Galvanizing Kids Books About Poverty Inspiring Kids To Give Back - Raising Luminaries
Image Description: Illustration from Town Is By The Sea, by Joanne Schwartz & Sydney Smith, featuring a light-skinned, dark-haired family relaxing on their porch after a long hard day. The two children rest into their parents arms with their eyes closed.]
Apr 30, 2018
I just finished this book collection on wealth inequality, and it's for you. It's a present!
Well. Actually, THERE IS MORE. Surprise!
Hint on the surprise:
It's a step-by-step, simple and easy lesson plan implemented over the next seven months. In it, we'll learn how to educate our kids about the division of wealth, help them work through feelings of overwhelm and despair, and motivate them to take leadership roles in their community.
Wait, that's not a hint. That's just a spoiler. I am terrible at mystery.
Approximately one bazillion requests from parents (and librarians, and educators) asked for a collection of books to teach their kids about poverty. It started as a small collection of books, and grew kinda unwieldy - particularly because it's not enough to teach our kids that poverty exists. (Depressing.) We also need to tell them what to do with those feelings (use it as fuel, and fix the world.)
I compiled the books it into a nice, neat website collection, and realized there are steps and tiers to this.
If we build this education in the right order, we can slowly help kids understand the basic concepts of poverty and people who have less, moving through the uncomfortable feelings of despair that entails, through to a more complex understanding of the systemic forces behind economic inequality.
And then - bursting through all that, inspiring kids to to take action. First in small steps, and later as they grow, as a contributor to collective action.
So, um - it turned out more complex than I expected.
I'm trying to be brief and concise (which you know is my weakness) and I realized this is basically turning into a book, which doesn't really work in a single blog post.
Let's start from the beginning.
Wealth inequality is one of the few easy topics that most adults are (relatively) comfortable discussing with kids in terms of privilege. I always start out discussions of identity in terms of wealth, since it gives fragile folks a baseline to start the discussion.
This collection was a way to begin this process. It's the perfect way to approach our broader, long-term goal of disassembling a toxic sense of entitlement that causes people to do so much harm in the world.
Since I want book lists to remain free and accessible for all families, regular BFL'ers get access to this lovely, painstakingly vetted collection of book suggestions, free from my overly in-depth analysis. That they were probably just going to skim over my caveats and painstaking analysis anyway.
Special for you - because I like you!
As for you awesome Patrons - since I'm guessing you're more interested in the subtle background, nuance, and interesting details, YOU get a detailed lesson plan for each step (there are seven) on how I use each of these books to educate my kids into kyriarchy-smashing luminaries.
I'm not going to lie and tell you that it's easy to solve poverty by reading a couple of picture books. You and I both know things worth doing are complicated and take dedication.
The plan is - starting in May, I'll publish monthly posts exploring each step in this book collection. These will be first rough-draft infodumps, since done is probably better than perfect, and I don't want to turn this into something too polished and inaccessible. If you're familiar with my infodumps, you know they are dense and complicated and need to be mentally untangled over time.
If all goes well, we'll edit them all together in the end so it makes sense to people who don't have the patience for dense infodumps, and revamp what we've learned into a book.
This will be an ongoing, cyclical process. You will need to read all of these books many times, most over the course of years. You'll have to discuss and process them together with your kids in ways that are age-appropriate. The things R2 gets out of these stories at 3 is much different than what Q gets out of them at 5 (and much different than I get out of them at 35).
This is a topic I expect to layer upon what we learned last year. Which means we don't have a pack in an INTENSE learning session, but just open these conversations up for thought, a little bit at a time.
Coming up next
So check out the book list. Pick a few of the age-appropriate ones up from your library.
I'll be back in the next installment (Part 1) to discuss introducing kids to economic privilege 101 with kids.
(No, seriously - smashing the kyriarchy can be fun!)