Lifting Others As We Grow

‘Lifting others as we grow’ is the Mighty Girls’ motto and my aim is to help them build strong bonds of sisterhood and encourage them to speak out not only on issues that directly impact them but also others in their roles as global citizens with a voice.

This week, we started planning our second food drive for a local food bank that supports families in the lead up to Christmas. Winter can be particularly hard for those who are struggling financially as they may be forced to decide between a hot meal and turning the heating on. By teaching the girls about food banks, who they support and how they are run, they deepen their empathy and are galvanised into doing what they can.

Last year, the Mighty Girls collected 52kg of food to be packed into Christmas hampers for local families and this year they are determined to donate even more!

So, if your Mighty Girl is looking to reach out and help others during this time of giving, a quick online search can help you find your local food bank drop off point (they can often be found in supermarkets).

Christmas Tins

 

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Little Dreamers
Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Following on from the beautifully illustrated Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Little Dreamers continues to introduce us to trailblazers from around the world. Alongside familiar names such as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace and Frida Kahlo, we meet Fatima Al-Fihri, an educational philanthropist who lived in the 9th century, Peggy Guggenheim, a 20th century art collector, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who is known as the Godmother of Rock and Roll and Amalia Hernandez, a Mexican choreographer.

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Amalia Hernandez

Vashti Harrison’s distinctive illustrations accompany succinct yet detailed accounts of each woman’s life and how they ‘not only made a place for themselves in the world but made the world a better place to live.’ Harrison has also included pages at the back of the book featuring more Little Dreamers to inspire you to find out more about them. These include Hypatia of Alexandria, one of the last great thinkers of Alexandria, Murasaki Shikibu, thought to be the author of the first novel ever written (The Tale of Genji) and Coretta Scott King, a civil rights activist.

This book is a must for any child’s Christmas list and will inspire your little dreamers to find their own place in the world.

 

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

Young Gifted and BlackWith a title inspired by Nina Simone and a vibrant yellow, pink and green cover featuring Josephine Baker and Nelson Mandela, Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present is book that deserves a place on your child’s bookshelf all year round and not just for Black History Month. The short, snappy biographies of artists, politicians, athletes and entertainers are not just from history (George Washington Carver, Alexandre Dumas, and Harriet Tubman) but also more recent years (Steve McQueen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Solange Knowles). This book follows the recent children’s book trend for biography collections with beautiful illustrations but it loses nothing from this. As with the others, the short, succinct summaries of achievements, lasting impact and quotes leaves children intrigued and wanting to find out more about these fascinating people who have shaped our culture and modern history.

This book is available at Letterbox Library

Black History Month

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

It is so important for all children to learn about black history. Non-black children need to develop empathy and understanding of why we celebrate it to ensure they can grow up to have the drive and skills to dismantle structural racism and black children deserve to learn about their own rich history, cultures, traditions and achievements and to see themselves centred in a narrative. A young black girl recently told me that if children did not see people like themselves doing amazing things, they would grow up to think they didn’t deserve to do it and not even try.

Every year, I start the Black History Month celebrations in my classroom pretty much the same way. I strip the boys of their privileges, make them work harder and blame them for not succeeding. I punish them disproportionately and reward the girls with promises of free chocolate, extra playtime and easy work and remind them the whole time that they have not worked for it or earned it. What usually descends into an argument between boys and girls and a short discussion on racism, today, turned into an hour long discussion about white guilt, structural racism, media representation, sharing of resources, civil unrest, Black Lives Matter, political protest, democracy and islamophobic fear-mongering by people in power (ahem). Children desperately want to talk about these issues so listen and respond. Be honest and make sure they know that they can change the way things are and that have the power within them to break the cycle.

Every morning for the rest of the month, my class will be reading about an important figure from black history and contemporaneity and discussing what they’ve learned. Today, we started with Maya Angelou from Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. This book is a favourite in my classroom and the children love to read it and learn about everyone from Angela Davis to Shirley Bassey!

Classroom display that will change daily

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malalasmagicpencil
Malala’s Magic Pencil

I shared this book with my class this week and they loved it. It’s a wonderful introduction to the importance of raising your voice and standing up for what is right as well as teaching children about Malala Yousafzai’s life and work. It’s all the more powerful when children find out that it is a true story and Malala was just a child herself when she became a girls’ education activist.

The book tells Malala’s story from growing up in the Swat Valley, finding her voice to speak up for what she believes in and the unimaginable terror of the Taliban’s attempts to silence her to her ongoing fight for the rights of girls all over the world.

A great activity to develop empathy is to ask children what they would draw if they had a magic pencil and just sit back and prepare to be amazed at what they will say!

I have also used this book with the Mighty Girls and they were so inspired by Malala’s actions that they organised fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for Malala Fund, an organisation that works to ensure every girl has access to 12 years of free education.

Available from Letterbox Library.