[Image: Text “Raising Luminaries Resource Roundup May” set against a background of a rainy window pane]
This May we’re focusing on American Asian & Pacific Islander self-advocacy, mental health, and developing courage.
(When I call you ‘friends’ I’m not being casual about it. I mean it with all my heart, you are my people and I treasure you.) Truly.
After panting through a high-adrenaline 24/7/365 routine of work/chores/home-school [repeat] for the past 13+ months, I’m starting to feel like a worn pair of jeans.
Not fashionably distressed. I mean unwashed, inappropriately threadbare in the crotch, fits like a burst sausage casing – yet saggy, and a bit itchy.
Luckily we’re still at home, so no one is around to judge my imperfect parenting. Or the shoulder-height granny panties exposed by these saggy pants.
I am traditionally super into routines. But good gosh, the unceasing noise of bickering children as we scramble to be All The Things to our kids in isolation! Not just my nerves – the fabric of my being is fraying. These children will never leave and there is no end in sight. We live in a filthy, algae-encrusted aquarium and it could be another year, or two, or forever, until we escape!
But I have you, my people, and wow, gosh. Whenever I feel worn and saggy, I see all you cool folks out there doing courageous work raising kind kids, surviving through tedious days, or even ripping your pants alongside me and having the grace to shrug through it and show up tomorrow. We’ve got a kyriarchy to smash, and we’re not alone in smashing it.
So I mean it, you really are quite dear to me. I couldn’t do this without each and every single one of you.
Button up, and let’s see what adventures we can manage. To break up the monotony of our days, we’ll tackle hard discussions with the kiddos through events & national observations, and then further down we’ll get into ‘We Need To Finally Get Around To Talking About This’ monthly themes.
– Ashia, April 29, 2021
Update April 2022: Good news – THE EARTHQUAKES HAVE FINALLY LEFT THE HOUSE.
Quick links to resources on this page:
- Significant Dates & Events in May
- May Day
- Eid al-Fitr
- World Freedom of the Press Day
- National Bird Day
- Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Day of Awareness
- Mother’s Day
- Famine Commemoration Day
- Vincent Chin’s & The Beginning of Modern the Asian-American Collective
- Learn about Composting Day
- Monthly Explorations
- May Calls To Action
- Good Finds for May
- Now it’s your turn…
Need help explaining big ideas?
Check out our Luminary Wordbank, where we’ve got simple kid-friendly definitions for big words.
Get Updates & Stay Connected
I get it. There is a lot to parse here. If you want weekly reminders when I update these resources and publish new podcasts, join the email list.
Getcha Raising Luminaries Get-Ups
Shop the store for gear from kids XS to adult 4XL
You are doing a good job!
Raising Luminaries & Books for Littles are free and accessible for readers who can’t afford a paywall. Since we’re a contribute-what-you can community, I try to fill in the gaps with affiliate links. Posts may contain affiliate links, which allow me to earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Check out the full affiliate disclosure along with my statement of accountability.
Significant Dates & Events in May
Holidays and observances are a comfort – the opportunity to make tomorrow a little different than yesterday. Nudges to start talking about a particular subject now, instead of pushing these discussions off indefinitely.
But if you’re overwhelmed and miss them, no big deal, come back to it next year! No one expects you to do it all! Pick one topic, 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.
When you’re in the kyriarchy-smashing business, you know everything is connected. So this month as we navigate AAPI discrimination, freedom of the press, mental health, the invisible work of mothers, and so on – I invite you to build today’s discussions upon yesterday’s. Encourage kids to identify familiar roots in global cultures, patterns or systemic injustice, and the common assumptions and mechanics of oppression.
None of us can do it all – pick one topic discuss with kids, and commit to coming back here to unpack how it connects with another topic next year.
It’s as simple as picking one book to start a family discussion. Easy!
May Day (International Workers’ Day)
What do labor rights, gender equality, anti-racism, and wealth inequality all have in common? EVERYTHING.
When is it?
- May 1st
- Learn the history behind May Day in the US [0:58 video, best for kids 6+]
Connecting labor rights & children’s rights
- What does it mean to have fair and safe working conditions?
- What do we need to work safely?
- How does the meaning of ‘safe‘ and ‘fair‘ work differ depending on our individual ages, skills, and abilities?
- Why is it important to know the human costs (time, energy, health, risks), and not just the dollar price of the goods (things we buy) and the services (help) we pay for?
- Read the tags on your favorite jacket or shoes – where was it made?
- What laws and rules are in place in this location to protect kids from unsafe working conditions?
Discuss: Connecting labor rights & wealth inequality
- What is compensation? What does it mean when compensation is fair, or inadequate?
- Pick an item in your house. Using the internet, can you find out if the people who made it were compensated fairly? How easy is it to find this out?
- Do the people who care for us (including at home, at school, and those who clean our streets and build our homes) receive fair compensation?
- Do they make enough to eat? Enough for housing? Enough to care for a family? Enough to pay for healthcare?
- What do you think happens to people if they work all day, but still can’t afford these things?
Action: Do you employ a domestic care worker?
- Find out how you can support care workers, nannies, and house cleaners with the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Connecting labor rights, power dynamics, and transparency
- Whose responsibility is it to create fair and safe working conditions?
- What responsibility do the workers have to make work safe?
- How about the people who run the company and keep the money the workers make?
- How about the people who buy what the company makes?
- What are negotiations?
- What does it mean to be a stakeholder in a system? (Such as in a company, a family, or a school.)
- What is a consumer? A worker? An owner? An investor? A government?
- What kind of (and how much) power does each type of person have negotiating working conditions with the others?
- Discuss the roles and responsibilities of each to create safe working conditions and compensation.
- Pick a family item you purchase often. How could you source this more sustainably and fairly?
Connecting labor rights & women’s rights
- What is domestic work?
(Ex: childcare, cleaning, planning, paying bills, running errands, laundry.)
- What is care work?
(Ex: noticing who needs what, bathing, planning meals and schedules, soothing meltdowns.)
- Who is usually responsible for unpaid domestic & care work in US families?
(Hint: women, most often women of color)
- Who does which types of work in our family? Are they paid or unpaid? In what other ways are they compensated?
- What is an industry? (Ex: a type of job)
- How do people with power and money value domestic labor compared to industries such as engineering, construction, and banking? Use the internet to find standard rates of pay, and/or ask adults how much they think an hour of that type of labor is worth.
- What differences in compensation do we notice depending on industries?
- How does average compensation differ depending on who tends to work in an industry?
(Ex: workers of a common gender, citizenship status, disability, or access to higher education.)
- Why are different types of paying jobs easier, or harder to get for people who have extra care work for family at home?
- How did the way we value and compensate workers change as industries changed from a mostly-men to mostly-women industry? What about the reverse?
(Example: Teaching, midwifery and obstetrics)
More Resources to dig deeper
When is it?
- The first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar
- 2022: May 3
- 2023: April 22
- 2024: March 31
- 2025: March 20
- How to be a Good Ally to Muslims During the month of Ramadan [3:16m best for ages 5+]
- How can we support friends and family who celebrate Ramadan when they come over to play?
- How can we support our friends in the classroom?
- How can we support our friends during snack and lunch time?
More Resources to dig deeper:
- Read stories celebrating and normalizing Muslim families all year long, not just during the month of Ramadan.
World Freedom of the Press Day
When is it?
- May 3rd
Change-making Through Art
- How social photography impacted child labor laws (6:36 video, best for kids 8+)
- Choose an art-based activity to learn about power hierarchies from Revolutionary Humans
- In a medium of your kid’s choice (painting, photography, poetry, etc.), have kids document an incident or pattern of behaviors that feels unfair to them.
- What types of art do you enjoy? Which would you like to experiment with?
- How can you use it to amplify the voices of those who are currently silenced and ignored?
- Ask your kiddo who they might want to share this work with. Are any of these people in a position of power to rectify this unfairness and help them seek justice?
More resources to dig deeper
- Kids stories of Changemaking Through Art
Read Miss Mary Reporting.
- What is reporting bias?
- How did Mary’s life experience affect what she chose to report, and how she reported it?
- Would you feel better informed about an event after reading: Four reports by people who have the same beliefs and background, or four reports by people with a diverse set of beliefs and backgrounds?
- Why? What information might you miss out on in each situation?
National Bird Day
I love most animals, but birds are loud, tiny, vicious dinosaurs, and I don’t trust them! Those twitchy, blood-lust stares. That 4 AM chirping! You know they’d pop your eyeballs and peck at your entrails if given half a chance.
HOWEVER, I guess we need them for like, the planet to survive or something? Also some of them are cute and respond to scritches. And one of my favorite things to do is hang out with those industrial-sized canary cages at chain pet stores to watch the bird politics. There’s always an outcast, a pair of buddies grooming each other, and a bossy bird! RIVETING DRAMA!!!
Anyway, we need to protect birds, even the ones who would murder our eyeballs and eat us if only they had biceps and thumbs.
When is it?
- May 4th
Parenting is Praxis
Read Spring After Spring.
- Discuss: What natural resources do we share with birds?
Read Sparrow Girl.
- Discuss: How do humans rely on birds to survive?
- How did they make the garden bird-friendly?
- If you have a garden or personal yard, one-day project can you start to make it a safe space for birds?
- If you don’t have control over an outside space, who can you talk to about your local school, store owner, or park to create a pocket haven for birds?
Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) Day of Awareness
When is it?
- National day of awareness is May 5th
- 2022’s National Week of Action is April 29-May 5
Parenting is Praxis
Adults: Read Missing Nimama and decide whether to read this story with your kids.
Content warning for kidnapping, murder, and abandonment, as the story is written to validate and help children whose mothers have been ripped away from them to process their grief.
I know we read a lot of heavy shit with kids here, and and a testament to how rampant MMIWG is that we need a children’s book to help children process the kidnapping and murder of a parent.
Reflect: What kind of world do we live in where we so many children need a book such as Missing Nimama? What is our family’s responsibility to end the need for these stories?
I don’t mean the Mother’s Day where kids buy trash and your family lets you take the day off of from unpaid labor. I mean the non-commercial observance as Anna Jarvis originally intended – to draw awareness to the second shift demanded of working mothers and the disempowerment of work-at-home mothers within industries, communities, and their own families.
The fight for women’s rights, wealth equality, racial equality, and decolonizing is intertwined with the experiences of mothers and how we support them.
When is it?
- Every year on the second Sunday in May
“Sixty percent of people in local women’s jails have not even been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial—and 80 percent of them are parents. These Black women, femmes, and gender-nonconforming folks—Black Mamas and caregivers—are often without support or a safety net when they are condemned to a cage: there is no one to come for them.”
…read more from National Bail Out.
Read: Milo Imagines The World.
- What assumptions does Milo make about the people he sees?
- What assumptions do you think people make about Milo? Milo’s family?
- Make a donation or volunteer to reunite mothers with their children.
Show Up For Single Mothers
Revolutionary Humans membership or purchases required – proceeds support Revolutionary Humans, a Black-& single-mama-led collective.
- Choose a book to read together from our Triumphant Kids Stories Honoring Single Mothers collection.
- If you’ve already read all those, you can find more single-parent family constellation stories here.
Adults: Visit Single Parenting in a Post-Apocalyptic Hellscape
- Learn how (and how not) to show up for single parents in your community.
- Single parents: Get resources to get clear on what support looks like so community parents can show up for you.
Discuss with kids:
- What does our family constellation look like?
- What privileges and challenges do we navigate because of how many parents and caregivers we have?
- How does the gender of the caregivers in our family affect our ability to find and receive support when we need it?
Bonus Activities to dig deeper
- This is Unsustainable eBook, featuring articles for your own edification, plus kid-friendly activities.
Acknowledge Invisible Labor
- How Mamas Love Their Babies
- The Metal Load collection (ages 8+), the specific comic we’re looking for is You Should Have Asked, also available online. But the whole book is great! And it’s got drawings of boobs!
- Make a list of the invisible work and emotional labor is required to maintain our family’s daily routine.
- Who is in charge of which tasks?
- Who is taking on the invisible tasks?
- Did our family talk about taking these tasks, or did they just fall to specific people? Why?
- Revisit each activity – what new or different invisible task could each family member take responsibility for?
Famine Commemoration Day
In recognition and observance of Ireland’s Great Hunger and the impact of colonization on modern-day Ireland and also the Irish diaspora. As Irish Americans we typically cover this during Irish Heritage month in March, but it’s a good segue into global colonialism, authoritarianism, and modern famine crises and how to help.
When is it?
- 3rd Sunday of May
- Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara
- Rice From Heaven (ages 4-8)
- Sparrow Girl (ages 4-8)
- When Stars Are Scattered (Ages 7+)
- Half Spoon of Rice (9-12)
- What are the root causes of famine?
(Ex: war, colonization, genocide, climate change, shitty leadership)
- What are the most effective (as opposed to feel-good) ways to end world famine from home?
Vincent Chin’s Birthday & The Start of Modern the Asian-American Collective
When is it?
- May 18th
Watch & Discuss: Scapegoating
- Simpsons scene on scapegoating (best for kids 4+)
- What is scapegoating?
Watch & Discuss: Disposability
- Who is Vincent Chin? (content warning for anti-AAPI violence, murder, cussing, best for 6+)
- What consequences did Chin’s murderers face?
- If our murders face no consequences, what does this teach AAPI people about our safety in the US?
- What does it mean to be disposable?
Watch & Discuss: Xenophobia
- Adults: ‘Other’ A Brief History of American Xenophobia (7:10, long, wordy, and drops a lot of numbers and legislation, so might be inaccessible for kids under 10.)
- What is xenophobia?
- More Resources:
Watch & Discuss: The Chinese Exclusion Act
- The Chinese Exclusion Act
- How is the perpetual foreigner trope weaponized against AAPI folks?
The ‘Chinese Virus’
- Why we don’t call the coronavirus the Chinese virus
- How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School (3:42, best for kids 6+ content warning for the typical anti-Chinese classroom stuff, but also videos of physical violence against Asians)
- How has anti-Asian racism changed over the development of the US?
- Has scapegoating and xenophobia against Asian Americans ever truly disappeared?
More Resources to dig deeper:
Watch & Discuss: The Model Minority Myth
- Adam Ruins Everything: How America Created the Model Minority Myth
- Has keeping silent, assimilating, and ‘behaving’ the way white America demands made us any safer?
Assimilation and playing into the model minority myth isn’t enough to stop racists & xenophobes from killing us.
Reflection for AAPI Families
Acknowledge & discuss the bind of being called on to choose white/western forms self-advocacy to avoid being targeted with our kids.
How are rallying cries for self-advocates to ‘speak up,‘ ‘get loud,‘ etc. often used to victim-blame AAPI, given that many of us were raised to communicate indirectly? Should we be forced to assimilate to whiteness in order to be heard and believed?
How do we balance the impulses to save face and maintain group harmony that we might have been raised in, with the need for some forms of disruption and systemic criticism often required for self-advocacy and activism in the US?
No right answers: In what creative ways can we protect our families, advocate for our communities, and reject coerced assimilation, while showing up as our full selves?
Reflection for AAPI Accomplices
Discuss your role in coerced assimilation and victim-blaming as accomplices in support of AAPI friends and family.
Why must we examine whiteness, rather than make further demands for AAPI to avoid/prevent attacks, in the role of white supremacy and discrimination against AAPI?
Whose responsibility is it to stop targeting, attacking, and killing American Asian and Pacific Islanders? (AAPI shouldn’t have to get loud, perform better, or ‘act white’ to stop AAPI hate.)
Learn About Composting Day
We’ve done all kinds of composting – indoor vermicomposting, fancy layered composting, rotating bin composting, the boss-level: ‘Send the kids dump scraps in/near a pile the yard.’ (Take certain types of food waste, and put them in a pile in the back yard. Ignore it until it turns to dirt.)
And now that our city has developed a rat infestation (from knocking down a block of abandoned buildings – not composting), we’re using bokashi buckets. Rats hate bokashi!
Composting is not as complicated as garden bloggers and youtubers make it out to be. I don’t think we need a kid’s book about this. But also, I am a worn-out pair of saggy mom-jeans, so I get it if you don’t want to do sloppy composting like we do. If you want to get fancy, mix in some leaves and cardboard, and poke it sometimes.
Most folks don’t have free municipal composting or access to private land to compost. Here’s a few of our options below.
When is it?
- May 29th
Exploring Basic DIY Composting with Kids (for land-havers)
If you have a back yard, be like “We are going to start composting.” Then designate a spot on the ground not too close to anyone’s house (it’s basically a giant bird feeder, so expect visitors and their poops.)
Before throwing food in your compost pile, google ‘Can I compost this?‘ Some types of food (meat, oil) attracts rats. Orange peels take forever to break down. It’s okay to be choosy in what you add! It’s okay to start small and only compost some things.
Exploring Vermicomposting with Kids (indoors)
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard or your town has rude laws about it or whatever, learn about vermicomposing.
I will admit vermicomposting is a little complicated because these are basically worm pets. And does take up space in your home. But hey, pets with valuable poop!
You can DIY it, or buy a fancy bin or grab one off a free stuff group. We kept our pet worms in this one until we moved to a place with yard for regular compost.
Advanced Composting with Kids (land-havers)
If you really must make this complicated, or are worried about weeds or squirrels stealing your dirt, you can get fancy and turn your compost and add proper amounts of browns & greens.
Check out this video by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network on how to make fancy layers or cages, and water it and stuff.
Don’t want to care for worm pets? Too lazy for all that?
Try bokashi composting, it’s kid-friendly, low-maintenance, and rats hate it.
I thought this would be too complicated, expensive, and potentially stinky, but we’ve been using a bokashi process for a year now and it’s easier for us than a compost pile.
We no longer have to trek out into the snow to dump the compost in the winter, as we keep the processing buckets in a kitchen cabinet, and then bury them when the ground thaws in the spring. It only smells when you open the bucket to put stuff in – a tasty fermenty pickle-smell if you’re doing it right, a little bit barfy if the contents are too wet (just add more paper).
Monthly Explorations for May
As we discuss the topics above, we tie them into deeper discussions throughout the month about courage and protecting our mental health.
Let’s explore mental health
GOALS: Destigmatizing Mental Health Challenges, dismantling sanism & setting a model for self-care!
One day, this will be an expansive set of 1-2-3 steps, but for now, we’ll just have to muddle through this pile of awesome resources:
Shortly after the pandemic isolated us, I acknowledged how over-extending myself was not an excuse for getting sloppy and not showing up in my best form. Even though my survival depends on our progress to a small degree – this work is a choice. So I’ve taken steps to learn to say ‘no’ to [some] of that stuff that drains my spoons so I can do a better job providing the tools you need to raise kind and courageous kiddos. It isn’t fair to spread ourselves too thin, as we perpetuate harm when we do that.
From our May 2020 Resource recap:
I think I’m not alone in failing to recognize when we slip into bad habits like that and take on too much. We’re so busy focused on the folks who have less, those who need our help, and on not losing the things we have, that we forget to take responsibility for body & mind check-ins and taking the time to setup accommodations for our disabilities / mental health.
That’s not an excuse – it’s a recognition. We habituate to over-extension, and particularly for folks with compulsion disorders like myself, we just double down on self-harming behavior. Recognizing that is my responsibility. Taking care of myself so I don’t mess up and create setbacks in the movements I’m working toward – is also my responsibility. That means I’ve got to name it (you are here) and take responsibility for collecting myself – so I prevent myself from doing harm.”
Both together with the Luminary Brain Trust* and independently, we followed through on those promises. We unpacked trauma stewardship, disengaged from toxic social media culture, strengthened our pod relationships, celebrated and vented and acknowledged the resources we needed to move forward and hold ourselves accountable.
*The Luminary Brain Trust is our space for Luminary+ community members.
We’ve unpacked books. Found therapists! Written, scratched-out, adjusted, and amended accountability procedures, boundaries and actions that we will do (and refuse to do!) so that when the world zigs, we can zag and keep showing up together, in all our stumbling hot mess glory.
The State of Destigmatizing Mental Health Conditions/Challenges (MHC) in Kidlit These Days
Okay, so here is the thing – anti-sanism hasn’t gotten trendy in the kidlit community, so we’re still at the ‘hahaha let’s stigmatize people with MHCs as funny/dangerous” or “let’s pretend MHCs don’t exist and hope they go away’ level of representation.
All but the most didactic, bland, non-fiction books are written for kids who are not experiencing mental health challenges, to help them… ‘deal with‘ (I can’t think of a better way to say it – that’s what this feels like) family or friends who have a MHC.
Lots of people without MHC, writing books for people without, about people with MHC. As if people with MHCs have no ability or interest in their own reflection and care, they must rely on others to read about them… and rely on trickle-down representation for quality and justice, I guess. All the problems with disability kidlit, minus 5 years of progress, exponentially applied.
What’s beyond that one awkward library corner shelf where you can find didactic, bland, pathetic stories about childhood anxiety and parental PTSD intermixed with fairytale adoption stories? Let’s talk about all the other books for kids, and the stories they tell kids about people with MHCs.
When characters with MHCs show up in books about growth, fantasy, and fun, they’re:
- Comic relief sidekick who is lovable despite *quirks*
- Bad guy villain plot twist revealed to have underlying deep issues that somehow justify abusive behavior
- A pathetic friend-in-waiting to rescue, always with a heart of gold
- A parent doing bad parenting
- As the protagonist: a child between the ages of 8-12, who is overcoming their MHC to the exclusion of caring about anything beyond wrestling and recovery and shallow token hobby to seem more relatable.
A staggering majority of books written for the enjoyment and edification of kids employ casual sanism for humor, particularly in books for kids 7+. Even books promoting disability inclusion rely on pejorative potshots, labeling dangerous, odd, or frightening behavior as “crazy,” “insane,” “demented,” etc. to distract readers from poor character development and lazy jokes. If there is an older person in the story, they’re usually experiencing some form of dementia or make self-depreciating jokes about senior moments. Almost all the older people need to be saved by kids who haven’t had enough life experience to file taxes or troubleshoot a leaky toilet.
Of the books that do try to address MHCs beyond cheap humor, most of these didactic, boring books are still centered in sanism, suggesting that people with MHC are flawed and incapable of living a reasonable life. Or really thinking of anything beyond how to ‘recover’ from their MHC. Like disability kidlit, library shelves are full of ‘expert‘ authors who don’t openly identify personal experience with MHC, but did pay for fancy degrees so they could decorate their bylines with lots of letters and Official Resume Titles.
I can understand why an author might not want to disclose a personal MHC on a jacket flap, but I think we all know by now how a gatekeeper in publishing salivates at phDs in clinical depression, but winces at the thought of boosting the voice of a person with actual clinical depression who wants to say anything beyond “How I got rid of it.”
The focus in these books is to separate the child from the diagnosis, as if their experiences, senses, and emotions are dirty, shameful things that don’t deserve treatment until the child can distance themselves from the stuff that is going on inside their own brains. All of this supports the dominant narrative that folks with MHC are only worth supporting if they keep those eyes on the prize of recovery to a baseline of zero issues (is that even a thing? Can a real human have zero issues?) – as if navigating school, work, friendship, and getting into or out of bed each day isn’t a series of triumphs to be proud of unless you do it while regulated, content and happy.
This just feels so very…American. The singular focus on unadulterated, purchased, bland, conformative joy, the medical pathologization of everything a human experiences, and the urgent need to get away from who and where you are right now, so you can be someone healthier, shinier, and more palatable as soon as possible.
I have no quicks-start book lists for you at the moment, so we will have to settle with cobbling together your own discussions from the archives. If you found a good one, add your recommendations in the comments.
Broad discussions & stories to support an anti-sanism framework with positive psychology & pro-social scaffolding:
- Validating Big Feelings Because there are no such thing as bad feelings or good feelings – they are all helpful and important.
- After reading Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, the Earthquakes had a nice discussion about the power of artists in sustaining communities through hard times, such as war and resistance. From there, check out books cultivating hope & fantasy and our in-progress collection of Books that Legit Made the Earthquakes Laugh.
- Normalizing Radical Interdependence – those feel relevant too, in terms of meeting folks as they are instead of tugging them to be something else.
- Books for Kids Examining Self-Identity, Acceptance & Worth
- Blueloon: Unpacking sanism in kidlit
(Update: the publisher of Blueloon tried HARD to pull this review down and wasted months of my precious time but HAHAHA FREE SPEECH, JERKS.)
Books for specific challenges:
- Validating & Helping Kids With Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety & Parting Grief – Validating Books For Kids
- Understanding the difference between Envy & Jealousy and Helping kids navigate jealousy
- Hitting: When your kid is the aggressor
- Validating frustration with feeling small & powerless
- Whining, Tantrums & Outbursts: Books to Help Kids Chill
- How to talk to kids about shootings – Picture books that help
- Books to support kids experiencing or learning about physical violence & global conflict
- Books to support families experiencing domestic violence
- Validating Stories For Adopted Children Who Have Experienced Trauma
- On patreon: 7 Tools To Support You Through Mental Health Acceptance Month
Let’s Explore Courage
Confronting a friend and telling them that what they are doing isn’t okay is pretty much the scariest thing that a kid can do. And we know that supremacy and injustice thrives in silence.
Taking small, tiny steps toward scary things is the only we can grow stronger – and the world can get safer and more just for all.
(Ages 4+ We started talking about courage around the age of 4. I tried earlier, but it just didn’t sink in until then.)
What’s the difference between courage and bravery?
For the purposes of Raising Luminaries, we’re using ‘brave’ to mean standing up for yourself, or having the courage to take the next step. And we use ‘courage’ in terms of leadership – taking the next step to lift up others.
When I looked up the internet definition, I got: Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger, or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear.
But also, there’s something about brave that feels like working through fear in service for ourselves (setting boundaries, standing up for ourselves, overcoming first-day jitters, that sort of thing) whereas courage feels like it might be about working through our fears for others. I dunno, maybe I just made that up. Words are weird!
And don’t forget that an act of bravery in standing up for yourself – particularly as a targeted person, can be an act of courage. ‘Cause when we tell folks with power how to treat us, we’re lifting up the standards for everyone like us.
- What does it mean to act with courage for our own growth?
- What does it mean to act in courage for our shared liberation?
- When does fear get in our way? When does fear help us and keep us safe?
More resources to dig deeper
- For Luminary Braintrust Members: What’s the difference between courage and brazen, foolhardy entitlement? Let’s watch Brave and find out.
- Children’s books for upstanders: Civil Disobedience & Disrupting Injustice
Let’s Explore Asian & Pacific Islander History, Culture, and Self-Advocacy
Click here for the full collection: 75+ Stories about Asian & Pacific Islander History & Culture
You’re not going to cover this in school. So pick a few books to read this May about Asian & Pacific Islander History.
I feel like we harp on this every month, so I dunno, comb through a few of our archives and see if you’d like to review all this through a 2021 post-Covid lens, I guess.
- Watch How positive stereotypes do harm
- Read more #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- Learn how to spot tokenism in kidlit.
- Discuss with your kids why all the books about AAPI are about food, and how to be a better lunch date, with Delicious Kids Books That Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism.
- Revisiting the issue of disqualification within the AAPI community, understand how the model minority myth silences and targets us.
- Learn how to spot the model minority myth in kidlit.
- Learn how to support AAPI publishers and makers in telling our own stories: Circumventing White Fragility With Adorable Books by Mango & Marigold Press and The Sikh Identity by Saffron Press .
- Wrapping it back around to destigmatizing MHC and anti-sanism: Support the work of the Asian Mental Health Collective. Share out the APA care package. If you’re white, please stop telling Asians to ‘just go find a therapist‘ because it is really hard to find a culturally responsive therapist or mental health support.
- Learn how to respond When you’re Invited To a Racist Birthday Party: Scripts for Handling the Violence of White Peoples ‘Good Intentions’
- Push your local school to teach kids about Japanese Internment and observe Fred Korematsu Day.
More Kids Stories to Dig Deeper
- Kids Books: Asian & Pacific Islander History
- Delicious Asian & Pacific Islander Food Culture for Kids
- #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- Japanese American Internment
- #OwnVoices Chinese American Kids Stories
Donate a Little Feminist Book Club subscription to your local school library to build up our kids bookshelves on self-advocacy and AAPI representation.
Whenever I find new children’s biographies about kickass AAPI women & femmes, I tell our partner, Little Feminist Book Club about it right away.
Over the years, we’ve filled neighborhoods with biographies including Wu Chien Shiung, The Queen of Physics, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior, and It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew The Way.
May calls us to action!
Kids: Kindness As An Action
Get Familiar With a Story Unlike Your Own
“Did you know? You can’t actually move through the world with true kindness without considering and appreciating perspectives outside your own. A lot of people are successful at being polite but not necessarily thoughtful and kind.
Today, look up a story, a blog post, an article, etc. written by or about a person in a marginalized group that YOU personally need to know more about it. How can you advocate for kindness towards and justice for all if you have no idea what others are up against?
For kids, share with them an age-appropriate version of what you find and balance any hardship tales with a positive perspective, too.
Don’t stop here. Daily actions are intentionally brief but the real challenge here is to continue seeking stories outside of your own. Know WHO you’re advocating for- we’re not acronyms, we’re people!“
– Bellamy S. via Revolutionary Humans 25 Actions of Kindness. Shared with permission.
Grownups: Join the When We Gather Collective
- Co-creative art projects designed to inspire & spark hope in busy parents
- Find thought-provoking essays on parenting through multiple intersections of oppression
- Receive monthly kindness actions to motivate little leaders
- And way, way more
[Video: Watercolor animation with the text: “When we gather… we listen thoughtfully & speak honestly, we learn to identify prejudices and check our biases. We grow as a community, and as Revolutionary Humans in our broader communities. We meet each other with grace and cultivate a safer space for parents to discuss where we excel and fall short as we raise the revolution. We challenge our misconceptions and make necessary adjustments to the ways we show up in the world. We prioritize space to relax, to laugh, to share, and to be our chillest selves, without the interference of respectability politics, intolerance, or hierarchy. In short: When we gather, we grow.”]
“In this live Zoom workshop we’ll work on what courageous parenting means and how to do it! How do we set courageous examples? How do we manage the fine line between risk and courage?“
Grownups: Believe Small Requests
Any decent ally understands that we’re supposed to ‘listen & believe’ targeted folks on what support looks like for us. But what does that actually look like in practice?
Listen to Anger & The Spectacle free episode to find out.
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: 2-click action for disability rights & keep us out of institutions
Text SIGN PUKNNW to 50409 or share this link to send a letter to your US senators
“Many people with disabilities and aging adults rely on home- and community-based services (HCBS) to do things like get dressed, take care of our families, work, and participate in our communities…Right now, thousands of people can’t get the support they need… Tell Congress that we want to see them put in the work to keep us all safe and in our communities, and include at least $150 billion for HCBS in the next reconciliation package.”
Since most in our community have kids to care for, zero time, and social anxiety, I’ve created a simple resistbot petition & script spinning off ASAN’s step-by-step guide if you don’t have time for ASAN’s in-person advocacy training.
Text SIGN PUKNNW to 50409 or share this link to send a letter to your US senators
Learn more about the Summer Parent Activist Accelerator
I host a seasonal 6-Week Virtual Summer Parent Activist Accelerator, and it starts July 11.
Space is limited to 6 members. Join the free wait list if you want to learn more when enrollment opens in late June.
You are doing a good job!
We support those who support our community. I’ve reinvested 12% of our 2021 Patreon pledges to activists and organizations such as the Muslim Justice League, Honor the Earth, and the Greater Boston Food Bank.
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!
Nevertheless, join us and help keep these resources free for everybody:
Good Finds for May
R2’s Favorites: (Age 7.5)
Julia’s House Goes Home (Book 3 of the Julia’s House Trilogy)
We finally caught The final book in the Julia Trilogy, and it lives up to the first two. Reading this together with my no-longer-Little Earthquakes, this story comes with nostalgia and bitter-sweetness.
The first Julia’s House For Lost Creatures (book 1) was published 8 years ago, when R2 was just an infant – the same year we started Books for Littles as a tiny Facebook group. I had recommended it within a week of beginning BFL – and our whole family has loved this series ever since.
But it’s more than just that reminder of when the Earthquakes were still little.
The second book in the trilogy – Julia’s House Moves on (book 2), popped up soon after we started the Books for Littles Self-Destruction Sequence. Our time as an actual family with young children was wrapping up, and when R2 turns 8, it feels unethical to review or recommend children’s books through an #OwnVoices ‘Little’ kid lens. The theme of the story? Recognizing that it’s time to move on.
While I’ll still be updating these roundups to be more accessible each year, and we’re still growing the resources and spaces for our Raising Luminaries community – Books for Littles is winding down and coming to a close, just as the Julia’s House trilogy ends.
So of course, the final book, Julia’s House Goes Home, turns out to be about the hesitation and pain of growing, the fears that come with true inclusion. As we expand, we have to demolish and let go of the limiting beliefs that kept us small so we can support a growing community.
Wow, right? Right?! This trilogy took 8 years, written has his kids grew – and that’s a good thing. There is no way Hatke could have captured that depth if he had pushed these out as quickly as we wanted to gobble them up.
Anything good has to end some time. But oh my gosh, friends – we had such a brilliant time together.
In addition to Qingming, I’d add it to our Youth Advocacy and Death Positivity book collection, as well as anti-ageism kids books featuring inter-generational friendships – but alas, it’s not available on Bookshop.
If you can get your hands on this out-of-print book by Nigerian author T. Obinkaram Echewa, please do. It’s so lovely.
This one is just for fun. I get nervous when white dudes use Black & brown and women in their books – particularly set in some ‘far-off exotic land,’ but this truly is just a silly, sweet story.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- Stories Featuring Unapologetically Kickass Girls
- Children’s Books for Qingming
- Books That Legit Made My Kids Laugh
Q’s Favorites: (Age 10)
Stuntyboy, In the Meantime, Vol 1
Recommended by partners-in-cahoots at Revolutionary Humans, Q agrees it’s kickass and fun.
Featuring a boy in the midst of his parents separation, celebrating apartment life, and learning to deal with jerks and family conflict, Reynolds makes space for vulnerability, healthy masculinity, and Black boy joy.
I had hoped that when Q was finally old enough to parse Sun Zu’s ‘Art of War,’ we could read it as a theoretical – applying it to classroom and recess politics.
Unfortunately, we’re reading this book alongside our nightly news updates about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As we watch President Zelenskyy’s calls for compassion, allyship, and support, we’re also drawing parallel’s between his decision as a wartime leader, and Sun Zu’s battle theory.
I wish I could recommend this book under different circumstances – but honestly that was never a realistic dream. Invasion, occupation, and conquest for the sake of greed and power continues on a global scale, even when western news outlets aren’t covering European conflict.
This has been a long-time favorite of ours, and Thunder Rose was an early OG kickass Black girl in gender-inclusive kidlit.
But it’s always been…wordy. Now that the kids are older, we can read the full text and the Earthquakes are riveted. We’re also dusting this story off in time for Q to go through his public school’s standard unit on Tall Tales, to dismantle the typical whitewashing that comes with this staple of US elementary education.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- Shared Custody & Blended Family Constellations
- Kids Books Centering Black Futures
- Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids
- Kids Stories on Conflict Resolution: Playdates, Boundaries & Dealing With Jerks
- All My Sons Deserve Respect! Complex Black Boys In Kidlit
Ashia’s Favorites: (Age 39.5)
While I loved this depiction of an inter-generational family of Indian-Americans visiting India, I thought it’d be too ‘educational’ for the kids to like. But R2 enjoyed this for several reads, and there’s so much to talk about on each page, it was a delight.
Between the three generations, we see how grandma, mom, and kiddo all enjoy different aspects of their time together in India. We get a quick geography lesson, and there’s something just fun about it.
Light and fluffy, this is a quick graphic novel for kids ages 7+. I was a little nervous about the ‘evil blonde kid‘ trope (so common in books normalizing BIPOC kids), but it turns around well enough.
Kiddo visits her grandmother in Taiwan (not China!), hesitant about the distance and differences she’ll have to get used to during her trip. What starts out as unfamiliar becomes familiar – and beloved. So good!
While there are bits of Mandarin (both pinyin and characters), the book sticks primarily with English and only ever so slowly introduces new vocab for non-Mandarin speakers, making it accessible and giving kids a hint on how even new, confusing things slowly become common.
If you liked these stories, check out:
- #OwnVoices Asian & Pacific Islander Kidlit
- Graphic Novels for Elementary-Aged Kids
- #OwnVoices Kids Immigration Stories
One more good thing…
I tried to find a funny video of the Earthquakes this month but at this point they’re getting older and smellier. All we have are videos of teeth hanging out of their mouths with strings of gristle (OMGOSH NO) and then running naked through the house screaming “LET’S KICKING ASS” (feels inappropriate?) or them just infodumping for like fifteen minutes about unicorns.
Maybe it unicorn infodumping seem fascinating to me later, but right now all I want is a few silent hours without anyone farting on me. While I would never want to go back to the hard work of caring for toddlers who scream at me for peeling bananas wrong, I do enjoy reminiscing over how cute they were before they developed the ability to dominate a conversation. And how much better they used to smell.
[Video description: Q and R2 at ages 2 & 4, watching ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ R2 urgently wants me to notice Tigger’s cameo, but he has no words for it, just emphatic and impressive tiger growl.]
Stay Curious, Stand Brave & #FreeBlackMamas
Every day I get to wake up and be like: “Cat, get your butt out of my face!”
But after that, I think: “OH GOSH YES! I am going to work on this neat research / writing / collaboration / experimentation / do-goodery today! This is my work! MY LIFE IS AMAZING.”
And that’s thanks to you! Thank you, friend. Now let’s share that love and reunite mothers with their families. Yes? YES!
Let’s make this reciprocal!
I appreciate you doing your thing – raising awesome kiddos and leading this next generation of kind, clever and generous leaders.
I provide resources and support, research, all the stuff folks keep asking for. This can’t be one-sided where the disabled Asian feminine person provides sidekick resources for wealthy white abled folks to virtue signal, impress their friends, and vault themselves to more power.
To dismantle this dynamic: I need one or both of the following from you: (Pick one or both!)
- Feedback: Add a comment below on what you’ve learned, how you’ll apply that knowledge, or what resources we can add here to make this post more accessible for you.
- Pay for my labor – I can’t afford to keep paying for this website and the resources to orchestrate and run it on my own. If you use these resources and are the kind of person who buys lunch without checking the price, you need to reciprocate.
If my work makes it easier for you to raise kind & courageous kiddos, you can keep these resources free for everybody by contributing directly.
Get Updates & Stay Connected
If you want reminders when I update these resources and publish new podcasts, join the email list.