Books

Living our Values in 2017 – Media Edition

This was originally going to be an article about a bunch of ways you can involve your kids in your politics and beliefs, but I got a little carried away with my media suggestions, so we’re going to start there, and I’ll be back soon with the other things the Parenting Geekly Family is doing to live our values in 2017 – including writing a Family Mission Statement!  I kept these suggestions as mainstream as possible to keep the barrier to entry low. You should be able to borrow or find most of these things on Amazon, streaming, or your local library.  (Note: Post conatians Amazon affiliate links).

Media

It can be intimidating to think about “resisting” or “revolution” or protesting when you have children. The good news is that you can teach your kids about justice, inclusion, diversity, activism and social justice without ever leaving your house. The easiest way to incorporate the ideals of equality, social justice, representation, and action is to make sure the media your family consumes showcases those topics.

Here is a very brief list of some of the media we’ve consumed recently:

Books
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Kitty received this as a Christmas gift from her Aunt Karen. It features an intersectional (white, black, Asian, trans, cis, young and old are all represented) selection of women who did what they felt was right, all delivered in short one-page stories with beautiful illustrations. This beautiful hardback book is currently on back order until February 2017 – but if you just can’t wait Amazon has a Kindle version.

Kitty’s Rad American Women Lantern

Rad Women series – I was introduced to the Rad American Women and Rad Women Worldwide books by my daughter’s fourth-grade teacher. Every year their school holds a lantern festival before winter break. Each child designs and creates a lantern. Some years the classes make punched-tin lanterns or lanterns from clay or decoupaged milk cartons. This year every fourth grader picked a woman from one of these books and decorated a vellum lantern with her portrait. It was a super cool project, and these are super cool books. Kitty’s Rad Woman was Bessie Coleman, the first African-American Woman and first Native American woman to become a licensed US pilot!

Ms. Marvel – Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani-American, and Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. The team of creators is diverse, and according to writer G. Willow Wilson: “A huge aspect of Ms. Marvel is being a ‘second string hero’ in the ‘second string city’ and having to struggle out of the pathos and emotion that can give a person.” It’s appealing to wide range of ages. My husband and I enjoy it as much as 9-year-old Kitty does. This trade paperback collects the first issues into a single volume.

Movies
Star Wars – Not only do the Star Wars movies feature strong women and (at least in the two most recent films) racially diverse casts, they show a group of people fighting against evil. When you watch these beloved classics, make sure you point that out!

Captain America Civil War and Civil War comic books – Marvel showed two sides fighting for their strong opinions about social justice in this comic book series (which you can buy as a collection). The film is a condensed version but shows the same message of friends fighting on opposites sides for what they think is right. This could be a great entry point for conversation if you have close friends or relatives with opposing political opinions.

TV

The cast of Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries – This period police procedural from Canada was my big surprise love this year. Available on Netflix, it premiered in 2008 and take place in the 1890s. While the main cast isn’t diverse, it deals with issues of racism, women’s suffrage, social justice and progressive politics on a regular basis. There’s even an episode about abortion. I watch it with 9-year-old Kitty, but it does have some mild violence, mild gore (realistic dead bodies), and touches on adult themes (murder, sex, religion) – so maybe pre-watch it before you get the under 12s involved.

MUSIC
The Hamilton Soundtrack – If you can’t find something to talk about after listening to this race-bent take on our Founding Fathers you’re not trying. The creators and the racially diverse cast has talked about not feeling ownership of the story of the founding of our nation because it was done by a bunch of white guys. By casting people of color as the Founding Fathers, and using hip-hop in the soundtrack, they hope to make the story of the American Revolution accessible to all.
More easy ways to incorporate inclusive media? Listen to music from genres and cultures you don’t normally include. The recent inclusion of jazz to our repertoire has introduced our kids to Nina Simone, and her “Young, Gifted, Black” performance on Sesame Street. Seek out movies with racially diverse casts, or films that feature minority casts. Watch international films and TV (streaming has made this super easy!) Avoid films and TV that whitewash. Talk to your kids about diversity in their media and why it’s important. Don’t understand why it’s important? Here, let me Google that for you.

Dad presents daughter with graduation present 13 years in the making, makes the rest of us look bad

Dad presents daughter with graduation present 13 years in the making, makes the rest of us look bad

Last week MSNBC published the story of Bryan Martin’s gift to his daughter Brenna for her high school graduation.

For 13 years, Bryan Martin kept the book hidden from his daughter, dutifully taking it to her teachers, coaches and school principals every year to have them append it with positive comments and messages.

Finally, on June 8 — the day of her graduation from North Johnston High School in Kenly, N.C. — Brenna Martin received a special copy of the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’’

At first Brenna thought she was getting an ordinary copy of the book, which is a common graduation gift.  It was only after her dad told her to open it up that she discovered notes from her teachers going back to when she was five years old.  As the days after the graduation went by she learned that most everyone in her life knew about the book, helping her dad guard the secret for 13 years.

To read more visit MSNBC.com

What do you think of Bryan’s gift to his daughter? Have you ever received such a thoughtful gift?  Let me know in the comments below, on ParentingGeekly’s Facebook page or on twitter.

In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury

In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury
Ray and his wife Maggie in 1970. (Los Angeles Times / June 6, 2012)

The world lost science fiction luminary Ray Bradbury today. At 91 years old, Bradbury had a career that spanned over 70 years and included over 500 stories, 40 plus books and many TV and movie screenplays and adaptations.

Bradbury was one of my first exposures to Science Fiction and Fantasy.  When I was in elementary school, my mother managed a college bookstore.  I was a voracious reader and she would frequently bring in books students had returned that were in no condition to resell and the store’s overstock.  The books were frequently science fiction yearbooks/anthologies and Bradbury was almost always included.  While he was known primarily for the dystopian Fahrenheit 451 (Nerd shame: I haven’t read it) I devoured his short stories, some of which had been adapted in to episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock presents.  I always felt such a sense of pride while, when watching a Bradbury inspired story, I recognized the source material.

Bradbury didn’t really consider himself a sci-fi writer. If you look at the breadth of his work you will see that he actually wrote a lot of Americana and fantasy.

First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power

Ray Bradbury

Regardless of how he thought he should be classified, Bradbury was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle in 2004, and is considered an icon in the genre.

Thank you Ray Bradbury, for introducing so many of us to other worlds, other times, other frames of mind.  The world is a better place for having had you in it.