I would love to write posts on this blog where I detail the deep conversations I’ve had with my kids after reading beautiful social justice books. I’d love to be that white cis-woman parent who has stacks of children’s books with innovative art detailing the trail of tears, Japanese internment, civil rights–everything I think my kids need to know about what shapes our world.
I’m not. I let me kids pick their books. So we read about trucks and roaring animals with the toddler and we read books with puns that don’t have too much facial expression with the now six-year-old.
Like, “The Great Pasta Escape.” https://www.powells.com/book/-9781499804805
I picked The Great Pasta Escape up from the library because I knew she’d like it. Something about the funny caricatured pasta plus puns plus adventure. Something about the comic book art style, frequent use of signs.
I picked up a stack of other books I found recommended from the Brain Pickings blog, and I like them, but she’s not interested. They are totally insightful for me, as a grown up.
But what I actually read with my kids is a book about a bunch of different pastas in a factory who slowly realize that they are being lied to, that their dreams of “a super place” are actually going to land them in the super market. They suddenly need a plan. They organize, but end up with infighting. They remind themselves of their solidarity, and, spoiler alert, they escape.
Wait a second, that is a social justice book!
I don’t think I know as much about activist organizing as these various shapes of pasta.
In one of the last few episodes of Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond’s podcast “Dear Sugars” (which, like pasta dreaming of a super place, was bought out and then killed by the New York Times), Catrice M. Jackson talked about the white privilege of planning out perfectly worded conversations with your kids about race. This one hit me in the stomach, cause I’m all about planning out perfectly worded conversations and getting it all “right” when it comes to talking about race and other social justice issues. She said (rough summary), people of color have these conversations with anger, with fear, with sadness, in ways that are frightening and overwhelming to their kids, because they are forced to have them and they live them. Instead of focusing on the right thing to say, live as an ally. Question your own privileges. As Brené Brown puts it, “the question isn’t so much ‘Are you parenting the right way?’ as it is ‘Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?’
My answer? Not quite, I think I need to learn more from the pasta.
“The Great Pasta Escape” by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Javier Joaquin at Powells Books: https://www.powells.com/book/-9781499804805
Catrice M. Jackson’s website http://www.shetalkswetalk.com/
Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly” at Powell’s books: https://www.powells.com/book/-9781592408412 (my quote above is from the summary of findings in “Rising Strong,” pg 277)
Maria Popova’s wonderful blog Brain Pickings: https://www.brainpickings.org/