Tag Archives: social justice

Peace, Love, Action!

Written & Illustrated by: Tanya Zabinski

Foreward by: Ani DiFranco

For ages: Middle Grades to read, ages 4 and up to listen.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Activism, Historic Figures, Historic Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Call to Action, Kindness, Peaceful Activism, Gratitude, Resilience, Social Change.

Summary: For our last day in our Week of Intention we have Peaceful Action.  We found it important to begin and end this week with our central vision and mission for The Tiny Activist: activism.  It’s important for children (and adults!) to have lots of examples and options for how to engage in activism and organizing for causes themselves.

Peace, Love, Action! is an amazing book in a multitude of ways and provides examples of peaceful activism and kindness by the boatload.  Set up like an alphabet book but for middle grades, each letter represents a central theme to the activism of a person being profiled.  Zabinski’s illustrations are gorgeous, resembling (or potentially being) linocuts, one of our favorite artistic styles!

F is for Feed, and the reader learns about Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm (an organization we love!) that centralizes ancestral farming practices to help folks of color reconnect with their past through education as well as growing food for donations to local families.

Something else we really love is after each person profiled, there is a list of things that the reader can do to get involved, whatever their passion may be.  Having a myriad of options and critical self-reflection questions accompanying each letter.  With examples like Pete Seeger, Rachel Carson, Black Elk, and Azim Khamisa every person who picks up this book will become inspired to make the world a little better.

Peace, Love, Action! was kindly sent to us by Parallax Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

indexFrom Tanya Zabinski’s website: “I was a tomboy. My nickname was Tinkerbell. I liked riding bikes, creek-slogging and playing flute. I liked reading, drawing and making puppet shows. I liked camping with my family. Those likes have never changed. My artwork and stories are rooted in the things I loved in childhood.

In college, I studied art, design, music and philosophy. I went to Buffalo State College, to an exchange program in Japan for a year, and to Parsons School of Design. I L-O-V-E-D college.

Even though I loved art, as I learned of poverty in the world, I felt that being an artist was selfish. How could I justify something so seemingly insignificant as making pictures, when other people can’t eat or have an education? When I was 18, I saw “From Mao to Mozart,” in which the famous violinist, Isaac Stern, visited China. It took place after Mao’s reign of terror, when China first opened its doors to the west. Isaac Stern’s passion for music was clearly visible, as was his ability to share it and coax it out in others. His music became a bridge for peace. By following his passion and sharing it, he was more useful to the world than if he squelched his passion for something more seemingly practical. That became my model. Later, I found this quote from Howard Thurman that encapsulates this view: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

These are things that make me feel alive: nature, the seasons, swinging on swings (or grapevines!), biking, hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, gardening, watching birds and whales and clouds and my dog’s ears flopping as he walks in front of me, my supportive family, free-thinking people with open hearts, belonging to vibrant communities like Waldorf and Suzuki, yoga, meditation, books, music, cultures, learning about people who buck norms and pioneer their lives being true to an inner wisdom, swimming in the stream of ever-flowing love and funneling those feelings into my life and my art and the world.

Where have all these influences taken me? From working in a library, to waitressing, music-making, organic farm work, teaching, mural-making, becoming a partner in a local artists boutique, meeting my husband, travelling in Mexico, getting married, and having two sons. Today my husband and I have our own company called Planet Love in which we hand print clothing and sell it at art and music festivals, shops and online. We live in the hills south of Buffalo with a furry, black, thick-tailed, big-hearted dog.

Thank you for a heart open to read this. May you gravitate to the things that make you feel alive!”

Q&A with Alastair Moock!

Happy Saturday!  Our Week of Music is continuing to rock, and we’ve boogied through a whole week already!  Luckily, we have one more special music-related book to review for tomorrow.  But, let’s focus on today!  Yesterday we learned a bit about Alastair’s music, so today we’ll learn about him!  Hope everyone is having a great day, and keep on rockin’ 🙂

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Alastair Moock: I’m Alastair Moock. Among other things, I perform for kids and families and also present assembly programs and workshops in schools around social justice history.

 

 

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AM: Educating and inspiring through music.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

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Billie Jean King

AM: I’m currently working on an album all about leadership and activism. It looks to the
heroes of our past (Dr. King, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks,
Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez) and our present (Malala Yousafzai, the Parkland student
protestors) to inspire our kids to move the ball forward. I wrote the songs over the past year, and we begin recording at the beginning of October.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

AM: I’ll be doing a fundraising campaign for this album, my first in many years. I don’t
generally ask fans for money up front like this, but I have a good reason this time: I want
to get this album, and my assembly programs, into the hands of kids and schools that
might not otherwise be able to afford them. Through this campaign, every time a
supporter buys a CD, I’ll give one away to a kid or teacher. I’ll also be providing free
assemblies and programs to Head Start programs and underserved schools.

7109Acm8ueLTTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

AM: Right now I’m digging Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AM: Recording this new album!

 

About the Artist:

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Alastair Moock is a 2014 GRAMMY Nominee, two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Winner, recipient of the ASCAP Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, and has twice been voted by the Fids & Kamily Industry Critics’ Poll among the Top 3 Albums of the Year. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twins in 2006. The New York Times calls him “a Tom Waits for kids” and The Boston Globe declares that, “in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Alastair Moock makes real kids music that parents can actually enjoy.” Moock and Friends’ live shows are rowdy, rootsy, singin’ and dancin’ fun for the whole family!

The Week of Music!

Hi everyone!  We got the amazing chance through several publishers to review books and music for The Tiny Activist!  We are feeling incredibly lucky to be in this position, and decided to do something special.

Over the course of November 3rd to November 10th we will be posting every day with a new review or Q&A that is musically related.  You can expect social justice themes, beautiful folksongs, and lots of knowledge to be dropped.

We hope you enjoy this upcoming week as much as we enjoyed being able to put it all together.  Have a great day, rabble-rousers 🙂

 

Tiger Boy

Written by: Mitali Perkins

For ages: YA Book

Language: English, some Bangla.

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions, Environmental Activism, Education, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: The span of the plot in this story is only a few days, but the growth of the main character Neel seems much bigger than that.  Neel is a gifted student and has been given the opportunity to take a huge exam in attempt to win a scholarship for a school a few hours from his small island village.  Neel is resistant, because he doesn’t like math.  He also wants to stay in his village and learn to live off the land and carpentry skills like his father.  Neel’s father currently works for a rich but mean man named Gupta.  When a baby tiger escapes from the local nature reserve, Neel and his friends learn that Gupta plans to catch the cub and sell it on the black market.  Neel and his sister Rupa decide they must catch the cub and return it, because they have learned from their father to honor and protect nature.  During their nighttime searches, Neel also learns the value of the math he doesn’t want to study for when he draws a map of the island to look for hiding spots that the tiger might be living in.  The plot is driven by the fact that Neel and Rupa’s father is being paid by Gupta to hunt for the cub, because he wants to pay for a tutor for Neel.  Upon discovering the cub in a cave, Neel and Rupa race to the shore where there are small boats they can row over to return the cub.  We won’t spoil the end of the book, but Neel learns that he must leave his small village for a short amount of time in order to be able to return, armed with the knowledge to keep his village’s flora and fauna healthy and safe.  Great read!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sound Off Saturday Featuring: Mama Tortuga!

Happy Saturday!  We are thrilled to have been able to connect this week with Johana, also known as Mama Tortuga!  She is a powerhouse of bilingual and herbal activism and knowledge, with a flair for business.  Johana is a hustler and has tons of fantastic projects that she’s currently working on.  We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!f70d4b_5e94206b839e4548ac290c241396f086~mv2_d_1836_3264_s_2

Mama Tortuga: Hello, hola!! I am Johana usually called Mama Tortuga. I have created a bilingual website called www.mamatortuga.org to support and provide resources to families around the world, that want to raise free, eco-conscious, multilingual, global citizens. Our perspective is multicultural. We love to create community and to support communities that are working to create a better and improved world!!! I have a very eclectic point of view, from music and arts, to activism, to freedom, our family is here to support this and amplify those voices that need to be amplified!!!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

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Johana and her family- Photo Credit: @R Dot Photography

 

MT: Very passionate about a wholesome approach to live!! From intersectional feminism, mindful parenting, sustainability, arts, and love!!! I am a student of life!! I am also a lover of nature and work alongside my family in our small backyard garden.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

 

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“Parenting is a spiritual practice. Social Activism is a spiritual practice”

MT: Right now I am working on creating ways to support myself, an immigrant Latina mother, and support other women in my community in learning and healing. Always looking for ways I can generate funds and spaces for us to grow!! Locally, I am offering Spanish and English social classes in the area of West Palm Beach, Fl. I am also on a local Spanish radio, where I support ancestral knowledge on herbals and multicultural traditions. Online, I am offering platforms to support resources for global and conscious families. Also, I am documenting much of my adventures, because I believe our voices are important, even if my English is not perfect!! Always showing solidarity with oppressed groups and searching for a different mindset for our world!!! Right now working on a class to be offered at the Florida Herbal Conference of next year in Spanish!!!

 

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

 

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“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”

MT: Thanks for asking this!! We offer a line of wonderful and original Mama Tortuga T-shirts on all sizes for you $21 for sizes S, M, L and $18 for children, includes shipping, we also offer custom orders for bigger sizes or special merchandise. Also, I would love to be offered jobs on translation, multicultural consultant and talks, that are paid. I had been doing a lot of these jobs in the past decade. Sadly, many times, we are not being acknowledged. Also, I would love to be part of online collabs and convos. It is about forming a supporting community!!!

 

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

MT: So hard to choose!! Going to mention some: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Andrea Tutu, The Holly Wild by Danielle Dulsky and Jambalaya by Louisa Teish

Screen Shot 2019-07-27 at 11.55.22 AMTTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

MT: For my website to keep growing and new connections that make a reality the dreams I have about having a supportive community. That the passion that I have for justice and solidarity and healing can come to fruition in abundance of resources and love!!!f70d4b_6ed50d5703164302a09e00d41ac84851mv2.jpg

 

Stay Connected with Mama Tortuga!

Green, multicultural and mindful family

Spanish Conversational Groups 

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist

Written by: Cynthia Levinson

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Historical Event, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Civil Rights, Family, Love.

Summary:  Audrey is a nine-year-old girl, living in Birmingham in 1963.  The book opens with Audrey’s mother cooking a huge dinner for their family friend, Mike.  Mike turns out to be a nickname, and the family friend is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr! At the dinner table is talk of desegregation efforts, and Audrey dreams of days when she can shop where she wants, have brand new schoolbooks, and better seats at the movies.  One Sunday, Mike visits their church and tells those crammed into the pews to hear him speak to fill the jails and disobey unjust laws.  Audrey notices that adults don’t step forward, and instead look away embarrassed making excuses for why they couldn’t be arrested.

One night, another family friend named Jim announces a new idea to fill the jails with children rather than adults.  Bravely, Audrey steps forward with other children. She joins the hundreds of others marching but realizes that she is the only protestor from her elementary school and is in fact the youngest person at the march!  Singing freedom songs, the children march and are arrested.  Sentenced to a week in juvenile hall, Audrey comes to find that jail is not glamorous. There aren’t clean clothes and the food is bad.  She is questioned by four white men; the first ones Audrey has ever spoken to! She notices though, that every afternoon more and more children arrive at the jail, some soaking wet from being sprayed with firehoses.  By her fifth day, the jail is full!  The community has fulfilled their goal, and no more children can be arrested.  Two months after Audrey is released, Birmingham completely wipes the segregation laws from their lawbooks.

This book is significant in the way it treats the characters.  Audrey is not seen as exceptional in her actions, only in her age.  The illustrations show careful thought and detail, the background individuals vary in size, shape, wardrobe, and more importantly skin tone.  In the back there is both an author’s note and a timeline of events surrounding the children’s march in Birmingham.  There is also a list of sources, a book recommendation for older readers, and Audrey’s favorite hot buttered roll recipe!  Both author and illustrator are familiar with the struggles of oppression, and one can tell by the way that background characters are treated and illustrated.  The movement is explained as a group effort with many moving pieces rather than Audrey single-handedly bringing about change to Birmingham.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Audrey became so brave?
  • Do you think it would be easier to be in a juvenile detention center with a lot of people you knew?
  • How do you think Audrey was feeling when she realized her actions were creating change for her entire community?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle, and how resistance occurred for much longer than just in the typically talked about decade of 1954-1964.  What sorts of happenings in the movement were occurring since the end of the Civil War?
  • Read more about the Birmingham Children’s March, and what it inspired people around the country to do.  What other actions were a direct result, and how were youth vital to the movement’s success?
  • Look at photos or watch some interviews with other individuals who participated.  What can we learn from them, and other activists who came before us?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cynthialevinsonCynthia Levinson lives in two places with her husband, who is a law professor. Most of the year, they hang out in Austin, Texas. In the fall, they’re in Boston, Massachusetts. Cynthia didn’t always want to become a writer but a college friend always encouraged her. The friend was right but Cynthia had to wait for the right time. Cynthia is awed by writers who also have day jobs and children at home. It was only after her children got through college and paid off those bills that she could take the risk of leaving my job at a state education agency and dip a toe into writing.  She’s written lots of magazine articles for kids about pandemics, about Moko, the mind-body problem, civil rights, and a bunch of other topics. Creativity takes a lot of work. And, frankly, as a nonfiction writer, she self-describes as not all that creative. Like people who can work, raise children, and write, those who can make up stories, settings, characters, and emotional valence astonish Cynthia.

Vanessa-new-225x300Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants allchildren to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

​Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.

The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

 

Introducing: Raising Inclusive Kids!

Haaaaappy Saturday!  We have been working so hard lately to bring you content that positively impacts your days, and today have the great privilege of passing the mic over to Rowan Renee of Raising Inclusive Kids!  Rowan Renee has some fabulous words of wisdom for so many of us about coming to terms with the unconscious biases we will inevitably pass onto those we interact with.  Without further ado, read on and enjoy!

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

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Raising Inclusive Kids: Hello! I am Rowan Renee of Raising Inclusive Kids, a non-binary, disabled parent to a three and four year old, a first generation college student, a writer, an artist, a dreamer. As a student of the teachings of both Thich Nhat Hanh and A Course in Miracles, I am always further developing my understanding and embodiment of forgiveness, mindfulness, and joy. As a person who is passionate about social justice, I am always working to bring to light my own unrecognized prejudice, bias, and racism so that I may heal it and reduce the harm I cause.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

RIK: My passion is creating, dreaming up, and happening upon opportunities to have fun, intentional interactions with my kids that foster empathy, compassion, and the value of diversity. As a parent of a toddler and preschooler, this primarily looks like strong, positive, diverse representation in our home through books, storytelling, rhymes and sing-alongs, imaginative play, and toys. Mostly it is pretty simple but significant: change the pronoun in a sing-along from he to ze, include a character in a wheelchair when making up stories, be one of two moms when playing house. For my preschooler, my efforts include conversations with them as well as modelling difficult conversations.

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But here is an important truth: I can read amazing, own voices, diverse books to my kids all day, but it will not counteract the racism I unconsciously pass on to my kids. I can adapt every nursery rhyme and sing-along, through stories and play I can create countless interactions that increase positive, diverse representation in my kids’ lives, but that will never be the antidote to my own prejudice and bias that my kids will inherit. And so, as a parent with social justice values, I must be just as passionate about confronting, naming, and digging out the deep rooted prejudice and bias in my heart, mind, and body. And then I compliment that work by providing great representation for my kids, in our home.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

RIK: Much of my ideas for increasing positive, diverse representation in your home I have compiled into a parent resource that is currently being offered for free. The activities are primarily focused on story time, storytelling, rhymes and sing-alongs, imaginative play, and toy play for the infant through preschool age groups. This Raising Inclusive Kids: parent resource is an ongoing project that I add to periodically. You can find it in my Instagram bio or directly here.

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Rabia Khokhar

Currently in the works, in collaboration with Rabia Khokhar, is a project designed to make it easy for educators to infuse social justice into their curriculum and to create a physical and learning environment that fosters empathy, compassion, and the value of diversity. I am very excited and honored to work with Rabia, a librarian and educator who does amazing work within her school to create a diverse and inclusive library, to cultivate empathy and knowledge within the students through intentional, diverse curriculum. You can find her on Instagram @rabia_khokhar.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

RIK: Follow Raising Inclusive Kids on Instagram and Facebook, check out the free Raising Inclusive Kids: parent resource, and keep an eye out for updates on the educator resource. And definitely engage with me! My goal is to build community in order to share ideas, successes, struggles and to challenge each other to go deeper and further with our efforts to raise inclusive kids. Parenting is hard, a social justice approach to parenting is harder, takes more intention, and is greatly benefitted by community.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?

 

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La Frontera: My Journey with Papa/ El Viaje con papá by Alfredo Alva, Deborah Mills, Illustrated by Claudia Navarro 

RIK: There are so many to choose from! For sure, one of my favorites was La Frontera: My Journey with Papa. It’s a beautifully illustrated, heart-touchingly written, bilingual, #ownvoices book. Co-authored by Alfredo Alva, who shares his childhood immigration story of crossing the Mexican-USA border with his father, La Frontera is a book about perseverance and courage. With details about the journey, the people they encounter, and some challenges they face, the reader learns more about the lived experience of Alfredo Alva, and by extension, other immigrants. The book ends with four additional pages of information on Alfredo’s family story and the social history of immigration, useful for parents and educators who use this book as a conversation starter around the topic of immigration, empathy, and belonging. You can get it here!

 

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

RIK: Building stronger community, more writing, more art creating, more reading, more time in nature, more time being really present with my kids.

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Stay Connected with Raising Inclusive Kids!

Raising Inclusive Kids Website

Raising Inclusive Kids on Instagram

Raising Inclusive Kids on Facebook