[Image: A bland banner that says “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup March”]
First: Quick reminder that our Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape virtual webinar is coming up this Thursday, March 4.
If you can’t make it, it’s still worth RSVPing ’cause you’ll get access to the recordings, a private set of resources, and, a free copy of This is Unsustainable (normally $25).
- Are you a single caregiver stretched to the max during this pandemic?
- Are you happily co-parenting and looking for ways to support single parents in your community?
- Or perhaps 24/7 isolation with your partner and kids has you questioning whether single parenting would be healthier for your family?
Back to our regularly-scheduled March shenanigans:
This month, we’ll exploring the same stuff we usually cover in March – women’s history, calling in Irish Americans for St. Paddy’s – and the traditional Northeast spring dance where we pack away the kids’ winter gear, dig it out for freak blizzards, repeat 3x, and then it’s August somehow.
We’re gonna mix it up a bit though. Every day for the past 12 months has basically been the same routine, same chores, same cat-hair-crusted pants. So I’m gonna mix it up with some new, seemingly-irrelevant topics, and tie them into how we can use them as launchpads to smash that kyriarchy.
Here are some tools to help you navigate these topics with the kids. No one expects you to dedicate your life 24/7 to doing ALL OF THESE in one month. But maybe pick a topic below and run with it.
I’m interested to see how this turns out! If you get into any good, juicy conversations with the kiddos, leave a comment and let me know how it went.
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March Resources to keep ya smashin’ that kyriarchy
In so many of our discussions here, we focus on dismantling oppression in pursuit of liberation. It’s kind of exhausting. We’re in a rut! And I dunno, something has changed since last summer. Folks seem to care more now? Other folks who ignored us before are taking on some of the work of reading about systemic injustice with their kids with kidlit.
Which is great. Cause it frees us up to discuss new things! So this month I’m adding in some goofy steps beyond ‘stop doing the racism.’
:::Deep, relieved sigh:::
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3/1 Is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
- Read In the Garden with Dr. Carver
If you overdid it on the oppression/victim narratives during Black history month, here’s a story that focuses exclusively on George Washington Carver’s work developing mobile education accessibility – teaching kids about self-sustainable community farming and how it supports Black liberation. The story and illustrations feel dated, but it was well written and illustrated. The 6.5yo was able to sit through this for a read.
Parenting is praxis: What does it mean to think global, act local? Discuss how education accessibility, food sustainability, and climate justice interweave with social justice.
- Read The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver
We settled on this one as our favorite bio on GWC because of the enticing illustrations. That said – the syntax & time-jumping & adult-oriented plot (Does your average 4 yo understand what it means to testify before congress? Do we have to give parents FOMO from not covering the legislation process in pre-K?) is too advanced for the suggested 4-8 age-range. So I’d reserve it for 6.5+, or just summarize the story on the fly. Content warning for violence against women & infants.
You can go lots of directions with this story – discuss the disproportionate representation of Black excellence / exceptionalism (in how many books are Black boys allowed to be imperfect, complex humans?) in Black men’s biographies, how GWC demonstrates healthy masculinity, stuff like that. But I always find the best discussions come from the problematic aspects of a book, so to pick a lane, let’s talk ageism:
- Parenting is praxis: Learn how childism shows up in kidlit, and why it’s not okay. Discuss with kids:
- What is ageism? What is childism? What is scaffolding? (Visit the wordbank for help)
- When kids don’t understand or can’t engage with a story – is it because the kid is bad at listening, rude, or failing to pay attention? (Hint: NO. We’re the adults, we hold the power, it’s on us to meet kids where they’re at.)
- Whose responsibility is it to make children’s books accessible for children? (Hint: authors, illustrators, adult readers are the ones with the power here – not the kid.)
- How does childism show up in kidlit? How can we keep an eye out for it moving forward?
- Parenting is praxis: Learn how childism shows up in kidlit, and why it’s not okay. Discuss with kids:
- Read The Princess And The Peanut Allergy
After all these years, I still haven’t found a better book to unpack fragility with kids. This one gives us an engaging enough story and an opportunity to differentiate between hurt feelings because someone is asking you to not put them in danger (inconvenience), VERSUS hurt feelings because someone who claims to care about you doesn’t care if you die (fear for your life!)
- Parenting is praxis:
- Discuss how all our feelings are valid, and it’s normal to get upset when we learn that we’ve made a mistake or have failed to consider others. And how it’s our responsibility to learn and grow (and change our policies) when we learn we’ve done harm.
- Talk about the courage it takes to speak up when we need to self-advocate, and the toll it takes on targeted & marginalized folks who get screamed at when they ask for reasonable safety accommodations.
- Get together with other adults and practice the Four Parts of Accountability: How to give a genuine apology, by Mia Mingus.
- Go over a simpler version with your kids – like from our 2018 series, helping kids learn a 3-step apology.
- Ask your kids what the apologies in this story are missing. This story ends on a ‘both sides need to apologize‘ but honestly – one of them stating disability boundaries in a straightforward, ‘I can’t your cake, I could die‘ and advocating for her boundaries. The other one was throwing a tantrum because she has to think about someone other than herself. This is not a ‘both sides‘ situation.
- Parenting is praxis:
3/5 Is National Day of Unplugging (with a hard swerve)
- Choose a book from Kids Books For Sudden Unschoolers
- Reflect on how the pandemic has changed the way your family works and learns over the last 13 months.
- Adults: Read this article by F from Autistics Present Symposium: Essential Youth Voices.
- Discuss the meme images with your kids.
- Talk about the phrases you hear in your communities that might color your beliefs on screen use – and lead to judging or shaming folks who use devices to communicate and thrive.
- Talk about: Thanks to childcare costs, demands on working caregivers, the cost of outdoor safety gear, and lack of access to transportation, outdoor spaces, and analog learning tools – what privileges do you need to truly unplug?
- Discuss the ‘unplugging‘ movement, along with the more toxic arms of nature-based schooling (not hating on the whole thing, but there’s a nasty arm of rich hippies in there!) – and why these opportunities aren’t easily available for all families.
- Discuss as a family: How can you support nature-based education accessibility for kids with disabilities, kids in cities, and neighbors without access or tools for non-screen learning?
3/8 is International Women’s Day
- Pick a story about Black women in US history to read as a family and discuss. Your kids will come up with better questions on their own than any I can suggest. Run with it!
- We still don’t have any children’s books about Audre Lorde. But if it existed, that’s the book I would recommend – to discuss the intersection of not just fighting for human rights as a woman, but all the other ways that being multiply-targeted divides women & femmes and brings us all down.
- I guess you could read Intersectionallies if you must, but if you do, discuss with your kids how even those of us who strive for intersectional representation can be blatantly ageist. Why is everyone all gushing over this book? Kids don’t deserve this. Set a higher bar!
- Actually you know what’s a way better book to discuss the challenges of being multiply-targeted? Sign Up Here. (That’s not a command, it’s the name of the book.)
- Discuss the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on women – having to pick up the slack on childcare, elder-care, domestic work, healthcare, and the service industry, etc. – all the damn work running the world that women do for free and unlivable wages.
- Technically this is ‘International Working Women’s Day.’ So let’s dig into that can of worms!
- Discuss with kids: what does it mean to work? How does our society value types of work differently? How can we tell? (Ex: who is expected to work more hours, for less wages? Which careers are held in high esteem? Which jobs treat the worker as the authority, and which treat the customer as the authority?)
- Why does our culture push back against paying for domestic labor, childcare, and community-support work?
- Why does our culture push back against paying targeted people for self-advocate work?
- Read You Should Have Asked together with older kids (8+) What is mental labor? What is invisible labor?
- What resources do families need in order to make working outside the home a choice? What resources might families not have access to, which would take away that choice?
I know you’re shaking your head being like ‘I can’t discuss the wage gap and the mental load with kids, it’s too complicated!’ But we did it with the 6 & 8yo – and the Earthquakes loved it, but also these little dudes were furious on all women’s behalf,* and then they brought me coffee in bed for a whole week. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, LADIES.
(If you’re a patreon member, you know where to find our homeschool curriculum links in every locked post? I broke it down, and the meat of our guided discussion questions are on Week 17.)
The whole thing of March is also Women’s history Month. I’ll expand on that further below.
3/11 Is Johnny Appleseed Day
Yeah I didn’t care about this dude either, but listen, there’s some good opportunities in here.
Q (age 8) has been plowing through graphic novels too fast for me to follow. But he demanded that I read Johnny Slimeseed, and I was like “Why? This looks like filler rubbish.” He insisted. And you know what? I loved it. It was short, succinct, and the first time we’ve ever actually enjoyed the guided reading discussions at the end of a book. Well done! We popped it right into our Health Masculinity book collection.
BUT ALSO, settler-colonist arrogance is why we can’t have nice things…
- Read Johnny Slimeseed.
- Talk about how cool that was that he planted apples folks could make into cider (which they would need to drink since regular water was full of bacteria and could kill them). And then buckle up.
- Explain to kids how Appleseed was a conservationist. He spread these bitter, ‘spitter’ apples (not the sweet snackin’ kind) across a wide swath of eastern Turtle Island. Probably (hopefully!) crab-apples, which are native to the area. This is NOT the same as planting non-native sweet varieties we buy in grocery stores.
- Then read ‘Miss Rumphius,’ and discuss the harm of settler-colonists messing with bioregions for our own entertainment.
- Talk about the impact of environmental colonization with invasive & non-native plants on local wildlife, Indigenous culture, and climate.
- Research fruit-bearing native trees that are beneficial for your local wildlife.
- Acknowledge your responsibility to plant responsibly in relationship with your bioregion, not just your personal diet and aesthetics.
- Plant some maybe? Or if you don’t have land to plant, support an organization in your area that does. We did both.
3/16 is National Panda Day
Pandas are freaking adorable beyond earthy reason and also they are perfect in every way (so long as you’re not the person in charge of cleaning up after them – or convincing them to bang for the survival of the species.) We moral beings do not deserve the goodness of pandas. Unworthy!
Naturally, creatures this adorable and perfect are perfect fodder for kids books. The problem is that many of these books are adorably racist. Authors and illustrators (and many Asian makers even!) veil orientalism and Asian stereotypes with racially-coded panda characters. I call this panda-coding. And it is problematic. Adorable, but harmful. Adorably problematic. Pandafully Prandlamatic.
Even some of the books we love – Zen Socks, That’s Not How You Do It – rely on lazy racial coding to profit off the ‘Magic Asian,‘ the ‘Perpetual Foreigner,‘ or even so-called ‘positive stereotypes‘ that Asians are harmless dopey sidekicks – all to reinforce soft stigma of East Asians as the other. Western, European behavior & characters are the Normal Every-man Protagonist, be they humans or just more globally common animals like cats.
Even Asian American authors pull this nonsense. Look at Chee-Kee, a reductive pan-Asian mishmash, xenophobia-apologizing narrative reinforcing the model minority & melting-pot myths. Don’t even get me started on the bizarre panda-coded San Franciscan Magic Chopstick Asian nonsense of Hats off to Mr. Pockles! What is this white nonsense.
This isn’t to say you can’t acknowledge that Pandas are a significant, celebratory part of Chinese culture (Goldy Luck does this well – see, Asians can be human characters, too!) It’s only when we start objectifying and dehumanizing Asian folks as animals for the white gaze where this gets awkward.
So we love pandas. We love books about pandas. And we even love some problematic books about Asian people that code us as pandas but are the literary equivalent to saying “I think you and your culture are so fascinating, it’s a compliment!” in a creepy, objectifying, stereotypey Jon J, Muth-kinda way (please stop saying things like this!)
Once you start noticing how folks love making stories about us, in panda-face, it starts getting weird and kind of ruins it for everybody. So with that, here’s a list of our favorite books featuring pandas that aren’t just excuses to promote Asian stereotypes in panda-face.
Panda Stories That DO NOT Panda-Code Asians as Perpetual Foreigners (Isn’t it just pathetic that this has to be a curated list? And that it’s such a short list?)
[Video: A video of me trying to clean up my kids toys and laundry every day. Except in this video, my kids are pandas and I am their nanny keeper. Panda Cubs Vs. Panda Nanny Showdown Cleanup Battle. It makes me feel seen.]
Parenting is Praxis:
Obvs, you’re gonna raise your kids to recognize and call in racially coded animal characters. That won’t be hard. But bringing it back to tangible things we can do as families, it’s pretty easy to spin love of animals into concern for them and raise enthusiastic animal rights activists.
- Talk with kids about the importance of not just protecting giant pandas from extinction, but also the importance of protecting their entire species ecosystem.
- Turns out prioritizing pandas ’cause of their cuteness is a band-aid fix – one that ultimately harms the entire ecosystem they live in. If kids have a hard time grasping why we need to rescue the Asiatic Black Bear to save pandas, read If Sharks Disappeared to give them a sense of how all species are interdependent on each other.
- Aaaand bringing it back around – we’re only a short hop into revisiting our discussions from International Women’s Day above. Discuss how over-representation of white American women’s stories during Women’s History Month erases and dismisses the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and women of color around the world.
See what we did that? Talking with kids is fun!
3/17 is St. Paddy’s Day & March is Irish American Heritage Month
Moving on from panda stereotypes, now let’s talk about the leprechaun-coding that oppresses my Irish American fam.
Hahah, just kidding – that is not a thing!!! There is no spectrum of disrespect where leprechaun jokes lead to hate crimes and discrimination against Irish Americans. So let’s celebrate our Irish American heritage and learn the history of where we come from while also acknowledging Irish Americans are not being attacked on the streets for our ethnicity. Nor passed by for employment, housing, leadership positions, or any of the other tiny little indignities that come with being seen as a perpetual foreigner.
Power matters when we’re talking about stereotypes and bias. Other than this one weird book where an Irish guy was depicted as a little too leprechaun-y for my tastes, Irish Americans aren’t broadly stereotyped and dehumanized in kidlit as a general rule.
ONE BOOK. I have found ONE BOOK that very subtly makes fun of Irish folks. IN A PUBLISHING SEA OF BIGOTRY AND WHITEWASHING.
I know we have jokes about alcoholism (thanks, generational trauma from colonization that still destroys families today!) and politicians who feel entitled to votes due to Kennedy blood quantum – BUT, none of that shows up in kidlit or even adult media in the way, say, slant-eyes, rice paddy hats, and kung-flu jokes do. (*Patreon fam – check out Week 18 in our Luminary Lesson Archives for guided discussion on ‘punching up’ and the role of humor in dismantling oppression without being a jerkwad.)
So with that, let’s revisit our annual St. Paddy’s call for Irish Americans to stop being hypocrites, read up about our history, and step up in solidarity with modern immigrants. Given how much we still bellyache about getting colonized and ejected from Ireland doesn’t mean we get to slam the door behind us and screw everyone else over.
Post it where your ‘whatabout-racism-against-the-Irish‘ cousin who still believes reverse-racism is a thing can find it.
- Endurance, Tenacity and Wits – Irish American Kids Stories for St. Paddy’s Day
- Also see Irish American Kids Stories, where I’m still adding new good finds. While I do love a good decolonizing accomplice story (Wolfwalkers!!) – you would be amazed how many book makers lump Indigenous Irish stories with stories of their colonizers as ‘Traditional Irish Mythology,’ (no!) so trying to decolonize our list of Irish & Irish American stories is a task.
- For older kids (8+) learn how the Irish became ‘white’: How America Invented Race.
- Irish-American fam: Talk with your kids about our history, but acknowledge that we’re past the worst of it. What responsibilities do we have as settlers to decolonize here in the US?
3/20 Spring Equinox
I’ve started tracking our favorite seasonal reads by season. You can find our spring favorites here.
Coincidentally, I’ll also be hosting our first-ever experimental collaborative workshop:
If you are raising a 2-year-old, come collaborate with us on March 20 at 5pm EST!
Together, we’ll go over common (and unique) challenges of raising your mega-toddler, the tools that worked for us in the past, and what structures we need in place to better support caregivers in a post-Covid world.
Space limited* since this will be an all-hands collaboration. So Please RSVP by 3/14/21 to reserve your spot.
3/21 is International Day of Forests
Well this won’t be hard, let’s continue that conversation about cute animals. Why should kids who love pandas care about habitat loss?
There are many very boring books about animal rights. These are not those. These are the interesting ones that engage kids and get them fired up about the connection between habitat conservation, animal rights, and environmentalism.
- Aquicorn Cove (it’s the ocean – but the ocean is a forest for coral!)
- A Boy and A Jaguar (try not to cry!)
- The Lumberjack’s Beard (redemptive!)
- Spring After Spring (oh, so that’s why Rachel Carson was a big deal!)
- What if Sharks Disappeared (alarming!)
- The Lady and the Spider (riveting!)
- Sea Bear (age-appropriately devastating and a little stressful!)
- Tokyo Digs A Garden (pro-apocalyptic!)
- Science Comics: Trees, Kings of the Forest (hilarious!)
- More books about intersectional climate justice (a temporary junk drawer where I’m collecting books to raise kickass environmentalists!)
- Also check out: Storybooks for Forest School (unpretentious!)
In March, Bumblebee Hollow Academy explores…
Women’s History Month
March is just the perfect month to get riled up and angry. And you know what? The perfect way to get angry is to read about all the bullshit women have had to put up with from their own families over the last few thousand years. As we mentioned above (*Week 17 on that homeschooling curriculum! Join together in collaborative rage!)
So during March, instead of focusing on women specifically – we focus on accepting and using healthy anger in a society that encourages anger in men, and weaponizes a woman’s anger against her.
My kids are both masculine-leaning, and one of the best things we can do when raising boys is to teach them that women have a right to own their experiences and emotions. That way, when my kiddos find themselves compelled to brush off a woman’s concerns, they can check themselves, recognize her concerns, and be better accomplices.
Anger is a sign we’ve created higher expectations
- When you feel my teeth pierce your jugular: When women embrace anger
- How to handle tantrums: Books that explore big emotions and redirect harmful behavior.
- Who has the right to get angry? Talking with kids about entitlement & privilege.
- Destigmatizing Anger in Women unpolished book list. Here’s a quick and messy infodump of assumptions we need to dismantle when it comes to anger in women. Also a list of stories where righteously angry women and girls transform their anger into good trouble.
- Keeping Women In The Kitchen with ‘Jimmy Zangwow’
Basics of US Women’s History
I’ve kind of been beating the kids over the head with women’s history biographies for the last few years, so in March we don’t make a huge deal out of Women’s History month. But in the unlikely chance that you haven’t tossed in a few women’s biographies and flooded your kiddo’s bookshelf with stories of kickass girls, here are plenty of reading guides to get you started.
- What do ALL feminists have in common? A flap book for our youngest activists
- Here’s where I’ve been dumping all my new finds for kids books about women’s history. Most of them are fine. A few of them are great. A lot of them are very boring. But all of them are the best ones I could find about each woman. I’ll be swapping out the more boring ones if/when someone publishes a better story.
- Here’s a list of all the archived women’s history articles I could find from the now-archived BFL Facebook group.
- Black Women’s History in the US, in picture books – both historical fiction and biographies of abolitionists & civil rights activists.
- Problematic Women’s History Compilations – I can’t even remember making that, but here you are!
- Great Black Women Authors & Illustrators and also an expanded list from a few years back.
- Picture books about the fight for equal education includes several biographies of kickass women in history (particularly the section about Women’s education and racial & disability desegregation)
- And more activist women’s history biographies in our labor rights collection – featuring Anna May Wong, Mother Jones, Dolores Huerta, and Clara Leimlich.
- Aaand some disabled women in history over here – this post also needs to be updated, but there’s still good books in there to get you started.
- Let’s also give a shout-out to the single mamas who have raised us and taken on the invisible domestic and emotional labor that fuels our entire damn society.
Feminist Futures: Girls & women deserve more than bland biographies:
Check your bookshelf: If 50% of your characters are not representing complex girls, women & femmes – why?
If most of your books featuring feminine protagonists are just anthropomorphic animals, polite white girls, sassy Black & brown girls written by white authors, and two-dimensional manic pixie girl-power ::sigh:: or not like the other girls biographies ::ugh:: – time to balance things out! Not everything about women has to be about smashing glass ceilings – let’s get more girls of color having fun and doing adventure on those bookshelves!
- How inspiration porn humiliates women in ‘The Truly Brave Princesses’
- Books about girls are not just for girls. Does your bookshelf pass the Uhura test?
- For fun: Stories featuring Unapologetically Kickass Girls
- Ending the erasure of women of color with Milo’s Museum
Entering… month 12 of family isolation
We’ve been lucky to have a home, running water, and the ability to home-school, isolate, and support others during this pandemic. But it would be a lie to pretend that a full year isolated from family and other kids isn’t taking a toll on our mental health. Here are some books to help:
- Hilarious books that legit made the Earthquakes belly-laugh
- Kids Books For Pandemic Life
- Books To Reassure Kids During Coronavirus Isolation
- Stories Validating Big Feelings
March Calls Us To Action:
Action for Grownups!
Wednesday, March 4 at 1pm EST: Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape
Virtual Event: Find support in Single Parenting, learn out how to support Single Parents in your community, or for folks just waiting out this pandemic so you can move far, far away from your toxic co-parent – learn more about Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape. Free for members of Revolutionary Humans & Raising Luminaries, with a few free spaces open for needs-based applicants.
Sunday March 20 at 5pm EST: Raising Kyriarchy-Smashing 2-year-olds
Virtual event: Are you currently raising & caring for a 2-year-old? Join our experimental collaborative workshops on raising kind & courageous luminaries while tacking the particular challenges of being a very young human. Free for all Raising Luminaries members, plus free spots open for needs-based applicants.
Gift a Little Feminist Book Club subscription for the teacher in your life who could use some women’s history biographies.
I screen all the LFBC books before they ship out – so I promise they’ll send you only the most kickass of lady-biographies & assorted feminist hijinks. Plus, each box comes with a coloring page flag of a real-life kickass feminist, which you can use to create a banner of badassery in your classroom.
End gender-based street harassment
Join Revolutionary Humans 25 Actions of Kindness. Given the disproportionate amount of women in early-childhood education (and how under-appreciated and under-paid they are for it), this would be a great time to email an educator who has been struggling to meet the impossible demands of distance & pandemic education over the past 12 months to let them know you see how hard they’re working – and how much you appreciate it.
Revolutionary Humans is Black-owned, woman-owned, single-mom-owned & founded by educator Bellamy Shoffner. Supporting her work is a great way to say thank-you.
One more good thing…
The Earthquakes created lion costumes & attended virtual lion dancing lesson with Nüwa Athletic Club & Pao Arts Center for the new year. It was all going smoothly until they decided the only part they cared for was chucking orange peels at me and undercover snacking.
This was the only documentation I got of the event before they decided to claim my phone as an offering.
[Video description: R2 and Q dance…ungracefully with DIY lion head costumes for the new year.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & Support Sanctuaries
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.
Not sure which shelter to support? Join us – I direct $15 of our monthly Patreon contributions to Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for women experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. Comment below to boost your favorite organization supporting housing insecure women and mothers.
Oh, hey, look – here is that tantalizing button again:
You can keep these resources free & accessible for all join the Raising Luminaries Patreon community. Members get access to our in-progress home school curriculum with curated videos and discussion questions to help unpack these topics with kids.
If you don’t need extra resources, but want to help me keep this free for the public – make a one-time contribution on Venmo @Raising-Luminaries. Thank you, friends!