Home Shenanigans August Resource Roundup

August Resource Roundup

via Ashia
Published: Last Updated on

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This August we’re tackling big transitions for little kiddos

Hey friends!

This month, we’re supporting our kids to navigate fear, uncertainty, and resilience in the face of change.

Supporting our kids means helping them accept transitions as a normal part of life. Validating kids’ big feelings through life changes. Standing in solidarity with them through uncertainty. Modeling practices to develop the resilience they’ll need for healthy transformation.

Below, we’ll cover:

  • Seasonal transitions that come with growing up – back to school, the end of summer, maturing bodies, and how to process big feelings about all this movement in a healthy way
  • Generational transitions – As we transition responsibilities to the next generation, how kids can connect with their heritage through barriers of distance, language, and lost ties to our ancestors’ cultures.
  • Revolution (transitions of power in society) through history, and how our kids can participate in, envision, and orchestrate modern revolutions.

This all starts with helping kids develop a sense of how their experiences fit into the fabric of history, and how they can use their experience to connect with others.

Let’s raise kids who can tap into experience, resiliency, and the comfort of knowing they are capable of contributing as a significant force of change. Once kids self-identify as a doer of helpful things, they’ll find it easier to build upon this experience. They’ll get more comfortable with discomfort. And they’ll learn that no matter what changes the world throws at them, they don’t have to panic when approaching a new transition.

Below each discussion guide, we include a short list of doable, family-friendly calls-to-actions.

We’ll start with stories to introduce challenges we’re facing together. Then we’ll brainstorm small actions that little kids can handle.

You are here, which means you are a curious doer yourself. So, I hope you’ll share your family’s favorite small actions in the comments below.

Heads up: What to expect as we transition to 2022

This autumn, I’m working on a transition myself – how to archive Books for Littles so the work we’ve done as a community over the past nine years continues to support parents with young children, even as my kids speedily grow out of any definition of ‘Littles.’  And how to start a new chapter for Raising Luminaries now that our core community’s kids are getting older, in keeping with our mission and methods of collaborative action, transformative justice, and subversive, mischievous do-goodery.

Transitions take time. We all need space to orchestrate good endings.

Please bear with me through the silence of this autumn as I work with Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans to create a sustainable series of guides and resources in 2022 toward raising kind, courageous, and revolutionary leaders to smash the kyriarchy.

Expect silence (including no roundups) for the next few months as we hustle to create something new for you in 2022.

The resources below are sure to keep you busy for way more than a few months. But if you want to follow along as we test and pilot new resources, get access to the RL community updates here.



Bellamy Shoffner Fundraiser CallieGarp @febfeministartDO THIS FIRST: Donate to the Revolutionary Humans Run Fund

How do you generate creative solutions for survival when shit hits the fan – and then keeps coming for over a year? That’s impossible!

So I’m inviting you to join me in a network of support. If we can get Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans to a place where she has cash to cover the bills and feed her kids for 2-3 months, that will free up her space and spoons to escape. That will give us the wiggle room we need to enact a self-sustainable business plan we’ve created to relocate her family to a safe place.

>> Donate | Venmo | PayPal | CashApp: $blmshoffner | Monthly <<

More to come – including perks I’m going to be providing for folks who have joined me in creating a beloved community for B.

[Image: Illustration of Bellamy S. by Callie Garp of @fabfeminist. Bellamy is a Black community organizer and single mother homeschooling two young children managing multiple sclerosis and traumatic recent events. Text reads: “Through the rise and fall, still you bloom. / This is a fundraiser for a Black Parent’s Rest, Restoration, and Freedom.”]

Parenting is Praxis: August Edition

We don’t expect you to read ALL THE BOOKS and help kids UNDERSTAND ALL THE THINGS in one month. I certainly can’t!

Pick one topic, knit them together, or just keep these in your pocket and look for ways to tie these topics into your kids’ future areas of interest. Just keep pushing a tiny bit beyond your comfort zone and crack that noggin’ open just wide enough to let a little light shine in.

Need help explaining big ideas?

Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big concepts.

We’re a contribute-what-you can community, so this post might contain affiliate links to buffer my expenses, which allow me to earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Check out the full affiliate disclosure along with my statement of accountability.


Transitions: Anxiety about letting go and growing up

The headline theme of this summer’s Earthquake meltdowns were rooted in difficulty with change and transitions. We’re a mixed allistic/autistic family, and our family has a tough time with transitions both big and small.

I started puberty early, and the autistic kiddo is following in those genetic footsteps. He’s freaked out by the surges in hormones. He’s freaked out by the changing physical and social demands of adolescence.

And like the rest of us, he’s freaked out by the impending re-entry into a post-Covid world.

Like many families transitioning out of isolation, we’re starting to host play dates and gathering with family again. [*haha j/k I wrote that sentence two weeks ago and now the delta variant is ruining everything, no more play-dates for us.]

As a family with autistic members, stretching those atrophied social skills has been rough on the kids, and exhausting for me – with plenty of separation anxiety, play-date jealousy, anxiety-based controlling behavior and multi-hour meltdowns.

For those of you experiencing the same, I hope you’re being gracious with yourself and your kids, as this transition back to ‘normal,’ particularly for those of us with social disabilities, is a whole new type of complicated emotional and mental labor.

Whether your family is anxious about big lifestyle changes or starting a new school year, here are some resources that helped us validate and mitigate some of our kids’ anxiety.

Peep and Egg I'm not hatching What I like most Little Tree


  1. Read:
    1. Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching (ages 1-5) How fear presents as stubbornness.
    2. What I Like Most (ages 3-5) Everything we love is transitory and that’s okay.
    3. Little Tree (ages 2.5+) JUST GO AHEAD AND BUY THIS BOOK. I thought the kids would grow out of this, but we pull it out for comfort at least four times a year for recovery through every transition-based meltdown and emotional for impending changes. I thought they’d grow out of it, but we were able to use it just this week to support a kiddo wrestling with tween hormone surges nervous about entering adolescence.
  2. Discuss with kids:
    1. What’s my baseline approach to transitions and change?
      If you or your kiddo has executive functioning disabilities (ex: ADHD, Autistic), you might life in a permanent state of concerted effort. The effort required to switch your attention away from every breeze against your skin, or how to get a glass of water to your face might not auto-pilot like a neurotypical. So if your brain is already working at 98% to deal with existing, it’s no wonder you have big feelings and reactions at the suggestion of yet more mental work.
    2. What big changes are coming up soon? How can my people support me through it?
      Example: birthdays, seasons, moving homes, family changes.
      Parties, festivals, holiday traditions, weddings, funerals, and change of decor or sensory input are some ways humans process transitions in a healthy way.
      In the busy ‘GO WORK NO SLEEP!!!‘ of capitalism, we’re dysfunctional at marking the end of one thing and the beginning of the next. What rituals and little celebrations can we add to our days and years to give us space to process before moving on to the next thing?
      What tasks can we post on the wall to delegate some of that mental labor or figuring out what to do after getting out of bed?
    3. What do we appreciate about now that are we afraid of losing during an upcoming transition? What do we gain by letting go?
      What season and stage of life are we saying goodbye to? Not acknowledging the losses of transition just makes that loss worse. Focusing on the new benefits without some sort of closure ceremony muddies the joy of what’s coming next.
  3. Take Action
    1. How can others support my struggles with routine change? What rituals and habits could our family or teacher start to help us with reoccurring transitions?
      Example: Mr. Rogers used to change his clothing and sing a familiar welcome song at the beginning of every episode as a visual and auditory ritual to help kids transition from whatever they were doing before – to getting focused on what is about to happen in the show. (We could all afford to watch more Mr. Rogers, he put so much effort into making his show accessible for neurodivergent kids).
    2. Who do I know who has trouble with changes, or has a big change coming up? What is a no-pressure way to ask how I can help them?
      Sometimes involving ourselves when someone else is freaking out just adds to the stuff we have to process and makes things worse. So ask during a less stressful time, don’t wait to ask during a meltdown.
      Example: “Would you like to talk about how I can help? What does support look like before, during, or after this transition?” Does the friend like to be hugged, or not touched, or do they need an advocate to tell others to keep their distance, or shut off the lights? Would it be helpful to have a glass of water or favorite stuffy ready after a meltdown?
      A good way to start is by experiments removing or adding sensory input.
    3. What regular traditions can we practice each day, year, etc. that will help ground us as a family so we can ground ourselves in a sense of stability for when shit hits the fan?
      Regular family dinners, daily meditation, annual trips to visit family – this is the stuff that helps kids reorient through unforeseen transitions so they can react proactively instead of scrambling to react.
  4. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Kids Transition Stories: Growing up, coming out, and accepting change
    2. Stories Validating Big Feelings
    3. Kids Books For Pandemic Life
    4. Books To Reassure Kids During Coronavirus Isolation
    5. Parenting Workshop: Toddler Tantrums, Transitions, and Taking Responsibility (exclusive for sustaining members)


8/3/21 Is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Mae Among the stars Fancy Party Gowns A computer called katherine

“Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is the approximate day a Black woman must work into the new year to make what [a] white non-Hispanic man made at the end of the previous year. Based on ACS Census data, the 2021 wage gap for Black women compared to non-Hispanic white men is $0.63 (cents).” – Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 2021

Later this year, we’ll go deeper into systemic wealth inequality, labor rights, and the equal pay days for Indigenous and Latinx women, but this month, let’s just focus on the fact that a Black woman must work an extra eight months and three days each year to get paid the compensation of a white dude.

To tacking this topic, we read stories of contemporary Black women that focus on agency, competence, and direct targeting. Misogynoir doesn’t ‘just happen to‘ Black women. This gap in wages and advancement is not inevitable or natural. White and non-Black POC reinforce systemic misogynoir through our decisions – fueled both by unconscious bias and consciously targeting Black women.

This discrimination starts in early education and continues through a career, with those of us in power exploiting the lack of opportunities and alternatives available to Black women and femmes. As non-Black people, we benefit from uncompensated labor of Black women – so we have an individual and community responsibility to reciprocate that care and labor.

  1. Read:
    1. Mae Among The Stars  (Ages 3.5-8)
    2. Fancy Party Gowns (Ages 4-8)
    3. A Computer Called Katherine (Ages 4-8)
  2. Discuss: How do we internalize the assumption that a Black woman’s labor is worth less?

    1. What assumptions did people make about the girls and women in these stories? What messages did the protagonist receive from others about the value of her abilities and contributions? Do you think they’d send these same messages to a young white boy?
    2. What obligations did the girls and women in these stories have to take responsibility for, that white folks didn’t?
    3. Discuss the ways your family receives money. What are your sources of income?
    4. What is one time when a grownup expected us to do great work? What is one time when a grownup expected us to fail? How do we think that affected how good we felt and how hard we worked?
  3. Take Action: How can we transition our economy to distribute wealth to those working hardest?
    1. Brainstorm ideas for how to hold your sources of income (employer, family, clients, investment returns) accountable for distributing wealth equitably between people regardless of race or gender.
    2. Can you write a letter or proposal for how to evaluate wages fairly? Can you distribute a portion of your income to Black mothers targeted by systemic barriers to employment or a fair wage? Can you research the companies your family works for and purchases from to see how they invest and contribute to communities supported by Black women?
    3. Support Revolutionary Humans. More on this below in the Action for Grow-ups section on what praxis for sustainable income for Black mothers looks like for our family.
  4. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Kids & YA Stories on Barriers Blocking Equal Play for BIWOC  Currently it’s just stories about Black women. I’ll add Latinx and Indigenous women later as we approach those days later this year.
    2. Provocative Kids Books About The Fight For Workers’ Rights
    3. How to Subvert Racist Gatekeeping in Kidlit with Activist Author Zetta Elliott
    4. No White Saviors: Kids Books About Black Women in US History
    5. Change who gets book deals with your dollars: Buy Children’s Books by Black Women & Femmes


8/22 Is National Bao Day

Even though the Earthquakes are separated from grandparents and great-grandparents through death, distance, and the pandemic, they still feel connected to their ancestors. We talk about the sacrifices and choices our ancestors made so we could have the lives we lead today. This discussion almost always revolves around food.

As we transition responsibility to the next generation, we can connect our kids with their heritage and previous generations with the way we sustain our bodies – even through barriers of distance, language, and lost family ties.

For instance -there’s an actual day dedicated to bao. In a country where our special events aren’t recognized by institutions, we don’t get school days off for our even our biggest holidays, and most of our non-Chinese friends and family have a fundamental misunderstanding on what our real food is actually like, there’s something thrilling about having a day celebrating our favorite pastry. Especially one with a smell and taste that brings back sensory memories – the smells and plump round softness of my grandmother’s hugs.

You can [insert your favorite family food here] if you don’t care about bao. But it’s such an accessible food, with cultures around the world having their own spin on a tasty thing wrapped in a starchy thing. Why not celebrate both?

Amy wu and the perfect bao My day with gong gong Bao

  1. Read:
    1. Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (Ages 4+) A story of resilience, frustrations about being little, and intentional practice. This is the perfect story to support kids who are impatient for slow transitions that take work, reflection, and resilience. I love this book so hard. We’re still saving up for a family copy to keep.
    2. My Day with Gong Gong (Ages 4+) This story mirrors my childhood growing up with Cantonese-speaking grandparents perfectly, and underlines why food was our love language despite our language barrier. It’s also one of the only books featuring a Cantonese-speaking family (instead of the more popular Mandarin).
    3. Bao (Ages 3+) The first Pixar short directed by a woman, and a Chinese woman. Until just a few years ago, representation both on the screen and behind it was so rare we get VERY EXCITED when this happens. So this was a really big deal. The animated short is lovely – but it’s also complicated for younger kids to understand. That’s why I love the Little Golden Book version, which spells out the conflict and meaning behind the story for younger kids.
  2. Discuss:
    1. What makes the bao in these stories about more than just a tasty snack to satisfy hunger?
      Some hints to get you started: Family traditions of assembling food together, the variation that allows a family to make a recipe specific to them, the symbolism of the shape of ripe and wealthy abundance, the fact that these have been go-to host gift that supports Chinese-owned pastry shops for generations, and the soft, skin-like texture that feels like a plump grandma’s arms.
    2. In these stories, there’s a conflict between generations and how we each believe we ‘should’ behave. What are the conflicts and difficulties each young character faces in building a relationship with their elders? What difficulty do the elders face in supporting their children?
  3. Take Action:
    1. Eat more bao. Support a local Asian-owned restaurant if you can.
    2. Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao has a recipe if you’d like to try it yourself. Our 5-year-old is pescatarian, so once every couple years I pull it together enough to make vegan char siu bao to make sure he’s not completely missing out on the flavors that link us to our great-grandparents. Support a local Asian-owned grocer when you shop.
  4. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Delicious Kids Books That Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism
    2. Cooking Is Community Care – Empowering Kids In a Time of Uncertainty
    3. Delicious Asian & Pacific Islander Food Culture for Kids


8/23 is International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Coming up – the anniversary of the uprisings in the Santo Domingo (territories currently known as Haiti & Dominican Republic), kicking off the start of a 13 year revolution (1791-1804) leading to the abolition of the slave trade in the Caribbean and directly influencing the 1865 abolition of slavery in the US.

As in all things US history, if we’re even lucky enough to have access to teachers willing to have conversations about slavery, we’re still limited to learning about slavery and abolition close to home.

But it’s important that we show our kids that abolition was not initiated by white men with fun hats. The most effective uprisings and initiatives in the Caribbean informed the battle strategy and war map for rebellion and revolution for freedom throughout the world.

Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings Freedom Soup

  1. Read:
    1. Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings (ages 6+)
    2. Freedom Soup (ages 5-9), and if you can find a copy, Mmmmm! Soup Joumou!
    3. Toussaint L’ouverture (Ages 8+)
  2. Discuss:
    1. What transitions happen during a revolution? (ex: power, economic, social)
    2. Who was Toussaint L’Ouverture?
    3. What is a ‘slave patrol?’ (If you’re not sure what it is, or why I say ‘is‘ and not ‘was,’ google it.)
    4. What types of slavery are still legal in the US today? (hint: read the 13th amendment)
    5. What tools, knowledge, and strategies did enslaved people take to fight for freedom in the 1790’s?
    6. What tools, knowledge, and strategies are families impacted by incarceration and exploited prison labor taking to fight for freedom today?
    7. *What revolution do you want to create in your lifetime? How will it impact the people you care about?
  3. Take Action:
    1. Support a local business that makes soup joumou, or buy your ingredients from a Black-owned grocer.
    2. Here’s a quick guide on expanding these discussions beyond books so kids understand human trafficking and enslavement isn’t something that happened to dead people in history no longer suffering. But how non-Black people benefit from a US economy built on slavery.
    3. Check out this Family Action Toolkit on kid-friendly actions any family can take to transition toward abolition.
    4. Eastern Massachusetts folks: Book a Wee The People Workshop at your community center or school. WTP was founded by Francie Latour (author of Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings), an #OwnVoices Afro-Caribbean American whose activism and justice work centers art-based, grassroots revolutionary principles in early childhood.
  4. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Caribbean American Kids Stories
    2. Kids Books Centering Black Futures
    3. Children’s Books for Juneteenth
    4. Kids Books About Collective Action
    5. Civil Disobedience & Disrupting Injustice: Books for Upstanders

*What revolution do you want to create in your lifetime?
I try to be flexible and understanding of the challenges of busy families. So I’m not usually into the ‘YOU SHOULD BE DOING THIS ALREADY.’ But fundamental to raising luminaries is weaving this question into everyday discussions with our kiddos.


8/31 is International Day of Protest Against ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)

“ABA tells an Autistic person that your reactions to things your body experiences is wrong. Not only that, but you are not allowed to do them. And not only that, but your reactions shouldn’t exist because what you experience isn’t actually happening since a neurotypical person doesn’t experience them.”
Oswin Latimer, Autistic Consultant on PTSD

I don’t want this to get lost while we wait for you to read the books. We have an urgent call to action for you today – against torture-based compliance therapy that even your #NotAllABA friends can get behind.

Urgent #StopTheShock Advocacy Action via ASAN

Last month the FDA reversed their decision to ban electric shock-based torture against people with disabilities. (It’s already illegal to use it against nondisabled people and animals.)

  1. Use this template to demand ABA organizations reverse their endorsement of shock torture against people with disabilities.
    (also let’s pause here, just to let it sink in that they currently endorse torture.)
  2. Sign this petition in support of Bill H.225, which would ban aversion “treatments” like electric shocks.
  3. Massachusetts residents: Use this template to write, call, or resistbot your representative in the state legislature.

Back to the more subtle soft manipulation of ABA abuse…

Coercion and compliance training trains neurodivergent kids to hide who they are for the comfort of neurotypical people. Yes, even the ‘nice’ kind where kids aren’t getting beaten. Yes, even the ‘positive’ kind where kids get treats.

Teaching kids to hide when they feel uncomfortable, sad, happy, hurt, confused, etc. (all the stuff that makes us human), is abuse.

Teaching kids their main priority in life is to keep nondisabled folks around them comfortable and happy is grooming them and normalizing vulnerability to future abuse.

Yeah, fuck that.

Diana DancesNoni Says NoWiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down

  1. Read:
    1. Diana Dances (ages 3-7)
    2. Noni Says No (ages 3-7)
    3. Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down (ages 5-7)
  2. Discuss with kiddos:
    1. What does it mean to have authority over another person?
    2. What is coercion?
    3. What does it mean to comply?
    4. When you care for someone, should you treat them as a human being with feelings, needs, and wants, or as a tool you can adjust for your own use?
    5. What is positive reinforcement? What is negative reinforcement?
    6. If someone hit you every time you took a sip of water, would you feel comfortable drinking water around them?
    7. What if they gave you a piece of candy and praise every time you *didn’t* sip water when you’re thirsty? How might that affect how you feel about thirst and water, even when they’re not around?
    8. What is conversion/compliance therapy and behavioral training? How does it work?
    9. Is compliance/conversion training legal in your area? If so, against which groups of people is it legal? (Ex: gay conversion therapy is banned in many places, but IEP practices focused on compliance are the standard in schools across the US.)
    10. Diana Dances
      1. How did adults in Diana’s life suggest her neurodivergent behavior is a disease or aberrant flaw?
      2. If she hadn’t lucked upon a doctor who understood neurodivergence, how might Diana have grown up thinking she was naturally flawed and bad at being human?
      3. How did Diana feelings about self and her abilities change when she found a space where she could be herself?
      4. How did Diana’s friends and family benefit from supporting Diana in embracing her natural behavior?
    11. Noni Says No
      1. What kids of things do you think adults said to Noni before this story that taught her saying ‘no’ is bad?
      2. Are there times when you have felt uncomfortable saying ‘no?’ What were you afraid might happen?
      3. What is the worst thing that could happen if you say ‘no’ to a pushy friend?
      4. If you don’t feel safe saying ‘no,’ how can you try to keep safe? (Ex: conflict de-escalation techniques such as delaying, creating a distraction, finding help).
    12. Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down
      1. Compared to your experience, how does the child in the story experience sights, sounds, textures, and how their body moves through space?
      2. What do you have in common? How are your needs different?
      3. When you get over/under-stimulated, what does your body do to feel better (self-regulate)?
      4. How would you feel if adults told you the ways you self-regulate were wrong and forbidden?
  3. Reflection Action
    1. List the behaviors your kiddo most often gets reprimanded for at home and at school. Which behaviors are discouraged to keep ourselves and others safe so we can work together? Which ones prioritize the comfort of those in power above those with less? How can we tell?
    2. How do you choose when to comply with authority? What would happen if you always complied? What would happen if you never complied?
    3. Create a security network or pod map. Have your child make a list of people they feel safe with, who would believe them if your kiddo reported harm, confusion, or uncomfortable feelings. At least one of these people should not be close or reliant upon your family or religious community (ex: a teacher or neighbor). Discuss how you would keep kids safe from retaliation if they reported harm.
    4. Role play ways to de-escalate, say ‘no’ and extract yourselves from dangerous situations with people who may have power over you, for example a teacher, older person, or popular friend.
    5. In what ways have we pressured others to hide who they are so we will like them? How can we give those we care about power to say ‘no’ to us?
  4. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Talking about Consent with Kids
    2. Kids Books Celebrating Neurodiversity
    3. Non-Shamey Guides for Autistic Kiddos
    4. Consent and Body Sovereignty for Infants & Toddlers
    5. Allistic Comfort over Autistic Mental Health: internalized ableism, emotional abuse, and coercion in ‘Armond Goes To a Party’
    6. Using ‘Pretty Salma’  to help kids recognize coercion and grooming
    7. I Abused Children for a Living, & followup response: I abused children and so do you – Birdmadgrrl/Limbic Noodle
    8. Invisible Abuse: ABA and the things only autistic people can see, by CL Lynch, via Neuroclastic

  • You are doing a good job!

    Use these resources to navigate harmful messages in popular media and curriculum. For families struggling financially – I’m cool with gifting my research, love, and labor to to you at no cost. However, if you’re one of the many lucky folks who can afford to support my work, quit freeloading (j/k – but also please!) and join the patreon community so we’re not perpetuating old habits of wealthy/abled/white folks benefiting from the uncompensated labor of disabled women of color.

    Become a Patron!(but first or instead, support Bellamy)

    Join us if you benefit from this work, or make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries.

This August, let’s dig into …

Freedom to Pursue Education Rights

In September for Orange Shirt Day, we set aside a week to discuss residential schools. But that’s about using educational institutions as a tool of compliance training, assimilation, and genocide. Those weren’t really schools so much as prisons.

Since we’ll talk about the freedom to escape dangerous institutions next month, let’s learn about the freedom to pursue education, including desegregation and education accessibility.

For the Right to LearnALL THE WAY TO THE TOPSeparate is never equal Bread for Words

  1. Read:
    1. For The Right To Learn (ages 6+)
    2. All The Way To The Top (ages 5+)
    3. Separate Is Never Equal (ages 5+)
    4. Bread for Words (ages 6-9) This was R2’s favorite book of 2020
  2. Watch
    1.  How redlining and racial bias impacts modern education ages 6+
  3. Discuss with kids:
    1. In what ways were mainstream schools designed to include the kids in these stories?
    2. In what ways were schools designed to exclude them?
    3. What types of learning and information should all people have access to?
    4. What does our ‘school’ (homeschool, alt-schools, etc. included) look like? How is it accessible for my abilities and family? How could it be more accessible?
    5. Why did our family choose this type of school? What types of school are inaccessible for my abilities and our family?
  4. Take Action: Learn how NIMBYism maintains segregation in education
    1. If you live in a school system with decent resources, chances are there are some NIMBYs in your area fighting to maintain the housing shortage under the guise of not wanting to pay to educate more students. The hope is to maintain the hard work of supremacist redlining. These folks are often not above using an undercurrent of threat, since those students are likely to be less affluent and less white.
    2. This is all bullshit since those poor brown families usually pay a disproportionately higher amount of their income to taxes. Do not fall for this argument, and call them out on their classism, racism, and bigotry.
    3. Search locally to find out how you can get involved and support organizations already doing the work. For example, Engine 6 in my city is doing fantastic grassroots education.
  5. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. More Kids Books About Education Rights
    2. Even more kids stories about Education Rights (this is the list I’m constantly updating with good finds)

Back to school

For those of you heading back to mainstream school settings, here are the books we used to support the kiddos as the first day of school approached.

Most back-to-school books introduce and amplify school jitters and anxiety. So if you’re hoping to address any unspoken concerns while amping kids up for the new year, these are the least fear-mongering books that got the Earthquakes excited.

the kissing hand maple and willow apart Nimoshom and his bus school's first day of school

  1. Read:
    1. The Kissing Hand (Ages 2.5+) For kids with separation anxiety
    2. Maple & Willow Apart (ages 3-6) Helpful for siblings who will be separating after sticking together 24/7
    3. Nimoshom and His Bus (ages 3-5) For kids about to ride the bus for the first time
    4. School’s First Day of School (ages 4.5-7) For kids a little hesistant about the first day of school
  2. Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
    1. Calming School Bus Anxiety
    2. Fear-Free First Day of School: Most kids’ books about the first day of school center fear and anxiety. If your kid isn’t expressing nerves and you don’t want to introduce the idea that school is something to be nervous about, these are the books for you. However, some of them do address anxiety in a roundabout way. Reading these together gives kids who have unexpressed fears the opportunity to open up about them, without dragging out the stories suggesting school is something to be afraid of.
    3. Books to help kids process separation Anxiety & Parting Grief
    4. Equity, Education, and Validating Frustration with ‘On The Day You Begin’ for kids returning to school, nervous about spotlighting and discomfort that comes from being ‘the only one’ in class with a targeted identity.
    5. Kids Books For Unschoolers
    6. Socially Inclusive ABC Kids Books
    7. Inclusive Kids Books About STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics


Family Constellations

My New Mom and MeMy MaddyThe Phantom UnicornSwift Fox All Along Milo Imagines The World

Quick shortlist of some (but nowhere near all!) types of good and lovely families:

While we’re on the topic of LGBTQiA2S+ Pride Month, I find the kids asking more questions about families – what they look like, what shapes they take, and how they can change over time. This is a chance to make sure your representation on what a ‘Real’ family looks like isn’t relegated to just the families on your block. To make this easier, I’ve added some updates and expanded book collections to Love is Love is Love – Family Constellations in Kids Books.

And since it’s new, for more resources on solidarity and support for single parents through the pandemic, check out our new toolkit: Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape with Revolutionary Humans.


Family Constellations: Polya Families

Since we’ve already got an extensive collection of resources on diverse family constellations, let’s focus on the most under-represented constellation in kids books – polyamorous or non-traditional blended families with multiple parents.

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, so we have to settle for books that allude to plural parenting, without explicitly validating a kid’s reality.

So until we get great mainstream polyamorous family constellations, you can get started normalizing and reflecting your polyam family with:

love zRaf and the Robots by [Sarah J Corner, Kia Maddock] Super power baby shower!


  • Love, Z – Suuuuper ambiguous, but this little robot has a large family, all with ambiguous roles.
  • Raf and the Robots – While the author set out with the intention to normalize polya families, this story is more about patience than family, while subtly normalizing a three-parent family. It’s still vague though, and the author intentionally left things ambiguous if a reader wanted to see the third parent as a live-in aunt, surrogate, co-parenting ex, etc.
  • Super Power Baby Shower – Clunky, hard to follow, but once you get a handle on what’s going on, this is an explicitly polyam family.

More books:

  • Six Dinner Sid (about open relationships & honesty)
  • I’m Glad That You’re Happy (to discuss the concept of 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 was super excited about this, but honestly it was disappointing. The writing is so flowery and vague, it reads like the young protagonist is slowly losing their grip with reality as they become increasingly haunted by rainbow ghosts. My kids are well-aware that polyam families are a normal thing, but we all had *no idea* what was going on. Why is everyone glowing? Why does the text rhyme, but not really? WHO IS THIS WRITTEN FOR?!
  • Ask me about Polyamory! (for teens & adults, it’s not problematic, it’s just too bland for kids)


Sometimes weretcon 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.


Good Finds for August

Welcome to mini-good finds! You can keep track of great new finds as we add them to the in-progress best books of  2021, but it’s fun to pick out a few good finds we enjoyed last month, and why they’re so unique.

Once Upon An Hour A normal pig Go with the flow

R2’s Favorite: Once Upon An Hour (ages 3-7)

I didn’t expect R2 (age 6.5/7) to enjoy this, I certainly didn’t. Cool premise, terrible execution. But something about each of these animals from the lunar zodiac taking responsibility for an hour of each day caught his fancy. This is why we screen the books with actual children. ‘Cause reviewing children’s books only through the lens of how adults think is childism!

I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been run past a information designer and an editor, but it’s the concept that really hooked R2. The clock diagram, writing, and plotline are confusing as heck, but we figured it out eventually. They do that flashback story-within-a-story thing that confuses kids every time. So we used the premise and kind of paraphrased what was happening.

Use this story if your kids, like R2, are already big fans of the animal lunar zodiac and are fascinated with clocks and telling time.

If you like this, check out more stories by #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islanders and stories of The Great Race & Animal Zodiac.

Q’s Favorite: Go With The Flow (ages 9+)

This feels to advanced for 8.5 but Q said he enjoyed it. It’s weird that all the resources about menstruation are made for kids 10+ even though many of us start mensturating earlier. Younger mensturators not only have to deal with the shitty experience of being the first kid to deal with cramps among classmates who can’t empathize, but there’s also no resources to prepare kids before they get their first surprise pants-destroying gusher. Trans-friendly, but all the main characters are cisgender, which is the only bummer.

Another favorite: The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods. This is destigmatizing, clear, graphic, trans-friendly, and helps kids with the step-by-step guide to how to care for themselves. I’m not sure why it has to be just for Autistic kids, but based on reviews by allistic allistic parents, y’all are so damn squeamish and can’t handle basic facts about assigned-female bodies. ::exhausted eyeroll at allistics and their death grip on social constructs like misogyny::

If you like this, check out our All Bodies are Good Bodies and Modeling Supportive Friendship suggested reading lists.

My Favorite: A Normal Pig (ages 4-9)

I haven’t seen such a good #OwnVoices story about growing up multiracial/multicultural in a monoracial community since Maclear’s Spork. And this story goes one level deeper – into the importance of bringing BIPOC and third-culture kids into spaces where they aren’t always the other.

If you like this, check out more stories featuring multiracial families.



Calls To Action:

For Families!: Collect & educate your vaccine-hesitant fam

Calls to Action: For Grownups!

Bellamy Shoffner Fundraiser CallieGarp @febfeministartShare out the Revolutionary Humans Run Fund

“Help me and my kiddos relocate in the name of mental and physical health. Most of all, we need peace, a place where we can grow, and the chance to start anew after repeated traumatic events at our current location. Our hurdles are plentiful but our supporters are powerful! Thank you for being here!” – Bellamy

>> Donate | Venmo | PayPal | CashApp: $blmshoffner | Monthly <<

More to come – including perks I’m going to be providing for folks who have joined me in creating a beloved community for B.

8/30/21 #LiberatingWebinar series: Using Kids Stories to Combat Ableism

Save the date: August 30, 4pm EST / 1pm PST

Together with Lei Wiley Mydske, founder of the Neurodiversity Library movement, and the Autism Women & Nonbinary Network, I’ll be doing a webinar about using kids books to dismantle ableism in early childhood.

The AWN #LiberatingWebinar series features BIPOC Autistic advocates. They are short, captioned, and have ASL interpreters. Click here to sign up for email updates


Calls To Action: For Kiddos!

Little Feminist Summer Reading Challenge Ends 9/1/21

Little Feminist Book Club Summer Reading Program

Get free prizes while diversifying your family’s summer reading. Multiple kids per household can participate and earn prizes. Registration is free, sign up here.

Need help finding books to meet the challenge? OH I GOT YOU, BUDDY.



One more good thing…

Worried your homeschooling curriculum doesn’t have enough sitting still and testing? Getting anxious about how to assimilate your kids into a lucrative career coding sprockets to fund a billionare’s space vacation?

If it makes you feel any better, this is what 98% of our homeschool lessons look like. You’re already way ahead of us, buddy.

[Video description: Q and R2 in ‘school session’ Q is jumping and dancing while singing the word ‘Awesomeazing’ repeatedly. R2 is spinning on a hanging twirly bar. It’s exhausting just watching them.]


Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Keep The Care in Circulation

Remember that everything here – I made this for you. Cause you are important and you deserve safety, health, and support in the work you do. So take this next 15 seconds and pause thinking about what you can do for other folks, and just accept that you also are an important person we need in the world. I like you and want you to be okay.

And if you find comfort and joy in helping others find safety, health, and support, please join me in supporting Bellamy’s Run Fund so she can transition her family to safety.

>> Donate | Venmo | PayPal | CashApp: $blmshoffner | Monthly <<

With you,

– Ashia R.

You can keep these resources free & accessible for all join the Raising Luminaries Patreon community. 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 Support the work I do if you think this kind of advocacy work – often left to disabled women of color to provide for free – is valuable and necessary for human progress.

Become a Patron!

Even though our primary incomes (Patreon and lemonade stands) are still below 20k so far this year while expenses keep increasing, the Earthquakes and I have invested 17% of our  2021 incomes to organizations such as Bellamy’s Run Fund, Violence in Boston, and the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund. Learn why we reinvest in our community here.

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