I’m officially ready to welcome the 2017 holiday season! I’ve always loved this time of year and appreciate yet another opportunity to be intentional and thoughtful about what gifts I purchase and where for my friends, family and loved ones. I always strive to buy items that stretch beyond the narrative of whiteness as default and seek out books, toys and more that promote equity and inclusion. And I prioritize supporting local businesses owned by people of color, immigrants and queer folks.
Here are some of the gift ideas percolating for me this year:
Books for kids
A is for Activist , by Innosanto Nagara- “A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.” A favorite with my 3 and 5-year-old.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison – “Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.”
Little Skeletons/Esqueletitos: Countdown to Midnight, By Susie Jaramillo – “Book five in the Canticos series of bilingual nursery rhymes…Little Skeletons / Esqueletitos is a Day of the Dead-themed take on the traditional Latin American song Los Esqueletitos (Calaveras) Salen de la Tumba, with art inspired by the famous Mexican Calavera woodcut prints. A moveable clock at the start of the book will tempt little fingers to change the time along with the story, while increasing numbers of tiny skeletons beg to be counted.”
Red: A Crayon Story , by Michael Hall – “A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis in this picture book by the New York Times-bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It’s an Orange Aardvark Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.”
Who Are You? The Kids Guide to Gender Identity, by Brook Pessin-Whedbee – “What do you like? How do you feel? Who are you? This brightly illustrated children’s book provides a straightforward introduction to gender for anyone aged 5+. It presents clear and direct language for understanding and talking about how we experience gender: our bodies, our expression and our identity.”
Books for adults
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – “Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed–and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.”
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson – “From the Civil War to our combustible present, White Rage reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America–now in paperback with a new afterword by the author, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson.”
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, by Beverly Daniel Tatum –
“Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.”
My Family Builders – “MyFamilyBuilders™ is an educational toy, it’s a fun game, it’s a conversation starter. It’s a handcrafted toy set that empowers kids to imagine freely and build thousands of possible combinations of friends and families that are as unique as they are. The set includes 48 magnetic wooden blocks and five games that create “teachable-moments” for parents to help their children understand and learn that differences are something to be celebrated.” I had to include this toy again because we continue to love it so much!
Children of the World Memory Game – A memory game that fosters dialogue around different cultures, language and dress. For 4+.
Multicultural food set – “Give kids a taste of the world! Realistic multicultural play foods introduce children to new vocabulary and invite conversations about other countries and ethnicities. Help stimulate cultural awareness while encouraging imagination and creative play.”
The gift of education, for you AND your children
Black History is American History – From Danielle Slaughter, creator of Mamademics and Raising an Advocate. BHIAH is “a mini monthly curriculum that teaches children (and their parents) about Black History all year-long. The 2017 curriculum is geared towards children 6 and under. What is included? The 6 and under curriculum includes 52 lessons with accompanying activities and vocabulary lists for each month. Monthly reading lists for parents and children.” I subscribe to this curriculum and find it incredibly dynamic and engaging for my 5-year-old.
Safety Pin Box Kids – The SPB Kids Series is an 8-week series geared towards elementary aged kids and comes with one parent guide and one kids book. “To change the racial landscape in America we need to raise a generation that is better than us on race issues. For far too long it’s been assumed that our kids will be more progressive and enlightened than us, but white supremacy is growing among young white people and white millennials overwhelmingly voted for Trump. It’s time to get ahead of the problem by teaching white children two core things: 1) that we need to talk about race and not be afraid of the conversation, and 2) to think about whiteness critically rather than passively accept it’s privileges.”
The gift of sustainability
Compostwheels – For those of you in Atlanta, consider investing in a composting service if you, like me, struggle to maintain your own. “Compostwheels was founded in the spring of 2012 in Atlanta, GA. Built from the ground up for the ground, Compostwheels has been turning year after year and now works with over 7 farms and gardens in Atlanta who collectively grow 75,000 lbs of fresh produce annually and compost approximately 288,000 lbs of your food waste annually that is cycled back through their growing process.”
Rabble + Rouse – “T shirts and statements for those who understand that what we see all around us every single day affects us.” Owned by Vanessa Toro, an Atlanta-based, Latinx creative and activist, Rabble + Rouse has clothing and accessories that allow me to express my politics on my person. There are kids items too! I recently purchased R+R’s “Believe Women” t-shirt and absolutely love it.
As always, this gift guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather serve as a jumping off point for all of us to consider how we can be intentional this holiday season. Atlanta folks, make sure to shop local! My first stop is always to Charis books & more in Little Five Points to stock up on books and other goodies. What’s your favorite local haunt?
I wish all of you a holiday season filled with peace, love and justice!
P.S. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are mine and organic!