[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup April” set against a background of pink tree blossoms.]
This April, we’re exploring gratitude and appreciation
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.
Quick links to resources on this page:
- Significant dates & events in April
- Monthly explorations for April
- April Calls to Action
- April Good Finds
- Join Us
Get Updates & Stay Connected
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Need help explaining big ideas?
Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big concepts.
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Significant Dates & Events in April
None of us can do it all – so pick one topic to introduce or revisit each April. Then pick one book to start a family discussion and take it from there. Simple!
April Fool’s Day
Okay lemme get this straight – on the first day of April, we lie to people, and then when they get freaked out, we all laugh? This is some allstic nonsense. 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 – during St. Paddy’s, we declare the day open-blarney season. For 24 hours, the Earthquakes are 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 Americans, we’re celebrating the traditions of our ancestors and the unique cultural mishmash that comes with our history. We celebrate a long family tradition of telling stories of whimsy, wit, and absolute bullshit.
If I could maintain the false image of ‘a good parent‘ I’d sell you some nonsense about open blarney-season cultivating imagination and creative thinking in our kids. Honestly though, sometimes I just want a break from assessing 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 in 2020 just before St. Paddy’s as the world shut down for Covid. Erin Go Bullshit.
Read: Stories of pranksters, witty liars, and expert bullshitters
While many Coyote & Raven stories would fit within this realm of expert bullshittery, try to avoid the Trickster stories of folks Indigenous to Northern Turtle Island, as those should we reserved for the winter season out of respect.
When is it?
- Annually on the first of April on the Gregorian calendar
Parenting is Praxis
- 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.
Autism Bewareness Day
Autism Bewareness Day is about raising AWARENESS that autism (re: Autistic people) are AN EPIDEMIC THAT MUST BE STOPPED! Over the years, this has crept into an entire month of blue-washing and puzzle pieces, thanks to the Autism $peaks campaign to monetize ableism.
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 coming for your children. Same for Autistics – knowing about us doesn’t help us if everything you know is a stigmatizing stereotype!
April has become the month when Autism Warrior Parents and bemoan even louder about how horrible it is to live with us and folks who profit off ABA programs run fire sales. There’s a general spooky bewareness of all the ways we are Burdens On Society.
So maybe just cool it and just let us get through our days without being reminded that there’s an entire industry dedicated to preventing and eradicating us.
When is it?
- Annually on the second day of April
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).
Calls to action: Donate to the Autistic People of Color Fund
Calls to action: Families with autistic kids (this means you, too, fellow Neurodivergent parents!)
Listen to our latest podcast episode with Autistic communication coach, Saunatina Sanchez, on expanding our communication styles to smash ableism and how we feel when allistic folks say “But you don’t look autistic!”
Get communication guidance and expert coaching to be the best parents an Autistic kid could have from Saunatina S. of Crafting Sound Meaning, Autistic communication coach.
She’s got two parent guidance coaching spots left as of March 2022.
Here’s a special bonus just for you: use code ‘Ray‘ for $10 off a Coaching Session – works for a quick intro consult or a full session. (This is not an affiliate link.)
More resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Kids Books Celebrating Neurodiversity
- Non-Shamey Guides For Autistic Kiddos
- When Making Friends Is Hard – Books For Kids Who Feel Left Out
- What Parents of Autistic Kids Need to Know – Neurodivergent Narwhals
- Unpacking Tokenism & Disclosure In ‘A Boy Called Bat’
- Understanding Autistic Masking With ‘A Tiger Called Tomás
- Kids Stories On Transitions: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Accepting Change
- Raising Luminaries Podcast: Anti-ableism & expanding our cultural perspective
- Mother’s Quest Podcast: Smashing the kyriarchy
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.
When is it?
- 15th day after the spring equinox, which usually falls sometime between April 4-6
- The Most Beautiful Thing (ages 5+)
- The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee (ages 4-8)
- Watercress (ages 4-8)
- Qingming responsibilities
- Why we observe Qingming
- Folding yuan bao (simple enough for 4+)
- Folding yuan bao ( more advanced for ages 8+)
Discuss: Decolonizing Death
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
More resources to dig deeper
- Children’s Books for Qingming
- Childrens books on Death Positivity
- Supporting kids through the death of a friend
- Supporting kids through the death of a grandparent
- October Resource Roundup: Exploring Death Positivity
- Check out the Día de lost Muertos book collection if you’d like to compare & contrast – that’s one of the few non-European holidays that gets plenty of traction in kidlit.
Passover / Pesach
When is it?
- 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, celebrates for 7-8 days
- In the Gregorian calendar this usually falls in late March to April.
- What is it called ‘Passover’?
- What are the four questions? Why are they important?
- What is a seder? What does it mean when something symbolizes a bigger idea??
What do each of the foods shared during this meal symbolize? How do these practices like this help people of faith remember their history?
- Why was it so important for people of the Jewish faith to celebrate Passover even (especially) when Jewish traditions were banned?
- Why is it important to remember our history?
When is it?
- The first Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox, sometime in March or April.
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.
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.)
When is it?
- Annually on April 10th on the gregorian calendar
More resources to dig deeper:
- 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.
The Month of Ramadan
When is it?
- The month of Ramadan takes place during the 9th lunar month of the Islamic calendar, starting from the sighting of one crescent moon to the next (about 29-31 days).
- The official start is determined by local moon sighting committees, so start dates depend on where you are local to and/or which authorities you follow.
- Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month, when the next crescent moon has been sighted or after 30 days if folks can’t see the moon.
I’m delighted to report that there have been more and more engaging stories centering the holiday published in the last few years, so we no longer have to settle for “This is about the month of Ramadan” and can now get picky about which #OwnVoices Muslim stories are the most fun to read.
There are plenty of books about the holiday – 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 stories the Earthquakes have enjoyed over the years. As they get older, we’re able to dig deeper into the principles 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 the month of Ramadan.
Discuss (for non-Muslim kids)
- How can we support our friends who observe the month of Ramadan?
- Make space so observing is accessible, but don’t assume folks celebrate the month.
- 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.
- When talking about the practices, observance, and the holiday, why do say “The month of Ramadan‘ instead of just the name of the month alone? (‘Ramadan‘ is another name for Allah in instructional and holy writings, referring to a calendar month by this name alone is disrespectful.)
Call to action:
- Choose stories centering Muslim characters that are not about the month of Ramadan. Schedule a time to read them together between June – March.
- Do the things you discussed above!
More Resources to dig deeper:
- Kids stories featuring people observing the Month of Ramadan
- Stories centering Muslim characters that are not about the month of Ramadan
Festival of Vaisakhi
I’m still learning about the spring harvest festival of 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 that’s what I’ve got!
- On the first day of the month of Vaisakha, the Hindu & Sikh solar new year.
- Falls on 13th or 14th of April on the Gregorian calendar.
- Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi!
I’ll be honest this is not a great book. It’s fine for teaching kids about Vaisakhi in a classroom, but there’s no story or depth on why Sikhs celebrate the holiday.
- The Garden of Peace
This is not about Vaisakhi, but more about the principles of inclusion and defiance against authoritarianism central to Sikhism. It’s also gorgeous and written by my friend Navjot, an #OwnVoices Sikh indie publisher. (She gave me this copy for free).
- “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” (Dino C. (1931-2020) wasn’t Sikh or Hindu, but this quote comes to mind. )
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.
- Check out the guide, 8 ways to include Vaisakhi in the classroom.
Velociraptor Awareness Day!!!
I just wanted you to know.
When is it?
- Annually on the 18th of April on the Gregorian calendar
Parenting is Praxis: Beware!
Just like Autistic people, Velociraptors are not something you need to be particularly be afraid of – but clutch your pearls and get your bewareness on, nonetheless!
Let’s all take this opportunity to FREAK OUT so we can distract ourselves from the real problems of climate devastation and systemic injustice! Will getting a vaccine turn your child into a bloodthirsty, extinct dinosaur?! There’s only one way to find out!
- Talk with kids about why cloning endangered species isn’t enough – and why we need to create a habitat for existing endangered species.
Remember, If you’ve met one extinct animal with velociraptorism, you’ve met one extinct animal with velociraptorism.*
- Take that as an excuse to shut down any velociraptor who tries to explain how extinction impacts them or how they are personally harmed by it.
- I mean, you probably have a kid whose best-friend’s sister is into velociraptors! So you know what’s best for velociraptors better than any velociraptor.
*Do you hear how ridiculous this sounds? Please stop using it to silence Autistic self-advocates.
Call to action:
- Watch out for velociraptors. Those fuckers are fast.
- If you have the privilege of health and access, get vaccinated.
- Even if you do turn into an autistic velociraptor!
- (You won’t.)
- Because vaccines don’t cause velociraptorism!
- But also why would it be so bad if you did?
- What do you have against velociraptors?!
Festival of 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.
When is it?
- Begins at sunset on the 13th day of the Bahá’í month of Jalál, and lasts 12 days
- The start usually falls on April 20-21 on the Gregorian calendar.
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 4 or reviewed by mainstream media outlets – and alllll these organizations are run by folks who hold privileged identities so…)
- Why are books on some religions and festivals hard, or impossible, to find?
- How [does /would] it make you feel if your local library had tons of books on dominant religions, didn’t have any books about the traditions that center your core cultural and spiritual values?
Earth Day & Arbor Day
You know what Earth Day is. Let’s do some good stuff for the Earth!
When is it?
- Earth day is April 22nd on the Gregorian calendar
- Arbor day is the last Friday in April
Parenting is Praxis: Commit to doing 1 small thing
- Check out the Bingo chart from our Climate Justice Toolkit.
- Schedule five of these actions in your calendar over 30 days.
More resources to dig deeper:
- Check out more books on intersectional climate justice
- Stories & discussion guide for International Day of Forests
- Check out the Climate Justice Toolkit, created by our community member and the author of Growing Sustainable Together, Shannon Brescher Shea.
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.”
When is it?
- April 23rd on the Gregorian calendar
- Our Rainbow (ages 1+)
- Jacob’s Room to Choose (ages 5+)
- Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (ages 4+)
Parenting is Praxis:
- 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.
Kid-Designed Action: Advocate & Normalize Gender Diversity in your school
Designed by a gender-creative nonbinary kiddo who had been picked on in the bathroom and wanted to spread acceptance for bathroom choice:
- 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.
More resources to dig deeper
Armenian Genocide Memorial Day / Martyr’s Day
When is it?
- April 24th on the gregorian calendar, in memory of the victims of persecution that began on April 24, 1915.
- Read The Greedy Sparrow (ages 4-8)
Parenting is Praxis:
- 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:
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The Chinese government targeting Uyghur Muslims and attempted control of Taiwan.
- Israel’s apartheid and annexation of Palestine.
- Holocaust deniers to erase the history and modern impact of on people targeted by the Holocaust, and their decendants.
- Talk about what values your family needs to embrace now to prevent future violence and resist modern genocidal regimes.
Another major religious holiday, this one celebrated in Jainism, where I can’t find any kid-friendly resources. For now, we’ll be discussing the significance of Jainism.
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!
When is it?
- The 14th day of the waxing moon during the Hindu month of Caitra, marking the birth of Lord Mahavir, founder of Jainism
- This usually falls between March or April on the Gregorian calendar
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.)
What a fascinating button. What’s on the other side?! Click it! You know you want to. Join us if you benefit from this work and can spare a few bucks each month, or make a one-time contribution: Venmo | Ko-fi | Paypal
Monthly Explorations for April
As we discuss the topics above, we tie them into deeper discussions throughout the month about gratitude and appreciation and why we revisit these topics during a season of emergence and new beginnings.
Let’s explore appreciation and gratitude
Gratitude is using the concept of being worse-off and leveraging that relief to feel better about our situation. Appreciation is staying mindful of how things are in the moment as a centering practice to remember what really matters.
We should be wary of gratitude exercises out of context
Comparing ourselves to others, or even to a past or imaginary version of ourselves is using someone else’s experience to feel better, and that’s a fine line connecting us to the roots of comparison, shame, and supremacy.
Gratitude is a big part of American culture, and a key difference between the colonizer view of a gratitude-based American Thanksgiving and the original appreciation-based observances of Indigenous cultures throughout Turtle Island.
Gratitude is also a big factor in exercises such as fasting during the month of Ramadan, where people fast as an empathy practice to relinquish arrogance and take action to channel this pain toward humility and generous action.
And we’d be silly to erase gratitude as a significant byproduct of what we do here in Raising Luminaries, particularly when we’re reading stories about kids who have it worse than we do. At the same time, it’d be unrealistic to live in ‘happiness appreciation journal land‘ (aka White Lady Instagram) where we wrap ourselves in bubbles of Goop and erase or ignore the people who don’t have the same access we do.
Gratitude can the gateway to a much-needed reality check. My concern with gratitude exercises is that we focus on the exercise and the feelings but rarely channel all that energy into action. What are we doing with the knowledge and emotion generated from a gratitude exercise? Are we taking responsibility for the gap, and going out to change the world? Or are we using the stories of folks who have less to generate a self-serving sense of relief or smug superiority?
So let’s unpack this. To disentangle the difference between gratitude and appreciation, we’ll start by helping kids understand what gratitude means, and the roots of ‘Stop complaining, it could be worse‘ or ‘But there are starving kids in Africa!‘
Books on gratitude
Books on appreciation
- My Heart Fills with Happiness (ages 6 months – 4 years)
- The Table Where Rich People Sit (ages 6+)
- The Little Things (ages 4-8) Caveat for stigmatizing language against older adults
- What’s the difference between gratitude and appreciation?
- How does gratitude make us feel? How does appreciation make us feel?
- How do each of these feelings comfort, motivate, or hold us back from taking action?
More resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Kids Stories Cultivating Gratitude & Appreciation
- Birthday books for kind & generous kids
- Post-Consumerism For Kids
- Decolonizing Thanksgiving is an Oxymoron
Let’s explore the season of emergence & trying new things
More Resources Like This:
Gift a Little Feminist Book Club subscription for the teacher in your life who could use some books on mindfulness and agency.
April Calls Us to Action!
Calls to Action for Kids
Today’s action is a personal one, to do alone or with your family. Create art that represents the best parts of you! Be kind to yourself- grab a piece of paper and have fun using words, doodles, our Self-Affirming Collage Set, paint, markers, etc. to tell the story of what makes you, you!
Your project can be a quick doodle or more in-depth. It’s up to you! (You don’t have to consider yourself artistic to make art- give it a try!)
If you’re doing this project with someone. Encourage them by sharing what you love about them! Have fun with this one!”
– Bellamy via Revolutionary Humans
Action for Grownups: Listen & Subscribe to the Raising Luminaries Podcast
Be a good ally & accomplice – listen & believe targeted folks on what support looks like for us.
Listen to last month’s podcast: Anger & The Spectacle with Bellamy & Ashia
Action for Massachusetts Residents:
Raising Luminaries is formally endorsing legislation organized by CARE (Coalition for Anti-Racism, Equity & Justice in Education) introducing anti-racism requirements in MA school curriculum.
Mass residents: Text SIGN PNKRCB to 50409 or share this link to send a letter to the Governor and MA legislature calling for the original full text of the bill (rather than the watered down ambiguous version it’s been reduced to).
Not a Massachusetts resident?
Share below in the comments what legislation you’re supporting to advocate for anti-oppression curriculum in your local schools. So other folks local to you can join in!
Action for Grownups:
Join our community to get a monthly members-only batch of actions & resources in response to current events, including:
- Kids books to help you start talking about authoritarian dictators, refugees, and the invasion of Ukraine – along with actions to release those big, overwhelming feelings of despair and frustration into good action.
- Is your school still teaching kids a one-sided history about the Oregon Trail (and playing that video game where Indigenous folks are NPC’s born to serve settlers?) Here’s a letter template and videogame alternative!
- Best books for 2-year-olds, as screened, tested & recommended by actual two-year olds.
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Good Finds for April
R2’s Favorites: (Age 7.5)
R2’s also adding When Sparks Fly to his rotation of validating biographies normalizing asthma and mistakes & resilience, but we’re also a little biased toward this story since our family has multiple (but frequent!) weak connections to Robert Goddard, and he thinks that’s cool.
And I dunno about you but during our two years of pandemic isolation, we just let the kids cuss as loudly and often as they please. (Small pleasures when no one can hear us!) Now that they’re transitioning back to school, we’re working on taming down our language, and Little Bird’s Bad Word helps him see how even non-slurs can make folks uncomfortable. It’s not just snobbish performance, but a kindness to reign in our language a bit.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- Caregivers with Disabilities Kids Stories
- Daring Greatly & Failing Spectacularly Kids Stories about mistakes & resilience
- Books that made us laugh
- Kids Stories Normalizing & Destigmatizing Asthma
- Disability History for Kids
- More engaging stories handpicked by kind & courageous 7-year-olds
Q’s Favorite (age 9.5)
My little dude waited in anguish for the fifth and final book in the 5 Worlds Series to come out. He’s so excited. I can’t even tell you how excited he is about this. It’s a great fantasty series, with plenty of allusions and opportunities to discuss xenaphobia, family separation and transracial adoption, climate justice, collaborative action, interdependence, and fake news.
If you liked this story, check out:
- Kids Books About Intersectional Climate Justice
- Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids
- More ‘just one more chapter, mama’ stories curated by a kyriarchy-smashing 9-year-old
Ashia’s Favorite: (age 39.25)
We’re not the kind of family to over-schedule ourselves, but I’m keeping this on hand for the middle-school and high-school years when my kids feel the need to take on more responsibilities to care for others while juggling school, activities, and world-changing.
I’m loving these new stories about self-compassion and saying no. This next generation is going to be so much more resilient and focused than we were raised to be!
If you liked this story, check out:
- Kids Stories About Muslim Experiences – Beyond the Month of Ramadan
- #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- Normalizing Disabled Characters in Kidlit
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 & Focus on Tiny Acts of Courage
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.
Aaaand… if we’re gonna do this work, it has to be reciprocal. I provide resources and support, research, all the stuff folks keep asking for. This can’t be one-sided where the disabled Asian feminine person provides sidekick resources for wealthy white abled folks to virtue signal, impress their friends, and vault themselves to more power.
To dismantle this dynamic: I need one or both of the following from you:
1. Feedback: Add a comment below on what you’ve learned, how you’ll apply that knowledge, or what resources we can add here to make this post more accessible for you.
2. And/or: Pay for my labor – I can’t afford to keep paying for this website and the resources to orchestrate and run it on my own. If you use these resources and are the kind of person who buys lunch without checking the price, you need to reciprocate.
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