Written By: Laleña Garcia
Illustrated by: Caryn Davidson
For Ages: 4 years and up
Topics Covered: Black Culture & Identity, Black Lives Matter, Activism, Equity, Self-Esteem, Advocacy, LGBTQ Affirmation, Community.
Summary: Folx, when I opened up a surprise package from Lee and Low with this workbook in it, I think I actually shrieked with joy. This workbook not only celebrates Black identity, but it teaches the core principles of the Black Lives Matter movement and celebrates readers’ ability to think critically about the world around them.
I love the way Garcia and Davidson have combined coloring pages with questions for the reader to fill in for themselves with blank space and important self-reflection questions. The BLM tenets are for every human that believes in creating a better and more equitable world, and I love the current day activists that are featured in the activity book as well. There is a short note at the beginning about recognizing and uplifting everyday community players, which if you’ve heard me ranting about the simplification of social movement narratives you know that’s a sticking point for me. Social movements are a combination of entire communities and people every day giving their best and making changes to how they live their lives. Figureheads are present, but they do not make the movement wheels spin solely. I cannot say enough about how critical this book is, and how it needs to be in every tiny hand. This workbook empowers everyone to celebrate themselves, their communities, and stand with those also on the journey to liberation.
This workbook was kindly sent by Lee and Low, but all opinions are my own. It is also my pick for #sweetsandsocialjustice this week, but instead of baking something new and giving the recipe, I wanted to focus on the crucial messages that this activity book sends.
Laleña Garcia has taught in New York City early childhood education programs for more than twenty years. What We Believe grew out of her work with Black Lives Matter in Schools, a teachers’ organization striving for racial equity in education, and she has presented at local and national conferences on teaching the principles of the BLM movement to children. A graduate of Yale University and the Bank Street College of Education, she lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Caryn Davidson studied Anthropology and Visual Art at Brown University and received her MA in Arts Education from NYU. Since the start of her career in education in 2004, she has founded and developed the arts programs at three public schools in New York City, and led initiatives to promote culturally relevant pedagogy and socially just practices within those school communities. She now teaches art at the high school level in Brooklyn, NY, where she also lives. She is a Steering Committee member of the Black Lives Matter at NYC Schools organizing group and a designer for the national Black Lives Matter at Schools movement.