Home Shenanigans March Resource Roundup

March Resource Roundup

Children's Books, Discussion Prompts & Spring Action Guides for Kyriarchy-Smashing Families

via Ashia
Published: Last Updated on

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This March, we’re exploring accompliceship & healthy anger with our kids

You know, the usual March routine. 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.

Here are some tools to help you navigate various March-ish 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 tend to ramble, so here are some quick-jump links to make this easier to follow:

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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Significant Dates & Events in March

March Resources to keep ya smashin’ that kyriarchy

None of us can do it all – so pick one topic to introduce or revisit each month and pick one book to start a family discussion.


National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day

in the garden with dr. carver the secret garden of george washington carver the princess and the peanut allergy

What a great day to discuss the intersections of food justice + anti-racism + environmentalism.

When is it?

  • Annually on March 1st

Read

  • In the Garden with Dr. Carver (ages 6-9)
    If you overdid it on the oppression/victim narratives during Black history month,  In the Garden with Dr. Carver 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.
  • The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver (ages 6.5+)
    Our favorite bio on GWC because of the enticing illustrations. However – the syntax & time-jumping & adult-oriented plot is too advanced for the suggested 4-8 age-range.
    (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?). So I’d reserve it for 6.5+, or just summarize the story on the fly. Content warning for violence against women & infants.
  • The Princess And The Peanut Allergy (ages 3-7)

Watch

Discuss

  • Can we find one thing in our home that was made possible thanks to GWC?
  • What does it mean to think global, act local? How do education rights, sustainable farming, and climate justice rely on each other?
  • How do blanket statements claiming “slavery is over” erase, minimize, and excuse the inhuman practice of enslaving incarcerated people? (R2 pointed out an error in In the Garden with Dr. Carver, where the text claims slavery is over.)
    • Chattel slavery is illegal in the US, but prison slavery is still legal. How are the two connected?
  • Who was Mariah Watkins? Why it so difficult to learn about the Black women who educated, supported, and worked alongside famous Black men before social media?
  • In The Princess And The Peanut Allergy: Both friends have hurt feelings. How do we differentiate between:
    • Feeling resentful because we have to give up our preferrences to accommodate a disability…
    • And/or and feeling unsafe when people prioritize cake flavors over our health and safety?

More Resources to dig deeper:


National Day of Unplugging

We are not social media users so much as social media products. Our attention (and by extension, our time), and our actions (likes, click-through patterns, etc.) are the product offered to the real customers – company advertisers.

We are the thing being sold. Our kids need support making informed decisions with screen use, which means helping them stay aware of the trade-offs of digital media. When we plug into screens, we get all kinds of benefits – accessibility, long-distance connection, education, entertainment. But there’s also a hidden cost that our generation wasn’t taught to account for – this stuff is designed to keep us dependent on the tech to the detriment of our health and relationships.

Sorta feels like the singularity is already here? To keep us clicking through, posting, and checking our notifications, we’ve got to stay in the shallows and keep consuming, sharing, and posting to prove we’re still relevant. The algorithms that keep us dependent leave us feeling burned out but unsatisfied, and we end up falling into a ditch of polarizing conspiracy theories.

Screens can be great! I just wish we had better digital literacy stories, and the whole thing was more transparent and protective for younger kids who fall into this stuff without consent.

When is it?

  • Annually on March 5th

Read:

Watch

Discuss: How do we use screens?

  • How much of our awake time is spent on screens?
  • Which screen use helps us?
  • Which hurts?
  • Which are a mix?

Discuss: How apps are designed to keep us hooked
Which human vulnerabilities do our favorite apps take advantage of? Signs kids can watch out for:

  • Variable rewards (the slot machine effect): When the chance of a reward gets us excited to stick around and try again.
  • The need to be seen: How does this app give us the illusion that we’re being better understood by others?
  • The need to connect: How does this app give us shallow ways to connect with others, but distract us from spending deep quality time and attention with people we care about?
  • The need to reciprocate: When do we feel like we have to respond, click, or take an action to be polite?
  • The fear of missing out: If we unplugged for a day or a week, what are we worried we’ll miss out on? What are we worried could happen?
  • The compulsion to compare: When are we watching others to measure ourselves against them?
  • The need for distraction: How are we feeling right before we pick up our screens? Are we feeling bored, tired, anxious, or some other discomfort that we’re avoiding processing in a healthier way?

Discuss: When unplugging isn’t about accessibility, but dependency:

  • What things can we get from screens that we can’t get from outside?
  • What things can we get from outside that we can’t get from screens?
  • Why do we need to balance outside time with screen time?

More resources to dig deeper:

 


International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month

sharice's big voice Seeds of change i dissent

Queen of physics all the way to the top for the right to learn

Sylvia and marsha start a revolution Hedy Lamarr's double life Shaped by her hands

Let’s talk about valuing care work and recognizing emotional labor!

When is it?

  • Women’s Day falls annually on March 8th
  • Women’s History Month lasts through March

Read

Discuss:

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.

    1. 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?)
    2. Why does our culture push back against paying for domestic labor, childcare, and community-support work?
    3. Why does our culture push back against paying targeted people for self-advocate work?
    4. Read You Should Have Asked together with older kids (8+) What is mental labor? What is invisible labor?
    5. 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?

Take Action: Girls & women deserve more than bland biographies:

Books about girls are not just for girls. Does your bookshelf pass the Uhura test?

Check your bookshelf: If 50% of your characters are not representing complex girls, women, and folks of all marginalized genders – 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!

More resources to dig deeper:

 


National Panda Day

When is it?

  • Annually on March 16th

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.]

 


International Day of Forests

Johnny Slimeseed tree lady 111 TreesSeeds of change

When is National Forest Day?
Plus a few more opportunities to celebrate trees.

  • International day of Forests falls annually on March 21st
  • Johnny Appleseed day falls annually on March 11th
  • Arbor day is April 29
  • Tu B’Shevat falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew lunisolar calendar, which falls in January-February for the next few years

Read:

Discuss: The impact of settler-colonist agriculture on native bio-regions.

  1. Read Johnny Slimeseed
    1. How did Appleseed’s work affect the safety and health of folks with new access to apples?
      (Bacteria has a harder time growing in cider than standing water.)
    2. What is a conservationist?
      Appleseed spread 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 the non-native sweet varieties we buy in grocery stores today.
  2. Read Miss Rumphius
    1. How do the objectives of Appleseed & Rumphius differ?
      (Rumphius introduced invasive flowers for her own entertainment and colonized a whole damn ecosystem!)
    2. How has environmental colonization impacted our area? Think of wildlife, Indigenous culture, and climate.

Take Action This Spring

  1. Find out common endangered and invasive plants local to you using a quick google search.
  2. Commit to plant responsibly in relationship within bio-region, not just our personal diets and aesthetic preferences.
  3. Identify one invasive species your family can commit to pulling when out and about.
  4. Plant one native plant that supports native insects, wildlife, water, and lifeways.
  5. Switch your default search engine to Ecosia to plant trees while you search ‘how to get my kid to stop whining’ for the 10,001th time.

More resources to dig deeper:

 


Intersection of animal rights and habitat loss

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.

If the kids are getting upset about environmental colonization and the lack of pandas in the world (as they should be), let’s redirect all that despair over endangered animals into productive action!

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 a boy and a jaguarthe lumberjack's beard

 

spring after springwhat if sharks disappeared

sea bear tokyo digs a gardenscience comics: trees kings of the forest

Read

Discuss:

  • 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!

Take Action

  • Research an at-risk animal or bug local to you.
  • Find out what you can do to reduce and rebuild to support animals endangered by habitat loss, pollution, and general human asshattery.

More resources to dig deeper:

 


St. Paddy’s Day & Irish American Heritage Month

When is it?

  • St. Paddy’s is celebrated annually on March 17th
  • Irish American Heritage Month lasts through March

Read:

Watch

  • St. Brigid is better than St. Patrick & discuss:
    • What is a fugitive?
    • What is a patron saint?
    • What does it mean that the Catholic church ‘does that sort of thing’ (co-opts non-Catholic leaders & twists history)
    • What religions and faiths did Irish ancestors practice before colonization & the conversion led by St. Patrick?

Discuss:

    • What does it mean to have the gift of blarney?
    • How did each of the women in these stories use cleverness, wit, and misdirection for justice?
    • If we have the gift of blarney – when is it okay to use? When is it not okay?

Moving on from panda stereotypes, now let’s talk about the leprechaun-coding that oppresses Irish Americans.

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.

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.

Irish-American family: 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?

Post it where your ‘whatabout-racism-against-the-Irish‘ cousin who still believes reverse-racism is a thing can find it.

More resources to dig deeper:

 


Spring Equinox

When is it?

  • Usually occurs annually around March 19-21

More resources to dig deeper:

 



“I’m a neurodivergent person working in libraries. Your work has been such a wonderful resource. I’m not a parent (yet) but your blog posts make me think about how I can incorporate everything into my work.”

Sarah M.

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Monthly Explorations for March…

As we discuss the topics above, we tie them into deeper discussions throughout the month about embracing anger and weaponizing it for do-goodery, plus what it means to be an accomplice and conspirator working in solidarity with others.


Let’s explore healthy anger

Mary wears what she wants when i was eight Lucía the Luchadora

Anger is a sign we’ve created higher expectations!

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.

So during March, instead of focusing on women specifically – we focus on accepting and using healthy anger in a society that condones violent aggerssion from men, and yet weaponizes a woman’s rightgeous 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.

Read:

Watch

Take action: SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL WOMEN’S SHELTER

Not sure which shelter to support? Join us – I direct $15 of our membership 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.

More Resources to dig deeper:


What does it mean to be an accomplice?

Allyship is not just for white folks, we work on this all year, for all targeted identities.

Are your kids equipped with the tools they need to be upstanders, accomplices, and supportive friends? Do they know the difference between saviorism and solidarity? Do they know when to listen, when to pass the mic, and when to weaponize unearned privilege to dismantle the kyriarchy?

Quick reference from our word bank:

  • An ally is a person who believes you deserve equality.
  • An accomplice is a person who actively works alongside you to end injustice and harm against you.
  • A conspirator is someone you work together with to end unfair rules that harm both of you.

Take Action

Resources to dig deeper:



Little Feminist Book Club

Gift a Little Feminist Book Club subscription for the teacher in your life who could use some women’s history biographies.



 

March Calls Us To Action:

 


Learn the fifth ‘D’ of Bystander Intervention for Kids: DIRECT

Courtesy of our friends at Hollaback, the AAJC & Woori Show.

 

 

Adults, get in-depth training!

Register for a free virtual Bystander Intervention Training to end gender-based harassment on the street or in your workplace with Hollaback.

 


Kindness as an Action, 25 Ways to make an impact. Email an educator and tell them why they're great. RevolutionaryHumans.comAction for Kids: Reach out to an educator for International Working Womens Day

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 pandemic education 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.

[Image& text via Bellamy of Revolutionary Humans: “Kindness as an action. 25 ways to make an impact. Email an educator and tell them why they’re great!” Via RevolutionaryHumans.com]

> Support Bellamy’s work here. <

 


Action for Grownups: Contact your senator to vote YES on the Women’s Health Protection Act

I know, I know. Abortion isn’t a ‘women’s issue’ and the title of this act excludes trans men and nonbinary folks. Let’s focus, this is urgent.

“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”

Do one of these tasks now (3-5 minutes)

  1. Read & co-sign demands from Abortion WithinReach.
  2. Contact your senator however works for you
    1. Call: script & call plan from Planned Parenthood,
    2. Text: SIGN PMQRWU to 50409 or click here for our short & simple resistbot script.
  3. NORMALIZE healthcare support! Share one of these resources on social media.
  4. Donate if you can to Abortion WithinReach or Planned Parenthood.

Test the keyword LUMINARIES to 50409 (Resistbot) to view all Raising Luminaries petitions.


Action for Grownups: Listen & Subscribe to the Raising Luminaries Podcast

Be a good ally & accomplice – listen & believe targeted folks on what support looks like for us.

Listen to this month’s podcast: Anger & The Spectacle with Bellamy & Ashia

 



You are doing a good job!

We support those who support our community. I’m reinvesting a minimum of 11% of our 2022 Patreon pledges to activists and organizations such as Rosie’s Place, Revolutionary Humans, and Abortion Within Reach.

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Good Finds for March

Welcome to our favorite good finds! You can keep track of great new finds as we add them to the in-progress best books of  2022 (okay there’s only one book there right now but gimmie a minute) as well as our Spring Favorites.

R2’s Favorite (age 7) Jojo Makoons

Jojo Makoons

This #OwnVoices Ojibwe early chapter book packs in a lot. I thought it might be over R2’s head, but dude laughed his ass off.

We can’t wait for the second book, which releases in May.

If you liked this story, check out:


Q’s Favorite (age 9) Friends Forever

Friends Forever

Friends Forever is the third (final?) book in the Best Friends trilogy. Q loves this series so much he pre-ordered it with last year’s New Year’s money.

When it arrived, he was…confounded. In keeping with the chronological series, the third book is written for older kids, about older kid-issues. He was confused why he had a hard time following it until we read it together.

After taking some time to unpack the 80’s references (what even is a magazine?!), the entrenched sexism and individualism, and the cultural significance of growing up as a white Utah Mormon with an invisible disability, he loves it so hard. In contrast with the way we’re raising our kids, he finds the assumptions on a woman’s role hilarious. He connects with the ableism against invisible disabilities and that emerging tween need to feel special and worthy while navigating confusing relationships with other kids.

If you liked this story, check out:


My favorite (age 39) Emiline: Knight in Training

Emiline Knight in Training

Validating for reluctant readers and kids with dyslexia, this early graphic novel is set in a dyslexic-friendly font. I think it’s intended for the 4-7 age range and now the Earthquakes are on to more dramatic storylines. We missed out on this cute story.

If you liked this story, check out:


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 & Become Dangerous

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.

 


smash the kyriarchy kids baseball t-shirt

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