The news has been full of tragedy lately, stories of children taking their own lives because they were bullied fill our newspapers and TV sets. Part of that tragedy is that in many cases other children and even some adults knew that a child was in serious danger, and did nothing about it. Why are there so many bystanders?
We went to a church service last Sunday where the pastor asked people in the pews to reflect on the last time they did something for someone else. "What inspired you to do what you did?" he asked. He didn't want to hear what people had done, instead wanting to have people in the congregation share what had inspired them to do something. The question that I added in my own reflection was "What allowed or empowered you to stand up and do whatever it was you did?" For this month's newsletter, I wanted to share some great resources that help parents, teachers, organization leaders and children to become upstanders instead of bystanders.
Our friends at Rethinking Schools put together a great article about the way children's and young adult literature portrays Muslim girls. The article, "Save the Muslim Girl" demonstrates some very specific ways in which girls living in Islamic societies are stereotyped. Reading that article, though, made me extra pleased that we had recently discovered a book that breaks some of those stereotypes, The Shepherd's Granddaughter.
Like people across the planet, the team at Reach And Teach has been heart-broken watching the nightmare that hit the people of Haiti. In addition to contributions Reach And Teach immediately made to several organizations that are now working on the ground in Haiti, Reach And Teach and Putumayo Records is donating 100% of our proceeds from the sale of Caribbean Playground and French Caribbean to continued relief efforts. Putumayo will give their donations to the Red Cross and Reach And Teach will give our donations to the Rainbow World Fund.
Caribbean Playground features diverse music such as zouk from the French Caribbean, soca from Trinidad, reggae from Jamaica, bomba from Puerto Rico and more. International stars Taj Mahal, Desmond Dekker and the Wailers are featured alongside some of the Caribbean's most popular artists such as Kali, Atlantik and Luc Leandry, as well as other exciting new discoveries. Caribbean Playground includes full-color liner notes in English, Spanish and French with song descriptions and cultural information.
Putumayo takes listeners on a musical cruise of the French Caribbean with a selection of fun, upbeat zouk, compas, twoubadou, biguine and more. With French Caribbean, Putumayo revisits the French Creole islands of Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique which have been experiencing a roots revival in recent years. The French Caribbean is a place where music is imbedded in the landscape: whether it is compas or zouk blaring out of storefront speakers or the variety of sounds that enliven carnival celebrations and street festivals. Acoustic traditional styles like Haitian twoubadou and Martiniquean biguine have recently earned a place on trendy dance floors alongside flashier zouk and compas.
The Rainbow World Fund specifically reaches out through the GLBTQ community and its straight friends and allies to coordinate relief efforts and donations for a variety of peacemaking causes, including relief efforts in Haiti. They have had an ongoing involvement in Haiti which preceded the recent earthquake. Click here to learn more about Rainbow World Fund.
Our friends at the National Radio Project have a program about the situation in Haiti from their Making Contact series. Click here to check out that program where you can listen to portions or download the entire podcast.
Reach And Teach will also donate 100% of the purchase price of our "Take One World" poster. With words written by Robert McAfee Brown and art by Khalil Bendib, this poster provides a recipe for world peace that we could all learn to cook.
Take one world: A globeful of people, most of whom are victims; A handful of people passionately committed to justice; A God overseeing and supervising without usurping total control; An exemplary human life, in which the globeful of people and the handful of people and the overseeing God are united, so that the particular human life is uniquely transparent to the divine; A healthy respect for the past and a healthy skepticism about institutions that have an unhealthy respect for the past; Human hearts in which anger and love are two sides of the same coin; A willingness to risk judgments that might be wrong; And an ultimate optimism combined with a provisional pessimism. Mix well, and see what happens!
TEACHERS:Teaching for Change has put together terrific resources for teaching about Haiti. Click here to check out their materials and suggestions.
As members of GreenAmerica.org we are connected to a huge number of people and organizations that work on issues of peacemaking, social justice, and emergency relief locally, nationally and internationally. Our friends at GreenAmerica.org just released this message, with links to ways all of our partners in peacemaking can help the people of Haiti right now and for the long term. We're pleased to share this information with you.
A Letter from GreenAmerica.org
Our hearts go out to the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Haiti last week. There's both immediate disaster recovery to do, along with longer term rebuilding work.
First, if you haven't already, please consider giving to an organization that is doing recovery work right now in Haiti. Our friends and allies at groups like Mercy Corps and Haiti Partners are working on addressing key issues such as clean water and shelter for children. Our allies at Network for Good put together a list of organizations on the ground doing direct relief work today. With one click, you can donate to one, several or all of them.
Second, we'd like to point you to the resources in our online community investing center for ways you can invest your money to help Haiti rebuild over time. As you know, community investment intitutions are in the business of making loans to low-income and underserved populations. Below we point you toward a number of institutions already doing work in Haiti, where they will be poised to make a huge impact on the rebuilding process.
If you've been thinking of "breaking up with your bank," because you're tired of the business-as-usual mega-banks, consider directing some of your dollars toward financial institutions you know will be using your money to help survivors in Haiti to rebuild their lives. (Click here to see how community investment banks helped survivors of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their lives here in the US.)
At our online community investing center, you can search for the investment institution that is right for you by sorting criteria like issue area (health care, education, refugees, etc.), organization type (loan fund, housing developer, venture capital fund, etc.), or geographic impact area (any US state, or any nation). Searching for "Haiti" provides the following list of organizations already doing work on the ground in that nation:
The team at Reach And Teach has decided to make marriage equality one of the key issues we focus on in 2010. With the launch of the Perry v Schwarzenegger case in the news, we wanted to share a bit about how the findings in this case, which will eventually go to the Supreme Court, may impact civil liberties for a long time to come. We get to our perspective through personal impact, plus through the lens of having created CIVIO, A Civil Rights Game, which chronicles the ups and downs of civil rights through freedoms articulated in the Bill of Rights, key issues of freedom and liberty, laws passed by local and national legislatures, U.S. Constitutional amendments, and historic Supreme Court decisions.
Kristin M. Perry v. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a U.S. District Court case challenging the constitutional validity of California Proposition 8. Proposition 8 (the California Marriage Protection Act) is an amendment to the California State Constitution that outlaws same-sex marriages performed after November 4, 2008. It was adopted as a ballot initiative in 2008. The plaintiffs in Perry seek to have the federal courts strike down Proposition 8 as contrary to the United States Constitution.
As we reach the end of 2009 we're so grateful for all the people who have made Reach And Teach part of their lives and have helped transform the world through teachable moments.
Each year, Reach And Teach donates a portion of our revenues as well as products to local, national, and international organizations doing great work nearby and around the world. We'd like to introduce you to some of those organizations and say thank you for helping us help them. We encourage you to also check them out and consider supporting them directly as well! Beneath each organization name we've copied information from the organization's web site so that you'll know a bit about them.
One of the greatest joys we have here at Reach And Teach is discovering books and other products that truly deserve wider distribution than they might ever get without a little extra promotion. We discovered the amazing Griscom family gems through a grandmother (Peggy Law, founder of the National Radio Project) who told us we just had to carry her grandchildren's books.
Who would want to eat those apples anyway was published in 1994, before most of us realized the benefits of eating locally grown, organic produce. Apples you'd find in the supermarket all looked "perfect" compared to apples someone might grow in their backyard (or in an organic pesticide-free orchard) which could have a variety of shapes, colors, and perhaps a worm hole or two! Wouldn't you want to eat the perfect apple or would you prefer one that was a bit more "natural?"
Here's how this gem of a book was described back then:
When Laura Griscom was two years old, she became fascinated with the seemingly magical process of growing vegetables. Her questions led us on an interesting exploration. First, a bug problem in her own small garden encouraged her family to visit a commercial farm in search of advice. Then Laura's friendship with a farm worker's child raised questions about the relationship between farming practices and health. Her concern prompted grocery store conversations about what we do or do not support when we spend our money. Soon, Laura's interest evolved into a deep wonderment: Why do so many farmers and consumers make unhealthy choices?
Laura says that when people know the truth, things will change. Maybe she's right. Certainly, incomplete information about the safety of conventional produce leads us to believe unhealthy promotional tactics. What would happen if the next generation began to find pleasure in the varied shapes and sizes of naturally grown produce?
Perhaps when we DO acknowledge the truth, we'll realize that the inconvenience of cooperating with nature is a small price to pay for healthier children and a safer planet.
Pretty prescient, don't you think? We're thrilled to have Laura and Pam Griscom's book available in our web store for only $5. It is a wonderful way to introduce children (and adults) to the idea of eating locally grown organic produce.
The illustrations by T. Scot Halpin are wonderful and the story is powerful yet told in a way that is accessible to young and old alike.
Today, lots of people have joined the "slow food" movement and are enjoying "100 mile meals," where all the items on the menu come from within 100 miles of where they are being consumed. People are also much more concerned about the use of pesticides on their food.
Reach And Teach is excited about this movement towards more sustainable and healthy agriculture and eating and we've got a variety of products that can help you join in. Check out all of our food related products, start planting some of your own food, and enjoy the flavors of our planet.
Santa Claus is Coming to San Mateo and Other Reach And Teach News
The season is upon us and we invite you to join us at Reach And Teach for a decorating party on Friday November 28th, Santa's visit on Saturday November 29th (which is also Small Business Saturday), and we've got some great volunteer opportunities to help you raise money for Doctors Without Borders or your favorite cause. All of this is happening at our shop at 144 w. 25th Avenue in San Mateo (across from the Post Office and next door to the wonderful Kobeya Japanese Kitchen and two doors down from The Spot on 25th and three doors down from She Sells Resells.... and next door to the Singer Sewing Machine Repair Shop and Spectrum Hair Salon.... we LOVE our neighbors).
Santa Claus on the Saturday After Thanksgiving
Our dear friend Santa Claus offered to spend a few hours at our shop on Small Business Saturday, November 29th, from 1pm to 3pm. He would love to hear your holiday wishes and is VERY open to taking a few selfies with any elves that would like to snap a good photo. Bring your own camera, cell phone, tablet or whatever.
There's NO CHARGE for spending a few moments with Santa but we will happily accept donations for our ongoing fundraiser to help Doctors Without Borders.
Small Business Saturday November 29th
American Express is once again promoting small businesses by offering up to $30 to cardholders who shop at small businesses like ours on the 29th. American Express® Card Members can register their cards to get up to $30 back when they Shop Small® on Small Business Saturday®.
You MUST register your card online with American Express to be eligible (takes a few moments).
Click here to register your card with American Express.
Decorating Party Friday the 28th
On the day after Thanksgiving, Friday November 28th from 11am to 6:30pm, we invite you to stop by the shop for a warm cup of cider, some delicious treats, and beautiful music and help us gussy up the place for the holidays. We'll decorate all day so come by any time to hang a few ornaments or toss a little tinsel (and no, those aren't code phrases for anything naughty).
Volunteer Opportunity - Gift Wrapping
We'd love to be able to offer our customers gift wrapping but, well, except for Derrick, none of us are really very good at it. So, if you have a flair for gift wrapping we'd love to have you spend some time in our shop wrapping presents. We'll ask customers to make a donation for each wrapped gift, either to go to Doctors Without Borders, OR, any organization you choose. If you're part of an organization and want to raise money for your cause, we'll be glad to give you time slots to do wrapping at our shop. Contact Craig if you'd like to get involved.
Holiday Hours and After New Year
We'll be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Between then and Christmas we'll be open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 6:30pm. On Christmas Eve we'll close at 4pm. We'll close early on New Years Eve at 4pm and will be closed on New Years Day. After New Years Day we'll return to our regular weekly schedule of Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6:30pm.
How Can We Ever Thank You Enough?
We are so grateful to all the people in the Bay Area who have made Reach And Teach their one-stop-shop for books, gifts, toys, and other products that promote peacemaking, sustainable living, and gender equality. Thank you!!! We hope to see you during this holiday season.
I'm Looking for Something for.....
Wonderful people walk into our shop all the time and say "I'm looking for something for....." and then they go on to describe someone special in their lives or a special circumstance that brought them out looking for just the right.....
For example, a few weeks ago someone came into the shop and told us that her young niece was having a really hard time any time she made any kind of mistake. "The crying over such small mistakes breaks my heart! So, is there a book I could share with her that talks about mistakes in a healthy way?"
So first, we had to get over the fact that we didn't, in fact, at that moment, have the right book. We really feel TERRIBLE when that happens but it sets us off on a hunt and.... Here's the book! Actually, just in time for the next customer who came in with a similar request and we fell all over ourselves rushing over to the shelf where we had just placed the book. Later that same day a great teacher friend of the shop came in and saw the book on our front table display and told us that it was one of her favorite books too!
Beautiful Oops!A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It's OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn't ruin a drawing-not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don't be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator. Barney Saltzberg, the effervescent spirit behind Good Egg, offers a one-of-a-kind interactive book that shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion "telescope"-each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder. The smudge becomes the face of a bunny, a crumpled ball of paper turns into a lamb's fleecy coat-celebrate the oops in life.
Click here to check out more about this book and BUY IT!
Looking for Something Else????
In the coming days and weeks we'll be sharing more special requests and the books, games, toys, and fair-trade gifts we recommend. If you've got someone special in your life for whom it is tough to find just the right gift, please drop us a line (click here) and tell us about that person. We LOVE to help!
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Part of the inspiration for this series is a book we found, in of all places, a bookstore! The Reading Bug in San Carlos CA is a sweet shop with a special focus on children's books but we found Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops near the register and bought it and have been laughing ever since. The book is based on the blog of the same name which you can visit here.
Reach And Teach is an independent bookstore and while we have a special focus on books that promote peacemaking, sustainable living and gender equality, we can also get just about any book currently in print, usually within one or two days. Let us know what book you would like and we'll get back to you with a price and an estimated delivery time. You can pick up books here at our shop or we can have them shipped directly to you.
Guardian Princesses - Books That Transform the World
She was SOOOOO cute, this little girl who came rushing into the shop, her mother a few steps behind... The little one was completely decked out in princess attire, adorable. While many of our friends are quite comfortable being champions of little boys who want to dress up as princesses, there are some mixed emotions around the idea of little girls being over-enthusiastic about princess culture. Why? Too often princesses have been portrayed as beautiful outside without much inside, stereotypically white, thin, with perfect teeth and hair, and all-too-often needing to be saved by a handsome prince in order to have any worth at all. This picture doesn't exactly lead to high self-esteem among girls who don't quite fit into those glass slippers!
Shaping Youth's Amy Jussel, who has spent many years working to shine a bright light on media's unhealthy manipulation of children and empower parents, teachers and children to overcome the toxic messages of omnipresent marketing, has taken her own approach to princesses:
In my house, I brushed off princesses dismissively rather than give them any ‘heat' at all, preferring to subversively turn stereotypes upside down with a wink and a nod reading fairytales like The Paper Bag Princess (who does NOT live happily ever after with Ronald) and Dinorella (the dinosaur that saves ‘Duke Dudley's tail, quite literally). Sure, we read the classics, but it became a favorite past-time to add a dollop of irony to the usual palate of kid-lit and lack of cultural diversity in the princess posse.
Amy Jussel has a fantastic post about princesses on her Shaping Youth web site (click here). She knows that you can't overcome the massive amount of money spent to market to our kids by trying to shield our eyes and cover our ears. Instead, you have to flip things around through education and a little bit of subversion.
Reach And Teach is all about subversively turning stereotypes upside down which is why we love books like My Princess Boy and Goosebottom Books' Dastardly Dames series. We're always on the lookout for more titles like these so when Setsu Shigematsu reached out last year to tell us about a series of books she and a team of folks were working on, with princesses as the lead characters, but not your typical princesses, we were intrigued.
Imagine you are hearing some movie commercial music with a deep-voice saying "In a world where evil multinational conglomerates seek to despoil the planet and enslave all its people, where toxic waste dumps spew poison into the rivers and free-thinking people are turned into mindless drones, who will come to the rescue to save the innocents and the entire world from death, despair and destruction?"
The Guardian Princcesses will save the world! Using a combination of compassion, quick-thinking, keen intelligence, community organizing, and of course a little bit of magic, these princesses will help overcome the most nefarious evil-doers around. The Guardian Princess team has just released the first three books in their series, which can be purchased separately in paperback or combined in one hardcover book. Here's how the team describes the first three stories:
Princess Terra and King Abaddon
Princess Terra is the Guardian of the Land. Her role is to care for and protect the land that allows her fellow people to lead healthy and balanced lives. All is well until the greedy King Abaddon comes and tries to take it away and make it his own. How will Princess Terra stop King Abaddon from forcing them off their land? In addition to providing a wealth of inspiring lessons and ethical models for our children, our books are also designed to meet the current Common Core State Standards. www.corestandards.org Includes Etymology Chart, Glossary, Common Core Discussion Questions and Bonus Activity.
Princess Vinnea and the Gulavores
Princess Vinnea is the Guardian of Plant Life in the land of Hortensis. At harvest time, a mysterious stranger appears with Gulavores that destroy their crops and gardens. He then feeds the people his unnatural food which makes them ill. How will Princess Vinnea help her people? In addition to providing a wealth of inspiring lessons and ethical models for our children, our books are also designed to meet the current Common Core State Standards. www.corestandards.org Includes Etymology Chart, Glossary, Common Core Discussion Questions and Bonus Activity.
Princess Mariana and Lixo Island
Princess Mariana is the Guardian of the Seas. One day, Princess Mariana and her friends discover dangerous garbage that is polluting their beautiful waters. This garbage comes from Lixo Island, a land of trash and filth ruled by the Spumas. How will she prevent the Spumas on Lixo Island from harming marine life? In addition to providing a wealth of inspiring lessons and ethical models for our children, our books are also designed to meet the current Common Core State Standards. www.corestandards.org Includes Etymology Chart, Glossary, Common Core Discussion Questions and Bonus Activity.
So what are the people behind this new series of books trying to do? Here's what they say:
The Guardian Princesses provide a welcome and much needed alternative to the current princess culture which has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The "traditional" princess stories marketed to our children emphasize external beauty-as-virtue. The stereotypical story of a damsel-in-distress who needs to be saved by a prince teaches children that a girl's destiny and happiness is to be coupled with a man. We are not "anti-romance," but we believe that children should not be encouraged to focus on finding prince charming or a beautiful princess their life priority.
We thus aim to shift the focus of girls' self-esteem and self-worth. We want to encourage children's empowerment through their full development, promoting both their independence and a deeper understanding of the vital interdependence between people and other living beings.
Reach And Teach says:
How do we feel about these first three books? We like them! We like the way the princesses think (pretty sharp young ladies who have both book-smarts and street-smarts), their compassion for all creatures and the land, their use of community-building and princess teamwork, and their ethnic / color diversity. The stories are compelling and mirror real-life quandries communities across the world face.
The first story felt a little heavy handed (King Abaddon trying to buy Princess Terra's community) but still fun to read and filled with plenty of fodder for great discussions. The next two books took themselves a little less seriously and were more fun to read, though still dealing with some pretty weighty issues.
We'd like to see a little more diversity in future princesses and know the Guardian Princess team already has a few good variations in the works. Color and/or ethnic diversity clearly do abound in the princesses and all the other characters portrayed in the first three stories (giant kudos here), but the princesses themselves can use a little more shape and feature diversity. A girl with Down Syndrome, for example, will not see herself reflected in these princesses faces. Nor will a girl with a fuller body type or more "average" features see herself in these stories. The villains and plots of future tales could also be a bit more subtle, and perhaps a few could be female instead of male. We like these first three stories and are excitedly looking forward to future releases.
Buy the Book:
Click here to buy an "Heirloom" copy of the inaugural trilogy.