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Experiences at the interface of life, law, and motherhood in Cali

What Mama’s Reading

I haven’t had the chance to read much, since baby #4 was born– surprise, surprise! Just before he was born, I had a chance to finish 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.

Perhaps more poignantly, rather than not being able to read, I haven’t been able to venture to the adult section in the library, because, as you may be well familiar, you have to be absolutely quiet and calm in that part of the library– something my big kids are not always necessarily the best at. I’m sure the librarian from our local library would attest to his joyful sprinting through the stacks and laughing all the while yesterday afternoon, during our brief visit.

So anyhow, our largest local library has many floors of books, with the adult books being on different floors than the children’s (and therefore utter insanity to attempt to brave with the kids), but the smaller local libraries have the pin drop silent adult section, which is located adjacent to the kids section. So, the past two times when we have visited the smaller libraries, I quickly snuck over and grabbed some things.

Here’s what I’m hoping to make a dent into:

Thinking Fast and Slow

Steve Jobs

The Scarlet Letter

and for the TJEd Discussion of the Classics group, Jane Eyre

Also, as a part of our “KidSchool,” we have begun The Violet Fairy Book, The Green Fairy Book, and Little Women.

Additionally, I have picked up some pretty killer audio books, IMHO, but so far my kids hate them all indiscriminately. These include Little Town on the Prairie, Treasury of Native American Heroines, Magic Tree House books, and many more. It is literally as though my children believe that the sound system in our car should solely be used for music. Further, unfortunately, this isn’t a new phenomenon. They have hated audio books since our first attempt. My five year old literally yells, repeatedly, “I HATE this! Turn it off!” So pleasant to hear as a driver 🙂 Anyhow, we shall see what other means we may find to listen to these treasures.

What are you reading these days?

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Filed under: A Thomas Jefferson Education, Children's Books, Classics, Parenting, TJED, , , , ,

Book Review: “Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale”by Dos Bad Dads

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Dos Bad Dads’ most recent work of satirical children’s literature. As proclaimed in their forward, this book is for children who are essentially incapabable of understanding what you are saying yet, or in any event cannot parrot your words back to you. Let’s face it, it’s basically for snarky sarcastic parents, like me.

I thought it was hilarious. It centers on the paradigmatic experience of parents everywhere that comes along when dealing with people who are totally full of it. You know, the ones who claim to have gone to the same college as mommy and daddy on their facebook profile, when you know full well they didn’t go to college at all. Or the ones who claim to be sitting on a tidy sum, yet subsist entirely on a diet of Ramen noodles, ringing any bells?

It’s funny because in real life, social norms usually dictate that the polite thing to do, the “proper” thing, is to not call out these total liars, especially not to children. That damn Bambi Golden Rule and everything.

The book centers on the themes where people are mostly likely to lie/those areas of life with which our society grants the highest respect: educational achievements, investment prowess, marital status, military service, etc. The things which earn respect, but are increasingly difficult to accomplish are also those which are increasingly easy to lie about or fib, especially on the internet and through the use of social media.

It’s also funny because, let’s face it, as parents we take everything so Goddamn seriously, we have to, or we get judged by the parenting police. Not that such a thing exists, but you know what I mean. Our everything related to parenting is under constant scrutiny by everyone we encounter, and yet we aren’t supposed to say anything mean you know because manners. Well whatever.

However, it does come back to the underlying theme, which is that their uncle loves them, even if he is never to be trusted with any child related responsibilities, ever.

Children’s satire books are good for parents. Hopefully DBD can continue to fill that void.

I think it’s the funniest thing you can buy for $2 for yourself, and I would personally HIGHLY recommend it for a good PABSy (PABS= Passive Aggressive Bull Shit– best acronym I ever did read on the interwebz) gift to someone you know who may engage in the same lines of work as Uncle Dale. Especially since Father’s Day is coming up.

Happy reading!

Tumblr: dosbaddads.tumblr.com

Twitter: @dosbaddads

Filed under: Book Review, Children's Books, Parenting, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time in Slow Motion

Baby #4 joined our family at the end of last month, and ever since, it seems as though everything moves in slow motion, except for his growth, which is too quickly!

It seriously takes forever to get anything done or go anywhere. The upside is that it requires all of us to be a little more patient, but the down side is I don’t anticipate ever being on time anywhere ever again.

In the vein of posting smaller topics that are piquing my interest, this morning I came across this article by the New York Times. Essentially, it expands on this fact:

Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.

Although I had the pleasure of taking a Multicultural Literature class as an undergraduate (offered through CSUMB–which I highly recommend, great prof and great selections), these days, perhaps obviously, more than a substantial proportion of my time is spent in reading (or being read to by my 6 year old) children’s books.

We do make an effort to check out a wide variety of books, in fact our amazing library system allows each cardholder to check out a total of 50 materials per visit. Due to the insanity that is a trip to the library, I try to stock up, so to speak.

That being said, unless we deliberately check out materials on particular holidays, celebrations, cultural events, or historical events, the cultural monotony is blatantly obvious. We have the blessing of being a part of the PJ Library, so that our children each receive a free Jewish themed book, or occasional CD/DVD every month, otherwise even Jewish characters are noticeably absent. Although, I suppose one could argue that absent a Jewish themed storyline, Jewish characters don’t necessarily have an obvious outward appearance to suggest that they are not merely Caucasian. I will say, Abuelo y Los Tres Osos is one of my kids favorites, but I’d venture to guess that it’s a rare non-Hispanic family that owns or checks out from the library Spanish language children’s books–Huevos Verdes con Jamon non withstanding.

My guess as to why there are so few characters of color, and I am assuming that this study means not only African Americans, but also Latinos, Asians, Middle Easterners, etc., is that the authors and publishers are most likely predominantly white. I have zero evidence to back up this guess, but it is my gut feeling. It would make sense, from a self identification perspective, that authors and illustrators draw the characters that they most closely identify with. I would also venture to guess that those types of authors may be accused of lacking the cultural sensitivities necessary to convey stories representing a particular group with which they are unfamiliar with. I believe this is one of the criticisms regarding cross racial adoption. Speaking honestly, the issues that families and individuals face ARE different, and I don’t claim to dispute that.

So what is the solution to this pandemic lack of diverse characters? I suppose it is like any other shortage, we need a more diverse audience producing the books themselves. That sounds naive, even as I type it. I know the publishing industry is a corporate stronghold, and probably incredibly difficult to get a publishing deal– I would further guess that unless you are Mo Willems or Eric Litwin, children’s books aren’t incredibly lucrative.

However, it does matter. This particular article reminds me incredibly of the argument in NurtureShock, of attempting to “insulate” our children from racism by completely neglecting to recognize differences in appearance, in the hopes of making them more culturally sensitive. The problem is that this method typically backfires because kids DO see the difference, and based on their developmental stage may automatically assume that that those who don’t look like them MUST be different, because they have not been told that appearance is not an indicator of really anything other than outward anatomy.

WDYT?

Filed under: Children's Books, Parenting, , , , , , ,

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