[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup February”]
This February we’re exploring patience & healthy relationships with our kids
Welp, it’s our family’s biggest holiday of the year, and we’re also taking this opportunity to dig deeper into Black Futures and maybe carve out some time for the goofier winter traditions. Making time to celebrate our family rituals alongside our responsibilities as accomplices provides some stability and joy for our kids – ’cause damn this ride is bumpy.
This is a long toolkit, so here are some quick-jump links to make things easier:
- Significant Dates & Events in February
- Monthly Explorations for February
- Calls To Action
- Good Finds
- Join Us
Get Updates & Stay Connected
I get it. There is a lot to parse here. If you want weekly reminders when I update these resources and publish new podcasts, join the email list.
Need help explaining big ideas?
Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big concepts.
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 this work with a direct contribution. Check out the full affiliate disclosure along with my statement of accountability on how I try to support my family without exploiting our community.
Significant Dates & Events in February
Timely events and annual observances 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 to introduce or revisit each month (or week, if you’re ambitious) and take one action to start a family discussion.
Lunar New Year & Spring Festival
The new year as we celebrate it in our American-Born-Chinese family actually lasts about two weeks – there are themes of loss and letting go, and stuff about of longevity, luck, and raising a ruckus.
When is the Lunar New Year?
- The Lunar New Year comes with the first new moon of the lunisolar (moon-based) calendar. There are 12-13 moons in the lunar calendar depending on the year, but the Lunar New Year always falls between January 21 and February 21st on the Gregorian solar (sun-based) calendar.
- As a Chinese American, I’m most familiar with the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. This is our biggest holiday of the year, and it starts with the new moon and lasts 15 days ending on the full moon.
- A Sweet twist on the story of Nian (11:57)
- Seollal Celebrating Kids (3:36)
- Making a Lion Head Tutorial (6:48), and then, Learning How To Lion Dance (9:52)
- Lunar New Year Celebrations: Korean vs. China vs. Vietnam (5:36)
- 8 Lucky Foods for our Lunar New Year (3:36)
Discuss the connection and similarities between the Nian monster in traditional stories around the world.
- Why did people start telling these stories?
- Why did they endure through the generations?
- Why are these stories rooted in eras and cultures with high child mortality rates, extreme climates, and lower access to healthcare and safety resources?
- What traditional stories around the world have similar Nian / Boogeyman archetypes?
- What do we notice about the tendency for narrow escape in Americanized versions of these traditional monster stories?
- How does changing the original stories to have ‘happy endings’ reflect and uphold supremacy culture, colonization, and the kyriarchy?
- Stereotype-Free Kids Stories Celebrating the Lunar New Year
- New Lunar New Year Kids Books (this is where I add new LNY good finds)
- For more stories that preserve the ‘boogeyman’ archetype in original stories (without Disney-washing it with a happy ending) read: A Promise is a Promise, The Shadows That Rush Past, Baba Yaga and the Wise Doll
Books for the Year of the Tiger
The year of the Tiger is about transformative change, leadership, and bravery. It’s gonna take a mindfulness to not take on too much, and to release our need to control ALL THE THINGS.
- Raising Luminaries: What leadership style works for your kiddo?
- Kids Stories On Transitions: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Accepting Change
- The Tiger Who Would Be King – A cautionary tale on how not to lead, and the consequences of leading through fear and violence.
- What About Worms?! – Hilarious book for early readers, leaving space for the Tigers in our lives to have goofy fears.
Groundhog day is kind of delicious NBD we don’t have to feel guilty about failing to celebrate or acknowledge, which is lovely. We acknowledge groundhog day like, every three years. But when we do – why not take this opportunity to unpack messed up cultural norms?
When is Groundhog Day
- Annually on February 2nd.
- Groundhog’s Dilemma – An otherwise lovely story sullied with a Jezebel trope. See if you and your kids can spot the problematic message about women.
- Groundhug Day (ages 3-7) This story does double duty as a lovely book on supportive friendship for Galentine’s Day (see below.)
- Punxsutawney Phyllis – Another otherwise lovely story about shattering the glass ceiling, ruined by some anti-ageist stories stigmatizing older adults.
Discuss: Punxsutawney Phyllis
- What message does this story tell us about the obstacles girls and women face when applying for positions of power?
- What message does this story tell us about older adults?
- What are the consequences when stories about bigotry use other targeted identities as a footstool?
- How could the anti-elder stereotypes in this story ultimately screw Phyllis over when she’s an older woman?
2/4 is Rosa Parks Day
When is it?
- Annually on February 4th
Still searching – we still haven’t found a book about Rosa Parks that I’m willing to recommend without reservations.
We’ve probably read about 30 (all the ones I can find, at least) picture books, graphic novels, and board books about Rosa Parks. Most reduce her decision and her courage to whim, erasing her strategic genius and collaboration with the NAACP. Parks’ disruptive resistance was carefully planned and deftly executed, and it kicked off the start of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Erasing the intention and intelligence behind her protest worked to gain white sympathy in the media at the time – but through the modern lens, we’re erasing how brave she really was.
Even though I have many issues with the Ordinary People series, I Am Rosa Parks is the first book we begrudgingly use to kick off these discussions. It’s funny, engaging, and goes into deeper detail on how mindful Parks was in her resistance – but it’s also factually inaccurate and implies that ‘racism is over.‘ We use it as a critical read to unpack the whitewashing of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Since the mainstream media and public curriculum saturates kids with a two-dimensional, pedestaled martyr of Parks, we then turn our attention to Claudette Colvin (all the books on her are are even more whitewashed, or terribly bland) and Georgia Gilmore in Pies from Nowhere.
In Pies from Nowhere, kids see how movements are not created or maintained by whim or luck. Nor are they achieved through the actions of just with one person.
Baking is not the first talent we think of when we imagine heroes and change-makers. This story opens up the lens on what it means to work in collective resistance down at the grassroots level, and how everybody can (must) play a part in revolution.
And then we bring it into the modern day Black Lives Matter movement (see below), and Black Futures stories – because anti-Black racism is not over.
Celebrating lovers is over-rated, let’s celebrate our kickass buddies.
When is it?
- The 13th of February
We’re not a [cards & tchotchkes = love] kinda family, but I like take this opportunity each year to talk about healthy romantic relationships, marriage rights, particularly how multiracial families have been targeted in the past, and how LGBTQ+ families are still struggling for equal rights.
When is it?
- The 14th of February
Dig deeper into this topic:
- Crushes & Puppy Love: Kids books about mutual respect, consent, and clear boundaries
- Talking about consent with kids
- Consent & Body Sovereignty for Infants & Toddlers
- Love is Love is Love: Diverse Family Constellations in Kids Books
- Gay Protagonists in kids stories
- Kids books featuring Multiracial Families
You are the bees knees!
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 on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries.
Monthly Explorations for February
Deeper discussions to return throughout the month.
Let’s Explore Patience
- Almost Time – in anticipation for sugaring season!
- How Can I Wait When There’s A Treat On My Plate? I was gonna add this to the 7-year-old’s ‘good finds’ pick this month, he loved it so much. But it fits so well here!
- Hungry Johnny This has been a beloved favorite in our rotation for years. So good!
- How does it feel to be interrupted?
- How does it feel to be rushed?
- Which parts of our day do we rush through?
- What would happen if we slowed down and worked on one task at a time?
- What would we need to prepare ahead of time so we can be a little more patient?
I used to do this with my kiddos as toddlers, and it was always a blast. Particularly when they hold bread rolls up to their ears, as if they’re seashells holding the sounds of the ocean.
- Grab a snack and try a slow food experiment:
- Everyone should move at -3x speed. Talk at a regular pace.
- Look at your food. Look at it really closely. What do you see?
- Touch your food. Feel all the textures. What do you feel?
- Smell your food. Take a big, long, slow whiff. What do you smell?
- Listen to your food. What do you hear?
- Take a tiny nibble. Pause
- What do you taste?
- Continue to nibble. Notice how the look, textures, smells, and tastes change as we move slowly.
Let’s Explore Black Futures
Grab a kid, grab a book, discuss how the messages in these stories integrate with the principles below.
- Milo’s Museum
- Freedom We Sing
- What We Believe coloring & activity book covering the 13 principles below.
Set aside 15 minutes to start a conversation in your school, workplace or community group, and kids about Black Futures. That’s 5 minutes each to get over the hard part of starting, and you’ll find it easier to continue these conversations throughout the year.
I know your schedule is packed, you’re stretched thin, and this feels like one more thing – but I promise this is less work than it looks like, and you can incorporate these discussions into your everyday kid-raising.
- Take 5 minutes to email your kids teachers, administration, and neighbors to touch base on how you’re integrating Black Lives Matter At School this month, and throughout the year. (I made it easy for you below !!!).
- During your next virtual hangout, ask if you can share your screen for a short watch party: Black Futures & human complexity (only 3 minutes, 47 seconds!) Discuss the problem with focusing narrowly on on Black exceptionalism and Black history in the classroom.
- Review the 13 guiding principles of BLM at school (and at home). Discuss with the kiddos on which ones you’ve already incorporated into your anti-bias & justice work as a family. Discuss which ones you need more practice with.
Curated Reading: Pick a book and get started!
This is a long list, but I’ll make it simple for you. This me & the Earthquakes how we screen, analyze, and choose the best books to share with you when we’ve got a hard topic to tackle:
- Pick the principle you’re least familiar with.
- Choose 3 books from a collection about it that feel age & cognitively appropriate for your family.
- Tell your kiddo we need their help identifying the best book to learn about these principles.
- Read all three, giving them power to choose the order and pace.
- Discuss how each story reflects the principle you’re both learning about.
- Ask for their insight – if we want to learn more about this principle, which book do they recommend for the kids our community?
- Ask them to report back – comment below with their insight.
Try it – seriously, it works. This isn’t about dragging kids through hard conversations that have nothing to do with them. This is about respecting their insight and expertise and using that power to lift our entire community.
- Restorative justice:
- Loving Engagement:
- Diversity & Intersectionality
- Queer Affirming:
- Trans affirming:
- Collective Value:
- Black Families: From Kids Books Centering Black Futures:
- Black Villages: From Kids Books Centering Black Futures:
- Unapologetically Black: from Kids Books Centering Black Futures
- Read books that destigmatize, name & affirm body acceptance and positivity focusing on Black joy, beauty, and identity, such as Black is a Rainbow Color, My Hair is Magic, M is for Melanin, Magnificent Homespun Brown & I Am Brown.
- Celebrate stories with Black complex characters outside the role of exceptionalism, such as in All My Sons Deserve Respect
- Make space for Black boy joy and vulnerability with A Place Inside of Me.
- Black Women:
Rally through the Winter Season with Trickster & Animal Stories
Trickster stories that connect to your family’s culture, or stories told with permission from your local Indigenous nations.
Resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- See the full Trickster Story collection.
- Animal Stories
- Winter Favorites
- A rundown of our favorite Sun Wukong stories for kids
- On animal personhood & rights: Stories About Animal Rights & Anti-Speciesism
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.
February Family Actions
Learn the fourth ‘D’ of Bystander Intervention for Kids: DELAY
Courtesy of our friends at Hollaback, the AAJC & Woori Show.
Explore Kindness As An Action: Appreciate Community Helpers
You might be on your game and have already done a few things for the essential workers around you- or you could be like me finding it hard to dedicate time to share gratitude.
Today, think about the essential workers who are keeping your life running relatively smoothly in the midst of global mayhem. Consider nonprofit workers who you may not know but who are facing unbelievable challenges and calls to pivot in an ever changing crisis.
It’s important for us all to think about the mental health toll of this work normally but now with the current added risk and without the reciprocation of the smiles, laughs, and personal connections that often bring balance to difficult jobs.
Depending on who you choose, reach out with a snack basket, a card, a quick email of appreciation, a virtual gift card, bottled water with a note of gratitude… you get the picture.
Some folks who come to mind for me are:
Delivery workers of all types
Nonprofit employees who serve those experiencing homelessness
Nonprofits who are feeding the hungry
Folks running smaller nonprofits/grassroots initiatives that don’t have a lot of backing but are still serving the public
Tailor your action to its recipient.
Shared with permission in cahoots with Revolutionary Humans!
Abolish Child Imprisonment & Support Transformative Justice
“Project Nia works to end the incarceration of children and young adults by promoting restorative and transformative justice practices.”
- Check out the Ending Police Brutality – Family Action Toolkit with your kids
- Find resources, volunteer, and support Project NIA with financial contributions.
You are doing a good job!
We support those who support our community. I’ve reinvested over 13% of our 2021 Patreon pledges to activists and organizations such as Campaign Zero, National Bail Out, Violence in Boston, and Families for Justice as Healing.
If my work makes it easier for you to raise kind & courageous kiddos, you can keep these resources free for everybody by sharing this post with your friends and supporting my work directly.
Good Finds for February
Welcome to our favorite good finds! You can keep track of great new finds as we add them to the in-progress best books of 2022 (okay there’s only one book there right now but gimmie a minute) as well as our Winter Favorites.
We’ve found too many good books and now they’re starting to pile up. So get ready for THREE TIMES THE AWESOMENESS AS USUAL.
R2’s Favorite (Age 7)
Trying new things and sucking at it! Healthy friendship & conflict resolution! Normalizing a slightly plump protagonist without making the story about her weight! Kickass Ray-family affirmations that echo our own!
And also this made us laugh.
R2 picked this one out at the library himself (we can finally visit the library!!!! Yay for vaccinations!) I think he was drawn to Melmon’s recognizable style from Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup.
Usually when the kids pick out their own books, they’re based on the cover art and end up being kind of cartoony filler books. But instead of a disappointment, we got a spectacular find! He ended up asking to read this every night until it was finally due back at the library. This anti-savior book on generosity is coming right on time, as our kids will have some red envelope cash to burn after the Lunar New Year.
Adorable and funny, but also deeply lovely. How we have to produce the outcomes our friends want in order to be loved and cherished.
Doesn’t hurt that the idea of growing a cheeseburger tree made him guffaw. And this is a due who tried to grow jellybeans in our garden last year. He insists jellybeans are different.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- Books curated by kind & courageous 7-year-olds
- Daring Greatly & Failing Spectacularly Kids Stories about mistakes & resilience
- Books that made us laugh
- Kids Books Modeling Solidarity & How To Be An Accomplice
Q’s Favorite (Age 9)
Q listened to the audio book version of ‘Fly on the Wall’ but decided the text version was better, since the audio version leaves out all the charming doodles that make up the meat of the story. He tells me that he’s ‘not quite old enough’ to fully appreciate the book, but can tell it’s ‘really good.’
He’s looking forward to getting older and more mature so he can dig deeper into it. I am too, because this book is soooo gooood. From puberty to growing out of a friendship, this, along with the Real Friends Series, is the book to have on hand before those rough middle-school social pressures pop up.
Another book with layers that Q can tell are there – but isn’t quite able to get the whole concept of yet. He recommended I read this one, and HOT DAMN it’s soooo good. There is no one ‘right way’ to be – and we can all get stuck in our ruts, locked into our bubbles for safety or acting impulsively without thinking of how our consequences affect others. Unpacking how we demonize and blame others, when really we need to look at our own harmful actions. YESSssssssSSsss!
Do you know how many kids books include a transformative community-led justice response? Like three! And this is one of them!
Yoshitake’s books are kind of like Philosophy-For-Kids, using goofy, validating scenarios that every kid finds themselves in to dig into a bit of self-awareness.
English versions of Yoshitake’s books are hard to get over here, and we put this on R2’s wishlist, so we got it as a gift from his favorite uncle. R2 loved it (of course) but, like all of Yoshitake’s books, it’s got enough whimsy and subtle humor that older kids and adults enjoy it too.
I think this might be the deepest, most adventurous exploration in his books of all – inspiring kids to think not just of who they are, but what makes them them – what does it mean to have an identity? And how is that identity perceive differently depending on what we’re doing and who we’re with?
If you liked these stories, check out:
- Stories curated by a kyriarchy-smashing 9-year-old
- Books that made us laugh
- Kids books about Restorative Justice
My Favorite (Age 39)
Damn I wish this book was available on Bookshop! This is an #OwnVoices autobiography by Sharice Davids, the first openly LGBTQiA2S+, Ho-Chunk woman elected to US congress.
And honestly, it’s hard to get kids to sit through a book about elections and legislation. HOWEVER, Davids is a badass mixed martial artist, and she deftly ties in the ways she taps into her heritage and athletic discipline to navigate the bigotry and systemic discrimination in her way.
This is not an #OwnVoices story, about a d/Deaf artist with Down Syndrome, but written by the late artist’s non-disabled sister, with visual art by another non-disabled artist.
I know. I know. Sigh. I wish that we had been able to see Scott’s art as a representation of herself, rather than a non-disabled person’s version of her art. Still confounded by that choice.
And there’s this really awful, victim-blamey line: “Mom tries to enroll Judy in school, but she has special needs that keep her home.”
First off – Scott’s needs aren’t special, they’re basic human needs. And second – it wasn’t her needs that kept her out of school, it the rampant, systemic, toxic ableism and bigotry of our administrators, teachers, other families, and the government.
Alas – we are in desperate need for more biographies featuring disabled artists, and this book, at least tells the truth about the incarceration of people with disabilities and hints at how traumatic this experience can be. It’s not a big leap from there to discuss Scott’s clear and direct communication via fiber arts.
And it wasn’t all bad. On the page after that gross ‘special needs’ comment, Scott’s sister alludes to a social & neurodiversity-positive lens: “They don’t know Judy like I do. She is perfect just the way she is. She knows things that no one else knows and sees the world in ways that I never will.”
So we read this book, as we do with all books – through multiple lenses. Yay for disability representation! And also: WTF COME ON ALREADY. My 7-year-old can identify the nasty bigotry scaffolding this whole thing and publishing conglomerates with a huge staff can’t bother to find an artist with Down Syndrome to edit or illustrate your books? TRY HARDER.
Oh my gosh! We can FINALLY ditch our dusty, outdated versions of Belinda’s Bouquet, this is the explicitly anti-fatmisia book we’ve been waiting for! Even though no one directly fat-shames Zubi, she absorbs the negative self-talk around her, she starts to internalize the message that all her body is bad.
We keep our kids a little sheltered – like they know there’s fat-shaming in the world, but he had no idea that people say such awful things about their own bodies. He like ‘what the fuck with this nonsense’ and he was having none of that cruelty. We had a lovely discussion about how hard our family works to be kind to ourselves, so that way the Earthquakes don’t internalize those kinds of messages themselves.
If you liked these stories, check out:
One more good thing…
That time the Earthquakes learned to sled… kinda:
[Video description: R2, the smaller kid, trying to pull his much larger brother Q, in a sled through thick snow. Q half-heartedly paddles his arms to help, but R2 keeps jerking the sled rope only to meet resistance, flopping over, struggling to get back up, and repeating the same tactic, to no avail.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Acknowledge your Badassery
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.
Join the Raising Luminaries Community
Get Updates & Stay Connected
If you want reminders when I update these resources and publish new podcasts, join the email list.