Autism Acceptance Month

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How to Talk to An Autistic Kid

"Tolerance is over-rated. We don't want to be tolerated, we want to be accepted. Even better, we want to be valued." That was the way a gay rights activist started a presentation about the work which eventually led him to the White House and meeting with the president. As we approach April, I'm reminded of that lesson as I update this post which was originally titled "Autism Awareness Day." 

April is Autism Acceptance Month and April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day and Reach And Teach is joining with thousands of organizations and individuals around the world to do a shout-out of love, acceptance, support, and yes, for those who aren't aware of how many people are impacted in some way by autism, we hope to spread some awareness. If you happen to have arrived at this page with little awareness about autism, you can click here to get a quick definition.

A Boy Walked Into A Bookstore... 

We had a teenaged boy and his mom in our shop one day and after they had spent some time looking through some of our bookshelves the boy came over and asked "What have you got on autism?" I showed him some books but none really clicked. He said "I'm looking for something that has more data, more statistics, because I'm doing a report on autism for school."  I then found the perfect book and he and his mom came to the register and made their purchase. I asked him what had sparked his interest in autism as a subject. He looked at me and said "I'm autistic." 

Having read quite a bit about autism a quote from one of the books came to my surprised mind. "If you've met one person with autism, you've met ONE person with autism." 

Yep! We all have room to grow and lots to learn. Click here to read a post by a mom with a daughter with autism about her experience talking to a reporter about autism.  (The blogger was chosen as one of the Top Ten Social HealthMakers by ShareCare. -- Thanks Holly T. for sharing that news.) Here's her 2015 post about this upcoming month.

This year one of her friends created his own graphic and idea for April, going beyond "awareness" and moving towards acceptance and respect. We're all for that! And, while we're at it, we'd like to share some information on how many people in your midst could use a little acceptance, respect, and love!  

Some Data on Autism

According to statistics, if you've met 68 children, you've probably met one person somewhere on the ASD spectrum. Here's the most recent data from the CDC:

  1. About 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 8 year olds) were identified with ASD. It is important to remember that this estimate is based on 8-year-old children living in 11 communities. It does not represent the entire population of children in the United States.
  2. This new estimate is roughly 30% higher than the estimate for 2008 (1 in 88), roughly 60% higher than the estimate for 2006 (1 in 110), and roughly 120% higher than the estimates for 2002 and 2000 (1 in 150). We don't know what is causing this increase. Some of it may be due to the way children are identified, diagnosed, and served in their local communities, but exactly how much is unknown.
  3. The number of children identified with ASD varied widely by community, from 1 in 175 children in areas of Alabama to 1 in 45 children in areas of New Jersey.
  4. Almost half (46%) of children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability (IQ greater than 85).
  5. Boys were almost 5 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. About 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls were identified with ASD.
  6. White children were more likely to be identified with ASD than black or Hispanic children. About 1 in 63 white children, 1 in 81 black children, and 1 in 93 Hispanic children were identified with ASD.
  7. Less than half (44%) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old.
  8. Most children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
  9. Black and Hispanic children identified with ASD were more likely than white children to have intellectual disability. A previous study has shown that children identified with ASD and intellectual disability have a greater number of ASD symptoms and a younger age at first diagnosis. Despite the greater burden of co-occurring intellectual disability among black and Hispanic children with ASD, these new data show that there was no difference among racial and ethnic groups in the age at which children were first diagnosed.
  10. About 80% of children identified with ASD either received special education services for autism at school or had an ASD diagnosis from a clinician. This means that the remaining 20% of children identified with ASD had symptoms of ASD documented in their records, but had not yet been classified as having ASD by a community professional in a school or clinic. 

In California, according to a UC Irvine report, one public school child in 63 has been identified as autistic and is receiving special education services.  

Let's meet one person with autism.

How about another?

OK. How about one more?

Nick Bennett Day from WDUN TV on Vimeo.

It's A Spectrum! 

Here's a problem, though, when you see these three amazing kids... you also have to think about stereotypes... Stereotypes can cause you to either expect a child somewhere on the spectrum to be incapable of anything or... a prodigy. The truth is, like any other group of people, identified as a group because of some common thing, people with autism are on a spectrum, individuals with unique gifts, talents, challenges, personalities... and the key for them, like anyone, is for them to have the opportunities and freedom to become the very best individuals they can possibly be. That's where understanding, community, love, support, encouragement, patience, and so much more come into play. Every child, every person, deserves wild cheering, standing ovations, hugs, outpourings of love, so that every single child can shine.

That's why we want to light up the world in blue EVERY DAY, to help each and every individual thrive. 

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew 

Ten Things

Given that we've just said how important it is for you to consider each person individually we'd still like to lift up a resource that can help people get a quick introduction to what many children on the spectrum would like YOU to know. Ellen Notbohm wrote this book and has made a short review of these ten things quickly, easily, and freely accessible from this link. I love the very last part of her article, which I'll share here:

View my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see my strengths. I may not be good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, or pass judgment on other people?

I rely on you. All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my guide, love me for who I am, and we'll see how far I can go.

"View my autism as a different ability." That's what's happening at a very special car wash. Check out this video.



From Awareness to Acceptance And Beyond!

Our friends Len and Libby Traubman have helped lead a Jewish/Palestinian living room dialogue group for over two decades. Their key to peacemaking, which they now teach to people in conflict all over the world, is listening to other people's stories. "The shortest distance between two people is a story." "The difference between an enemy and a friend is a story." Those are the lessons they've taught to so many people. But, what if it is difficult to hear someone's story? People on the spectrum often have a very difficult time communicating so it may take a lot more work on our part to "hear" their stories. The effort, however, will be worth it.

Here's an excerpt from Ashley, one of the people who shared her answer to the question "What does Autism Acceptance look like?" This is how she ended her post:

Each year, I meet April with a bit of existential dread. Each April, I am once again made aware that to most people, autism means broken, defective, a victim of a fate worse than death, a problem, a disease, something that needs to be fixed, cured, and changed. This has been the predominant view of autism for decades.

That needs to change.

The world doesn't need more awareness of Autism, it needs more acceptance of Autism. Acceptance is understanding. Acceptance is building on a person's strengths to enable growth and independence, not viewing a person through the confining lens of ableism. Acceptance means acknowledging that different is not defective. Acceptance requires work. Acceptance is an action.

Acceptance empowers.

I am different, but I am the same as you in every way that matters. I think. I feel. I triumph. My differences make some things more difficult, but they do not make me less than you.

 Amen sister!

Autism Acceptance Month 

Get started by checking out the resources at Autism Acceptance Month. Also, our friend Patricia Tilton has reviewed a lot of wonderful books over the years in her Children's Books Heal blog related to autism. Click here to visit her Autism Acceptance Month page.

Reach And Teach Resources 

Among our friends and colleagues there are many who have children somewhere on the ASD spectrum. Because of our connection to autism and our belief that inclusion, respect, acceptance and support for people on the ASD spectrum and their families is a social justice issue, we have collected some great resources on autism. Those are shown below. Please let us know about other resources you love, including web sites, books, organizations... Click here to email us with your suggestions.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
SKU: 9781935274650
Price: $19.95

How to Talk to an Autistic Kid
How to Talk to an Autistic Kid
SKU: 9781575423654
Price: $12.99

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome
Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome
SKU: 9780974721712
Price: $17.95

Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism
Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism
SKU: 9780807573648
Price: $16.99

SKU: 9780749942380
Price: $19.95

SKU: 9780142417751
Price: $6.99

My Child Has Autism
My Child Has Autism
SKU: 9780876590935
Price: $12.95

Rain Reign
Rain Reign
SKU: 9780312643003
Price: $16.99

Not Your Typical Princesses

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These Princesses Don't Need Any Prince to Save Them! 

We get our share of princesses visiting our shop in San Mateo, along with folks who have a princess in their lives, and lots of folks who are not too thrilled with the whole "princess industrial complex." Being who we are, we totally get the many sides of the princess debate and are thrilled to have some great "alternative" princess resources in our store and this month we want to feature some of those AND celebrate the visit by the Guardian Princesses to our shop on March 21st. 

Princess Ten Ten

What happens when you defy your father and the cultural norms of your city, daring to wear the clothes you choose and practicing a martial art reserved only for boys? You get banished of course! But what happens when you discover that your city is being destroyed by pollution and its people are being exploited? Do you seek out some prince to help you save the day? Nah! You use your own special powers which include the ability to harness the wind and organize the community to stop the people who are polluting the city and enslaving its people.

That's the story of Princess Ten Ten, the first gender-independent, East-Asian, martial-artist super-heroine, one of the Guardian Princesses whose story was read at our shop. We still have some autographed copies of the book available. 

My Princess Boy

We mentioned earlier that we've had our share of princesses visiting our shop but did we say that all of them were girls? It turns out there are some wonderful princess boys out there. That's why we're glad we have this book available.

My Princess Boy is a nonfiction picture book about acceptance. It tells the tale of a 4-year-old boy who happily expresses his authentic self by enjoying "traditional girl" things like jewelry, sparkles or anything pink. It is designed to start and continue a dialogue about unconditional friendship and teaches children -- and adults -- how to accept and support children for who they are and how they wish to look.  

Bad Girls

At Reach And Teach we like to shake things up a bit, especially history, so given this princess theme we thought we'd share a resource about some princesses and others who have reputations that are not quite.... well......

In Bad Girls, readers meet twenty-six of history’s most notorious women, each with a rotten reputation. But authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple remind us that there are two sides to every story. Was Delilah a harlot or hero? Was Catherine the Great a great ruler, or just plain ruthless? At the end of each chapter, Yolen and Stemple appear as themselves in comic panels as they debate each girl’s badness—Heidi as the prosecution, Jane for context.

This unique and sassy examination of famed, female historical figures will engage readers with its unusual presentation of the subject matter. Heidi and Jane’s strong arguments for the innocence and guilt of each bad girl promotes the practice of critical thinking as well as the idea that history is subjective. Rebecca Guay’s detailed illustrations provide a rich, stylized portrait of each woman, while the inclusion of comic panels will resonate with fans of graphic novels.

King And King

Of course we can't leave a story about princesses without a little nod to a few kings, can we? Nope! But, of course, it would also have to be a special story about kings.... like King And King.

The queen decrees that it's time for the prince to marry and the search is on! Princesses come from far and wide hoping to catch his eye. Will the prince be charmed by a magic act? Taltalized by an arias? Mesmerized by the Miss from Mumbai? Or... will he follow his heart?

Enter the jubilant world of King and King, a merry and modern tale of living happily ever after, sure to woo readers of any age.

To All of Our Kings and Queens and Princes and Princesses Out There - Thank You!

We're so grateful to all the folks who visit our shop in San Mateovisit us online, and support our work of transforming the world through teachable moments. We would especially appreciate it if you would use your magical powers to help spread the word. Please share this newsletter with friends. 

Thanks for being our partners in peacemaking! We ARE the princes and princesses we've been waiting for and we are the ones who can make this world more peaceful and sustainable. 

Speaking OUT Featured in School Library Journal AND Advocate Magazine

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Speaking OUTWE are thrilled to learn that the School Library Journal reviewed Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus in its print edition. We'll share what they had to say and then share news about a review in Advocate Magazine (below):


Grade 10 Up-This gorgeously produced photo-essay book takes a unique spin on showcasing LGBTQ youth. The young people in the photographs speak for themselves, some in longer form essays, others by writing, scrawling, or drawing directly onto the images themselves. Their words seem truly their own, not edited or filtered through an adult editorial lens, which allows them to be messy, contradictory, inspiring, well spoken, frustrating, occasionally graphic, and interesting, sometimes all at the same time. The photographs are beautifully presented, and the technique of including the subject's writing upon them is compelling. At times the handwritten notes are difficult to decipher, but that adds another intriguing layer of complexity to the work as a whole. Some of the youth also write more at length in formatted sidebars, reflecting on how their thoughts about their identity have shifted since they were first photographed. Some of the other text inserts, like a positive review from the Huffington Post or the Human Rights Campaign, seem out of place but do not detract too much from the reading experience. Smith includes an impressive array of youth, diverse in age, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. One noticeable lack is that none of the subjects clearly identify as trans women, though trans men were well represented. Overall, this is a stunning and unique addition to the existing literature, with an immediately relevant approach.
-Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City 


Two Images

Reach And Teach is thrilled that The Advocate, one of the world's leading GLBTQQI magazines, did a story on our recently released book, Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, published by Reach And Teach as an imprint of the wonderful team at PM Press.

Here's a link to their article and here's a link to where you can purchase the book on our site. 

Travel to Guatemala with Limitless Horizons IXIL

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Our friends at Limitless Horizons IXIL are offering an exciting opportunity for people to visit Chajul Guatemala from August 1-10. Customers in our shop know and love the incredibly beautiful scarves and other crafts woven by the women of Charjul. This is a terrific chance to get to meet those women, stay in their community, and learn about life in Guatemala. 

First - A Story 

A quick story before I share their invitation. Back in 1999, a dear friend of ours named Stan was raising money to help build clean water wells in El Salvador. He had visited a community there when he was in his 80's and was so moved by the people he met that he dove into a project to help make their lives better. He was stuffing envelopes in our church office one day when I chatted with him. He talked about how he'd waited so many years to do things that he had wanted to do... waiting until he'd gotten settled in his job, saved enough money, or until his work was calmer, or his kids were old enough, or....... His wife had died around a year earlier and it struck him that he'd waited way too long to do many of the things he could have done. He encouraged me to "do things right now, don't wait." A few days later, Stan boarded a flight to Egypt, a place he'd always dreamed of going. He died on Egypt Air Flight 990 when it crashed after leaving Kennedy Airport in New York. We learned of his death at church on Sunday and as tears streamed down my face a friend from the congregation touched my shoulder and said "Why don't you come with us to El Salvador this year and see the wells that Stan made possible?" That, of course, was an impossible invitation to which to say no. Derrick and I traveled to El Salvador that year and our lives were changed. Never had we seen such generosity, joy, love, compassion, from people who had been harmed so badly, for whom life was so difficult. The seeds for Reach And Teach were planted and watered by Stan's wells. 

Could a trip to Guatemala change your life? Is now a "good time" to accept an invitation?

Invitation to Guatemala 

Embark on an exciting summer travel opportunity that combines learning, service, and exploration! Limitless Horizons Ixil's Community Engagement Trip is an amazing opportunity to learn about the Maya Ixil culture, history and daily life as well as make a huge impact in the lives of Chajul residents. This is a unique opportunity to observe classrooms, engage in dialogue with teachers and students, hear from families about their experiences, and contribute to the community by participating in meaningful service while working alongside community members. Located in a beautiful and remote mountain setting, trip participants will experience a range of intimate and unparalleled experiences and activities.

Click here for all the information about this trip. 


Sustainable Love, Lucky Birthday Noodles, and Nice News

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January 2015 Newsletter...

Happy 2015! Just as we're cleaning up the shop after a really lovely holiday season we are also gearing up for our first author talk with Mei Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles (Saturday January 24th at 1pm) and stocking our shelves with some beautiful gifts to help celebrate Valentines Day.

PLUS, we want to share links to a couple of really nice articles about Reach And Teach that appeared in the SF Examiner and

Read on for information about the book talk, Valentines Day ideas, and links to the articles we're proud to share.

Adoption, Chinese Culture, and Cooking Combine for A Lovely Book Talk Jan 24th at 1pm at Our Shop in San Mateo

We often get asked if we have books about adoption and were really thrilled when the author of Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles wrote to us and asked if we'd like to have her do a book talk in our shop.

Mei-Mei is Chinese—but not Mom and Dad! When she was a baby, Mom and Dad flew all the way to the other side of the world to adopt her and bring her home. Lucky for Mei-Mei, her parents want her to know all about her roots in China's wonderful culture. That's why, on her birthday, her mom always makes her a traditional Chinese treat—long noodles, for a long and happy life. And this year, Mei-Mei is big enough to help her mom make them!

Join author Shan-Shan Chen as she reads from the book and shares some fun activities on Saturday January 24th at 1pm. We'll also have some treats and beverages.

And... since we do love our neighbors here on 25th Avenue we can't complete a story about noodles without a shout out to The Noodle Shop (one of the best restaurants on the street.)

Speaking of Love.... Valentines Day

We've got a wonderful selection of hand-made Valentines Day cards in the shop, including same-gender designs, as well as wonderful delicious organic vegan chocolates from Sjaak's, beautiful hand-carved soapstone hearts from Kenya, beautiful packages of ground or whole-bean fair-trade coffee, and a lovely assortment of aromatherapy candles, just to name a few possibilities for Valentines Day.

Fair-trade, sustainably sourced, some local, some from around the world, and reasonably priced... all things we love and know you do too.

Great Press about Reach And Teach

That last paragraph sums up how we decide what's going to be in our shop and we were thrilled to have two stories written about us in December that really got to the heart of what we do.

Thanks to Monica and Antonia Ehlers for getting the word out about Reach And Teach. Here are links to the two articles that we hope you'll share:

Speaking of writing... we would truly appreciate it if you would share a bit about your experience with Reach And Teach by posting a review on Yelp.

Reach And Teach Lifestyle

As we enter 2015 we want to let folks know that we are planning to expand our line of lifestyle products. People love our Moso Natural Air Fresheners, Skoy Cloths, Refillable Soaps, cookbooks, and other tools for living a more sustainable and frugal life, so we're on the hunt for more products to help everyone do just that. Our main rule for how we select things? We have to love them and use them ourselves. If you have an idea for something we should add, please contact us to let us know. We thrive on your recommendations.

Thanks as always for being our partners in making the world a more peaceful and sustainable place!

Stumped on Gift Ideas? Here Are Some of Our Favorites!

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There's A Story in There

Santa Claus visited our shop in San Mateo on Saturday the 29th and while he was busy taking selfies with little and big kids we got to enjoy spending time with dozens of people wandering through the shop. One of the best parts of our jobs at Reach And Teach is telling the stories behind our products. The other thing we love is having someone say "I've been trying to find a gift for someone who is really hard to shop for..." We then ask about that person and typically, within a few moments, we can find just the right thing. If you've got someone like that in your life, maybe one of the treasures we'll talk about below will spark your interest. If not, you can always call or email us and we'll be happy to help you personally find just the right gift.

Visiting My Nephew...

"I'm visiting my sister's house for a few days and haven't seen my nephew since he was four. He's seven now and I'd love to have something I could do or read with him. His mom says he has a great imagination and is really inquisitive about things...."

That request took us directly to one of our favorite books of all time, Flotsam.

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

Each of David Wiesner's amazing picture books has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening--a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. In this Caldecott Medal winner, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.

My Granddaughter Just Came Out

"A few weeks ago, my granddaughter came out to her parents. They were pretty shook up by it but are handling it well. I want to do something to let her know how much I love and support her."

While admitting (or bragging) that we're the publishers of this book, we also have to say that we're confident that this is THE go-to-gift for anyone in your life who is GLBTQ, a parent, or an ally.

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus is a photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages fourteen to twenty-four, identifying as queer (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning). Portraits are presented without judgment or stereotype by eliminating environmental influence with a stark white backdrop. This backdrop acts as a blank canvas, where each subject’s personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final photographic print. With more than sixty-five portraits photographed over a period of ten years, Speaking OUT provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth.

They Have Friday Game Nights

"My brother's family has dinner together every Friday night and they love playing all kinds of games. I'm looking for something special... something you won't find in a typical game store or big-box shop that the four of them can play."

When we hear something like that we grab two of our favorite games to and more often than not, sell both!

From our friends at Blue Orange Games, we recommend Aztack. How will you stack up to the legend of the Aztecs? To win the favor of the high priest, players must build a temple out of inscribed stones according to divine laws. Every added stone must bridge the two underneath and match them by color or glyph. Only the most observant and strategic player will win this stacking game. Block out your opponent and stack the most stones to rise to the top of the Aztack!

From our friends at Atlas Games, Once Upon a Time is the award-winning storytelling card game that encourages creativity and collaborative play. One player is the Storyteller, and begins telling a story using the fairytale elements on her Story cards, guiding the plot toward her Ending Card. The other players use their own cards to interrupt her and become the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to use all her Story Cards and play her Ending Card. The object of the game, though, isn't just to win, but to have fun telling a story together.

She's Really into Electronics and Games

Looking around our shop with all of its unique wooden toys, board games, books, and other products that seem as far aways as you can get from electronics, one customer came in ready to completely stump us.

"My niece really LOVES dabbling with electronics, has written some of her own 'apps' (whatever that means), and loves playing games on her computer and tablet."

Come over here to our all-in-one touch computer (thanks to Julie McDonald who designed and gave us this machine). Let us show you Makey Makey.

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.

My father-in-law..."My husband's father is absolutely impossible to buy for. He always says he has everything he needs. He LOVES riding his bike but I haven't figured out any accessory that he might need for riding.........."

When we heard this from one of our favorite customers we walked over towards our jewelry display and picked up one of our Alchemy Goods wallets, made from recycled bicycle inner tubes. We showed it to him and he burst into the biggest smile. PERFECT! And... we're happy to report that it was a huge hit with his father-in-law.

If you're looking for an extremely durable wallet that treads lightly on the planet, then look no further. Made entirely from reclaimed bicycle inner tubes, the Franklin is slim, durable and stylish. 4 card slots and a full length bill slot. 3.75"(L) X 0.5"(W) X 3"(H)

They LOVE Your Store But... I Don't Know What They Already Have

If someone you know loves our shop, OR, you KNOW they would love our shop if only they knew it existed, how about giving them a gift certificate? Whether they come into our brick-and-mortar in San Mateo or shop online, a gift card to Reach And Teach can help transform their world. Click here to visit our gift certificate page. We'll automatically deliver an email to them to with all the info they need to shop online or at our San Mateo store.

There's Much More BUT, Let Us Stop Now to Say Thank You!

On December 2nd we were privileged to be invited to appear on Other Voices, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center's monthly TV program. If you're looking for more ideas, please check out the YouTube of the show.

We are serious about you giving us a call or sending us an email for suggestions if you still have someone in your life for whom getting a gift is difficult. As we said on a recent TV show, though, remember that a gift of your time, an experience together, a letter, a phone call, a hug, some home-made jam or cookies, all of these are great gifts! You don't have to shop to show someone you love them! 

With that in mind, we want to thank all the people who have shown us love and support for all these years. That  includes all the amazing people who created the products we share, the folks that do the work to make them, the folks that do the work to get them to our door and to yours. And, we want to thank you, our partners in peacemaking, for doing what you do to make the world a more peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive place.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, or if you celebrate every day as a holiday, we wish you all the best this season and in the coming new year. We would not be here without you!

Shopping for A Better World

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Reach And Teach co-founders Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi recently appeared on Peninsula Peace and Justice Center's Other Voices TV Program. Here is a YouTube of that show.

Celebrating Veterans Day with Starred Review

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If only this guy (that's Reach And Teach co-founder Craig Wiesner surrounded by friends in 1976) could have stumbled across a book like Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, back in the day.... But back in that day, the dominant images of "gayness" didn't look anything like him and he felt so isolated, scared, lonely, and helpless that a few years later he ran away from his friends and family in New York and joined the Air Force. 

Starred Review

Today, 38 years later, on Veterans Day (November 11), this veteran is proud to be part of a team that earned a starred review in Kirkus Reviews for a book that can help LGBTQ folks see that they are not alone, that they do not have to be afraid or lonely, that they are not helpless, and they needn't run away.

On October 1st, 2014, Reach And Teach, as an imprint at PM Press, released Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, a photo-essay book representing ten years of work by Rachelle Lee Smith. Here's what Kirkus has to say about it in their starred review:

Speaking OUTArt, activism, individuality: the spectrum of queer youth, speaking in their own words. Smith presents her artwork as a photographic essay exploring the amazing diversity among young people (all 14 to 24 at the time of their photographs) identifying themselves as queer, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or questioning.

Originally displayed in 2007 at the opening of the then-new campaign headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign as "Pride/Prejudice: Voices of GLBT Youth," all the photographs for this collection were taken against a white background. The subjects were asked to write something, anything, about themselves, their opinions, viewpoints or experiences in the whitespace of the photo. Some feature only the photo and words originally written. Others feature a few sentences to a paragraph contributed seven years later. A few aren't totally legible, but ranging from a simple declaration to a manifesto, the words of the subjects are illuminating.

The collection features a foreword by Candace Gingrich, who saw and was moved by the original art show, and an afterword by Graeme Taylor, who at 14 spoke to his school board about supporting LGBTQ students and won awards when that speech went viral. This presentation simultaneously highlights the individuality of the subjects and proves to those who may be isolated by geography or culture that they are not alone. An important work for queer youth and those who support them as the future they represent.

Foreword and Afterword 

Having Candace Gingrich write the foreword and Graeme Taylor (his photo from the book on the right) write the afterword, with all the photos and words of queer youth in between, shows how much progress we have made over the last few decades. Yet there is still much to do! But for a moment, let's celebrate some of the good. So much has changed, with marriage equality the law in many states and Don't Ask Don't Tell gone. A few weeks ago a Navy recruiter spent an hour in our shop in San Mateo and we had a wonderful talk about how the military did NOT fall apart when the ban on gays serving was lifted.

From Witch Hunt to Freedom - It Gets Better

Those who know me well have heard about my Air Force experience, after I had confided to some friends in Korea that I was gay. I had never uttered those words to anyone before. Around a week later, another person in our unit in Korea, tired of being in the closet, told the commander he was gay. The commander launched a witch hunt to find out who else might be gay, threatening people with court martial if they didn't name names. My closest friend was shown a picture of his family's house and told that if he didn't give them a name, any name, his parents would lose their house because of the money they would have to spend on lawyers to defend him. Despite the threats, no names were named.

Even after things had calmed down, I was cornered by a security NCO who suspected I might be gay. He warned me that I was going to have to take a lie detector test at my next assignment (the NSA at Fort Meade Maryland) and they would ask me if I was gay. Fearing that lie detector test, I took a different assignment and spent the next four years in Monterey, teaching Korean.

Sadly, while I was in less danger of being outed there, my students weren't. Over four years I stood helplessly by as incredibly gifted young people were accused of being gay and kicked out of the military. As my second term in the Air Force wound down, I realized that I couldn't live with the threat of losing everything if someone accused me of being gay, so I left the job and a lot of people that I loved.

Getting out and finding work in high-tech I was still deeply in the closet. I still had no idea what gay life could be like and was still scared and more lonely than ever.

One afternoon I went to have lunch in our company's cafeteria and I found a newspaper at the table where I usually sat, open to a page about the Billy DeFrank Gay/Lesbian Community Center in San Jose. I have no idea who left it there, open to that page with the headline "Gay Life in the Slower Lane", but discovering that center and going to a support group there was my first introduction to gay life, and within weeks I was out of the closet and never going back in. It has been a good life since that day.

My hope is that people will find a copy of Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus in their school library, in a doctor's office waiting room, at the dentist, in a barber shop (or hair salon or nail salon), on a cafeteria table, in their pastor's study, on a coffee table, in their parent's living room..... but that's up to you! Buy copies of this book and get them out in the world. Gift them far and wide. Take a copy to your dentist leave it in the waiting room. Take one to your hair salon and leave it with the other magazines. Be the angel who helps someone, somewhere, realize that he or she is not alone.

A bunch of wonderful people donated $25,000 to help get this book published so that the cover price could be just $14.95, the price of a nice lunch. That means it doesn't cost much at all for you to be an angel! And speaking of angels, isn't Christmas coming????

Today is Veterans Day and our book just got a starred review. The only thing that could make this timing even better would be for folks to buy a whole bunch of copies of the book and spread them far and wide and know that someone, somewhere, might be sitting down to lunch to discover this book sitting on her table. So..... click here and buy some! Right now, at this very moment, there's someone out there who really needs it. Buy the book

Help Support Ebola Relief Efforts

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Ebloa relief EffortsSo many people feel helpless in the face of the Ebola crisis in West Africa but there are ways we can help. Starting today (October 29th) we'll have local kids selling snack bars and fruit chews outside our shop in San Mateo with all profits going to Doctors Without Borders to support their Ebola relief efforts in Africa. 

Stop by Reach and Teach on 25th Avenue in San Mateo (Monday through Saturday, 11am to 6:30pm) and buy a few healthy snack bars or fruit chews and we'll donate all profits to Doctors Without Borders. Our goal is to raise $1,000.

If you'd like to donate directly, PLEASE DONATE NOW on our page at the Doctors Without Borders web site

We'll also have some games set up inside and outside our shop. Bring a playmate to the shop and make a friendly little... financial challenge. Whoever doesn't win (there are no losers) gets to donate the challenge amount to the campaign!

You CAN make a difference! Join Reach And Teach in supporting the amazing and courageous work of Doctors Without Borders providing much needed medical relief in the Ebola epidemic.



Elephant, Turtle, and the Morning Cup of Coffee - A Fair Trade Story

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Early one morning, Elephant and Turtle were planning to meet at Elephant's house in San Mateo for their morning ritual of drinking hot coffee and sharing tall tales about all the other creatures in town. Tu Tu Turtle (shown above) had gotten a pretty late start and needed a little help getting to Elephant's house on time. Fortunately, Holly the Whippet needed some way to work off her breakfast and she agreed to pull Tu Tu along until Tu Tu reached her destination (carrying a string in your mouth has some advantages). Elephant, who went by the name Ms. E. Pooh, was in her kitchen when Tu Tu arrived. 

"Have you made our coffee yet?" Tu Tu asked. "No. I don't think we should have my coffee any more." Ms. E. answered.

"Why not?"

"Well, it isn't 'Fair Trade' coffee." Ms. E. replied. "You see, last evening I had guests over to dinner and when I got ready to serve dessert my friend Cubby the bear said he couldn't drink the coffee because the people who grew the beans weren't paid fairly, worked really long hours, and were exposed to lots of pesticides."

Then, Ms. E. slid her Kobo tablet in front of Tu Tu and said "Here. Watch this video. It's all about the difference between the coffee we usually drink and 'Fair Trade' coffee."

After watching the video, Tu Tu had two questions. "What's a peso? And, where can we get Fair Trade coffee?"

Ms. E. and Tu Tu headed over to 25th Avenue in San Mateo and visited Reach And Teach where they found several different kinds of Fair Trade coffee as well as cocoa, chocolate, crafts, toys, and lots of other products that were certified fair trade. 

They bought some Proud Mama coffee and went back to Ms. E.'s house, brewed it up, and launched into their usual gossip session and, as the story goes, they lived happily ever after. Ms. E. was especially happy because while she was at the shop, she learned a whole new use for something that had been piling up around her back yard for years.... pooh. Who knew you could make an entire business out of elephant pooh? Results of her hard work can now be found at Reach And Teach!


We encounter many people who have never heard of the term Fair Trade. For a Few Pesos More is a wonderful animated music video, and a perfect way to introduce people to the injustices of "Free Trade" and the alternative justice of "Fair Trade." The video was created by the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) in coordination with Pangea (Rome, Italy) with co-financing from the European Union.  Reach And Teach discovered this great animation through the Fair Trade Resource Network in Washington D.C. and got permission from them and BAFTS to make it available to our web site visitors, along with a teacher guide which you'll find after the lyrics below.


All year long the farmer tills his soil
To harvest a product that’s as precious as oil
One year’s work without hope or means
What did he get for his coffee beans?
Just three pesos, pesos just three
For one year’s work and his crop of coffee.

The guy who buys his coffee doesn’t speak his lingo
He’s a smooth talking, hard selling, tight-fisted gringo…
If it’s cotton, bananas, cocoa and café
What do you think he gets for his pay?
Three thousand pesos, a thousand times three,
For a quick slick chat to buy some coffee. (Repeat)

Cotton, bananas, cocoa and coffee
take a month to cross the wide blue seas
the London dealer gets three million clean
For a two second sale on his PC screen.
The sweatshop boss yells from his office:
“Lay off some workers! We’re losing our profits!”,
he looks at his Rolex – it’s getting late –
back home to a mansion on his country estate.

3000 pesos are no longer enough;
Now it starts at a million and (it) keeps going up. (Repeat)

A scientist arrives from the US of A
and studies our bean in a whole new way.
“Try out this spray with added genes.
It’ll make it grow better – though it won’t be too clean.”

The TV ads use a famous star,
who struts her stuff for a coffee jar
with flying coffee beans in a sexy pose
she gets a cheque with seven zeros.

One little bean of all that coffee
Costs more than farmer, field and crop all three. (Repeat)

The smooth exporter… plays his trick
The London trader… gets rich quick
The sweatshop boss… puts his feet up
The US expert… rejects his cup
Manager, actress, banker, ad-man… are happier and richer than beforehand.
But all the work done by the poor farm hick
Earns just three pesos – and one penny tip. (Repeat)

One way we can improve the global plot
is to treat people fairly and improve their lot.

Part of the world has been plundered for years
by those who don’t care for their victim’s tears,
the only things that turn these cheaters on
are stock-exchange prices, not human lives gone.
But lucky for you, in trade these days
We can show you a better way out of this maze. (Repeat)

Another farmer worked a year on his lands.
Instead of going to market he took power in his hands
By meeting someone else, just a guy down to earth,
someone who pays him what his work is worth,
he knows that an hour should be paid just the same,
for an ordinary farmer or a famous name.
His goods are now sold in ‘Fair Trade Shops’,
that pay a proper price for work and crops. (Repeat)
Outside the trap of the free trade maze
united in the justice of the fair trade ways. (Repeat)


Original Italian lyrics: Dario Iacobelli
Italian executive producer: Marco Massa
Music: Daniele Sepe
Animation: Maurizio Forestieri (Graphilm, Matitaly Consortium)
UK executive producer: Richard Holgarth
English translation: Simon Knight
Further adaptation of lyrics: Jokey Lloyd & James O’Hanlon
UK singers: PaulHoward/Sarah Ross

Teacher / Facilitator Guide

Click here to download the teacher/facilitator guide with activities designed for 8-11 year olds, 11-14 year olds, and High Schoolers and adults.

October is Fair Trade Month

To us here at Reach and Teach, Fair Trade is one way to an equitable and just world economy, which provides living wages and improves quality of living standards for all the artisans, farmers and laborers involved. Our friends at Green America have a great page that explains what we mean by "Fair Trade." Click here to check out that page. (NOTE: We are certified by Green America as a green business, which includes us adhering to fair trade practices. We are also a California and San Mateo certified Green Business which means that we need to be intentional about the effect that everything we do and sell has on the planet.)

Reach And Teach sources our crafts and gifts from organizations that are either certified as Fair Trade or from organizations with whom we have a direct relationship. 

In addition to whole heartedly endorsing and selling Fair Trade products, we encourage each and every one of us to do our part to make our world equitable and increase the economic quality of living for all our fellow humans.

When you purchase something, take a look at where it is made and consider the people who made it, starting with the raw materials, to the finished good, to the transportation that got it from where it was assembled to where you are shopping, and look around at the hands that are helping you in that shop. Is it possible that you could somehow make choices that would be more helpful in creating the world you wish to see?

Here are some resources to help you get there.

Reach and Teach on Other VoicesA few years ago Paul George of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center invited us to be on his monthly TV program, Other Voices, to talk about Fair Trade. It was a lot of fun AND very educational.

Other Voices TV: Shopping With a Conscience from PPJC Videos on Vimeo.

Green America approved