote about the importance of balancing a cycle of composting and silence with growth, and why we should model silence and stillness for our kids. Our (settler) family is learning about seasonal Indigenous traditions throughout Turtle Island, and how they influenced our winter holidays.
December Action for Grownups!
- Learn how acknowledging the winter solstice is an act decolonization.
- Rest, and then read The Next American Revolution. As we recover from the first 20 years this century, we need to shore up our energy and think critically and long-term about building a sustainable, interdependent society over the next twenty years.
- Explore & support initiatives from the Allied Media Group.
- Extra credit: In exercising silence, I stop doing email for the month of December. Join me if you can, it’s freeing.
December Action for Kids!
- Read Beaver Steals Fire after the first snowfall (or, I guess, truly chilly day for those of you who don’t get snow).
- Start talking about responsible fire stewardship in your local bioregion.
- Have a family discussion on how you can cut down on plastic during this year’s holidays.
Feeling isolated? Find your brave-space community
(Free for BIPOC, white accomplice roles & premium subscription space available)
Unschoolers, homeschoolers, alt-schoolers, and liberation educators: Find resources to support your kids’ post-industrial education practice in the My Reflection Matters Village. I support MRM on patreon.
(Some free events, or everything if you get a subscription)
Graeme Seabrook is supporting parents who identify as mothers in the Mom Center through these times when mothers are being disproportionately pushed out of the workforce, left to fill gaps in education, childcare, housing, and healthcare. I support the Mom Center on Kiva.
April B. (our Dean of Rebellious Educators), and I are so completely overwhelmed right now, so we’re kind of hibernating right now. Besides, all our educator members are working 24/7 and overwhelmed – so they’re moving slowly, but steadily, finding ways to support each other.
(Available only for Luminary+ tier supporters. Not free – but everything else here is, ’cause this is how we support it!)
Luminary Open Office Hours (I’ll add links to the invite posts later)
- Tuesday, December 22, 1:30-3:00pm EST
- Sunday, January 10, 2-3:30pm EST
This winter, I’d like to revisit our discussions on Doing Less – and maybe pick up where we left off on last winter’s series. I’ll also be hosting monthly virtual open office hours this winter – if looking at my goofy face while we chat sounds like a fun time?
The LBT is for those of you who want to dig in deeper on the topics we discuss here. Become a Luminary+ supporter and connect with me in our weekly conversations at your own pace. Your membership contributions are my primary income – and this is how I fund all the free resources I provide for you, and everyone.
We’ve been using a private Facebook group for the last couple years (cause I can’t afford anything fancy!) But I’m working to find a way to connect with you that doesn’t drag you into the cesspool of social media. Or force you to navigate confusing apps.
Recommended Books: 8 Years of favorite winter stories
How we discuss cultural traditions & history with the Earthquakes
12/1 is Rosa Parks Day
Over the years, we’ve read oodles of picture books on Rosa Parks. Most reduce her decision and her courage to whim. It wasn’t, it was a carefully planned and strategically executed start of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Which just reinforced how brave she really was. Even though I have many issues with the Ordinary People series, I Am Rosa Parks is our favorite book to kick off these discussions. It’s funny, engaging, and goes into deeper detail on how mindful Parks was in her resistance – but it’s also factually inaccurate and implies that ‘racism is over.’ We use it to discuss the whitewashing of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Since the mainstream media and public curriculum saturates kids with a two-dimensional, pedestaled martyr of Parks, this year, we’re focusing our attention on Georgia Gilmore in Pies from Nowhere. This book expands beyond Parks, to show how movements are not created or maintained by whim or luck. Nor are they achieved through the actions of just with one person.
I’m talking with the Earthquakes about Gilmore’s skill set. Baking is not the first talent we think of when we imagine heroes and change-makers. This story opens up the lens on what it means to work in collective resistance down at the grassroots level, and how everybody can (must) play a part in revolution.
Tying this to modern times within the Earthquakes’ lifetime- we’re also learning about Bree Newsome’s take-down of the confederate flag and that impact on state flags in 2020. (There are no children’s books on Newsome yet, so we watch this video). Afterward, we talk about what has changed, and what has stayed the same since Parks’ refusal.
The way Gilmore and Parks contributed to a wider movement. The way Newsome’s trained her for the ascent, how her accomplice, Jason Tyson, used his whiteness to hug the flag pole to prevent cops from electrocuting her with tasers.
If your kids love these discussions, keep it going – check out more savior-free kids books celebrating Black women in US history, and the many ways we can disrupt anti-Blackness.
Meanwhile: This fight continues. Thinking of Rosa Parks and Georgia Gilmore made me think of Darius McCollum – who we talked about last year. It’s been two years, and he’s still incarcerated for being Black & disabled. Please sign the petition & Free Darius.
12/20-12/18 is Hanukkah
Remember last month, when we discussed Diwali and the symbolism of light and hope? As gentiles, we learn about the significance of Hanukkah – hope in the darkest days of winter.
While I’m expecting less whitewashing in upcoming books featuring Jewish characters as we ride the post 2020-publishing tide, those aren’t out yet. So meanwhile here’s a short list of our favorites that I’ll keep adding to each year.
12/21 is the winter solstice
- Lucia and the Light is our favorite book the darkest and most bitterly cold nights of winter, but it’s out of print and kind of hard to find.
- But I’ve compiled all the rest of our easier-to-find favorite winter stories over here.
12/25 is Christmas
Every year, I’m like:
“YEAH! This is the year we’re gonna DO CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX! I’m gonna create so much friggin’ warm and joyous memories, the Earthquakes will be hardcore resilient for the rest of their lives!”
“THIS IS THE YEAR we will start sustainable family traditions. THIS IS THE YEAR I’m gonna start sending Christmas cards and deepen friendships! THIS IS THE YEAR we’re gonna PUMP UP THE GENEROSITY and schmaltz it up to 11!”
And then I pull together some shitty DIY cookies or whatever, and run out of steam.
But what I’ve figured out after trying to do 7 years of CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX, is that the less I do, the more fun we all have.
- Here’s a quick & easy list of our favorite Christmas Stories for Secular Families
- And don’t forget about last year’s unpolished booklist on Christmas stories and our goofy list of non-mainstream Santas (You want a Japanese Santa who’s not great at his job? You want a gay Black Santa? You want a misfit Santa? You want a dinosaur santa? We got it all!)
12/26 is Boxing Day
Canadian friends – please help me out. Every year I spend a week trying to figure out exactly what Boxing day is, and what it’s about. And every year, I find myself more confused than before I started. There are no children’s books about Boxing day down here in the US, so I’ve hit a dead-end on that avenue.
What, exactly is Boxing Day? I think it’s supposed to be a less greedy-yet-still-kind-of-consumery version of Christmas? HALP.
12/26 through 1/1 is Kwanzaa
Even if you don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, it’s a really cool, strategically-created modern holiday worth learning about. There are 7 days, and each day consists of a reflection and an action. For those of you who celebrate Ramadan, Diwali, and Chinese New Year, you’ll recognize some common reflections and traditions.
I started to curate a quick-reference Kwanzaa reading list, but most of my favorites aren’t available on Bookshop. Also – I just haven’t been able to find many engaging books about it. Most of them are didactic, clearly made to be read in classrooms as an introduction to Kwanzaa for non-practicing kids.
While many kids who actively celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah get stories using the holiday as a background for fun adventures, there’s just…none of that for Kwanzaa. Seriously – do a search. It’s all non-fiction, covers of families smiling and lighting candles on a kinara as they drag us through the days. (Don’t be fooled by the cover of Kevin’s Kwanzaa – sure, at least they’re dancing, but it reads like a mayo sandwich.)
So gatekeepers, start boosting #OwnVoices authors who celebrate Kwanzaa, and give them space to create books of adventure and validation.
Meanwhile, here’s what we’ll have to make do with:
- Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa has the most engaging illustrations and gets kids at least semi-interested in the holiday, which gives them some motivation to endure the more dreary, didactic books.
- Seven Spools of Thread (medearis) is the only one with an actual story that the kids like reading.
- Together for Kwanzaa – Beautiful illustrations, and the author tries to couch a lot of facts into a story. But the kids know this is just a pile of facts under the guise of a story, and they’re not falling for it.
- Seven Candles for Kwanzaa (pinkney) is out of print, but has the most thorough rundown on the significance of each day. It’s well written and interesting, but honestly, my kids resent sitting through bland didactic books like this. So we treat it more as a reference text, and is a little bit redundant if you have Together for Kwanzaa on hand.
- My First Kwanzaa is, as you’d expect from the copy/paste Katz factory, whitewashed and basic, but it’s the only board book on Kwanzaa for younger kids. Also that kid is over a year old – that’s clearly not her first Kwanzaa. That’s how much thought Katz put into this cash-grab. She didn’t even include flaps. What even is the point of a Katz book without flaps?
12/31 is New Year’s Eve (Gregorian calendar)
Since we celebrate the Lunar New Year, we don’t make a big deal out of the Gregorian New Year. But if you’re looking for some books to ring in the new year, here’s a short reading list of books in the spirit of the New Year.
For those of us begrudgingly entering gift season:
Unless your family has reached a state of enlightenment or you’ve managed to extricate yourself from a community saturated in capitalism and reciprocity, you’re probably going to have to participate in the whole gift-giving ordeal just to lubricate your social life for the next 12 months. So here we go, a comprehensive list of gifts:
Books for Kids
- Goofy books that we can count on for a laugh
- Books For The Next Generation Of Kind & Brilliant Leaders
- Kids Books About Radical Kindness
- Books About Girls of Color Are Not Just For Girls
- Wordless Picture Books To Buy You A Few Minutes of Quiet
- Q has been working on this list of Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids all year
- The Winter Favorites we’ve enjoyed over 8 years of reading so many winter books.
- Head to my Bookshop page to find recommendations by age.
- I just LOVE Coloring Without Borders. If I was rich, I’d give this as a gift to every kid I know. The proceeds support families separated at the border.
Books for Teens & Adults
- Big Kid Book Club (10+) Books my kids are still too young to enjoy – but maybe you know older kids & teens who can!
- The books we connect over in the Luminary Brain Trust #GrownUpBookClub
- Easy Gift Guide: Books & Companion Toys – for when books aren’t enough, I try to pair a book with a toy or activity that complements the story.
- The neurodivergent kiddo goes through lots of chew necklaces – so every year, we buy our stim toys from the Autistic-owned Stimtastic. I’ve worked with Stimtastic in the past, who helped me provide chew stims for a local group home for displaced kids, and they’re great.
- A neighbor in our local buy-nothing project generously gifted a solar-powered light for R2 when he asked “Hi, I’m R2. I’m scared of people saying ‘Braaaiiins’ in the dark. Can I have a solar-powered flashlight? Please?”
It turns out she runs an organization that donates these to kids without access to clean & reliable electricity. Initiatives like this transform environmental, health, and wealth-equity justice. If you buy a Luke’s Light for your kids, they’ll donate another. While you’re at it – pick up a copy of Chandra’s Magic Light to talk about this concept with your family.
- Check out Paper Liberated for your adult friends, and Real Life Bricks for your kid friends – both of these are small businesses founded by members of our patreon community. We’re in cahoots! If you’re a patreon supporter and make good giftables, tell us in the comments!
Too busy to keep up with my book lists? I hand-pick my favorite books for LFBC so they can deliver them straight to your door each month, along with guided activities and discussion questions.
One more good thing…
So in those merciful moments when the Earthquakes aren’t screaming at each other and I’m not negotiating with them to pick up their damn socks, they have pockets of weird awesomeness, like this:
[Video description: R2, our resident pescatarian and chicken-rights advocate, slowly chicken-walking across the kitchen, singing “buck-a, buck-a chicken, buck buu-uck” on repeat. He has been doing this around the house multiple times a day, every day, for over a month.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Compost
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