Raising an Advocate: Book Ideas (Part 1)

I’ve decided to make Raising an Advocate a monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) post. I don’t want to burn out on the series and I also want to make sure I’ve given myself enough time for research. That being said this month’s post focuses on reading lists. I’ve tried to break the list up into age appropriate categories and include both fiction and non-fiction (for the older ones). This list is in no way an end all be all because there are so many books in this world, so don’t be surprised if you see a part 2, 3, 4, etc.

Overall I think it’s important to make sure we’re including books with diverse characters and experiences in our children’s libraries. I know I’m guilty of focusing solely on making sure Sesame has books with lots of brown characters, so that he sees himself and his family in the characters. For example,  I need to make sure I’m including more books with “non-traditional” families because everyone is not going to have a mommy and a daddy when he starts school.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.


A is for Activist: I’ve mentioned this book before, but it is my absolute favorite board book because it covers pretty much every disenfranchised group while teaching the alphabet. There is also a spanish version… A de activista (Spanish Edition)

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.: This board book simplifies the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, as well as the Civil Rights Movement.

Colors of MeThis book talks about all the different colors in the world and how people come in all different colors as well. It was written by a fellow University of Michigan alumnus, Brynne Barnes. I actually knew Brynne in undergrad and decided to support her book because I knew her, but it’s actually one of Sesame’s favorite books.

Tango Makes Three: This book introduces children to families with same sex parents. I remember hearing about this book when I was in undergrad, but I didn’t have parenting on my mind at all at this point. A Mamademics reader suggested this one and I’ll be purchasing it for Sesame for Christmas.
It’s Okay To Be Different: Another suggestion from a Mamademics reader. She said it just teaches children to embrace difference from a simplified perspective. We have a Todd Parr book that Sesame loves, so I’ll be adding this to the list as well.


Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad: This book shows the experience of a young slave who mailed himself to freedom. It focuses on the child’s perspective and is based on actual events.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation: Many people know the story of Ruby Bridges
, but I thought it would be interesting to highlight the fight for educational desegration in the Latino community as well.

Si, Se Puede/Yes We Can (Janitor Strike in LA): This is another book on my to buy list for Sesame. The reviews are wonderful and it teaches children about social justice in the workplace.

Middle School/ High School

The Giver: This utopian novel does not focus on race specifically, but i does bring up the dangers of colorblindness and sameness. If framed correctly, you could have an excellent conversation with your pre-teen on gender, race, and socioeconomic status. I recently went back and read this one and the other three novels in the quartet, and I will do the same with Sesame when he’s older. Link to the quartet: The Giver Quartet boxed set

March: Book One
: This book was assigned as the first year book for college freshman and it’s the first year no one complained about the book. It covers Representative John Lewis amazing life and experiences as a Civil Rights activist.

Roots: I think you could choose between either Roots or 12 Years a Slave if you want to have an honest conversation about the African slave trade in America and the ways it shaped our country.

12 Years a Slave: I’ve seen the movie, but haven’t gotten up the courage to read the book yet. I’ll be adding this to our library and definitely reading it with Sesame when he’s older.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: I read the entire series as a seventh grader and it is the first series that opened my eyes to the difficulties of African Americans post-slavery. It’s a series of books and told from a young girl’s perspective.

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Gifts That Give Back: Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace Collection

Disclaimer: “I am a  member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.”
For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been one of my favorite holidays. When I was younger it meant sneaking bites of food while my mom and aunt cooked. Eventually it meant sneaking food while helping out in the kitchen. Now it means pretending I don’t see my husband and son sneaking tastes while I’m cooking dinner. If you didn’t already low, I’m a bit of a foodie. My family wasn’t rich by an stretch of the imagination and while I never went to bed hungry, Thanksgiving was like an “all you can eat buffet,” but more sanitary. My mom and aunt often pooled resources to make sure my siblings and cousins had plenty of food. Plus, our schools often donated food baskets to lower income families, something that I remember feeling embarrassed about at the time.
Sesame's First Thanksgiving (2012)

Sesame’s First Thanksgiving (2012)

Now that I’m older I can look back on those days not only with fondness, but deep gratitude. I am incredibly grateful for not only the sacrifices my parents made, but also for the generous people who donated to my family in those hard times. At the moment, the things I experienced growing up aren’t realities for Sesame and I hope they never are, but we all know that life can change so quickly and often with no warning. In the meantime, I plan to not only teach him the importance of being grateful, but also giving back. For many of us giving back means signing up  to serve food at local soup kitchens or donating clothing to homeless shelters. While you can still do these things, you can also purchase holiday gifts that give back. This year I plan to shop small businesses and department stores like Macy’s with a giving back program.
In 1995, Macy’s went to Rwanda in an effort to help support the struggling economy after the genocide. Ten years later, they launched the Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace Collection. Path to Peace focuses on trade not aid, and currently employs over 2,500 weavers. The project gives the women of Rwanda both sustainable income and the chance to take an active role in shaping their future. You can purchase hand crafted items like the Rwanda Bread Basket. The bread basket incorporates traditional Rwandan weaving techniques and is made with sweetgrass and raffia. As my family sits down to Thanksgiving Dinner, the bread basket will be a silent and powerful reminder of all that we have to be grateful for this holiday season.
To find out more about Rwanda Path to Peace and its items follow Heart of Haiti’s social channels @HeartofHaiti on Twitter and Heart of Haiti on Facebook. To learn more about how Rwanda Path to Peace is helping entire Rwandan communities visit this page.
Will you be purchasing gifts that give hope this holiday season? If so, what? I know I have my eyes on quite a few amazing items.
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Mind Right Monday: Slow and Steady

Happy Monday! It’s time for another Mind Right Monday link-up hosted by yours truly, Dani from Ok, Dani and Reese from Dear Darrica. Just make a post that includes 1) your GOALS for the week and 2) what you’re GRATEFUL for, and BOOM You’re Done!! Oh and link up your post at the end… (If your post doesn’t meet those two requirements, it will be deleted)


In case you forgot, these are my goals for this month:

Finally revise my dissertation prospectus and set up a date to defend it

Stock my Etsy shop with ready to ship items

Work out at least three times each week

Read at least one non-school/parenting book

Meditate and journal at least two times a week

Finalize Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews

Decide on a planner for 2015 (I’m leaning towards Erin Condren’s Life Planner)

The month is halfway over and I still have quite a bit that I need to finish, but here’s what I’ve accomplished so far.

I spent the first couple of weeks catching up on massive amounts of grading, but this week is dedicated to dissertation revising. I’m going to shoot for 45 minutes a day. I need a timer.

I’ve been steadily adding ready to ship items to my Etsy shop and this one is my absolute favorite.


I’ve worked out pretty steadily the first two weeks, but not six times. Trying to figure out the bed time to work out has been a bit difficult, but it looks like I’m going to have to suck it up and get up at 5:30 those days. *sigh*

I actually ended up reading the other three books in The Giver quartet. I’m kind of sad I didn’t know there were more books until recently, but I decided to purchase them to read with Sesame in a few years. I ended up reading them this weekend since I decided to take the entire weekend off from writing and teaching responsibilities. (affiliate link below)

I haven’t meditated or written in my journal all month, so I definitely need to do better especially now that I’m getting ready to dive back into dissertation writing. Once again I think doing this in the morning is best.

I decided to make tunic dresses for my nieces, but I’m not sure what I want to make for my nephews. It’ll probably end up being new hats, but that doesn’t

I’m definitely going to go with Erin Condren’s Life Planner and I’m planning on ordering it at the end of this month, so I can get it all set up and ready for the new year.

How are your goals going this month? Be sure to link up with us
november 17

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Mind Right Monday: November Goals

Happy Monday! It’s time for another Mind Right Monday link-up hosted by yours truly, Dani from Ok, Dani and Reese from Dear Darrica. Just make a post that includes 1) your GOALS for the week and 2) what you’re GRATEFUL for, and BOOM You’re Done!! Oh and link up your post at the end… (If your post doesn’t meet those two requirements, it will be deleted)




Alright so I know I haven’t been keeping up with my Mind Right Monday posts, but I decided to do them a little differently, which should motivate me more. From now on I’m going to do  my goal posts the first Monday of the month and update each week on what I’ve accomplished. I’ll also include what I’m grateful for in this posts as well.


November Goals

Finally revise my dissertation prospectus and set up a date to defend it

Stock my Etsy shop with ready to ship items

Work out at least three times each week

Read at least one non-school/parenting book

Meditate and journal at least two times a week

Finalize Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews

Decide on a planner for 2015 (I’m leaning towards Erin Condren’s Life Planner)


What are your goals for the month/week? Be sure to link up with us…

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Mommy and Me Monday: Raising an Advocate and Pumpkin Carving

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Krystyn’s Mommy and Me Monday linkup, but don’t worry I’ve still been taking lots of pictures with my little one. We’re becoming really good at selfies well ussies. Last week we took our yearly family pictures for our holiday card and instead of doing two different structured photos I decided we should do one structured and one laid back one. When I first planned it a few months ago, I wanted to do mommy and daddy separate activity shots because let’s face it each parent usually has different activities that they do with the little ones. I knew I wanted to a craft type photo as the “mommy” activity and at first daddy was going to do some sort of outside thing. Well after we went to the pumpkin patch earlier this month, I told my husband he should do pumpkin carving as his activity with him, since they always carve a pumpkin together. This still left me trying to figure out an activity for the two of us.

Shortly after that pumpkin patch visit, my aunt tagged me in a photo about the Teal Pumpkin Project.You see my eight year old cousin has severe food allergies and eczema. Even though I don’t see them often due to the distance, I always think of him when parents talk about food allergies. I didn’t have food allergies growing up, but I do have eczema and while it has gotten better with age and diet, it is still something that made me feel very isolated and left out as a kid. On top of children asking me questions about my dry itchy flaky skin, I also had a long list of foods I wasn’t supposed to eat because they can cause flare ups. At one point, I couldn’t eat pizza or spaghetti because the tomato sauce is considered a potential cause. Oh and chocolate yea I had to sneak and eat chocolate. While I can empathize with my cousin because we both have eczema, I can’t really understand the full picture because none of my allergies were a life or death situation.  I never considered what Halloween might be like for children who suffer from food allergies until I became a parent and heard other parent’s experiences. The academic in me always wants to know more, so I can educate others accurately which meant checking out their website.  According to the their website, “The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.”

After reading it, I realized that this fit in perfectly with my goal to raise Sesame as an advocate and that we would paint a  pumpkin teal during our portion of the photo shoot. At first I only planned to paint mine teal and then let him use lots of colors on his because that’s how he likes to paint, but he wanted to do what I was doing, so our front porch ended up with two teal pumpkins. I know I owe you a new Raising an Advocate post, but I thought it was important to remember that being an advocate isn’t always about “-isms.” Sometimes it’s a simple as teaching our children to show compassion to the kid in their class whose peanut allergy means the class is now a peanut-free zone. Instead of allowing them to whine and complain that they can’t have their favorite PB&J for lunch, sit down and talk to them about the very real dangers that someone else will experience if the sandwich comes to class. Yes, it may be a hassle for those of us who are the parents of allergy-free children, but it is also a chance for what could be the first lesson in raising an advocate. A lesson that doesn’t involve trying to explain all the “-isms” we’re still struggling to understand ourselves. A lesson in expressing empathy and remembering that it isn’t always about them. As Sesame gets older and prepares for starting school, this will become an ongoing discussion. We don’t get trick or treaters in our area, but I still purchased some glow in the dark bracelets just in case we had some late night ones once we got home.

DSC_1451 DSC_1456

Oh and of course I have to share the daddy son pumpkin carving pictures…



I love watching my husband teach Sesame things



Imitating daddy...

Imitating daddy…


Just about finished…


As we head into the holiday season, which means tons of holiday parties at school. Remember to consider the students/teachers who have food allergies. Be sure to talk to your son/daughter and ask them if they’re aware of anyone who has food allergies in their classroom (follow up with the teacher of course), so that you can use this moment to teach them not only about empathy, but about advocating for others who are different.


P.S. Have you taken any pictures with your little ones lately? Be sure to link up with Krystyn from Really, Are You Serious?

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