Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: #BlackLivesMatter

Today's focus in the Subversive Children's Book Club is #BlackLivesMatter - wherein we will feature children's literature featuring strong African American characters and/or important events in African American History.  We all know that our children's social studies classes are a tad overpopulated with Dead White Guys, so it is important to talk about historical events that are not all about the Dead White Guys as well if we want our children to learn about the world and history in a fair and balanced way.  Also, our children's literature seems similarly whitewashed a lot of the time and children need to see more diversity in their reading.  I like these books:  

For Young Readers/Listeners:

  • Sister Anne’s Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
  • A Pocket For Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • More More More, Said The Baby by Vera Williams
  • Just Us Women by Jeannette Cains

For Middle Grade Readers: 

  • Junebug by Alice Mead  
  • One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
  • Double Dutch by Sharon Draper 
  • Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

For More Mature Teen Readers:

  • Al la Carte  by Tanita Davis
  • Tyrell by Coe Booth
  •  Like Sisters on The Homefront by Rita Williams Garcia
  • After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Hoopster, Hip Hop High School and Homeboyz (a series) by  Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  • Fast Talk On A Slow Track by Rita Williams Garcia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fighting Fire With...Low Wages?

Yesterday the City of Corpus Christi cancelled the collective bargaining contract with our firefighters.  

Our Firefighters.

So, um...who do they think deserves good pay and benefits, then?  Do those managers need to be making more than the firefighters?

I personally kind of love firefighters, don't you? 

Human Rights Day

Let today remind us that every day should be human rights day.  Let us build a place where everyone's rights are respected and not just the rights of the privileged.

Welcome to Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club

Today we are starting a new feature at the Lone Star Ma Blog:  Wednesdays with the Subversive Children's Book Club.

Progressive mamas know that if you want to raise your babies to grow up to be good citizens, there is no time to waste.  Folks don't generally turn eighteen and suddenly begin thinking about the evils of racism, sexism, corporate greed and environmental degradation and their responsibility to do something about it.  They mainly only care if they are raised caring.

Citizenship education starts with breastmilk and bedtime stories, but in a society in which both human milk and literacy have somehow managed to become topics of great controversy, and in which children tend to be kept "protected" from knowledge of the world they will inherit, breastmilk and bedtime stories can start to seem downright subversive.  That's okay - we are kind of subversive when we love.  We are subverting a paradigm of fear and oppression and creating a better world.  The Subversive Children's Book Club is here to help with all of your citizenship education needs.  

This feature will provide weekly lists (so many lists!) and the occasional review of quality children's literature dealing with equality, peace, environmentalism, democracy and other progressive values.  To introduce the feature today, however, I am going to leave you with part of the the text of my essay that was published in Mamaphiles #4:  Raising Hell.   

It sums up the idea and introduces the lists to come! 

Reading the Revolution At Bedtime

      There are many things I want my daughters to know and care about.  I want them to treat all people equally and help all people to be treated equally by society.  I want them tread lightly on the earth and to work for peace in the world.  In our family, we try hard to raise loving and socially and environmentally responsible citizens.  We discuss politics with our children, we take them to rallies and marches and conferences and campaigns. I think exposure to the activities of participatory citizenship is very important.  We do something else, too, though.  We read.  And I think that might be more important to their developing values than the rest.

      How we read!  We read stories about peace and equality and the earth.  About the issues that affect people.  We read about history and social issues, our past and their future.  I am always looking for novels and picture books that will help my kids learn the values that our family hopes they will commit to in order to help this world become a better place for everyone. 

      In our reading, we have come across so much.  We have learned the women’s history that they never teach in school and the histories of the many diverse peoples whose accomplishments have shaped our world every bit as much as the accomplishments of the white men that did make it into the history books.  We have learned about the mysteries of sex and the beauty of reproduction.  We have learned about loving and caring for the earth and each other.  We have read about different ways of seeing God, learning what tiny prisms we all are to reflect the unknowable Divine, and how important it is to respect each person’s unique piece of revelation and Light.  We have learned about the devastations of war and the daily work of peacemaking that should always permeate our lives.  We have learned that no one is ever perfect and that we are beautiful in all our flaws and should be as gentle with ourselves as with each other.

       I hold off on books that may discuss violent events (even in a useful way) until the age of seven with my kids, as seven is when a child’s mind develops the ability to filter what it absorbs. I believe in non-violence and want to raise non-violent children. Since the minds of younger children are indiscriminately absorbent, we wait to tackle stories that include violence.  There are many other stories to read in the meantime.  

      We read the revolution in my family.  We read it at bedtime and on the porch and around the dinner table.  Reading to my children is an important part of my resistance to a dominant culture that values oppression when I value people and peace.  The following are lists of some of the best books I have found to teach the values of peace, social justice, diversity and environmentalism to my kids. Maybe you will enjoy some of them.  I would love to know of the books that help your family live their values as well.  Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Call For Submissions - Lone Star Ma #11

Call For Submissions - Lone Star Ma #11

Calling for submissions for Issue #11 of Lone Star Ma:  The Magazine of Progressive Texas Parenting And Children's Issues!!!
Issue #11 never really happened last time around, but butter my butt and call me a biscuit -  it is time to get it done now, Mamas!  

For this issue, we are looking for feature articles on the effects of lax enforcement of environmental standards on children in Texas.  We are looking for articles on the effects of racism on families and on how to raise children who do not perpetuate racism.  We are looking for articles on how the Right-Wing War on Women affects mothers and children.  

Specific other topics we would sure as mastitis on a busy vacation like to see:  social services funding in Texas, education in Texas, children's public health in Texas (no pseudoscience - we heart the CDC), urban farming for busy families, the scary Texas State Board of Education, libraries, sex education, breastfeeding, safely avoiding insect-borne tropical diseases and other issues of climate change and family life.  

We also accept essays on mothers' lives and do accept articles on other themes as well if they strike our fancy, so send whatever you think we should consider and we will ponder it.   Please see the general submission information at for guidelines and please - pretty please -  consider submitting to our various departments, as well. 

Lone Star Ma wants poetry.  Lone Star Ma wants mama fiction.  Lone Star Ma wants vegetarian recipes (without nuts as nuts are evil over here.) Lone Star Ma wants brilliant articles. What have you got? 

The deadline for submissions is Groundhog Day.  

Raise your voices, y'all. 

xo, Lone Star Ma

Monday, December 08, 2014

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories have always been important in our family, as instilling the practice of reading is important to me as a parent, and books are sometimes a good way to teach our values, but also - mostly - because it is such a good way to bond.  I was, of course, a much better and more consistent reader with the Lone Star Girl than I have been with the Lone Star Baby, though.  My mom says that kids are like waffles and you ought to be able to throw the first one out, but I think the first one often gets the best of you - your time not divided by other children, your job still probably smaller and less time consuming in those days of youth.  Everything with the Lone Star Baby has been more catch as catch can for the most part.  Her sister has seemed as close as breathing to me for so long, closer, and I struggle to provide the experiences that will keep the Lone Star Baby as close to me.  With less time, it does not happen as automatically - it takes more conscious work on both our parts.

I remember when I stopped reading to the Lone Star Girl at night.  She was eight and we had started reading the first Harry Potter book at bedtime and she was into it.  It just took too long to read it in installments at bedtime, though, and she wanted free reign to read it on her own without having to wait until we were together at night.  When it became her book instead of our book, our nightly bedtime reading together also ceased.  It just happened like that.

I was surprised that the Lone Star Baby and I seemed to be reading together at bedtime past that age, even though we read less consistently, a night here and a night there.  Still, until this summer, it had been quite awhile since we had read together at night and I had thought that we were done, too.  I had started reading The Hobbit, I don't know when, and she had not been very interested and we had just sort of tapered off.  Somehow we got started again, though, sometime after her birthday, and bit by bit we have kept at it in our inconsistent way.  We finished The Hobbit last night and I think I will start a Christmas novel with her this week.  She is ten and reading lots of YA dystopian fiction quite on her own, but I will try to hold on to our bedtime reading for a bit longer, I think.  I will hold on to that time at night together to anchor us in each other for the years ahead.

Advent Wreath

Last night was the first Sunday in Advent, so it was time to light the first Advent candle and, as the youngest child, the Lone Star Baby had that honor.  She thinks it is patently unfair that her week is the week when there is only one candle to light.  We have a Christmas tree-handled little candle snuffer that makes the whole experience better, though, by the end of dinner.

What are your family's holiday traditions?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

St. Nicholas Night

Today the Lone Star Baby found a bracelet in her shoe under the Christmas tree from St. Nicholas.  Somehow one of the Lone Star Girl's left-behind shoes had made it under the Christmas tree as well and St. Nicholas left her a little giftie, too, to find when she visits for the holidays, so I guess she is not so grown up as all that.

Tidings of comfort and joy, y'all.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

So Horrible

The families who will not have their fathers and children back this Advent no matter how long they wait.  My prayers are with them.  My prayers for peace and justice are with our scared and oppressive world, that we may learn faster and better.  Please teach your children about oppression and raise them to see it when it is there and not perpetuate it ever.


Monday was the first day of Advent, so Monday night the Lone Star Baby took the first little book out of our old Advent calendar and read the first little part of the Christmas story and we hung the little book from its golden thread on our little Advent tree and moved our Magi figures a smidgen down the hallway.  Last night, too.  

It is good to feel traditions take hold when our family has had such big changes.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Early Voting For Corpus Christi City Council District Two!

Early voting starts today for Corpus Christi run-offs and runs December 1-5 and 8-12.  I'm voting for Brian Rosas. 

World AIDS Day : HIV/AIDS & Adolescents

HIV/AIDS is the second highest cause of death for adolescents worldwide.  Teach your children how to protect themselves.

World AIDS Day 2014: Closing The Gap in HIV Prevention & Treatment

Today is the World Health Organization's World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness about AIDS and what can be done to save lives.  This year's theme is Closing The Gap in HIV Prevention and Treatment.  Find more information here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Action Alert: Comments Close On Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule Monday!!!!!

Hurry, Mamas!  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently taking public comments on a proposed rule change that they announced in June which would lower carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels.  This rule would help stop climate change and encourage clean, green technology to revitalize our economy and protect our health and our futures.  Comments close on Monday, though!  Please tell the EPA that you support the rule change now!

You can find instructions on how to comment on the proposed rule here:

Texas Safety Rest Areas: Brooks County

We stopped so I could take a restroom break at the Brooks County SRA today on our way home.  The rest stop was beautiful and wonderful and clean, as most rest stops I have noticed in Texas over the last few years have been.  I certainly remember back when Texas rest stops were pretty unpleasant but they have steeply improved in recent years.  The Texas Department of Transportation has been updating them and taking better care of them.  There are 80 of them and they are open 24 hours a day, with most having an attendant on duty around the clock and the ones that do not having an attendant on duty from 6am to 6pm. They are so nice - I would like to visit all of them (but in the daytime)!

Only one women's restroom was open at this big rest stop as the others were being cleaned and so there was a really long line.  After awhile, the word went down the line that there was no more toilet paper.  A woman in line called to her husband to go get us some and he brought her a roll and she shared it out with everyone in line.  It was so nice.  I love people in lines together.

I wish I could find someone to write a Texas Rest Stop Adventures column for Lone Star Ma.