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Banned Books Week Special: Some favorite kids’ lit titles

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Banned Books Week (this year, Sept 30 – Oct 6): always a favorite among bibliophiles, and a particular favorite among we who keep finding books about us banned. Before it ends tomorrow, I wanted to call out a half dozen or so favorite kid’s book titles from our family’s library.  There aren’t nearly enough books for children with family or gender diversity in them, but the lists I consult (like this page of well-defined lists from the Welcoming Schools curriculum) can still be dizzying. And given how few images our kids get of ourselves and our families in the culture around them, dull, one-dimensional, pedantic, inadequate, or pat books are even more disappointing. It’s tough, but it’s true: when there’s a paucity of imagery, what is out there is subject to high scrutiny and higher expectations.

[Continue reading the rest of this post over at Lesbian Family.]

 

 

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She is older than I know

We were moving from books ‘n milk to the brushing of the teeth, stations two and three of a five-station, post-dinner nightly journey that ends with lullabies in bed and, for the elder and more insomniac of the pair, rambling conversations about the larger questions of life.

All this rhythm and ritual has been road-tested by years of parenting and a statistically significant number of controlled experiments (no ritual? bedlam!). It’s no simple matter, to ease their young bodies and minds from the hurly-burly of the day into the waiting arms of Morpheus. Before, I would never have put such stock in this kind of stuff–in fact, I would have considered it far more “routine” than “ritual,” and derided it. No longer. I’ve learned.

I had just finished reading Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen to the boychild whilst the girlchild bore a hole in page after page of her latest American Girl historical yarn We were gathering our things, and the boychild was already heading into the bathroom on Mama’s back.  I had been thinking something as I was reading Night Kitchen.  I’m not sure what led me to it, but I made the judgement call that his older sister was old enough to hear a little something about the slings and arrows that fly around the books they read.

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‘Nuff said

crankyAmazonhomophobe

I mean really? Is any commentary even needed?

This was the first Amazon review of Julianne Moore’s new kids’ book in her Freckleface Strawberry series (this one: Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever).  I learned of the book whilst reading a post at Dominique Browning’s Slow Love Life blog: “A Two-Mom Couple Confronts Noisy, Rude Questions: Julianne Moore Has Some Answers.

So quite naturally I bopped over via the link to check out the book.  And see what greeted me? Tautological homophobia.  Self-cancelling phrase. Ignorance, ignorant of itself.

If any of y’all are registered Amazon reviewers and interested in buying and reviewing Julianne Moore’s book, I’m sure it would improve the discussion juuuuuust a bit.  I have already decided where our family’s next kid’s book purchase is going.

 

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Welcome to Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week started on Saturday, and this year I’m celebrating it properly!  Every day this week I’m going to post something supporting the theme as it relates to books for and about our kids. “Our” here meaning LGBT families, immediate and extended, as well as our allies.

Today I’m reposting a list of LGBT-themed books that have been challenged or banned recently, compiled by the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Kids’ Right to Read Project.

Tomorrow, I’ll convey my home-spun taxonomy of  literature for young children which features or includes LGBT family diversity. By “literature for young children,” by the way, I mean titles intended for use in preschool and Kindergarten through third grade, for the most part, and to a lesser degree for older elementary grades.  Books for middle schoolers and high schoolers (the “young adult” or YA titles) cover similar themes way differently, and also cover whole additional themes of self-discovery. Most pointedly, they often take on bias and bigotry directly — something that younger kids may well not yet have experienced, or comprehended if they have. Many parents are careful about when and how they introduce these notions to their kids — us included.

For the rest of the week (Tuesday through Friday) I’ll highlight some of my favorite books written for and about kids with LGBT parents, including books highlighting gender diversity, something many of us consider important, whether or not any of us is T.

I sincerely hope you folks will chime in with your — or your kids’ — own favorite titles. I’ll also provide Powell’s links to all the titles I can, to speed your getting them in your home, if your public library doesn’t have the book, or you’ve checked it out and want to have it for keeps in your family library.

Herewith, LGBT Book Bans and Challenges, excerpted from the NCAC Kids’ Right to Read Project:

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Some kid’s lit questions for the hive mind

In which I ask you all for your collective insights, which I know to be legion, and which I ask after all too rarely.

This Thursday evening I’ll be talking to our former (and future!) preschool director’s Children’s Literature class.  It’s offered for early childhood educators who are in the process of getting their credentials, and I was honored (up the wazoo) to have been asked by her to talk to them last year, too.  All must have went well enough, since she asked me a second time.

The talk was about family diversity — specifically LGBT family diversity — in literature for children. I did some amateur sleuthing, some book list compiling (so many sources!), some talking to librarians and some checking out from both the public library and our family’s library. Handouts with lengthy book lists were procured (when I update the compilation for this week’s presentation, I’ll include a post here at LD, ideally incorporating the list into a more comprehensive LD link page). The outline of the talk went  like this:

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Pas de deux

The beloved children’s classic The Velveteen Rabbit was made into an equally beloved holiday dance piece twenty-two years ago by ODC/Dance, one of our finest local dance companies. A week or so ago, I went to see it with the girlie, and the trips there and back were nearly as eventful as the show.

For all the time I spend caring for the little munchkins, it’s been rare that she and I have gone on a special Baba-daughter outing. Her craving for Mama is great, and perhaps would be so regardless of the fact that Mama works outside the house more hours than Baba does. So the arrangements we usually make for solo time with the kids tend to accommodate the lil’ monkey’s ever-unslaked Mama-thirst. This time around, though, the LGBT family-friendly performance was smack dab in the middle of Mama’s prime-time work hours. Grampy gladly watched the boy, and my girlie and I skipped footloose into the city to see what kind of fun we might have together.

2009familyday125x125Before we even make it the few blocks to the subway, I can tell by her mood that she is loving this every bit as much as I was. Singing, prancing, the outsize imagination vibrating and sizzling and shooting off in all directions. Since the beloved’s production of Fiddler is fading slowly into memory, I am less frequently conscripted into the role of Tevye (to her Tzeitel). The next theater production, Les Miserables, is months away, and the seasonal fave Amahl and the Night Visitors hasn’t yet encroached, so what’s filling the lil’ monkey’s mind has been the characters in our current reading: L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. We plowed through The Wonderful Wizard of, just polished off The Land of and are launching into the third, Ozma of, with reckless abandon (bringing her chapter book total — Alice and Pipi and Mary Poppins are also in her wake — way above that of the number of books Baba has read this year). Today, I am the Tin Woodman.

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An early welcome to Banned Books Week

[The American Library Association's Banned Books week  will be celebrated from September 27 to October 4.  This year, I think we should break out the sparkling apple cider early.]

You know times are tough when, at your daughter’s fourth birthday party, you and three other parents find yourselves in the middle of the lawn, ignoring the flying Nerf balls and the children’s gay laughter, talking about your incipient ulcers and how you are all trying not to consult the latest polling numbers on the presidential campaign more than twice or three times a day.  My Know-It-All-Brother-In-Law had comforted one of them, earlier, with his combo-dealie argument about Michigan and Pennsylvania and Obama’s kick-@ss “ground game,” whose benefits won’t be visible until the latter hours of November 4.  Yow! Like my stomach can last that long!

But as a sister-in-law (soon to be out-law again?  another ulcer-stoker!  more on Proposition 8 later in the week!), I take his prognostications with a grain of salt.  Even though they are based on decades of involvement in and observation of electoral politics, and even though he could get pretty far on a Jeopardy show dedicated to the finer shadings of electoral vs. popular vote calculations, and trends, and so on.  I mean, his spouse has been a fundraiser for Democratic women candidates since before she was his spouse.  So he does kind of have an inside track on this.

Still!  We have all watched war-mongering dingbats become elected to high office in this country before.  And apparently, when the spit hits the fan, I find I’m a pessimist in optimist’s clothing.  So I am stocking up on Zantac and trying hard to reduce the frequency with which I check & re-check the latest polling numbers.

Meanwhile, I want to pass on some  “mainstream” online news bits (with hat tips to Pam’s House Blend and Box Turtle Bulletin).  Each adds some more specificity to the accusations that then-Mayor Palin attempted to censor books from her town’s library.  Specifically, two books sympathetic to gay people (Daddy’s Roommate and Pastor, I am Gay ).   Per usual, the LD caveat pertains here: I don’t expect this to be news to you, gentle reader.  But if you know any independent, undecided librarian types, do pass this on to them.

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A tale about a tale

This week, the lil’ monkey’s preschool is on vacation. As evidenced by the yawning gaps between posts, I find myself with a bit more childcare on my hands. In between our many trips to the zoo, the arboretum, the natural history museum, the botanical garden, the planetarium, and the Museum of Modern Art, our guided tours of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, the Google campus, and rehearsals of The Bonesetter’s Daughter at the San Francisco Opera house, our expeditions on a shrimp fishing boat and a local archeological dig, and finally our attendance at talks at the Commonwealth Club, I have occasionally tried to engage them at home so’s to snatch a little time to work.  

(I’d say I was snatching time to watch the Democratic National Convention on CNN, but remember? No live TV! So I’ll have to catch Michelle Obama’s speech on YouTube.) [Later note: who needs YouTube? How 'bout team Obama?]

Fortunately for me, one promising development has been that the girlchild has taken to offering up renditions of her favorite “Beatrix Pottery” volumes to the boychild.  Bless his soul, he’s taking a shine to it.

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