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Toy Joy or Consumption Junction? Critical Thinking for Holiday Fun

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Amy JusselReach And Teach has some great friends! Amy Jussel, founder of (the lady on the left) has been a treasure in our lives since we met her at a Hayden Group Synergos gathering many moons ago. As we enter the holiday season we give great thanks for the gifts of friendship. One of our greatest joys is helping friends, old and new, discover just the right way to let someone in their lives know they're thankful for them too. Sometimes that comes in the form of a gift item and sometimes it comes in the form of a simple message or a link to a resource of some kind that will help make their lives better.

Now that the election season is over (thank goodness), the media is LOADED with messages from companies who will try to convince you and the children in your lives that they have the answers for the right way to say thanks, the right products to make your life better, and the right toys that will fulfill all your every dream (and these days those toys include $400 iPads that people sleep on the sidewalk overnight in order to get their hands on). 

The messages we get from the media, though, are often filled with slow-acting poison.  Amy Jussel has dedicated her life to helping people overcome the harmful messages that deluge us everywhere we go. She is especially focused on the messages sent to girls and young women, messages that cause them to think that they have to look a certain way, wear certain clothes, have just the right accessories, and act in very clearly ordained ways, in order to be liked, loved, and accepted. 

To help prepare folks for a more healthy holiday season (avoid or protect yourselves from the poison), here's the start of Amy's most recent post at (we'll link to the rest of the post right after the preview):

Toy Joy or Consumption Junction? Critical Thinking for Holiday Fun

This season, if we all choose to support media and marketing messages with positive worldviews instead of defaulting to ‘what’s out there’ we could call for a massive mindshift to start chiseling away toward change.

The thorny marketing response “If it didn’t sell, we wouldn’t produce it” is piercing my side this week as lists bombard my inbox with holiday hype-fests for kids’ products that I wish weren’t even in the marketplace much less being purchased.

So we’re going to make it easier for parents to step up and support “the good stuff” and do some wallet whacking to shift away from vapid values, appearance-based cues, gender stereotypes, and narrowcasting of kids, by highlighting green light/positive picks the rest of the month with gratitude for their existence in this season of Thanksgiving.

Whatever your hot button happens to be (eco moms railing against craptastic plastic, excessive screen time/sedentary toys versus outdoor imaginative play, sexualized hoochie-mama fashionista dollies, militainment or murder mayhem videogames) now’s the time to change the channel of media influence and use your purchasing power to raise the bar of humanity!

Let’s give a loud shoutout to organizations and media/marketing producers that are putting good things out into the world for boys and girls…Send us YOUR positive picks. Think of it as both an indie-Etsy-pbs-style marketplace for what we WISH were mass marketed…as well as mass market fun finds that are positive messages we can all embrace!

.......... Click here to read the rest of Amy's post, including a really great article (Here Come the Toy Ads) by Frank Baker, media literacy expert.

How Reach And Teach Can Help

Press HereIn her article Amy Jussel was kind enough to list us as a place where folks could find alternatives to the typical stuff featured in big-box stores and on the flat-screen TV ads. We gratefully and humbly agree. Having a brick-and-mortar shop and being at events like the Green Festival give us an opportunity to directly interact with people who are trying to make better buying decisions.

We spend most of our time listening to folks visiting us, learning about the person or people for whom they are trying to find something special. One woman came into the shop looking for something for her husband who had become terribly disabled by dementia. "He loves pushing buttons, moving levers, making things happen." She told me. At first I was completely stumped but then I remembered Press Here, a children's book that I thought would be perfect. She bought it and a month later she came back and told me that he absolutely loved it, and they played with the book almost every day. 

How can we translate that personal touch experience, known in the bookseller biz as "hand-selling" to our web site? We've decided to try something new this year. Use the form below to let us know about someone in your life for whom you are trying to find something. We'll respond with some recommendations either from our products OR, if we think someone else has exactly the right thing, we'll point you to them!


We Can Also Get Any Book That Is In Print And Ship It Anywhere!

Don't forget that we're ALSO an independent bookstore, able to get just about any book that is currently in print. If you know exactly the book you want to give as a gift, but would prefer to shop with us rather than "the book company that shall not be named," just tell us the name of the book and we'll get back to you quickly and let you know if we can get it for you. We can ship it directly to your giftee! Click here to visit our special order page.

Green America approved