[Image: Banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup December”]
As we wrap up 2021, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the hard work you’ve done this year raising kind and courageous kiddos.
You, my friends, are a gift.
For those of you muddling through each day wearing the same pajamas you put on back in March 2020, I hope you’ve not just found ways to survive this pandemic, but carved out new paths to courage and kindness.
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.
No matter what, you are worthy and deserving of safety, healthcare, and self-agency. 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.
This December we’re exploring radical generosity with our kids
When we demonstrate radical generosity with our kids, we give without an expectation of getting anything back in return. Reciprocation is a healthy part of interdependence, but without rampant radical generosity, we just live in a transactional world of cold capitalism and a widening wealth gap.
Radical generosity is not setting ourselves on fire to keep others warm. It’s not violating our own boundaries, becoming a martyr, or silently suffering.
Radical generosity requires strong, resilient, transparent boundaries. As the Tomte in The Tomten and the Fox says to the starving fox he’s chosen to care for: ‘No eating hens!’ We’re allowed to choose who we support, what that support looks like, and under what circumstances we’re willing to do so. Being generous doesn’t mean being a doormat.
Radical generosity does not mean throwing gifts at everyone we know, just for the sake of giving. It’s not showing up to every invitation. Radical generosity means listening to what people really need, understanding how supporting them benefits our wider community – and then asking ourselves if we’re willing, and able to help them get there.
Sometimes that sounds like a thoughtful, conditional ‘Yes. I will do that for you, with the conditions...’ Sometimes that looks like a compassionate, honest, “Thank you for the opportunity to help, but no, I can’t.” without apology, and without feeling the need to justify our ‘no,’
- When have we felt happy to give?
- What do we find is easy to give? Acts of service? Gifts or donations? Our time, attention, or care?
- When have we felt obligated to give? How did it make us feel?
- When do we feel uncomfortable saying ‘no’? How can we role-play and practice our ‘no‘?
- How do we show appreciation for what we received?
- Have we ever felt the urge to ‘get even‘ with a return gift after receiving a kindness? Did it feel like healthy appreciation, or a competition to show off?
More resources to dig deeper:
- More Stories Cultivating Gratitude & Appreciation
- More Stories to discuss Courageous Generosity
- Kids books on building and respecting boundaries
Posts may contain affiliate links, which allow me to earn a commission at no extra cost to you. If you’re into supporting libraries (please do!) more than consumerism, you can also support BFL on Patreon. Check out the full affiliate disclosure along with my statement of accountability on how I try to support my family without exploiting our community.
What we discuss with the kids in December
Over in Bumblebee Hollow, here are the themes and events we’ve discuss with the Earthquakes, along with simple, practical guides and resources to keep pushing for change.
None of us can do it all – so pick one topic and schedule time on your calendar to start a family discussion. As always, I super-duper appreciate you, your tenacious curiosity, and your push for inclusion and justice <3
Need help explaining big ideas? Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big concepts.
Let’s learn about Mutual Aid through the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Obviously this created immense hardship and obstacles – how would everyone get to work? Get groceries? Do daily life?
For folks who already didn’t have access to private transportation, Montgomery activists created a network of mutual aid. This involved volunteers who provided carpools and rideshares. Taxi drivers who broke anti-boycott law and charged much lower rates competitive with bus fees. Shoe donations to replace tattered footwear from miles of walking. And bakers like Georgia Gilmore, who fed tied and hungry activists.
When was it?
- The formal boycott started December 5, 1955 and ended December 20, 1956
- Pies from Nowhere (ages 7+)
- Why is helping each other called mutual aid? What do these words mean?
- What social justice initiatives are happening in our town right now?
- How can we help, either directly as advocates, or indirectly in supporting advocates?
- How does helping others in our community make this a safer, happier place for us?
- Even though we’re not getting anything in return, how do acts of radical generosity make us happier?
- Together with the kiddos, search for local mutual aid organizations in your city
- Identify 5 types of aid they solicit for and provide
- Identify one skill we have – housekeeping, crafts, careers, interests, and hobbies, that could be used for mutual aid.
Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Stories of Collective Action
- Cooking is Community Care: Kids books about care work
- Video for kids 12+: What is Mutual Aid?, by Dean Spade (7.5 minutes)
- Video training for adults: Introduction to Mutual Aid, by Mariame Kaba (1.75 hours)
Let’s Learn How the Winter Solstice Connects Us
Learning about traditional stories, faith traditions, and world festivals surrounding light and the scarcity of it during the solstice, kids get a sense of our shared humanity across cultural divides.
The solstice is a poignant time to explore world faiths and religions, particularly because most faith practices have at least one celebration of light, particularly in the winter when the sun and the moon are the only changing thing in a frosty landscape.
Understanding our shared values, our common needs, aspirations, and ancestors inspires kids to be more generous, more compassionate, and more curious about how to connect with people we might otherwise feel have nothing in common with us.
When is it?
- Around December 21 or 22 in the Northern hemisphere
- Around June 20 or 21 in the Southern hemisphere
- Lucia and the light (ages 3-8), content warning for close death of a family due to starvation/cold
- Raven Brings the Light (ages 4+)
- Sun Bread (ages 3-5)
- Choose one set of the family guided discussion questions in our post about How We Are All Connected – Interfaith Kids Books for the Winter Solstice, especially the one about appreciating our resources more when they’re scarce 😉
- Are there any winter holiday traditions we’re participating in that no longer align with our values?
(Example: gross holiday consumerism supporting evil corporations, trampling retail workers.)
- Identify one change we can make to our family winter holiday observances that reaffirms a family value.
- Identify one winter holiday we don’t celebrate, that we can learn more about.
Exploring World Faith & Religion
Respecting and supporting the religious and cultural practices of others doesn’t threaten our faith, it’s just makes it stronger.
As an athiest-agnostic family, our kids have a healthy appreciation and respect for folks of faith. With these stories, we see how the foundation of our values are rooted in the same humane principles of justice, love, and interdependence.
- Winter Candle (ages 7-11)
My Grandma and Me (ages 4-8)
- Yaffa and Fatima (ages 3.4-9)
- *Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints (ages 8+)
- *Finding Om (ages 4-8)
- *A Lion’s Mane (ages 4-8)
Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- How We Are All Connected – Interfaith Kids Books for the Winter Solstice
- Progressive Kids Books About Faith, Religion,& Spirituality – many religions are under-represented in this list, mostly because the big 4 publishers aren’t interested in publishing any stories beyond popular monotheistic religions with wealthy members.
- Interfaith friendship stories
- Books For Littles Favorite Winter Stories
- How Kids Look For The Good In Folks with ‘Oskar And The Eight Blessings’
- White supremacy in oral scripture: Stop calling our creation and faith stories ‘myths’
- Cozy Kid’s Books To Warm Up Your Winter
- For adults: Parenting Forward Podcast: Cindy Wang Brandt helps parents heal from religious trauma, break toxic cycles, and raise children with healthy spirituality and conscious citizenship.
- *Saffron Press, Sikh-owned indie publisher fights discrimination with gorgeous books
- *Circumventing white fragility with South Asian indie press, Mango & Marigold
*Disclosure and transparency! Daneen A. (author of Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints), Sailaja J. founder of Mango & Marigold Press (Finding Om), Navjot K., founder of Saffron Press (A Lion’s Mane), and Cindy Wang Brandt of Parenting Forward are friends of mine, some have sent me free review copies of their books, and many are members of our Patreon community.
Let’s reveal & reject all the shitty parts of Christmas-season consumerism & sexism
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, run out of steam, and do a big online order of plastic garbage because I’m too tired to Christmas any farther.
But what I’ve figured out after trying to do a decade of CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX!!!!**, is that the less I scramble to keep up with ‘mom’ responsibilities for the holiday, the more fun we all have.
So over in Bumblebee Hollow, this upcoming Christmas will focus on our basic staples: thoughtful giving, receiving with appreciation, and keeping our heads above the snow.
When is it?
- 25th of December
- Tree of Cranes (ages 4+)
- The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge (ages 4+)
- The King of Too Many Things (ages 4-8)
- Little Sid (ages 4-8)
- The Better Tree Fort (ages 4-8)
- The Table Where Rich People Sit (ages 6+)
Discuss: Invisible Labor & The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge
The English translation of The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge is a bit jarring, referencing the man of the house as ‘master’ – which has some nasty connotations in American English (re: slavery). Discuss with your kids!
Beyond that – this story creates an opportunity to talk about emotional and invisible labor. Specifically – how the mother tomte has to run herself ragged to protect her husband’s fragile ego.
The story also reinforces a gender binary and implies ridiculous magic powers that come as a part of pooping out a baby, suggesting female tomtes have foresight magic that men lack. But with the right spin, we were able to discuss how this ‘like all mother tomtes’ situation reflects a cultural tendency to dump all of the invisible labor of orchestrating holidays on women – on mothers in particular – and how this ‘ability’ could be a skill developed by demand and survival in a sexist world, rather than biology.
- What does the porridge symbolize? (Recognition, appreciation, respect, reciprocity)
- Why is it important to Papa that we recognize his hard work?
- Who else in the Tomte family works hard?
- Who does NOT get recognition for their hard work?
- Why is it that only mother tomtes have the job of knowing what is important and urgent?
- Do women have a natural biological ability to pay more attention? Or are they nurtured and raised to pay attention?
- How does it feel when your hard work goes unrecognized and unappreciated?
- Why did Papa throw a fit & hold a grudge when he didn’t feel appreciated?
- Who did Papa take out his hurt on?
- How did Papa’s reaction force Mama to work harder to protect his feelings next time?
- Whose responsibility is it to manage our behavior when we are upset?
- Why do we assume men are too weak and fragile to work without recognition?
- What ‘invisible’ work is each member of our family expected to do? What are the consequences to them if they don’t keep up?
Resources to create a better Christmas:
- Christmas Stories for Secular Families
- Supporting Trans Family With Rachel’s Christmas Boat
- Stories on Post-Consumerism for Kids
- Overcoming False Scarcity & Xenophobia with ‘Shelter’
- Appreciating hand-me-downs with ‘A Fire Truck Named Red’
- Comic for kids 9+ and adults: the Mental Load
**No judgement if you still love to do CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX!!!!! It’s not my thing, but if it brings you joy, BRING ALL THE CHRISTMAS.
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, our old comprehensive list of gifts: The Books For Littles Gift guide.
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.
Let’s learn about Kwanzaa
There are plenty of dry, didactic books explaining Kwanzaa for new folks – but where are the stories for second- and third-generation families who are well past the need for a primer?
Here are our three favorites – but there’s still plenty of room for authors to create new stories and adventures based on the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
When is it?
- December 26 through January 1
- Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa (ages 4-7)
- Seven Spools of Thread (ages 4+)
- A Kwanzaa Celebration Pop-Up Book (ages 4-8)
Discuss as a family:
- Umoja (unity): In a society that divides people to make them easier to control and oppress, what are the benefits coming together and affirming a larger sense of ‘us‘?
- Kujichagulia (self-determination): Given our country’s history of enslavement, segregation, and mass incarceration, why is the ability to self-identify and choose their path so important to Black people living in the US?
- Ujima (collective work and responsibility): Why is it important for us to recognize our responsibilities in working together for shared safety and freedom?
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics): Why is it important for us to consider where, and with whom, we spend our money and distribute our wealth?
- Nia (purpose): How can we adjust our individual goals to support our wider community?
- Kuumba (creativity): Why should we strive to leave the world better than we found it? Why is it important to take time to create and appreciate beauty and joy even while we struggle?
- Imani (faith): Why is it important for us to work toward a goal that seems out of reach – that we may never see or achieve in our own lifetime?
- How are the rituals and principles of Kwanzaa similar to the ones in our other ancestral and cultural holidays?
Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Where are all the Kwanzaa books for kids?
- A sparse list of Kwanzaa Favorites where we’ll add new good finds as they’re published
Let’s learn about the Gregorian New Year
Since we celebrate the Lunar New Year, we don’t make a big deal out of the Gregorian one.
But if you’re looking for some books to ring in the new year, or enjoy learning a few traditions beyond staying up too late and smooching strangers (this pandemic ruins everything!!!), here are a few sweet stories.
When is it?
- Gregorian New Year happens on January 1, although it seems like New Year’s Eve on 12/31 is the actual Big Deal date.
Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
You are doing a good job!
If these resources give you more quality time with your kids (and less time searching for the perfect resource), show your appreciation by joining the patreon community, or make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries.
In-Depth Discussions for December
We explore these month-long themes throughout December
Let’s learn about vaccinations and herd immunity
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY DANCE. We’ve been limiting our outings and then became full-time stay-at-home-hermits when the first Covid outbreaks began just before the lunar new year in January of 2020. Our kids are finally eligible for the vaccination and oh my gosh – we are so excited to finally get out into the world again.
The Earthquakes are mega-excited, but not as much as I am to GET THESE LOUD DUDES OUT OF MY FREAKING HOUSE after two looooooong years.
They’re gonna visit the library and choose their own books! They’re gonna go inside grandma’s house! (Right on time, it is getting cold for these outdoor visits.) They’re gonna eat mac and cheese at IKEA! (That’s a weird one, but it’s been at the top of R2’s bucket list for two years now).
They’re gonna transition back to school so I can have like an hour of sweet, sweet silence and finally poop alone in peace. Thank goodness, all hail science.
For those of you who can’t be vaccinated due to having younger kids or health limitations, holding space for you, and I recognize this pandemic isn’t over, and it’s still up to us to wear masks and avoid crowds and foolish behavior. You deserve to be safe and it’s our responsibility as potential vectors to ensure that.
For those of you with kids who aren’t familiar with vaccines, who have vaccine-hesitant family who don’t understand the science – or how herd immunity works, – or don’t understand how it’s not only about you, or you can’t catch my autism through medicine (!!!), here are a few books to help.
They’re also helpful for kids who are less-than-wild about getting poked by sharp things, who are kind and brave, but still have some anxiety.
- Baby Medical School: Vaccines (ages 2-4)
- Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor (ages 4-7)
- Thank You, Dr. Salk (ages 4-8)
- Book a covid vaccination for your child or yourself
- Help someone who faces barriers getting vaccinated, for example:
- Overwhelmed parents who might not have time to spare booking a vaccination (this is a surprisingly big hurdle).
- Families who need transportation but are uncomfortable with public transportation and ride-shares due to exposure risk.
- Families who have transportation, but can’t take time off (work, school, getting dinner on the table, caring for younger children or elders, etc.) for vaccinations.
- Vaccine-hesitant families who need someone to take them seriously in a conversation. Be the person who can just listen to their concerns without trying to convince them or bend to your will. Affirming that their fears are a sign they want to do best for their kids, and asking what information they need and for how they want to move forward – is a great way to support families and open minds.
Resources to dig deeper:
- Kids Stories about vaccines & herd immunity
- Motivating Kids To Protect Others With ‘Do Not Lick This Book’
- Inclusive Kids Books about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics
- Kids Books For Pandemic Life
- Books to brighten days home sick
- Books To Reassure Kids During Coronavirus Isolation
[Video description: R2 explains for other kids what to expect from the first covid vaccination Captions available.]
Let’s Rally through the Winter Season with Trickster & Animal Stories
In celebration of the long-term thinking required of radical generosity, let’s read some cathartic stories of animals acting selfishly and impulsively, before finally learning the benefits of working together.
- Rabbit’s Snow Dance (ages 3+)
- The Origin of Day and Night (ages 6-9)
- The Raven and the Loon (ages 4+)
- Owl & Raven: An Inuit Legend.
- How does this story show us what personal and community qualities the storyteller values?
- Why do we still tell this story?
- How would this lesson apply to a real-life decision we’ve faced before?
- To be satisfied and happy with the process, what expectations and hopes do we have to let go of when we help someone else?
Additional resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Find Trickster Stories that connect to your family’s culture, or stories told with permission from your local Indigenous nations.
- Animal Stories
- Winter Favorites
- A rundown of our favorite Sun Wukong stories for kids
- On animal personhood & rights: Stories About Animal Rights & Anti-Speciesism
Good Finds for December
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, as well as books that made us laugh and our Winter Favorites. Here are just a few of our the good reads we found last month.
PERFECT for unpacking the problem with non-apologies, but also cute and funny enough that R2 wanted to read it repeatedly.
This graphic novel from Remy Lai, one of our favorite authors, addresses the snowballing pressure that comes with a lie of omission and provides a simple story to unpack the way political divides deepen and intensify.
What I love the most is the message that those on the other side of a political divide have experiences and reasons we might not know about. The story invites us to start approaching divisive topics by shutting up and listening (in our social media bubbles, have we been doing that enough? Have we really?) so we can understand the needs and motivations and create better policy that does less harm.
Diplomacy, befriending arrogant dictators, learning to read Korean, this book has all kinds of stuff I’ve never found in a kid’s book!
In addition to a Strong Male Lead (and by that a thoughtful and patient embodiment of healthy masculinity), we see the protagonist lead through support and kindness.
November Family Actions:
Learn the second D’s of Bystander Intervention for Kids: DELEGATE
Click here to visit the main page and follow for new episodes.
Kindness as an action
[Image& text via Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans: “Kindness as an action. 25 ways to make an impact. Give / Look for a nonprofit that supports underserved youth. donate what you can.” Via RevolutionaryHumans.com]
Donate – Today’s act of kindness is a pretty standard one, but still valuable!
Find a local to you organization and make a donation. It can be $5 or $50, whatever you are able to give. Try to find either an organization that’s new to you, a cause you aren’t familiar with but strikes a cord, or an organization that specifically caters to serving kids in a way that’s meaningful to you.
Give thoughtfully and discuss with your kids where you’re donating and why.Ask kids if they want to donate, too!
Shared with permission in cahoots with Revolutionary Humans!
Support Incarcerated Women & Girls
Shout-out to Families for Justice as Healing, who cares for our community’s vulnerable women and girls.
Led by incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated women, and women with incarcerated loved ones, Families for Justice as Healing is working to end the incarceration of women and girls. They maintain a list of actions to guide us in fighting the industrial prison complex.
I’ve reinvested 13% of my 2021 Patreon pledges from January through October 2021 to activists and organizations such as Families for Justice as Healing.
Join me: donate $25 to support abolitionists ending the prison industrial complex.
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 did this several times a day, every day, for over a month. We still don’t know why.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Give Yourself a High-Five
In case you didn’t catch it – THANK YOU! I appreciate the heck out of you, being here, doing the work you’re doing in the world, igniting that next generation of luminaries. I like you!
Gosh you worked hard this year. Good job.