Kids Can Make A Difference

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This YouTube video from shows kids quoting the all-too-familiar laments / excuses people often use when claiming that efforts to reduce suffering don't really work. Hearing these words from the mouths of children is especially moving, but even more moving is the switch from cynicism to a message of hope, with details on real results, what spending just 1% of the US budget can do to change the world. 

  • 15 million children, who would have died, are alive
  • 46 million children, who would never have seen a classroom, are in school

Having these statistics, proof that money and time spent on reducing poverty, hunger, and disease locally and around the world, and increasing access to health care and schools can and does make a difference, is a powerful tool.This is a great video which we hope goes viral. But, beyond just feeling good about the message, we also hope people are inspired to learn more and take action.

We've got great resources to help people of all ages do just that plus we'd like to lift up one special organization that is demonstrating in a most compelling way the incredible difference one dollar can make. Plus, we'll lift up an organization that is working to reduce the cynicism and negative messaging with which children are bombarded every day. We need our kids to have high self-esteem and positive attitudes, knowing that they are great for who they are and they have amazing powers to change the world.

Kids Can Make A Difference: This is an AMAZING resource for teachers and others who work with young people. It goes way beyond introducing the concepts of hunger and activities kids can engage in to make a difference. Instead, it delves into the root causes of hunger and poverty around the world, holding no punches as it examines colonialism, gender issues, the vast difference between the haves and the have-nots, developing versus industrialized nations and their lifestyles (over-consumption versus barely surviving). Combine this with Teaching Economics As If People Mattered, 25 Math Investigations that Will Astound You, the Poverty Project and Real Lives and you've got the ultimate package of world-changing education.

We first discovered this wonderful book when we were working with a national homelessness organization, putting together lesson plans to teach kids about homelessness. Through that we got into the promotion of "service learning" and from there we discovered the Kids Can Make A Difference Organization (

Larry Levine and his wife, Jane Finn Levine, are the heart and soul of KIDS and you couldn't find a more devoted pair! They've helped so many teachers and kids learn about and do something about hunger directly through workshops and seminars - plus their ongoing newsletter. We're so pleased that they have allowed us to offer our customers this book.

Doing Good Together: Is your organization looking for service project ideas? An increasing number of schools, workplaces, and organizations are doing family service projects as a way to make positive change in their communities. The 101 projects in Doing Good Together answer this growing demand for family service with hands-on projects focused on easing poverty, promoting literacy, supporting the troops, helping the environment, and more.

Each of the 101 self-contained family service projects provides an overview, time requirements, materials list, step-by-step instructions, debriefing questions, recommended books to help kids and teens do or learn more, and ideas for extending the activity.

Youth Community Service Curriculum: We've worked with Youth Community Service for many years now and have always been amazed at the incredibly well developed programs they have led where students discover their passion for making the world a better place, create an action plan to actually do something, and then work with community organizations and individuals to turn their plan into reality. All the while these students are also improving their educational outcomes in math, science, civics, reading, the arts, and more.

Now, YCS has taken years of experience, combined with some of the best practices and successful projects from other organizations, and put together a month by month service learning after-school curriculum. Everything you need to apply the very best practices of service-learning with proven projects and learning materials is combined in this terrific single volume. Whether you apply the month-by-month strategy or just pick and choose from among the dozens and dozens of unique project ideas, you'll find this to be one of the most valuable resources on any bookshelf.

One Dollar for Life: What if a school could order everything needed to carry out a campaign to raise money to build a school somewhere in the world,  with asimple message to all the kids in that school that all it took was ONE DOLLAR to make a huge difference in people's lives? And by the way, everything needed comes in a single box! That's what One Dollar For Life ( has to offer. 

The photo here is from a Nicaragua trip. This Summer Service Trip in July 2013 was the fourth trip ODFL has organized to Nicaragua to help with construction of one of its schools. The trip included home stays, work on the school, recreation, and many opportunities for cultural exchange between U.S. and local students. 

ODFL helps US high schools manage fund-raisers, aggregate their monies, identify qualified NGOs and worthy projects, and oversee the projects’ implementation in developing countries.  Here's a quick video to help tell ODFL's story.

Raise Awareness, Raise Our Voices, and Make A Difference

The kids at the very beginning of this story echoed the cynicism we encounter, raised our awareness of the truth that we CAN make a difference. The children called on viewers to raise their voices and then go out and make a difference. Our goal at Reach And Teach is to help spread that kind of awareness, empower people to raise their voices, and then go out and make a difference. The first and often most important thing is knowing that we can truly create change. But sometimes, before we can do that, we have to believe in ourselves.

Shaping Youth: Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, open a magazine, head to the theater, and the messaging aimed at children is overwhelming. You're no good unless you look a certain way, act a certain way, eat certain kinds of foods, consume, consume, consume... These messages are anything but empowering. is working to flip those messages. 

Here's how founder Amy Jussel describes their mission:

Shaping Youth's mission is to shift negative influences of pop culture to a healthier worldview for kids.

We're implementing innovative programs for parents and kids (via film, web, mobile, hands-on education, & enrichment) to build awareness and promote healthier values by using the power of the media turned on itself.

Our self-funded, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization changes the channel of influence using entertainment tactics to impart informal learning three ways:

1.) Embedding positive behavioral cues inside media itself (pilot testing within virtual worlds, social media, gaming, mobile media)

2.) Eliciting content accountability/change from industry producers (advocating via social media on Twitter, blog, multi-channel platforms w/partners etc.)

3.) Counter-marketing harmful messages with media literacy (instilling awareness, critical thinking and vital youth inquiry via fun, hands-on "M-power" edu-game format)

Reach And Teach shares many of's posts because we believe that media literacy is one of the keys to empowering people, young and old, to believe in themselves for who they are, not who they ought to be based on the latest commercial. And we know for a fact that when people come together and demand change, even from the most powerful media forces, change can and does happen. The web site is a treasure trove of information, incredibly well researched and compellingly presented. Click here to visit the site and then bookmark it!

Kids can make a difference, but it is up to adults to create an environment in which kids can flourish and diiscover each of their unique talents, and apply themselves to their passion. Please help spread the positive news that our money and efforts are making a difference. Share this post with friends and family on Facebook, tweet about it, email it to folks around the block and around the world. AND, please tell us about great resources, organizations, stories, that also need to be amplified so that together we can continue to transform the world through teachable moments.

Songs of Freedom Tour in San Mateo January 24th

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Songs of Freedom U.S. Tour
The Songbook of James Connolly, Irish Revolutionary
Mat Callahan & Yvonne Moore
Songs of Freedom Project

Friday, January 24, 7:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church of San Mateo, 300 E. Santa Inez Avenue, San Mateo [map]
Suggested donation of $10 per person is requested but not required. Wheelchair accessible.

Songs of Freedom is the name of the songbook edited by James Connolly and published in 1907. Connolly’s introduction is better known than the collection for which it was written, containing his oft-quoted maxim:

“Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few and not the faith of the multitude.”

Though most of the songs were of Irish derivation, the songbook itself was published in New York and directed to the American working class, explicitly internationalist in its aims.Songs of Freedom is a celebration of the life and work of James Connolly, the Irish revolutionary socialist martyred by the British government for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916. It is at once a collection of stirring revolutionary songs and a vital historical document.Please join editor/composer Mat Callahan, and vocalist Yvonne Moore of the Songs Of Freedom project, to talk about, sing and celebrate both the new release of the 1907 James Connolly Songbook, and the Songs Of Freedom CD (both available at bringing the rollicking revolutionary anthems to a new generation of rebels in the 21st Century.

Jeanne Barrett Photo Exhibit and Reception Saturday December 14th

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Reach And Teach is excited to announce that we will host a photo exhibit of Jeanne Barrett's nature and Bay Area photography starting on Saturday December 14th with a reception from 4pm to 6pm. Join us that afternoon for beverages and snacks and spend time with Jeanne as she tells a bit about her work. It will be an informal and fun gathering suitable for alll ages (in other words, kids are very welcome). 

Jeanne had approached us after we first opened our shop on 25th Avenue to ask if we might be interested in carrying some greeting cards she had made with her photos. They were beautiful. Within a week all that we had taken were sold and since then we've enjoyed getting to see Jeanne every month or so when she comes by with more cards. They are among our very best sellers. 

Join us December 14th from 4pm to 6pm to meet Jeanne. She'll have lots of cards, prints, and a few specially framed items, all of which will be available for sale. A portion of all sales will benefit the St. Vincent DePaul Center where Jeanne works.

About Jeanne Barrett:

Jeanne Barrett has been taking nature photos in the Bay Area for many years. She started her card business as a way to share the amazing beauty of nature in our own "backyard." She uses cardstock made in the U.S.A. and certified compostable eco-card covers. "It's really a joy to share the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Taking the photos makes me so happy and so grateful for the life and nature we share."

Jeanne grew up in San Mateo and attended local schools. She attended Loyola Marymount University, and enjoyed a semester in Rome, as well as a year in Rome, upon graduation from college. After moving back home, Jeanne worked in the television industry in San Francisco for 10 years. She was a producer, writer and a reporter for several shows, including "Travel Update," a nationally syndicated ½ - hour travel show.

Currently, Jeanne lives in San Mateo with her husband Pat and their three children. She works with kindergarten children during the day,  and spends time "giving back" to the community on a regular basis. She is a Volunteer Coordinator for the St. Vincent De Paul Society, where they deliver food 7 days a week to needy families in San Mateo. "I have been serving the needy my whole life, through St. Vincent de Paul. It began with my parents and younger sister, and now I have continued with my own family for the past 17 years, through St. Matthew's parish. The need is so great, and we serve about 130 families per month in our community."

In her "free" time, Jeanne enjoys cooking, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

Join us on November 30th! Small Business Saturday - Authors!!!

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Small Business Saturday - Crafts, Authors and A Gift from American Express

With big-box stores trying to grab as much business as possible during what has now become "Black Thursday" and giant Internet retailers trying to compete with price-slashing and instant delivery, there are a lot of folks out there who want to support local small businesses like ours. A few years ago American Express invented the idea of Small Business Saturday. This year, in our shop, we're graced by the gifts of parents, authors, and American Express, who want to help make Reach And Teach a great place to be on Thanksgiving weekend.

At 10am on Saturday November 30th Shannon Casey and friends from Our Family Coalition will host a gift-making gathering at our shop. Think of a few people with whom you'd like to share a little love and join us to make hand-crafted cards and other gifts. We'll provide everything you need, including treats!

Authors from around the country, who believe in and want to see small independently-owned shops like ours stay in business, are planning new ways to support us in the coming year. On Saturday November 30thauthors have volunteered to spend time at shops like ours, doing readings, running the registers, signing books and we are looking forward to having two in our shop that day.

At 11am, Cynthia Chin-Lee, author of Operation MarriageAmelia to Zora, and Akira to Zoltan (among other great books) will do a reading and sign books.

Vivaldi's VirginsAt 11:45m, Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi's Virgins and A Golden Web, will do a book reading and sign books.

At 5:30pm, Pamela Mayer, author of Don't Sneeze at the Wedding, will do a book reading and sign books.

And... all day on November 30th if you use your American Express card in our shop and spend $10 or more, American Express will give you $10 back! That's their way of encouraging people to shop at small local businesses like ours. You have to register your card first (click here).

LoveYou2 - Love Notes for World Peace!

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We often get asked to donate gift baskets and/or gift certificates to auctions for good causes and when we say yes, we sometimes find ourselves wondering if our donation really makes a difference and if our gift will have an impact on the person who ends up with it. One Saturday a while back we got a visit from a really lovely person and her equally lovely child and they had come to spend the gift certificate mom had won at an Our Family Coalition event.

They LOVED the store and we had a great conversation about why we started Reach And Teach, what we were trying to achieve in the world, and suddenly Shannon (that's Mom) said "I'd like to give your store a gift!" She showed me her amazing artwork and I had to say YES, PLEASE! The sign you see above (with Shannon and me) and below on our door is that gift and we LOVE it.

You have to read it correctly. Yes, WE ARE



Think about it. Ah, the lighbulb lit. Yes, we are.

Be open!

We are what? Well.... It all depends on which "we" we're talking about. If the "We" refers to Derrick and me, well.... Yes we are gay. Yes we are small business owners. Yes we are worried about some things. Yes we are in love. Yes we are curious about the world around us. Now if it were you and you had to finish the line "Yes we are......," how would you fill in the blank? Whoever and whatever we are, we hope that those with whom we meet will be open.

Being open is one way of spreading love and working towards peace. And, that's Shannon's mission, spreading love and peace one note, sign, symbol, hug, word at a time. She launched based on a very simple idea that has now become a passion for finding, documenting, installing and sharing love notes. It all started with a note to her kids and the rest.... well, you can visit her wonderful web site to learn more.  

Then, we're guessing you'll want to join her in changing the world one love note at a time. Visit our shop in San Mateo where we have little love note kits from Shannon that you can buy and start spreading your own love notes, including a love note to yourself!

Meanwhile, check out this beautiful video of Shannon and her kids out on the streets of San Francisco spreading the love! 


And... if you'd like to start spreading the love one note at a time, check out this notepad now available from Reach And Teach. 

Our Green11 Filling Station

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Our Filling StationReach And Teach now offers a Green 11 Filling Station at our shop in San Mateo at 144 West 25th Avenue - San Mateo CA 94403.

Bring your own container to fill up on hand soap, dishwashing liquid, and laundry detergent. All of our products are good for your body, good for the environment, and good for your budget. Jack Benny would be green AND cool if he were with us today (for those young folks who have never heard of Jack Benny, take a look at the YouTube at the end of this article). 

On this page we'll provide you with comprehensive information about each of the products we offer in our shop. We're partnering with an amazing team from Green 11, a company launched in 2009 with a store in San Francisco. They will soon be opening a second San Francisco shop, a shop in Berkeley, and we are their very first filling station partner and the only place on the peninsula where you can get these products in bulk. 

Ecos Laundry Soap

The first customer to walk into our shop the day we started filling soaps took one look at the laundry soap and said "That's the brand I already use. It's wonderful." Ecos has created a fantastic line of earth-friendly laundry soaps that do a great job of cleaning laundry using LESS soap that most traditional detergents. Rated for HE (High Efficiency) machines, the soap also works well in older washing machines.

We offer four varieties of laundry soap. Here are the ingredients for each:

  • Magnolia & Lilly - 100% natural anionic coconut kernel oil-based surfactant, horsetail plant, essential oils of magnolias and lilies, purified water.
  • Baby - Vegetable an coconut based soap, earth salt, coconut based fabric softener, N.O.P. certified chamomile and lavender essentials oils, water.
  • Lemongrass - 100% natural anionic coconut kernel oil based surfactant, horsetail plant, coconut based fabric softener, essential oil of lemongrass (NOP Certified Organic), purified water.
  • Free & Clear - 100% natural anionic coconut kernel oil based surfactant, purified water.

Earth-Friendly Dish Soap

The second customer to walk into our shop thought we were selling BYOC (Bring Your Own Container) Olive Oil. Yes, we sell olive oil through our friends at the Rebuilding Alliance, but their oil comes already bottled or in tins. "What else do you have?" our visitor asked. We showed him the soaps and he said "Well, my wife expected me to come home with something so I'll try the dish soap." He filled his container with our Earth-Friendly Dishmate Pear dish soap. We offer three types of powerful hand dish washing products that are naturally hard on grease and not your skin. We recommend that you squirt only a small amount into your sponge for cleaning dishes so you can experience the power of this concentrated formula. Dishmate also acts as a great cleaner for hand washable clothes too.

  • Pear - Purified water, 100% natural anionic coconut kernel oil-based surfactant, salt, pear essential oils.
  • Grapefruit - Purified water, 100% natural anionic coconut kernel oil-based surfactant, salt, N.O.P. certified organic grapefruit essential oil. 
  • Free & Clear - Ingredients:Water, coconut oil derived surfactants (Does not contain SLS)

Green 11 Hand Soap

Our friends at Green 11 cooked up a wonderful hand soap that we're so thrilled to have in our shop. Our third customer, who happens to run a car window repair shop, walked over to the refilling station and poured a dab of the hand soap into his hands, coated both hands with it, took a deep whiff and said "This is really nice!" I asked if he wanted to wash his hands off and he said "No way! This is the best my hands have felt all day."

The ingredients will make you feel good too! We offer two types, Lavendar and Lemongrass. Ingredients are Aqua (Water), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Glycerin, Lavendula Augustfolia (Lavender) Oil*, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool.

*N.O.P. Certified Essential OilBiodegradable and non-toxic.


At just 12 cents an ounce for laundry detergent, 13 cents an ounce for dish soap, and 26 cents an ounce for hand soap, these soaps are not only great for your body and good for the planet, they're also pretty good for your budget. Frugal meets green meets healthy! As young Drew Durham likes to say "Sweet!"

Jack Benny - Frugal, Green, and COOL!

Of course the Reach And Teach team is aging itself by talking about Jack Benny at all. So many of our partners in peacemaking are too young to know him. But, we're wondering... did anyone recognize the guy delivering the telegram? (And if you dare to ask "What's a telegram....!!!"). That man was Mel Blanc, the voice of:

So to close this article with soapy style...... That's All Folks!

Operation Marriage - Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children

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June 26, 2013: Reach And Teach is thrilled to share the news that the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and also decided that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing to contest a lower court's decision that it too was unconstitutional. With those two decisions marriage equality returns to California and the federal government will recognize marriages in states that have legalized same-gender marriage. Yay! Still lots of work to be done but today is a wonderful day.

March 21, 2013: As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the issue of marriage equality, the team at Reach And Teach was thrilled to get news from our friend Amy Jussel at that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has concluded, after four years of research, that "Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation."

As publishers of Operation Marriage, we applaud the AAP's policy statement and are grateful to the many leaders from across the country, from all professional fields, and from the across the wide diversity of religious and political identities, who have come out in support of marriage equality. We published the book, in part, because we wanted to show the impact if inequality on the lives of children, through the eyes of children, and having the AAP both confirm that impact while also lifting up the benefits of marriage equality, is wonderful. 

Click here to buy a copy of Operation Marriage and give one to your pediatrician now!

Moonbeam Book AwardMoonbeam Book Award 2012: Operation Marriage has received a Gold Medal in the annual Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, in the Spirit/Compassion category, for dedication to children's books and literacy and for inspired writing, illustrating and publishing.

About the Book: Eight-year old Alex has a fight with her best friend, Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend. Why? Because "her parents (both women) aren't married." Set in the San Francisco Bay area, months before Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning gay marriage passes, this picture book looks at what it takes for Alex and her younger brother, Nicky, to convince their mothers to get married while they can. Their love as a family is contagious as their neighbors begin to accept them for what they are: a normal, affectionate family.

Based on a true story, the book shows the real implications of the struggle for equality, with beautiful and captivating illustrations, by award-winning illustrator, Lea Lyon, and words by Cynthia Chin-Lee.

Award Winning Team: This is a hardcover, full-color, beautifully illustrated children's picture book, written and illustrated by an award winning team of Cynthia Chin-Lee, writer and Lea Lyon, illustrator. It is based on the real lives of a family in Palo Alto.   The book is published by Reach And Teach, through its imprint with PM Press and distributed worldwide by IPG Books.

Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children: Marriage equality has been and will be hotly debated for a long time to come. What hasn't gotten much attention is the impact that inequality and prejudice have on children. Operation Marriage shows the pain felt when some families aren't given the same respect and dignity as other families. Not only are the children of GLBTQ parents hurt, but other children around them get dragged into what ends up being an unwelcoming environment created by adults.

People often ask, why should this be brought up at all? Aren't these children too young for this? A teacher answered that question at a community forum on October 20th by saying "We're too often forced to deal with teasing and bullying after the harm has already been done. Isn't it better to avoid the problem in the first place? I think so!" 

One of the earliest group activities in a typical pre-school or kindergarden classroom is for each child to draw a picture of his or her family. With the wonderful diversity of families out there, with mom and dad, mom and mom, dad and dad, uncle & aunt, mom, dad, brother, grandma, foster-mom... it's important for children to be able to proudly draw whatever their picture should look like! Teachers and parents need tools to help talk about the many faces of family, letting children know that while families may look different, they are ALL families, deserving of respect and support. 

People Are Talking - Praise for Operation Marriage

Operation Marriage is a well-constructed, age-appropriate story with an appealing cast of characters. Spunky Alex doesn't let her best friend's abandonment get her down; instead, she enlists her brother in a campaign that is filled with humor-blasting wedding music throughout the house, making a fake wedding program-things that will ring true to all children who've found creative ways to beg their parents to do something for them.  -- Lyn Miller-Lachmann, author of Gringolandia a 2010 ALA Best Book for young adults. Click here to read the full review.

In Operation Marriage Cynthia Chin-Lee has shown the gay marriage debate through the eyes of the children effected.  A simple, but powerful story that should be in every classroom from preschool on up. --Sharon Levin, Founder, Bay Area Children's Literature List

Operation Marriage is a visually beautiful and warm book. The topic, marriage equality, is handled in a sensitive and child-centric way, helping readers of all ages to understand why recognizing all types of families is important to the growth of our children and the resilience of our society. Offering opportunities for discussion between children and the adults who care about them, Operation Marriage opens doors for sharing, compassion, stretching ourselves and seeing how even children can impact their worlds in a meaningful way. The power of love over fear is at work here, in the story and in the project that made the story into this winsome book. --Mika Gustavson, MFT, Gifted Matters 

Operation Marriage is an honest, insightful, and touching story illustrating the many ways that lack of marriage equality impacts kids' lives. Its messages--perseverance, trusting oneself, facing adversity and standing up to it--are universal, but its approach to the particular social challenge of marriage inequality fills a void in the children's book world. There is power in seeing a problem from a child's perspective, and much that we grown-ups can learn from looking at the world through a child's eyes. This book belongs in every school library and on every public library shelf. --Sarah Hoffman

"Cynthia Chin-Lee very sensitively deals with the subject of same sex marriage by telling the true story of one couple and their children.  Children are very ready to start talking about the civil rights issues of our time and this book is a great jumping off point to get those conversations started."-- Jacinta Bunnell, author of Girls Are Not Chicks and Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon

For those who believe, true love does conquer all! -- Terry Hong, Book Dragon Review, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

I have been involved in Civil Rights issues since college days when I served a 30-day jail sentence for sitting at a lunch counter with three other whites and two African-Americans....and asked for a cup of coffee! Here we are now having to dig through the weeds and briar patches of another civil rights issue: marriage equality. The beauty/emotion of this book flows from its presentation through children's eyes. The simplicity of children's thinking can effectively pierce the rough hewn edges of adult logic!! Every school library should have this book and be proud!!!
--Mary Bentley Abu-Saba, Ph. D.

Children need a permanent and secure nurturing family to help them thrive. Decades of research have shown that children's social, academic, and emotional development are similar whether they have two mothers or a mother and a father. Their parents' marriage gives children the security and the legitimacy they need to dispel stereotypes and to thrive in school and society.
Ellen C. Perrin, M.D.
Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center
Boston, MA

Operation Marriage is a touching delightful book telling of a family with two moms. It positively confirms that marriage between two loving adults of the same sex is wonderful and legal! This book also touched on bullying which is so common in schools and how a parent can help their child who is the bully to understand and change the negative behavior. --Monique Kane, MFT

As parents, we want children to learn about the real struggles and joys of families different from ours. This book tells a true story simply and compellingly. When children learn empathy through stories like this, we can stop bullying and create understanding and compassion. --Carol and Charles Spring, Virginia

"Even 3rd-graders know that commitment ceremonies are not weddings and domestic partnerships are not marriage. Operation Marriage shows how important marriage is to children and that they understand that anything less, is less than equal."-- Dr. Davina Kotulski,  Psychologist, Motivational Life Coach, and Author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage (2004) and Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail (2010)


Click here to buy your copy now!



Check out the book launch at Keplers Bookstore in Menlo Park.


As the book was nearing publication, Outlook Video did a story about it. Check it out!

About the Author

We've loved and promoted Cynthia Chin-Lee's books for a long time and are honored that she chose us to help get Operation Marriage published and distributed! 

From Cynthia Chin-Lee's Web Site: Cynthia Chin-Lee is a children's book author and an accomplished speaker and workshop leader. Her easy rapport with her audiences and ability to add humor to her presentations make her a compelling speaker for all ages. She is available for presentations to elementary through high-school students, key-note speeches to adults, and a variety of workshops that both engage and challenge the participants.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a graduate fellow of East-West Center in Honolulu, she is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

About the Illustrator

We have been huge fans of Lea Lyon for a long time and we are absolutely elated to have her working with us on this wonderful project. Click here to read an article about her on the Reach And Teach web site.

From Lea Lyon's Web Site:

Lea Lyon is an award-winning children's book illustrator, painting teacher and portrait artist who has made a childhood dream come true.

Lea loved to draw and paint as a child. She took art classes from a tiny white-haired artist who had converted her garage into a magical children's painting studio. Lea graduated to oil paints when she was 11. And - she wanted to be a children's book illustrator when she grew up. But life, as it often does, got in the way; College, raising a family, running a small doll and puppet business, then back to school for an MBA and into the corporate world. Now, at long last, Lea is a children's book illustrator. She is an active member of The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.) Her illustration portfolios won awards twice at SCBWI National Conferences. As the Illustrator Coordinator of the San Francisco region of SCBWI she coordinates events for Bay Area illustrators.



With millions of children living in households led by GLBTQ people (according to the 2010 Census), parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, faith-leaders, and children need resources and support to thrive. Below are just some of the resources we want to highlight on our site. If you know of others that should be promoted, please click here to email us. 

Organizations & Resource Lists:


Publishing this book would not have been possible without the support of many people. We give huge thanks to the following people and organizations:

Sonia Azevedo, Maggie and Andy Anderson, Cynthia Chin-Lee, Joshua and Peter Ching, Martha Clayton, Don and Margaret Ann Fidler, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, the Flora Family Foundation, Steven Garrett, David Mineau and Diana Gibson, Mitzi Henderson, Daniel and Sarah Holden, Eleanor Hiles and Bob Topor, Dick and Sarah Johnson, Bennet Marks and Kim Harris, Marion MacGillivray, Joseph Robert Martin, Dianne McKay, Julie McDonald,, Polly Moore, Sally and Craig Nordlund, Christine and John Ritz, Joan Roy and Gordon Craig, Paul Seever, Joy Sleizer, Steven S. Thomas, David and Mary Alice Thornton, James Wilczak, Peter and Evelyn Wong, and Marisela Blasini Young. 

Happy Earth Day Green Toys!

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When Jakey comes a calling, you'd better watch out! He's a five year old bundle of energy who comes to visit our shop with his mom and baby brother at least once a month. For the next hour you'll find Jakey flying around the shop with one toy or another in his hands. Vroom Vroom....... CRASH........ bang...... ZOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!! He's a one boy QA department and only the best of the best toys stand up to the Jakey test. Never in the two years Jakey has been visiting our shop has a Green Toy failed the Jakey test. 

On Earth Day we want to lift up our friends at Green Toys for the great toys they manufacture, right here in the Bay Area, out of recycled milk jugs. We've loved their toys from the first time we got our hands on them and have only grown to love their toys and the company more as the years have gone by. For Earth Day we'd like to share a short video documentary about the company so that you can get to know them a little better. Then, why not come by our shop in San Mateo or visit our web site and get your own hands on a few of their toys and give them the Jakey test. You won't be disappointed! 

We LOVE Green Toys for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they are an absolute joy to work with, which is a direct result of the company being a great place to work, which is a result of having co-founders who truly walk the talk. Happy Earth Day Green Toys and thank you for being great partners in transforming the world through teachable moments.

Here are some of their products from our web store. Go ahead, buy some. They're already recycled!

Green Toys Ferry Boat
Green Toys Ferry Boat
SKU: ferryboat
Price: $24.99

Green Toys Stacking Cups
Green Toys Stacking Cups
SKU: stackingcups
Price: $10.95

Green Toys Race Car
Green Toys Race Car
SKU: racecar
Price: $7.95

Green Toys Dump Truck
Green Toys Dump Truck
SKU: dumptruck
Price: $27.99

Green Toys Recycling Truck
Green Toys Recycling Truck
SKU: recycle
Price: $24.99

Green Toys Fire Truck
Green Toys Fire Truck
SKU: firetruck
Price: $24.99

Green Toys Tug Boat
Green Toys Tug Boat
SKU: tugboat
Price: $14.95

Green Toys Stacker
Green Toys Stacker
SKU: stacker
Price: $14.95

Green Toys Submarine
Green Toys Submarine
SKU: submarine
Price: $14.99

Green Toys Twist Teether
Green Toys Twist Teether
SKU: twistteether
Price: $10.95

Green Toys My First Keys
Green Toys My First Keys
SKU: greenkeys
Price: $7.95

Green Toys Tractor
Green Toys Tractor
SKU: 978-1-57061-543-6
Price: $24.95

My First Green Toys Shape Sorter
My First Green Toys Shape Sorter
SKU: shapesorter
Price: $19.95

Green Toys Train
Green Toys Train
SKU: greentoystrain
Price: $29.95

Green Toys Seaplane Safe Seas Set
Green Toys Seaplane Safe Seas Set
SKU: SEAG-1029
Price: $24.99

Green Toys Rocket
Green Toys Rocket
SKU: greentoysrocket
Price: $24.95

Green Toys Sea Copter
Green Toys Sea Copter
SKU: seacopter
Price: $19.95

Yom HaShoah: From Bystanders to Upstanders

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As part of our ongoing series, Not Invented Here, we share reflections about peacemaking and social justice from friends of Reach And Teach from around the world. Today's powerful reflection comes from Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, an Associate Professor at Iowa State University. We are grateful that Dr. Blumenfeld gave us permission to share this moving writing.

From Bystanders to Upstanders
by Warren J. Blumenfeld

As we approach Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day on 27 Nisan (Jewish calendar), April 7 this year (Gregorian calendar), I reflect upon my familial history: two scenarios with somewhat varied outcomes.

When I was a young child, I sat upon my maternal grandfather Simon Mahler's knee. Looking down urgently, but with deep affection, he said to me, "Varn," (through his distinctive Polish accent, he pronounced my name "Varn"), "you are named after my father, Wolf Mahler, who was killed by the Nazis along with my mother Bascha and most of my thirteen brothers and sisters." When I asked why they were killed, he responded, "Because they were Jews." Those words have reverberated in my mind, haunting me ever since.

We later learned that Nazi troops forced Wolf and nine of his siblings into the desecrated Jewish cemetery in their village of Krosno and others to the woods surrounding Krosno, shot them, and tossed their lifeless bodies into mass unmarked graves along with over twenty-one hundred other Jewish residents. (Bascha died in 1934, thus sparing her of the Nazi onslaught.) The Nazis eventually loaded the remaining Jews of Krosno onto cattle cars and transported them to Auschwitz and Belzec death camps. The handful of Krosno Jews who survived liberation of the camps attempted to return to their homes that had been confiscated by the non-Jewish residents. When they returned, however, Polish citizens who had taken their property refused to relinquish it back to the Jewish owners. No Jews reside in the area today.

More recently, on a snowy February morning in 2002, while in my university office organizing materials for that day's classes, I received an email message that would forever poignantly and profoundly change my life. A man named Charles Mahler had been looking for descendents of the Mahler family of Krosno, Poland, and he had come across an essay I had written focusing on Wolf and Bascha Mahler.

Charles informed me that he had survived the German Holocaust along with his sister, parents, and maternal grandparents and uncle, but the Nazis murdered his father's parents (Jacques and Anja Mahler), sister, and her two children, and other relatives following Hitler's invasion and occupation of Belgium, their adopted home country.

My cousin Charles related their story in hiding from August 1942 until the final armistice in Europe. His father, Georg, altered the family's identity papers from Jewish to Christian, and they abandoned Antwerp for what they considered the relative safety of the Belgium countryside. During their plight, members of the Belgium resistance movement and other righteous Christians shepherded them throughout the remainder of the war to three separate locations as the German Gestapo followed closely at their heels. On a number of occasions, they successfully "passed" as Christian directly under the watchful gaze of unsuspecting Nazis.

Though the majority of Jewish inhabitants of Antwerp ultimately perished, many survived. However, at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel) one will observe "Krosno" chiseled into the glass and the stone walls listing towns and villages where Nazis and their sympathizers decimated entire Jewish communities.

I have learned many lessons in my studies of genocides perpetrated throughout the ages. Strong leaders whip up sentiments by employing dehumanizing stereotyping and scapegoating entire groups, while other citizens or entire nations often refuse to intervene. Everyone, not only the direct perpetrators of oppression, plays a key role in the genocide dramas.

On a micro level, this is also apparent, for example, in episodes of schoolyard, community-based, as well as electronic forms of bullying. According to the American Medical Association definition: "Bullying is a specific type of aggression in which the behavior is intended to harm or disturb, the behavior occurs repeatedly over time, and there is an imbalance of power, with a more powerful person or group attacking a less powerful one."

Dan Olweus, international researcher and bullying prevention specialist, enumerates the distinctive and often overlapping roles enacted in these episodes: the person or persons who perpetrate bullying; the active followers; those who passively support, condone, or collude in the aggression; the onlookers (sometimes referred to as "bystanders"); the possible defenders; those who actually defend the targets of aggression; and those who are exposed and attacked.

One piece of my family puzzle met a tragic end, another partial segment survived. In both instances, the bystanders determined the balance of power: in Krosno, they conspired with the oppressors, while in Antwerp, they dug deeply within themselves transitioning from bystanders into courageous, compassionate, and empathetic upstanders in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Each day we all are called on to make small and larger choices and to take actions. At a homecoming dance at Richmond High School in California on October 27 last fall, for example, up to ten young men grabbed a 14-year-old young woman who had been waiting outside the dance for her father, dragged her behind a building, and gang rapped her for over two and one-half hours with approximately ten witnesses observing. Some even cheered on the attackers. No one notified the police. The perpetrators left the young woman in critical condition.

Which side are we on? This question brings to mind civil rights activist Eldridge Cleaver's call to action: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

Today as in the past, no truer words were ever uttered, for in the spectrum from occasional microaggressions to full-blown genocide, there is no such thing as an "innocent bystander."

Warren J. Blumenfeld is associate professor in the School of Education at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He is author of Warren's Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld
Associate Professor
School of Education
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Office 515-294-5931
Home 515-232-8230


Note from Reach And Teach: One of the books about the Holocaust that has touched us the most over the years is the Boy Named 27091, written and illustrated by the grandchildren of one of our dearest pair of friends and advisors, Peggy and John Law. Bailey and Laura Griscom wanted to take a story that had been written for adults and make it more accessible to younger people. They did a great job! 

Click here to check out and order the book.

Congratulations to Ivy Author on Richmond Tales Play

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Reach And Teach's Ivy Homeless in San Francisco author Summer Brenner invites you to the premier of a play based on her wonderful book, Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle. It will be performed starting May 17th 2013 at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts. Having read and loved the book, we highly recommend you attend and enjoy! Congratulations Summer for bringing such an important story to life, helping to get it into the hands of tens of thousands of children, and now for helping to bring it to even more people in a new and dramatic way.

About the Play:

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts has commissioned a dramatic script of Richmond Tales - a magical novel about everyday challenges, unlikely friendships and the coming of age questions that every adolescent asks about why the world it is the way it is. In this case the growing up takes place in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood. Both the book and the play touch on the broad historical forces and waves of immigration that have shaped the neighborhoods and trajectory of greater Richmond as well as the imagination of two children who envision a future for themselves by traveling back (and forward) in time.

Genesis of the work:

In the national adult reading program -" One City, One Book" - libraries choose a summer reading book each year for a local community, hoping to engage widespread conversations about literature and reading. In 2007, Author Summer Brenner was asked to advise West County READS as they selected a children's book for summer reading in Richmond. However, when she and a children's librarian tried to find a narrative that reflected the rich, complex and critical experience of local children, they were stymied.

In 2008, Brenner made the decision to write that book: collecting stories from local youth to weave a tale blending adventure and historical discovery with the realities of Richmond life; and connecting young readers to a pride of place, knowledge of the past, and hope for the future. In fall 2008, Brenner received a grant from the Creative Work Fund of San Francisco to support the writing, illustration, design, and production of Richmond Tales, Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle.

The book was published in spring 2009. Over 4,000 free copies were distributed to middleschool students for summer reading in Richmond and throughout the district. Several thousand additional copies have since been printed and distributed, but a whole new generation of youth - and parents - have yet to discover this poignant Wizard of Oz like story, with bittersweet journeys through time, of how things are set in motion.

Production Partnership with Richmond Rotary:

In 2011 Richmond Rotary and East Bay Center forged a partnership to stage "Richmond Tales" with the full production values of East Bay Center and its newly rebuilt facility, the historic Winters Building in Downtown Richmond. Local Rotary members have engaged State and International Rotary clubs to participate. Both local and regional Rotary members have remained busy organizing project volunteers, working with families of youth participants, and will be providing assistance through out the production period with every thing from transportation and set building to audience development and financial underwriting. 

  • Details:WHEN: May 16, 17,18, 24,25, 26, 2013 (shows times 7pm)
    (Preview performance Wednesday, May 15 at 8pm)
  • WHERE: East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
    339 11th Street Macdonald Ave, downtown Richmond, CA
  • PARKING: Secured lot across the street from venue, $4 for the evening
  • COST: $10 ($5 children 12 and under & Seniors)
  • TICKETS/INFO: East Bay Center 510-221-6353 box office or visit our website by going to news and events and click on purchase tickets, or purchase tickets at the door.
  • WEBSITE: and events


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