[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup January”]
This January we’re exploring tenacious resilience with our kids
Oh hey. I uhhh…failed.
I was gonna cram all the things into twelve monthly resource roundup posts last year. But it turns out that’s too many things? And now I’m a little behind.
BUT it’s kind of perfect. Because this month’s theme is about tenacity, endurance and resilience. Which we can’t really practice until we stumble, fall, and fail. I’m not sure if irony is quite the thing I’m feeling here, so much as complexity. Because no matter how tenacious and hard-working we are, sometimes we just don’t have what it takes to stay afloat.
Sometimes we’ve got grit up the wazoo, but just don’t have enough power, enough resources, enough time to keep fighting. Sometimes the car breaks down, the trains stop, the library closes earlier you thought, the kid gets sent home barfing, and everyone needs last-minute help in the same 48 hours.
Doesn’t matter how talented, resilient and hard-working we are, at some point things are beyond our control. SO, with that, let’s get started with this grand new year and all the possibilities it brings. Along with the intent to be tenacious and work hard and stay flexible – that’s good stuff.
But also, don’t beat yourself up if hard work alone isn’t enough to claw your way through injustice, glass ceilings, and stacked odds.
This is a long toolkit, so here are some quick-jump links to make things easier:
- Significant dates & events
- Monthly themes
- Calls to action
- Good Finds
- Join Us
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Significant Dates & Events in January
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 to introduce or revisit each month (or week, if you’re ambitious) and take one action to start a family discussion.
Kicking off the New Year
Who do we want to be this year? How do we want to grow over the next 4 seasons?
We use these books to kick off discussions on self-identity, getting back up after failure, and leading with integrity.
When is the Gregorian New Year?
- Annually on January 1st.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Day, Jr. Day
Shrugging off all the whitewashing and consumerism slowly encroaching upon this day – make sure your kids know the historical context of the civil rights movement, and why it’s important to support our leaders and recognize their humanity.
Part of raising tenaciously resilient kids is showing them what’s possible – who came before them and lit a path on how to fight against almost impossible odds? Who kept going despite fear and uncertainty? And what responsibility do our kids have – do we have – to carry on that legacy and keep fighting in a battle that continues to this day?
When is Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
- Annually on the 3rd Monday in January
For the purposes of the discussion below, these are most effectively read in order from the top down.
- I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. (ages 3.5-8)
Recommended for the purpose of showing how media whitewashes and cherry-picks the parts of MLK acceptable to white moderates, but it’s also a good introductory book about racism. This was the first book we used to discuss racism with our eldest when he was three.)
- My Daddy (ages 4-8)
An autobiographical account from King’s son, on his role as a father. If you can only read one book about MLK this month, make it this one.
- The Youngest Marcher (ages 5-12)
- What does it mean to be courageous?
(Taking action to help others, even when though we’re still afraid.)
- Was MLK born courageous, or did he grow to be courageous through practice?
- Whose responsibility is it to act with courage even though we’re scared? Leaders? Or everybody?
- What do we know about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., beyond his role as a civil rights leader?
- What is exceptionalism? What does it mean to place someone on a pedestal?
- When we reduce people to their role as ‘heroes,’ what unspoken message does this send kids who don’t see themselves as heroes? What responsibilities are we trying to avoid?
- Why is it important we remember and learn about leaders as regular people?
- Did MLK work alone? Who else worked to end segregation?
- What is nonviolent resistance?
TL;DR: Let’s make this simple, free & easy: text SIGN PYLOLZ to 50409 or and share to boost our action to secure voting rights access before MLK Day.
In keeping with MLK’s legacy and the wishes of his children and grand-children, call your Congresspeople to push stalled legislation in the Senate to secure voting access. Over the past five years, states have passed legislation blocking Black, brown & disabled citizens from voting, so it’s urgent we secure our rights immediately.
If you’d rather call, here’s a script you can use:
I’m writing you today to call for immediate action to
1. End the Senate filibuster,
2. Pass the Freedom to Vote Act, and
3. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
After our long US history of blocking voting rights due to gender, race, and class, in addition to recent state legislation designed to block voting access for Black, brown, disabled, and citizens with low-incomes, we would be hypocrites to celebrate MLK day this January without security voting rights and access for citizens.
Here’s the legislation we’re talking about:
- End the Senate filibuster
What does the filibuster has to do with voting rights? Here’s a 20-minute video (for older kids and adults) on how the filibuster was created and weaponized to block civil rights legislation. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have been particularly bent on obstructing the flow of civil rights legislation by supporting the filibuster. Make yourself heard.
- Pass the Freedom to Vote Act
This legislation makes it easier for citizens with limited transportation, disabilities, elders, and over-extended resources to register to vote. It secures early voting access for public elections and allows all voters to request mail-in ballots without having to justify why they can’t drag children or get time off work to visit the polls in-person. We’d get stronger security in voting systems, require transparency on political donations and gerrymandering.
- Pass and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
- End the Senate filibuster
Resources to dig deeper:
- Segregation & Desegregation history for kids
- A kid’s compilation of non-violent resistance
- The best (and also some problematic) books about Martin Luther King
- Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting to talk about race
- Anti-Racism for Kids 102: Why not all racial discrimination is ‘racism’
- Anti-Racism for Kids 103: How White Supremacy Perpetuates Myths of Racial Purity
Coldest Days of the year
Our house is crumbling, the heat is broken for a month while we wait for a broken part of our furnace to be replaced, and Boston gets kind of cold around this time of year.
Taking night shifts with my partner so I can work full time, continue advocacy work, and home-school and care for the kids, I’m awake for about 3 hours of daylight lately. I’m also relying on the security from these stories to handle my seasonal anxiety and depression, endure the terrifying weather, and work to maintain hope. In acknowledging that winter is long, hard, bitter, and a time slow down, we can be a bit kinder and more patient with ourselves when we’re feeling less moxie and more… gooooaoaaaaaarhhhhhhuggghh.
When is it?
- Typically in Boston, that’s roughly January 21st-25th. Although with climate change and our last couple years of climate chaos good gosh – who even knows?! Like, July?
- The Laba Festival falls in January or December.
- Overcoming False Scarcity & Xenophobia with ‘Shelter’
- Our favorite winter stories
- Cozy Kid’s Books To Warm Up Your Winter
- Seasonal Rhythms, Patience & Listening
- Radical Interdependence
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of survivors from the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945.
Given the upsurge in Holocaust deniers and loud, media-seeking attention of anti-Semites and Nazis, we can’t let this horror fade into a dusty part of history.
Weirdly, all the books I can find about anti-Semitism take place at least 50 years ago, including stories about modern heroes, such as I Dissent. So make sure as you discuss these books on discrimination with kiddos, to point out that these are not ‘problems of the past‘ as if they’ve magically dissipated and resolved. Modern Jewish people are still targeted as scapegoats, discriminated against, and attacked today.
How can we make space for this remembrance and post-traumatic growth? How can we support families who directly impacted – and shadowed by, the effects of genocide?
Let’s start with the truth.
When is it?
- Annually on January 27th
- Oskar and the Eight Blessings (ages 4.5+)
- The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank (ages 4-8)
- Hidden (ages 6+)
- When do students in your family’s district learn about the Holocaust?
- How extensive is this discussion in the classroom? Is it a bullet-point, or are students invited to humanize the victims and recognize the effects of the Holocaust on people today?
- What other world genocides do they learn about?
- What modern currently existing genocides are world governments orchestrating today?
Dig Deeper Into This Topic
Fred Korematsu Day
The year I was born, two white dudes beat Kevin Chin (a Chinese man) to death, because they mistook him for a Japanese man who was gonna steal their jobs. Chin’s family never got justice for his murder.
How do actions like this ripple throughout the Asian community, and teach us that we must always be on guard for scapegoating, seen as perpetual foreigners, and disposable in the eyes of the US justice system?
Anti-Asian racism and xenophobia continues to this day. Both in the smaller, subtle ways that I’ve learned to shrug off growing up, and the systemic discrimination in our media and corporate practices. Not even getting into the horrifying violence we’ve seen against Asian Americans through this pandemic.
For many of you who aren’t Asian, it’s been easy to shrug off the generational trauma and modern fear that still haunts Japanese Americans from being imprisoned for being Japanese American in their own home country, even as we continue to target and torture immigrants in the US.
And as always – it’d be super cool if we could balance out every book about us as the quiet victim/nerd/mystical Asian, with stories showing us as agents of our own story, beyond our role as the other. So pick up a couple more books of our heroism & history this month, too.
When is it?
- Annually on January 30th
- 3 Generations of Japanese American History
- Kids meet a survivor of Japanese American Internment
- Why was the kid surprised to hear that they would have been put in camps too?
- Why did the US not put Italian & German Americans in camps?
- What did he mean ‘it’s happening now?’
- Revisit US policies and impact of separating migrant families & internment camps
- Discuss China’s current imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims
- Yuri Kochiyama
- How did the US use D-day (12/7) as an excuse to clear Japanese people off fertile land?
We’re a multiracial family and I’m Chinese American. When 45, a vehemently anti-Chinese President was elected, and again three years later at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to have some frank discussions, brainstorm escape plans, and applied for passports in case we had to flee. It was scary, expensive, time-consuming – and we had to wrestle with how much we told the kids so they could be prepared, without creating unnecessary anxiety. Could some of us pass enough to stay? Would be be able to stay together?
It’d be nice if families who never have to worry about that sort of thing took some time to discuss and acknowledge how scapegoating immigrants and Black and brown Americans affects citizens in the US.
- What tensions exist between our home government and our family’s country of origin?
- How does this impact our safety and risk at home?
- How does our risk level change depending on who holds power in our country?
- If our family has never been targeted as a scapegoat in US history, what obstacles do we not have to watch out for? what privileges and opportunities does this create for us?
- Adults & teens: Take a free training to stop anti-Asian American & xenophobic harassment with Hollaback. Trainings are available for non-Asian allies and accomplices, as well as Asian folks experiencing harassment.
- Delicious Kids Books That Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism
- Asian & Pacific Islander history
- Quick List: Kids Books on Japanese American Internment
- Why We Keep Repeating The Past – Kids Books on Japanese Internment
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.
Monthly Themes for January
Deeper discussions to return throughout the month.
Let’s Learn About Tenacious Resilience
I’m gonna take a second to boast – the Earthquakes are SO good at making mistakes. It’s kind of their thing.
There are a few types of ‘mistake’ books I love – they can go in a few different directions. All of them are awesome for fostering resilience and tenacity.
- Daring Greatly & Failing Spectacularly: Kids stories about mistakes and resilience
- How To Talk About Hard Topics With Kids – Building Courage & Resilience with Stories
- A terrible podcast episode on tenacity: Show up. Awkwardly. Show up nonetheless
What does ageism against older adults look like?
We need to dismantle ageism not despite our focus on the youngest generation, but for our youngest generation.
Anti-elder ageism is a keystone head of the kyriarchy hydra. By unpacking our unconscious bias, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of the way we are complicit in oppression. Through inter-generational advocacy work, we learn from our elders on best practices, how to avoid burnout and stay resilient, and how to survive.
Take a quiz:
- Kids meet a 101 year old
- If your kids are curious about what is a code/decoder, learn about the Navajo Code Talkers in the story Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code (it’s a dry story, but adequate), and watch an interview with Chester Nez at 94.
- What assumptions did we make about older adults before we took the ageism quiz?
- What is ageism?
- Keep an eye out for advertisements that suggest signs of aging are shameful or best hidden. As a family, discuss how these ads normalize ageism.
For example, the Earthquakes bring our attention to advertisements for wrinkle cream and hair dye.
Resources to dig deeper:
- #OwnVoices Stories by Older Adults
- Why Young Activists Depend on the Fight For Elder Rights
- Problematic Savior Tropes Stigmatizing Older Adults in Kidlit
- Older Lives Are Worth Living: Fighting Ageism & Deathmisia In Children’s Books
- Anti-Ageism Kids Books About Older Adults
- Anti-ageism kids books featuring inter-generational friendships
- Joy: Analyzing anti-elder saviorism in kidlit (12 minute video)
- Ten Lessons from Years of Activism from Gloria House, Ph.D. (aka Aneb Kgositsile)
- A Place That Does Not Yet Exist: Living The Future Now, advocacy stories from the National Council of Elders
Let’s Learn about Body Diversity, Acceptance & Positivity
For body shape, physical disability, skin, and gender-presentation:
- Bare Naked Body Book includes naked bodies, intersex, trans, disabled, with skin differences, and so on. This is the only book other than Sex is a Funny Word where genitalia are shown, which of course makes it a favorite for the target age group of this book, when kids are curious about parts people keep covered in public.
(transparency! Annick Press sent me a free review copy because I could not wait to get my hands on it!!!!!)
- Bodies Are Cool includes oodles of under-represented body shapes, sizes, and with skin and physical differences. This is by far the most inclusive for disability, age, limb differences, trans and gender non-conforming folks
- They, She, He, Me: Easy as ABC from our friends at Reflection Press, battling cissexism and ableism one adorable character at a time.
- We Are Little Feminists: Hair (ages 0-5) – I helped with this one! Featuring real people, read bodies, real hair, and a dyslexic-friendly font.
- Laxmi’s Mooch: R2’s favorite story-based book on body hair.
- Kamal’s Kes: My friend Navjot from Saffron Press sent me a free copy of this lovely book! Many Sikh people do not cut their hair (including body hair) as a part of observing their faith, so this is a particularly poignant discussion on body acceptance. One more reason shouldn’t have to adjust to a commodified social norm to feel good in our own bodies.
- Raised to be squeamish about body talk? To get started, here are BASIC Anatomy & Body Awareness Books.
- Next up, start discussing the diversity of bodies and how all bodies are good with Radically Body-Positive Kids Books.
- Now it’s time to destigmatize body size with adipositivity and books about fat liberation.
- The People You May See: Talking openly and without shame about noticing physical differences in people
- Here’s an ever-expanding list of books that explicitly explain to kids that all bodies are good bodies to get you started.
- Name the fact that popular media in our society discriminates against people with larger bodies. Discuss the myth that fat bodies are inherently less good or healthy or that thinness means desirability or health. Most importantly – openly discuss with kids how another person’s size, eating habits, or exercise is not a signifier of their value as a human being.
- Talk openly with kids about visible differences. Create a family policy so kids know they are allowed to ask about physical differences, but how to do it in a way that doesn’t make folks uncomfortable or feel like sideshow freaks. This includes folks of different races, racially ambiguous folks, and folks using disability-assistive devices.
Each individual has different preferences and feels comfortable with different levels of frankness. Speaking for myselg – a visibly multiracial person and as a person who often wears earmuffs in public to deal with an otherwise invisible disability:
- Don’t stare.
- Or if you must stare – please don’t do it while frowning. It’s scary and I get nervous about getting yelled at or you know, attacked.
- Not conspicuously avoiding eye contact or pretending we don’t exist.
- Smiling and saying ‘hello.’ Like you’re talking to a fellow human. Because you are!
- Agreeing ahead of time with kids to save questions for when you’re alone together.
- When a kid points something out, not hushing or implying shame, just saying cheerfully “Yeah, they have a really cool wheelchair!” or “Those are some sweet earmuffs! Smart for a noisy place like this!” or “Oh a new neighbor*, let’s say hello.” or “We can learn more about this when we get home.”
*Neighbor – or any word that suggests that this person is one of us – a member of our community.
- If kids slip up and comment on someone’s appearance- actively apologizing to the person you’ve made uncomfortable and letting them know you’ve got some conversations to have with your kids. “Sorry about that, we’ve been reading about skin color and my kid got excited because we live in a bit of a bubble. I understand if it made you uncomfortable or feel singled out, no [neighbor / fellow shopper / community member, etc.] should have to deal with being spotlit like this. I’ll be discussing how to be a better community member with the the kids when we get home.”
- The point is to de-center yourself and remember that folks who look ‘different’ have to navigate daily life like this, so treat us like humans who have just as much right to take up space in public and see this place as as much our space as you do.
- Ask kids to keep an eye out and to name body-shaming, fat-shaming, wrinkle-shaming, etc. advertisements. It’s a game! The Earthquakes love this.
- Keep up with the reading all year round. For those identities where you hold privilege, make sure at least 50% of your books normalize and validate stories of people who do not look like you.
Let’s 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.
See the full Trickster Story collection.
Resources to dig deeper into this topic:
- Animal Stories
- Winter Favorites
- A rundown of our favorite Sun Wukong stories for kids
- On animal personhood & rights: Stories About Animal Rights & Anti-Speciesism
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 leaving a comment below and/or making a contribution.
January Family Actions
Learn the third ‘D’ of Bystander Intervention for Kids: DOCUMENT
Courtesy of our friends at Hollaback, the AAJC & Woori Show.
Explore Kindness As An Action: SHARE
Give something away!
There’s much debate in the RevHum household about what it means for each of us to
give away 3 things. So I suppose it’s up to interpretation but today’s prompt is to do just that: ask everyone in your household to choose 3 things to give away.
Originally, I was thinking about going through our stuff and making a donation box, then it seemed to make more sense to find some things we have and don’t need that we know someone specific could use.
Next, Cade (9) suggested giving away drawings (Yes!) and also asked if giving someone a message/email counts. (No.) Cyrus (6) insists he will not be giving anything away under any circumstances…and so, we discuss: snacks? recipes? books? What can he share?
Talk about it with your kids and decide- what are your three things and who will you give them to?
Shared with permission in cahoots with Revolutionary Humans!
Sharing takes work. Things to consider:
- If you’re new to gift economy practices, follow your local Buy-Nothing Project group and learn how to give with responsibility and consent.
The administrators of my local group have been far more responsive to my concerns and rooted from race and class than ordinary city free-stuff groups.
- Consider the Cradles to Crayons reminder that Quality = Dignity. Families in need are not a dumping ground for your trash. Donations and giveaways a way to circumvent your guilt over adding to a landfill. Don’t make more work for recipients and organizers, they don’t have time to manage your waste.
- This isn’t about you, this is about the recipient. Center your generosity on what families need and want, not on decluttering your house. If you’re not sure what that is, reach out to your local school principal, faith leader, or food bank, to find out what families in your community have asked for.
Support Your Local Food Bank
According to Feeding America, an estimated 1 in 6 children across the US experienced food insecurity in 2021. While we should have established minimum support for these kids – there are still a lot of holes our children are falling through. Local food banks are an invaluable source of support for many of these families, and we owe them our gratitude, and our support.
If your kids enjoy solid meals each day, let’s support the food banks who work hard each day to keep our communities fed.
If you’re not sure how to get started, match the 15 bucks I donate each month to the Greater Boston Food Bank, which distributes resources to families and food banks in cities and towns across Eastern Massachusetts.
Interdependence & Reciprocity
We support those who support our community. I’ve reinvested over 13% of our 2021 Patreon pledges to activists and organizations such as the Greater Boston Food Bank, Rosie’s Place, and Cradles to Crayons providing meals and supplies for families facing food and housing insecurity. Admittedly, 13% of a 27k annual salary isn’t philanthropy-levels of giving, but if we waited until we’re millionaires to give generously, we end up losing touch with reality and blowing money that could change the world on space vacations. And guys like that are asshats. Let’s not be asshats.
Monthly $1, or $50 donations are not just world-changing, they’re identity-affirming. As we grow and lift each other up, this reminds us to expand our interdependence and reciprocate – to care for those who care for us.
Learn more about how readers support Raising Luminaries and where the money goes.
Make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries or donate monthly.
Good Finds for January
R2’s Favorite (Age 7): Something’s Wrong!
- Books That Legit Made My Kids Laugh
- Kids stories of supportive friendship
- Books curated by kind & courageous 7-year-olds
Q’s Favorite (Age 9): The Deep Dark Blue
“I had a hard time following it and I’m not completely sure what’s going on – but this is a really good book. You should read it” – Q
Smith got a little too caught up in world-building to flesh out the characters and story. The dialogue story isn’t super-accessible for the recommended age range of 8-12 (I’d adjust for closer to 10+).
But there is potential for this to develop into a fantastic series of graphic novels following a set pair of siblings (one a cis boy, the other a trans girl) wrestling with expectations and roles in exploring spirituality, politics, and a rebellious insurgency.
At 9, Q the dialogue went over his head, but he appreciated the underlying story of two siblings reconciling with their gender identities and how they feel called to present themselves.
If you liked this story, check out
- Stories of Transgender Representation & Resilience for Kids
- Stories curated by a kyriarchy-smashing 9-year-old
My Favorite (Age 39): Bad Sister
The cover of this made me pause – I don’t need another graphic novel glorifying some lying bully sister. HOWEVER.
This auto-biographical graphic novel by neurodivergent author Charise Mericle Harper explores the social conflict – and internalized shame – that come with undiagnosed communication and sensory disabilities.
While Mericle Harper only explicitly labels her neurodivergence as prosopagnosia (a difficulty recognizing faces that I also share), the conflicts in her story were driven by social and communicative misunderstandings commonly related to neurodivergence.
Challenges with pragmatic language, sensitivity to sound, ‘black and white’ thinking (ie: the Bad Sister label for making innocent mistakes), and annoyed, baffled adults who couldn’t understand why she could do some things well, while facing delays and social challenges compared to her younger sibling.
As an person who also grew up with these challenges raised as an undiagnosed Autistic girl – with all the extra social expectations that come with that – the story felt validating and compassionate. Both me and the Autistic kiddo combed the book back to front searching for a reference to Autism or another neurodivergence. Even the allistic kid agreed that the character in this story coded as Autistic.
Only after reading Bad Sister and checking her author history for more did I realize that Mericle Harper also penned Go! Go! Go! Stop! (among at least 50 more books. +1 neurodivergent point, she’s *prolific*) which my Autistic preschooler LOVED HARD through the two years his hyperfocus revolved around yellow construction trucks.
If you liked this story, check out
- Non-Shamey Guides for Autistic Kiddos
- Validating Sibling Conflict Stories with a Healthy Resolution
- Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids.
One more important thing…
The Earthquakes wanted to create a quick Public Service Announcement about concentration and internment camps because CLEARLY some grownups are NOT GETTING IT.
[Video description: R2 and Q advocate for the abolition of concentration camps. Captions available.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Be Here Now
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 and want you to be okay. Take a moment to feel loved. Right now. DO IT. YOU ARE ADORED.
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