CALawMama's Blog


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

Return to Charlotte Mason

As a bibliophile, it’s only natural that I attempt to instill a love of books in my children. In order to accomplish this, in addition to having a good selection of books at their every day avail, we also make trips to the library as often as possible. Additionally, because our library trips are typically true to form of this blogger, and categorical of a mother of four, due to our library’s amazing terms of 50 items per library card, I attempt to check out as many materials as possible so that we will be set for a long period of time. I am also infatuated with the idea of strewing (see also), and so I check out some interesting books in the hopes that the kids will be interested.

So anyway, on our first chaotic trip to the library (our last happened to be little boy’s due date), our first time as a mom with four kids, the kids were surprisingly not gathering almost any books. Which was frustrating because we have to pay for parking to go to this awesome library, so I mean we need books on principle! lol. Anyway, we ended up getting much less than usual, but since the kids were near the media area, I decided to check out the CD selection, and I found Heigh Ho Mozart.

After we took everything home, it turns out the kids loved the HHM, and we ended up talking about the composer study from AO. I had fully intended to keep with it, but it was one of the things that went to the way side. Now, however, we fully intend to pick up again, and I am hoping that we will be able to get the kids to focus more, particularly on the art study. 

I feel like homeschool is all about symbiosis and cycling through things that hold interest. Have you rediscovered something that you wanted to introduce your kids to?


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4 Year Olds and Pinterest

I’m not sure how it happened, but some time in the past few months, I realized that my 4.5 year old had a real visual interest in baked goods and desserts in general. Naturally, I somehow came to the realization that she might enjoy looking at pictures on pinterest. Only, she didn’t just want to look, she wanted to pin, too. So I made her her own board. Any now she has her own followers, like out of my 20 something boards they only follow hers. And she wants to “pin” everything. 

Today, I opened my laptop, and this site was open.

What’s further somewhat funny to me, is that because my 6 year old has some conception of how the computer works, I’ve instructed her how to search for educational activities on pinterest (remember we homeschool), so she pins things that she’d like to do on her board. Only, because she knows how to type her own name, she has like 3 separate boards with various pins strewn amongst them.

I didn’t even learn to type until like fourth grade. Kids these days!

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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.


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

“I would love to teach but…”

Found this interesting article in WaPo about a teacher who reached her breaking point with dumbed down curriculum and misguided parents.

It screams of the entitlement and praise heavy culture, the likes of wish have been righteously lambasted in books such as NurtureShock (Bronson) and How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (Tough), and also somewhat in Parenting for Authentic Success (Levine).

Essentially, parents expect their children to receive high grades, regardless of effort, and when they do not, it must be due to some failing of the student.

This affects all parents, because it seems to me the saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease rings true– if you do not similarly harass the teacher, your child may be disadvantaged in some way. And this has nothing to do with teachers, it is a commentary regarding affluent parents who raise their children to believe that they are uniquely special and ENTITLED. Oh the entitlement.

The influence of children who believe they are the center of the universe, and have not been taught the principles of respect for others, hard work, perseverance, and failure. I have seen :many: adults who have yet to learn these lessons. I cannot stand a lack of character, and thus, we have chosen a path which allows us to focus on encouraging these positive traits in our children, and isolate them from the potentially poisonous culture of entitlement and things like this.

Additionally, there is the obsession with the notion that overachievement in academics is the only way to be successful in life. I will save you my personal opinion, and point you towards Levine’s book linked to above. The Cliff Notes version: there is not one way to be successful in life, and an obsession with Tiger Mother like tactics can have extreme consequences.

So anyway, rant (?) over.

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