Home Shenanigans June Resource Roundup

June Resource Roundup

June Kids Books, Discussion Questions & Action Guides for Kyriarchy-Smashing Families

via Ashia
Published: Last Updated on

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In June we focus on building a resilient self-identity and redefining what it means to be ‘us’ for the next generation.

In June we focus on building a resilient self-identity and redefining what it means to be ‘us’ for the next generation.

For me as a disabled Asian feminine-presenting person , that looks like resisting my programming to labor silently and downplay how hard I work to support my community – and to explicitly ask for what I need to keep going without burning out.

And what I need is feedback so I don’t have that sense of shouting into the void!

Leave a comment below so I know Im not alone!

What responsibilities and roles were you raised with? How are you changing these assumptions for the next generation of kids who share your identity?

 


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Parenting is Praxis: June Edition

This June, instead of strangling the creativity from our calendars, we’re just going to bring out the books I’ve found most helpful in starting these discussions, and explore ways to dig in deeper.

No one expects you to do it all – so pick one, or knit them together. 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 words.

Quick links to resources on this page:

 


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Significant Dates & Events in June

 

Gun Violence Awareness Day

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice - Celano, Marianne

Ages 4-8

I Am Alfonso Jones - Medina, Tony

Ages 9+

Maya and the Robot - Ewing, Eve L.

Ages 8-12

 

When is it?

  • June 4th

Read

More resources to dig deeper:

How to talk to kids about shootings – Picture books that help

 


Gardening As Resistance

The Curious Garden - Brown, Peter

Ages 3-6

The forever garden

Ages 4-8

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree - Deenihan, Jamie L. B.

Ages 4-10

When is it?

  • Gardening As Self-Care Day is June 6th
  • Weed Your Garden Day is 6/13

Read:

Discuss:

  • How did the plants in our garden end up here?
  • As humans, what is our relationship to the soil, water, and the plants we grow?
  • When we care for our gardens, are we ‘in charge’ of them, or are we more like friends helping each other out?
  • Which plants in our garden are indigenous, and which are naturalized, and which are invasive?
  • How can we support our garden so our kids and grandkids can have a good relationship with it later?

More Resources to dig deeper:


Autistic Pride

You don’t have to be Autistic to celebrate and support Autistic on pride day. Given the symbollic nature of these stories, they work for celebrating all types of neurodiversity.

Red: A Crayon's Story

Ages 3-7

Superluminous

Ages 3-7

Pokko and the Drum

Ages 4+

When is it?
  • Autistic Pride Day is 6/18
Read

Visit

Family Activity & Discussion

  • Based on the chart in Understanding the Spectrum, have kids and caregivers each create a spectrum chart of  their abilities and challenges.
  • In what ways does each of us need support? What does that support look like?
  • In what ways can we use our skills to support each other other?

Take Action

  • Share out the AWNN’s Autistic People of Color Fund. Donate if you can.
  • Visit the ASAN Action Center, specifically the Action Alerts for scripts and templates to support civil rights legislation for Autistic folks as it comes up. The actions take like 6 seconds and it’s very accessible for folks with executive functioning disabilities.
  • Bookmark this page and save it for when your favorite people realize they’re Autistic and need resources. (They’re your favorite people for a reason.)

Dig deeper with these resources:


Juneteenth

Juneteenth for Mazie

Ages 4-8

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth - Duncan, Alice Faye

Ages 5-9

 

Unlike every other American holiday, I never learned about Juneteenth in history class because I went to a 99.9% white school near Boston, and if there’s one thing white supremacy has a handle on, it’s our education system.

June 19th 1865 was the final end of slavery, when the very last enslaved citizens in Galveston, Texas learned they were free to go. Surprisingly (/sarcasm!), the kind of people who enslaved other humans kept the Emancipation Proclamation under wraps FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS until a force of Union troops arrived to tell the last people they were finally free.

So our non-Black family observes Juneteenth as a time to acknowledge all the things that went wrong, and discuss how much (much, much) farther we have left to go dismantling anti-Black oppression.

When is it?

  • June 19th, marking the 1865 milestone

Read:

Watch

Discuss

  • Why did it take two years for the last enslaved people to learn they were free? Who had the obligation and power to tell them, but refused?
  • Why did it Opal Lee have to work for so long to get the US government to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday?
  • Does our city have a Juneteenth celebration we can support or attend?

Take Action: Non-Black Families

  • Support Black family generational wealth & Indigenous land rematriation. Donate to a local organization, or if you can’t find one, check out the Detroit Black Farmers Land Fund.

Dig deeper with these resources:


Summer Solstice & Outdoor Accessibility

As the weather heats up, this is the perfect time to talk about barriers to outdoor accessibility for targeted kids. This is scaffolding for the discussions we’ll be having about environmentalism and climate justice in July.

This Beach is Loud

Ages 3-7

Freedom Summer

Ages 4+

Cannonball

Ages 4-8

 

Ruth and the Green Book

Ages 5-11

Red Panda and Moon Bear

Ages 7+

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer

Ages 8+

 

When is it?

  • Roughly on the 20th or 21st of June each year

Read

  • This Beach is Loud!
    Recognizing barriers to participating in summer activities for kids with disabilities. This doesn’t even touch on access for folks with physical disabilities (sand and mobility devices, dang!) but will get kids started on thinking about how we can make summer outings more accessible for everybody.
  • Freedom Summer
    This is my favorite book to help kids understand the difference between individual and systemic racism. It’s also my favorite to show folks. The white-centering/saviorism is a little gross, but until we find something better, this is our most effective story in driving home the subtler impacts of anti-Black racism for younger kids.
  • Cannonball
    Helping kids see there’s no one right way to play or participate. This is the You Do You of summer reading and it’s lovely.
  • Ruth And The Green Book
    This year, I’ve been talking more with Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans about how to move, travel, or even just gather with kids as mothers of color with disabilities. And we keep coming to the same resigned UGH that ruins every possible location.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to just up and go somewhere without worrying what the racists might do to us once we get there? So this is for all the white folks who are like ‘I had a lovely time at [cheap destination covered in confederate flags], you should visit!’
    While this book is taken from the historical use of a Green book, BIPOC still have to be cautious about where we end up, what we have to go through to get there, and how to navigate the emotional and mental labor who we might encounter, even in this year of Pretending-The-Pandemic-Is-Over. If folks are coming into Chinatown just to attack us, imagine how nerve wracking it can be to enter an unfamiliar and vetted space.
  • Panda and Moon Bear (English), or Panda Roja y Oso Lunar (Spanish)
    Healthy sibling relationship, nods to the challenges of growing up bilingual and code-switching, and goofy hijinks that end up inclusive, compassionate, and kind? BUY TEN COPIES, blow this up so Roselló is forced to write a sequel. These characters deserve their own TV series, I would watch the heck out of it.
  • Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
    Navigating new friendships, judgement, cultural family and social conflict for third-culture kids & immigrant families, transformative justice, and an autistic coded socially abrasive character!!!!
    Also an Asian character whose family actually takes off her damn shoes in the house. (The bar is low for white makers, but this book hits well above and doesn’t tokenize our Asian protagonist.) This is the summer read for Rascals we all needed.

Watch:

Discuss as a family:

  • Think of your favorite summer activities.
  • What barriers might other kids face accessing these activities?
  • How can we make these events more accessible for every kid?

If you’re looking for quick & easy summer reading lists, there you go:


Father’s Day

Dad by My Side - Soosh

Ages 1-6

The Better Tree Fort

Ages 4-7

Beautiful photos of real-life families showcase all the wonderful forms of family, while poetic text builds both vocabulary and family connection.

Ages 1-4

 

When is it?

  • Third Sunday in June

Read

Read about all kinds of dads! Including validating stories for kids with multiple dads, and without dads.

  • Dad by My Side: Involved, primary caretaker dads!
  • The Better Tree Fort: Involved, collaborated dads!
  • We Are Little Feminist Families: Trans gestational parent dads!
  • My Maddy: Nonbinary and gender creative masculine-adjacent parents.
  • Boats for Papa: Deceased dads with moms who support kids in maintaining memories and support them through grief.
  • A Father Like That: Absent dads, and the co-parents who support kids in navigating abandonment and loss.
  • Visiting Day: Incarcerated dads, who kids have to jump through hoops to visit.
  • Knock Knock: For children whose fathers have been involuntarily separated from them – for instance from incarceration, death, or deportation.

Watch:

  • Have you seen the movie Onward? It’s utterly lovely. Healthy masculinity and dismantling assumptions on the 4.5-member nuclear family for the win!
  • Who is watching your kids?

Discuss:

  • What responsibilities do dads have in the commercials, movies, shows, and books we consume, versus other genders?
  • How does this differ from the roles our caregivers have at home?
  • What genders of parents do we most often find doing unpaid community work in our schools and parks?
  • When we get together with other families, which parents plan the event? Cook and prepare? Clean up afterward?
  • Check the restroom at your favorite stores and restaurants. Which bathrooms have changing tables for caregivers to change diapers? How does its impact the ability of some parents to take primary responsibility for their kids?
  • Kids with dads: How often do other adults praise your dad for doing basic dad things, like taking you out in public or caring for you? Why do they do that?

Take Action:

  • Support National Bail Out with donations, volunteering, and/or signal-boosting to reunite incarcerated parents with their families, support bail reform, and create resources to support families navigating pretrial detention.

Dig deeper with these resources:

 


 Stonewall Riots & LGBTQiA2S+ Pride Month

Sylvia and Marsha Start A Revolution

Ages 4-8

Ho'onani Hula Warrior

Ages 4-8

M is for Mustache

Ages 3-8

 

When is it?

  • June 28th is the Anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion
  • LGBTQiA2S+ Pride month lasts through June

Read

Watch:

Discuss

  • Notice rainbow-washing in ads and shopping aisles.
    Talk about which companies and organizations support LGBTQiA2S+ people year-round, and which stick rainbows on things once a year to sell more rubbish.
  • Discuss the able/thin/whitewashing of LGBTQiA2S+ history and heroes.
    Notice which books and shows are okay with portraying the history of Pride, but only when focusing on white, thin, able-bodied, etc. heroes.
  • Discuss LGBTQiA2S+ history before Stonewall.
    How has settler-colonialism narrowed our understanding of gender and sexuality? Is Pride something new, or is it something we’re reclaiming?

Take Action (Adults):

Dig deeper with these resources:



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Monthly Explorations for June

As we discuss the topics above, we tie them into deeper discussions throughout the month about immigrant heritage, gender & sexuality, and being proud of who we are.

 


 

Let’s Explore Assigned Sex, Gender & Sexuality

They She He Me: Free to Be! - Gonzalez, Maya Christina

Ages 2-7

Neither - Anderson, Airlie

Ages 2.5+

Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and You - Silverberg, Cory

Ages 6+

 

Lots of folks are still confused about the relationship between gender and sex. Or even gender and sexuality. So let’s get on the same page.

  1. Talking with kids about the gender spectrum.
  2. Destigmatizing and normalizing fluid, nonbinary & creative genders.
  3. Destigmatizing and normalizing transgender identities.

Okay great – at this point you know there’s a small correlation between gender and sex, but that assigned sex at birth doesn’t determine your gender. Cool? Let’s move on to understanding sexuality, and how that, too, is not tied to gender!

  1. Understanding reproduction (sex for making new humans)
  2. Understanding sexuality & masturbation (sex for recreation), and how to set boundaries.
  3. Go back and revisit the books on consent and body boundaries! Often! ‘Cause our boundaries are constantly in flux!
  4. Still got steam? Pick up a copy of How Mamas Love Their Babies and discuss how sex workers are people who deserve human rights, safety, and career autonomy.

 


Let’s Explore Immigrant Heritage Month

For Immigrant Heritage Month, let’s revisit those discussion questions from above in relation to immigration.

What relationship and identities do we hold in relation to the land we call home right now?

For instance, families can be a mix of Indigenous, immigrants documented or undocumented, displanted people, settlers, visitors, transnationally adopted, diaspora, third-culture kids, nomadic, seasonal migrants, etc.

Some groups even have ethnicity-specific labels, such as ABC or FOB (American-Born Chinese or Fresh-off-the Boat) which might be used as a derogatory label or worn with pride. Many immigrants and descendants use generational descriptors – such as first-generation immigrants, 1.5 generation (for people who immigrated in late childhood), and so-on.

The point is to unpack the language and give words to your kids to help them self-identify where they fit into the scheme of human migration so they can choose how they identify.

What stories does the media, folks in our community, and our society tell us about people like us?

Which groups hold the power to give or take away other groups’ rights? Who is seen as the ‘default,’ and who is ‘the other?’ Whose stories are taught in schools and celebrated? Whose ancestors, heritages, and traditions are taught as ‘our history’ (ex: American history in American schools), and which groups are relegated to World History or not spoken of at all?

What responsibilities do these identities carry?

Does our nationality allow us to skip past challenges other groups have to deal with? Which challenges do we face because of our nationality?

What does it look like to make a home here? To be accepted as a community member, not a ‘foreigner’?

What does it look like to welcome others to our neighborhood, even when we disagree?

How do we accept and support those who have been here longer than us, and those who are just arriving? What fears do we hold about how our home could change?


Books to explore immigration

Since we’re making this a personal exploration, the books you’re gonna want to read with your kids should be unique to your family. For example, our Chinese-Irish kiddos can find reflection of our experiences, and the immigrant stories of our ancestors in books like:

Paper Son

Ages 4+

small beauties

Ages 4.5+

Where are you from?

Ages 4-8

 

  • Paper Son for Chinese American immigrants affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act.
  • Small Beauties  for Irish American immigrants/refugees forced here during the Great Hunger.
  • Where Are You From?  for multiracial people treated as ‘the other’ in their own birthplace.

More resources to dig deeper:

If you’re unsure or unwilling to talk about your family’s nationality (your kids edification isn’t worth re-traumatizing family members!), skip past the family self-reflection, and discuss immigration rights as a general issue. Here are some stories and tools for that:


Let’s Explore Self-Identity

Who they are – what they are, and how this informs how we interface with the world and others.

Some identities can change. Challenges can shift. This is a conversation we must revisit regularly. So let’s dig into it again this month!

Instead of a tightly packed itinerary of the shit we owe others because of who and where we were born to – what if we woke up to a single question: ‘what feels possible today?

I’m dreaming futures and wondering what we really need to learn before the kids enter an adulthood – when most of today’s jobs will be automated. I’m less concerned with teaching my kids how to code and compute integrals, and more concerned with teaching the Earthquakes how to be more human in ways machines can’t.

Supporting our kids means helping them discover what it means to be human

As we rethinking our relationship with computers, animals, the planet, other humans, and all those permutations of cosmic dust, our kids’ abilities to survive and thrive will depend less on their ability to perform as cogs in a machine. Which means guiding them to discover healthier models of interdependence, community development, and keeping their shit together in an age of overwhelm and uncertainty.

 

Where Oliver Fits - Atkinson, Cale

Ages 4+

A Normal Pig - Steele, K-Fai

Ages 4-8

Swift Fox All Along - Thomas, Rebecca Lea

Ages 4+

 

Read:

  • Where Oliver Fits:
    Validating for kids who use masking and assimilation to hide who they are in search of belonging
  • A Normal Pig:
    Recognizing the identities that define us means acknowledging how we’re different than others (I don’t usually describe myself as a four-limbed human earthling). This is the same impulse that causes folks with privilege to identify as the ‘default’ human, whereas folks who hold targeted and marginalized identities are sidelined as a deviation from the norm.
  • Swift Fox All Along:
    Who defines what it means to be ‘enough’ in our identities? Particularly for groups who have been segregated, divided, and targeted by cultural genocide, one of the first steps of regaining our power and gathering for collective action means acknowledging the spectrum of who gets to claim their own identity. Even within our own groups, we’re often held back by supremacist notions of of purity.
    (And no I’m not saying folks with privilege have the right to appropriate targeted cultures for attention and profit. Be reasonable about this.)

Watch / Listen:

Discuss:

  • What identities do we hold?
  • What stories does the media, folks in our community, and our society tell us about people like us?
  • What responsibilities do these identities carry?
  • What does it look like to accept ourselves despite the stories telling us that some folks are more worthy than others?
  • What does it look like to accept others, even when we disagree?
  • How do we accept and support others while maintaining our own boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others?

More resources to dig deeper:

 



pregnant trans father

From ‘We Are Little Feminists: Families’

Donate a Little Feminist Book Club subscription to your local community center to build our kids bookshelves with LGBTQiA2S+ representation.

Whenever I find new children’s biographies about kids navigating LGBTQiA2S+ identities, I tell our partner, Little Feminist Book Club about it right away.

Over the years, we’ve filled neighborhoods with stories including We Are Little Feminist Families, My Rainbow, Swift Fox All Along, My Footprints & Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution.

 



June Calls Us To Action:

 


Kids: Kindness As An Action

Kindness as an action. 25 ways to make an impact. Give a friend a meaningful compliment” Via RevolutionaryHumans.com

Compliment A Friend

Text, email, or call (gasp!) a friend and tell ‘em something sweet and true. Brighten a day with your candid admiration.

 

If it feels right, ask them to pay-it-forward and share a compliment with someone else!

 

Bellamy S. viaRevolutionary Humans 25 Actions of Kindness. Shared with permission


Grown-Ups: Support Reproductive Healthcare & Abortion Access for LGBTQiA2S+, BIPOC, poor & and targeted youth

Choose your call to action:

  1. Sign the petition calling on Congress to support Abortion Access Legislation via the Women’s Health Protection Act*.
  2. Text PMQRWU to 50409
  3. Donate $5 now to Abortion Within Reach to support direct-care, crisis relief funds & advocacy protecting reproductive justice.

“We demand that young people have the explicit legal right to consent to  their own sexual and reproductive health care needs with full protection for their privacy and confidentiality and that young people have full  access to the reproductive health services they may need, including but  not limited to abortion, birth control, and comprehensive sex education  that is sex-positive and LGBTQIA+ affirming.”

*I know the name of the legislation sucks, but we’re in a crisis and picking our battles here. Demand Senators pass H.R. 3755 using any tool available including ending the filibuster.

To find more of our petitions, text GO LUMINARIES to 50409 or visit Raising Luminaries Resistbot Petitions


Grownups: Raise Kids Who Speak Truth To Power

How can we create a brave space culture at home so our kids can call us out on our bullshit?

In our Calling Out Bullshit podcast episode with transcripts, find out:

  • How to accept critical feedback without being an asshat
  • The dangers of letting conflict fade without addressing it
  • How we train our kids to stay silent through harm
  • The fears that keep us from owning our problematic behavior
  • This week’s assignment
  • Bonus: How to capitalize on your dynamic muppet energy

Heads up and a content warning: The episodes get off-the-rails goofy and explicit as the season progresses.

This is not a mild-mannered parenting podcast, and you will need headphones if listening with kiddos or anyone of decency within earshot.

 


Grownups: Join When We Gather with Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans

  • Co-creative art projects designed to inspire & spark hope in busy parents
  • Thought-provoking essays and journal prompts on parenting through multiple intersections of oppression
  • Receive monthly kindness actions to motivate little leaders
  • Live virtual events & book clubs

Where love is the culture and revolution is the purpose

 



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Find out who pays all this, and where the money goes in our Financial Accountability disclosure. It’s got charts! And just abysmal budgeting skills!

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child & parent at AAPI anti-racism rally

Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash

Join the Summer Accelerator

Raising Luminaries Parent Activist Collectives are virtual, seasonally-oriented 6-week experiments where radically progressive parents reflect, assess, and take action to make a laser-beam impact all year round.

Unlike single-issue workshops and online groups, we work together in small, private, interdependent cohorts to process & reflect, take accountability, and create specialized plans of action for the change we want to see.

It’s fun. You will like it. Join us.

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Kiddos: Little Feminist Summer Reading Challenge

Little Feminist Book Club Summer Reading Program

Download the Little Feminist Reading Challenge bingo sheet to kick off your summer reading.

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



Good Finds for June

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 as well as our Summer Favorites.

It’s official – my oldest is by no definition ‘Little.’ He’s put in a formal request to change ‘Books for Littles‘ into ‘Books for Rascals‘ to be more inclusive. I’m open to it.

 

R2’s Favorites: (Age 7.5)

Queen Vashti's Comfy Pants - Berkowitz, Leah  Blancaflor, the Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America: A Toon Graphic - Spiegelman, NadjaLittle Messy Marcy Su - Fu, Cherie

Queen Vashti’s Comfy Pants

This is your standard beat-’em-over-the-head with girl-power, Thelma & Louise for kids (without the sexual assault and death). It felt a little heavy-handed to me. While it is an #OwnVoices Jewish story loosely spinning off the holiday of Purim, and I’m not super in love with a white author’s depiction of an ancient Persian heroine.

However – R2 just howled with glee at Queen Vashti’s badass boundary-affirming ‘NOPE NO THANKS’ in response to her husband’s entitled bullshit.

If you liked this story, check out: Unapologetically Kickass Girls & Conflict Resolution: Playdates, Boundaries & Dealing With Jerks

Blancaflor

There’s also a Spanish Edition

SPECTACULAR. This story had us laughing so hard, and we loved reading this retelling of a Latinx story together – even Q snuck into our ‘younger books’ storytime to listen in.

It’s hard to find books that unpack concept of invisible labor in ways kids can understand, and why they’re pressured to keep it secret. This story touches on why women raised by abusive fathers settle for escaping with mediocre (or even terrible) life partners – and the ‘prince’ character is such a hilarious way to depict oblivious privilege.

My kneejerk reaction is that I want to see Blancaflor leave her mediocre prince and have a spectacular single life, like Queen Vashti. But after reading this story a couple of times, I really appreciate the ending. She ends up with her prince, and that’s okay, so long as he appreciates her and treats her with respect. After all – why should a heroine have to end up isolated and alone just because all the men in her life hand her shitty situations to deal with?

Blancaflor deserves the happiness she worked so hard for. Even if that happiness comes in the form of a mediocre white man. It’s her choice!

If you liked this story, check out: Books That Legit Made My Kids Laugh & Crushes & Puppy Love: Kids books about mutual respect, consent, and clear boundaries

Little Messy Marcy Su

Trica L. told me to bump this up in the queue, and she was right, this book is so adorable. R2 laughed and laaaauuughed.

I loved the casual way the author threw in some Mandarin, and the non-token normalization of a modern multi-generational, Chinese-American family, an ordinary family with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation immigrants.

But also – any book that nudges my kid to acknowledge the destruction he leaves in his wake, which I am forced to attend to, is a gift from authors to caregivers everywhere.

If you liked this story, check out: #OwnVoices Chinese American Kids Stories & Normalizing (not tokenizing!) Asian & Pacific Islander Characters in Kidlit


Q’s Favorites: (Age 10)

 
Animated Science: Periodic Table - Farndon, John Just Roll with It: (A Graphic Novel) - Durfey-Lavoie, Lee Living with Viola - Fung, Rosena

Animated Science: Periodic Table

Q has entered the age where he’ll pour over detailed non-fiction books, so long as they’re presented in a fun way. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS NERDERY!

After a week with this book, Q is able to give a brief rundown of the properties on each element, based on the goofy character stories the author created. Brilliant!

While flipping through the book, I was surprised how many gender-nonconforming careers and sciencey people they sprinkled through the pages. Not in a tokenized, ‘LOOK! We made a LADY scientist!’ – something about the illustrations felt intentional, inclusive, and like no-big-deal.

Turns out the illustrator is Japanese American illustrator Shiho Pate, and her work is brilliant – I’m so excited for her upcoming book on Ramen.

If you liked this story, check out: Inclusive Kids Books About STEAM & Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids

Just Roll With It

Since May was both AAPI heritage and destigmatizing mental health conditions month, we plowed through a ton of books on both topics and found this lovely gem at the intersection of both.

Plus more nerdery! D&D fans, rejoice. And more complex #OwnVoices stories on navigating OCD, anxiety, and social pressure! Fans of Real Friends, rejoice!

Written by multiracial, neurodivergent author Veronica Ararwal  (Indian, Italian, ADHD) and Lee Durfey-Lavoie (a white dude, I think?), both drew from their #OwnVoices experience navigating mental health, anxiety, depression, and OCD to create the next generation of validating graphic novels for kids.

They worked hard on this novel, and you can tell. They packed a lot in there. There’s gay family members and it’s no big deal! Maggie’s Asian parents are not a stereotype! Maggie finds a supportive group of nerdy friends!

It’s just so lovely and wonderful. I’m so excited to see what these creators make next.

If you liked this story, check out: Destigmatizing Mental Health for Asian & Pacific Islander Kids Kids Stories of Supportive Friendship

Living With Viola

We were just joking on the podcast about how if there is already one Asian Character Story, there just isn’t room in the whiteness of media for more of us, so we have to wait our turn until someone gets canceled or dies.

So let’s not do that! We have more than enough room for two, very different experiences of Asian-American kiddos who experience mental health challenges.

Again – very different stories. Both valid, both solid representation. We have room for more than a single narrative!

Fung’s Chinese Canadian family feels solidly accurate for the third-culture kid Chinese diaspora experience. Her family is loving, which through a western lens, feels very judgemental and pressurey. We see Livy bear the comments of her family, the pressure to not be a burden on her overworked parents – without the story falling into another stereotype about tiger parents.

And that’s a lot to handle while dealing with a mental health issue and navigating the responsibility to be ‘a good daughter’ in two simultaneous cultures in an immigrant family.

This felt validating, is what I’m saying.

Oh also Q enjoyed it too.

If you liked this story, check out: #OwnVoices Kidlit Authors With Disabilities & Delicious Asian & Pacific Islander Food Culture for Kids


Ashia’s Favorites: (Age 39.5)

You Ruined It - Higginbotham, Anastasia Borders - King, Thomas The Book of Secrets - Tonti, Mat

You Ruined It

You Ruined It was written to support children sexually assaulted by someone they love. It’s masterfully done, thoughtful, and careful to make space for nuance – as are all of Anastasia’s books. Since it’s a validating book for kids with lived experience, I’m going to wait to introduce it to my kids.

We talk about sexual assault, grooming, and all that, so I’m not afraid to discuss the topic with the Earthquakes. I’d probably introduce it if there was any risk that they have been sexually assaulted. But these monsters ARE ALWAYS HERE AND THEY NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE, so it’s just not an experience they could have had yet.

The reason I want to wait is – this is a short, accessible book, and it’s intended to reflect the reader’s feelings in a quiet way that makes space for the reader. For readers who have never been targeted, they might come away with an over-simplified idea of what it means for a survivor to process and take back their power.

The vast majority of our kiddos will be sexually assaulted or violate someone’s boundaries at some point, if they haven’t already. Even if they aren’t, they will have friends and family who are, so this seems important to have even if it’s not a *fun* book.

So in our unique circumstances, I’ll wait till maybe 12? And then we can discuss it from the POV of being a helper and support for friends and family who are survivors. And as a tool to build resilience for when they are sexually assaulted or violate someone’s boundaries in the future. (I hope they won’t, but does ANYONE escape rape culture unscathed?)

If you appreciated this book, check out 6 Mistakes We Make Raising Sons & Recognizing Coercion & Grooming with Pretty Salma

Borders

I loved this! But it was very slow and reflective and not really the Earthquakes’ speed. Q was fine reading it, but I don’t think he really absorbed it?

I’ll wait until they’re a little older and more open to slow, reflective stories with nuance.

I can’t even add this book to any particular category – it’s not about immigration, because Indigenous people can’t emigrate within their own land.

What does it mean to be stuck between the imaginary borders and binaries imposed by your oppressors? Forced to comply, while also feeling a moral obligation to resist?

If you appreciated this book, check out more #OwnVoices Indigenous Stories.

The Book of Secrets

This surreal romp confused the heck out of Q, HOWEVER, I think he’ll love it once he gets older and learns to read and ponder.

(His new thing is blasting through books like he’s got somewhere else to be. He has nowhere else to be, he’s just gonna read another book!)

While on the surface, the book has ‘slapped-together handmade high-school zine‘ vibes, there are so many lovely layers to this recollection of traditional Jewish stories.

First – for gentiles: Judaism is not just a culture and a faith, but also a practice of education, reflection, and study. Torah study is all about reading, reflecting, and questioning traditional teachings. Jewish history is also about survival through targeting and oppression – maintaining a mental toolbox for resistance and passing these teachings down through narrative stories.

So that’s just a couple levels right there, and we didn’t even get into the plot of the a book called ‘The Book of Secrets.’ Cool, right?

Anyhoo – it’s deceptively complex, and also lovely. Spend some time with it.

If you liked this story, check out: Progressive Kids Books About World Faith, Religion & Spirituality

 


One more good thing…

[Video description: Q walks R2 through an arsenal of  behaviors they’ve designed to a release of trigger dopamine and oxytocin in adults to maximize the likelihood of receiving attention, treats, and compliance to requests. Methods include: pressing their faces together, nuzzling noses, making gurgling sounds, and protecting each other.]


Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Own Your Experience

Leave a comment so I know I’m not shouting into the void:

What responsibilities and roles were you raised with? How are you changing these assumptions for the next generation of kids who share your identity?

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2 observations

Maura in VA June 27, 2021 - 3:37 PM

Hello, Ashia, I just wanted to let you know that some of your links are getting a 1020 error on bookshop.com. If you get a teeny affiliate kickback from them (which I hope you do!) you might want to check them. And thanks for all you do.

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Ashia July 5, 2021 - 3:19 PM

Not getting the errors. I suspect your browser might have an affiliate link blocker maybe?

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