Talking with Kids about War

The drafty but beloved home of my Michigan childhood featured a rather dim and damp basement that was accessed through a trap door from our kitchen. That cement-floored space was divided into several separate rooms. During the winter, my mother hung washed clothing on lines to dry in the largest of those areas. One of the small rooms was fashioned almost entirely with rough, wooden shelving that held clear Ball and Mason jars filled with fruits and vegetables my mother had canned.

Sometimes we played downstairs while she hung clothes on the line. Being a somewhat apprehensive, quiet, and rather OCD child, one would think I could have been most concerned with falling down the steps (my brother did, once!), about what was hiding in the dark corners, or with that large spider eyeing us from its web, overhead. No, this child of the Fifties and Sixties was silently pondering whether there was enough food for our family on the shelves in that little room, in case we needed to hide out in our basement if “the Russians” attacked!

Did I share those fears with my parents about what I’d overheard on the evening news? I don’t think so. Did they know how scared I was when a B52 flew over from the nearby airbase, wondering if it was “one of ours” or “one of theirs?” I don’t believe they did, or surely they would have said something. I worried a great deal about “war,” but had no idea how to bring up the topic. In the political climate of our world today, there’s no escaping the realities of war or potential for further escalation toward war. Only very young children are easy to shield from the news on television or the internet. There’s no way to ensure that our kids won’t learn about troubling situations in the world.

Some children ask questions and give you plenty of openings to discuss difficult topics. Others, like the childhood version of me, won’t (or can’t find the words to) ask. In those cases, you’ll need to create your own openings, which can be a challenge. That’s where children’s books can help! Along with many other people right now, I’m feeling very helpless about world events, many which have been precipitated right in our “own back yard,” here in the U.S. What can I do? Maybe I can offer some suggestions of children’s books to help parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caring adults approach the difficult subject of war and the equally important topic of conflict resolution with the kids who are important to them!

Why? by Nikolai Popov – Winner: 2017 NCSS/CBC, National Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

A frog finds a beautiful flower and picks it for himself. When a mouse sees him with it, his jealousy overcomes him, and he swipes it. Frog’s friends come to his aid and chase the mouse away. But before the frogs can celebrate, Mouse’s friends return for a counter-attack. Before long the conflict has devolved into a full-scale frog-mouse war. By the end of it, all either side can ask is: why? This seemingly simple book tackles an important subject and will be an invaluable way to talk to young children about conflict and warfare.

Playing War written by Kathy Beckwith and illustrated by Lea Lyon. Learn the details about this book for children in grades 2-5 at Patricia Tilton’s blog, Children’s Books Heal.

Top 20 Picture Books for Anzac Day, with Children’s Books Daily

8 Books About War for Kids from Scholastic

Conflict Resolution with Young Children at Social Justice Books

Literature for Children and Young Adults Examining Issues of Violence and Conflict Resolution with Center for Civic Education

21 Multicultural Children’s Books About Peace from Colours of Us

I hope you can find something here that fits your particular situations and your children!                     ~Becky

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Meatless Monday: Flavorful Fall Recipes

FROM MEATLESS MONDAY: “It’s officially fall! And the perfect time for apple picking, visiting the pumpkin patch and exploring the local farmers’ markets for seasonal vegetables, like broccoli and eggplant. Trying new meatless recipes is a great way to utilize all of the ripe fruits and vegetables coming into season. We’ve gathered delicious plant-based recipes from our Meatless Monday bloggers and influencers featuring fall produce. Enjoy the hearty tastes of fall!”

Hope you find something here that appeals, even if it’s not autumn where you live!                  ~Becky

Digital Climate Strike!

With Friday’s walkout from schools and businesses of individuals demanding action through the Climate Strike, an important week of events focused on climate change and our environment begins! 

For those of us who work or study from home, “walking out” may not be a real option. I could leave my apartment building, but I don’t imagine anyone in the Square would know my purpose. I saw these tools for use in a digital strike and thought I would share. This website and this one offer banners, widgets, messages, and videos to be used by strikers with an online presence.

Our “house” truly is on fire, and we must fight for our lives!             

~Becky

A Climate Action for Every Type of Activist – shared from “yes!”


From yes! – Journalism for People Building a Better WorldNo matter your age, gender, race, or political ideology, there are ways to fight climate change that fit your life and values.  (Illustration by Delphine Lee)

Cathy Brown – posted Jul 16, 2019

Most of us have heard about U.N. researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods, and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

But another option is good for you and the planet.

Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology and environmental studies at the College of Wooster, says getting involved with a group can help lift your climate-related anxiety and depression in three ways. Working with like-minded folks can validate your concerns, give you needed social support, and help you move from feeling helpless to empowered.

And it can make a difference. “Groups are more effective than individuals,” Clayton says. “You can see real impact.”

So join forces with like-minded citizens and push for change.

The U.S. Climate Action Network lists more than 175 member organizations, which are activist groups working through energy policy to fight climate change. And that doesn’t include all of the environmental groups out there. So you have lots of options for getting involved.

Full disclosure: I found my activism comfort zone with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I love its bipartisan, nonconfrontational style, and it suits me. What’s your climate action style?

I’ve done some matchmaking for you. Here are nine activism styles that might fit, along with some groups that align with them. Pick one, and you can start making change.

  1. You believe in a bipartisan approach.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is an option for those who believe the best strategy is to gain support on both sides of the aisle. The group trains people in ways to build political will in their communities and to effectively lobby their members of Congress. It asks volunteers to bring respect and empathy to all of those encounters, even when talking with people who may vehemently disagree with their cause.

What distinguishes Citizens’ Climate Lobby from many climate groups is its singular legislative goal—to see a fee placed on carbon, with the proceeds returned to citizens as dividends. After more than 10 years of lobbying, a bill similar to their proposal has been introduced with bipartisan sponsors in the U.S. House.

  1. You’re an educator looking for support.

The Alliance for Climate Education can be a climate teacher’s best friend. It offers educational and interactive resources that can be streamed to high school classrooms. The group also works to fight anti-science policies that have been cropping up in some school districts and helps train teachers to counter misinformation.

  1. You’re ready to take it to the streets.

Consider joining 350.org. You may find yourself attending rallies, lobbying elected officials, helping get out the vote, or even getting arrested for protesting fossil fuel projects.

“To solve and fight the climate crisis, we need to employ every tactic we have,” says Lindsay Meiman, 350 U.S. communications coordinator.

One of the group’s more high-profile fights has been against the Keystone XL pipeline. But 350 members are also encouraged to take actions that make sense in their own communities. For instance, Meiman has been involved in a campaign against a fracked natural gas pipeline under New York Harbor.

  1. You’re a fierce mama or papa bear looking out for your kids.

Check out Moms Clean Air Force*, a million-strong organization of moms (plus dads, grandmas, aunts, uncles, godparents). These parents show up in senators’ offices, with babies on hips, to talk about climate change. They testify against rollbacks of clean air regulations. They work with their mayors to spark change locally, and they write or call their representatives.

“We have this saying: ‘Tell Congress to listen to your mother,’” says Heather McTeer Toney, national field director.

  1. You prefer working with people who share your culture.

If you’re a person of color, working with White progressives may not feel comfortable for a variety of reasons, no matter how welcoming they try to be.

Hip Hop Caucus is an option for anyone who embraces hip-hop culture regardless of age or race, says Mustafa Santiago Ali, a former senior vice president. The group takes a holistic approach, linking culture and policy. Its work ranges from registering people to vote to lobbying members of Congress to producing the radio show and podcast Think 100.

Other options for climate fighters of color: the Indigenous Environmental Network, GreenLatinos, Ecomadres, and the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

  1. You’re young and ready to change the world.

The Sunrise Movement started in April 2017 and got lots of attention last year for its protest along with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a committee to study the Green New Deal proposal.

The Sunrise target age is 14 to 35, and most members are in their teens and 20s. The group is growing fast—100 new hubs opened within two months in communities across the country after November. Communications Director Stephen O’Hanlon says the group’s overarching goal is “taking on the corrupting influence of fossil fuels and making climate change an urgent priority in every corner of the country.”

And if you’re still in high school, another option is Alliance for Climate Education.

  1. Your spiritual beliefs guide your life—and your climate actions.

Many religious groups find support for caring for the planet in the Scriptures. Two that are doing important work are Young Evangelicals for Climate Action and its parent group, Evangelical Environmental Network.

Because evangelical Christians are often more conservative than traditional environmentalists, these groups are able to get an audience with Republican lawmakers (they’ve met with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) who are less receptive to liberals. They also work to educate fellow churchgoers and spur them to action.

Other faith-based options include Green Faith, which unites people from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist traditions in working to protect the planet, and Interfaith Power and Light.

  1. You have more money than time.

If you’re too busy to volunteer time but would like to support the climate cause financially, all of the above groups have operating expenses and need donations.

You may also want to invest in one of the large established groups that have been in the environmental battle for years, like the Environmental Defense Fund*, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club Foundation.

Charity Navigator, an organization that ranks charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency, can help you evaluate the groups. But be aware that relatively new or small groups may not be evaluated yet.

  1. You’re older and want to fight for the next generation.

Elders Climate Action members are using their life experience and skills—and for many, the extra time they have in retirement—to try to make a difference on climate issues.

“Most of us won’t be around when the worst of climate change hits, but the people we love will be,” says Leslie Wharton, Elders co-chair.

Although members are nominally 55 and older, anyone can join; people as young as 18 have. And even though some members are in frail health, they can still get a lot done. For instance, members of an Elders group at an assisted living home write letters to lawmakers to ask for pledges of action on climate from candidates who come to speak to them.

Note from Becky~  If you’re interested in the Sunrise Movement, I’ve heard from one middle-aged blogger that she was welcomed to march with them and from another that the Movement also offers behind-the-scenes duties for interested activists, as well.

 

The Vegan Lunchbox — from Patsy Kelly at Tuesday’s Horse

FOR MEATLESS MONDAY OR ANY DAY: Many kids (and teachers!) are going back to school this week, or later this month, in many areas of the U.S. If you’re looking for yummy vegan or vegetarian ideas for lunch boxes, this might be a good place to start! For schools that are “peanut-free,” you could use sunflower seed butter, or your favorite substitute, in those recipes that call for peanut butter. As a former teacher, I still feel a bit of that old magnetism pulling me back toward the classroom each August:)      ~Becky

Hey there. I am not going to list any delicious recipes. I am giving you a bunch of delicious links instead. All about lunch. You seem to have breakfast and dinner (or supper) solved. But lunch, not so much. Lots of these you can make at the weekend. And kid friendly too. Here we go! […]

via The Vegan Lunchbox — Tuesday’s Horse

Talking with Kids about Gun Violence

 

arm me with books

In a perfect world, talking with children about gun violence wouldn’t be necessary. Our world is now further from perfect than I can ever remember, but I’m still hopeful for better days to come. If you’re looking for suggestions of books for kids that can help them cope, please keep reading.                       ~Becky

From Publishers Weekly :

Literary Safari—the New York City-based studio that produces print and digital children’s media with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion—has launched the #ArmMeWithBooks campaign, which seeks to address issues of gun violence in the U.S. 

The campaign, which takes its name from teachers’ responses on social media to the Trump administration’s suggestion of arming educators with guns, is centered on the #ArmMeWithBooks Booklist, a free, downloadable collection of recommended titles—picture books, middle grade, and YA—selected by more than 50 children’s authors. Participants responded to the following question, “What is a must-read for children growing up in these challenging times of mass school shootings and lockdown drills?” The list also includes an original poem by 2018 Arnold Adoff Poetry Award-winner Nikki Grimes.

Sandhya Nankani, founder and publisher of Literary Safari, told PW, “The impetus was to create a toolkit for parents and children to come together and have meaningful conversations around the things happening in the news and in schools.” The parent of a nine-year-old girl, Nankani said, “It has been really interesting to see my daughter’s responses to lockdown drills. We send our children to school to feel safe, to grow and learn. What is the impact of this fear over time? How is that changing generations of children? What do they need more of?” Though she receives emergency protocol information from her daughter’s school, she said, “I wasn’t finding something that spoke to me—something I could use to engage my child.” The book list was created in hopes of filling that gap, by offering stories that highlight social and emotional themes such as empathy and resilience.

December 18, 2018

Visit PW for the rest of this informative article!

 

 

THE BRAVE CYCLIST: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero — from Writing and Illustrating

Author/illustrator Amalia Hoffman has written a new picture book titled, THE BRAVE CYCLIST: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero, illustrated by Chiara Fedele is hitting bookstores on August 1st. Today would be a great day to celebrate this gorgeous book and the life of Gino Barteali, since July 18th actually is the day Gino […]

via Book Giveaway: THE BRAVE CYCLIST: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero — Writing and Illustrating

Author, Amalia Hoffman, says, “We have the right and the ability to make the world a better place. The Brave Cyclist is a testament to the fact that one individual can make a difference and fight against discrimination, prejudice, antisemitism and racism.” 

Check out this inspirational book!     ~Becky

Unexpected Poetry

 

elevators

Doors closed, and I pressed the button for my floor, setting down heavy shopping bags that bit into my hand. Out of habit, my eyes turned to the plastic sleeve on the wall with announcements for upcoming tenant activities or events in the local Square.

Nothing colorful, this time, but just a plain typed page with no images. Black on white in an everyday font, it appeared to be a poem. I began to read and was captivated by the words. As I drank in emotions conveyed through the poetry, I rode the elevator for several extra floors. Before exiting, I committed the title and writer’s name to memory.

Further inquiry revealed that the author, Jane Kenyon, had lived an existence of beauty, love, and longing. A life ended much too early, her story captured my imagination. Born and educated in my home state of Michigan, Ms. Kenyon met and married the poet, Donald Hall, later moving to New Hampshire. She worked as both a translator and poet, often writing about nature and the struggle of dealing with depression. She was serving as New Hampshire’s poet laureate when leukemia took her at the young age of 47.

jane kenyon

I have since enjoyed reading many other offerings by Jane Kenyon, but that first poem, “Otherwise,” resonates with me more than any. The words serve as a stark reminder to appreciate the special gifts of each day. Take notice, it says, “one day…it will be otherwise,” and you will no longer have this.

Since that time, no other poetry has appeared in the elevators of my building. Maybe it was never there at all?

Otherwise

I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

 

At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

—Jane Kenyon  1947-1995