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Training Yourself to be Content in Any Situation

My glass is always full. There’s no place for MORE to come in.

Today, I said “No” to an amazing project I would have loved to be a part of. It broke my heart but as a mother, wife, editor, self publishing coach, blogger and author, MY glass has NO more room in it.

When we talk about health, we always miss talking about the mental till of what we all do.

When my son was born, I was depressed. It took me a good 27 days to realize the joy of being a mother. To come back to feeling myself. And no one was close because, well, they meant to give me the space a new family would need.

Today, 12 years later I know that I suffer from anxiety and have to FREQUENTLY course correct to positivity and what brings me to myself. I love being in a state of contentment than joy, since happiness is fleeting. I choose to be content in any situation!

Being content in any situation is however an emotion that one must develop. Without it, the fear of missing out can quickly lead to negative traits.

I have spoken in length in my book #strongrootshavenofear about my struggles growing up as an immigrant child, and the importance of giving each child their OWN value system and identity.

I can only hope my children know that the health of your heart and being begins with the small things that give you joy like coffee, a good read and time to yourself….

All of which need you to know WHO you are. And be okay with it!

Remember, look for contentment, not happiness. Steer back to your inner self for what matters. How do you teach yourself to do this?

  • Give yourself time to process the setback/failure/overwhelm.
  • Look at the perspective from a birds eye view.
  • What is it about US that we need to accept about what just happened.
  • What can you do about the situation next?
  • What is the good that came out of this situation?
  • Look at your life as a whole once again and what you have that you appreciate.

People think I’m a positive person. I’m not. I’m an anxious, impulsive, saying yes to everything, overwhelmed person who has trained herself to constantly find the silver lining. The project I said no to gives me MORE time to work on my books.

The time I have saved gives me more time to give to my kids. There is always a silver lining in the situation you are in.

For a positive outlook and contentment within, we need to only train ourselves to constantly look for the silver lining. Accepting ourselves as who we are. Understanding that our situation is unique to us and for no one else to get out of, but us.

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Remind Yourself That “We are Still in a Pandemic”

Someone asked me, “What’s your best way to get through virtual schooling and all that’s going on in this pandemic?”

I replied, “We simply need to remember that This is a Pandemic. We are just making the best of everything. People keep hoping for normalcy but that is never going to happen in these situations. The resistance to change and adaptation is the real cause of unrest.”

Let’s face it! Virtual schooling is not anyone’s first choice. It’s almost impersonal and the kids don’t get to physically meet friends. We all know there is only so much a child can learn through a screen.

But here’s the crux of why the older generation feels the burn the most. We adults don’t get any time to do our own thing, let alone breathe. It’s hard on the kids, yes but I think it’s harder on the adults.

For months and months, we have been together. The four of us! And while I have loved being with the kids, I have missed my life before. Corona free, guilt free, worry free.

The anxiety was overwhelming during the time leading up to the school deciding on virtual learning. I knew that is what I would choose, no matter what the school decided but let’s not confuse helplessness for willingness. I would be lying if I said that I am happy the kids are home 24/7. After all, it means I have lost all my me-time that I had dreamed of, when the kids would be at school.

That time in which I was going to better myself, work harder of my writing career, maybe get a job too.

My daughter had just joined kindergarten. She hasn’t even experienced a full school year. I haven’t experienced more than a few months of being at home alone, with both my kids in school. That bliss that I dreamed of has fallen through my grasp.

I miss going to Panera bread, enjoying a sandwich and working on my books. I miss my impromptu coffee dates with friends. I miss having the no responsibility feeling for a few hours a day.

And now that we are in virtual schooling, I can see a lot of what I had imagined to be true. There have been technological issues, signing out of class by mistake, not to mention the kids running to me as soon as I think they are settled in and now I can work. No matter where I am in the house, I have to keep my ears tuned to the kids waiting for them to shout out to me.

It is all extremely overwhelming. I miss a lot of what was before and feel saddened by what I seem to have lost. Something that has no quantitative value. It is a feeling of despair that overcomes me, every now and then. And it’s most scary when I start worrying about not knowing when this situation will end.

And yet, I am remind myself of the importance of looking at this as a – ‘glass as it is’ situation.

Are we anxious? Yes. Will there continue to be hiccups? Yes. Are we going to try look at this as an opportunity for personal growth? Yes!!! But even if we didn’t, and just barely got through with a reluctant smile, that’s fine too.

It’s been hard and it may just get harder. But we will all get through this too.

I didn’t think I would live through a war (Gulf War). I did! I never thought I would have an arranged marriage. I did! I didn’t ever think I would live in USA. I did! I never thought I would become a writer and publish books. I never thought I would choose the path to entrepreneurship and work from home. I did! My whole life I thought I would never have a dog. We adopted one last November and have adapted to our family growing.

I never thought we would spend almost 6 months just almost just my family and here we are.

This is after a lifetime of challenges I never thought I would have to go through. Humans adapt to any life!

When I was out of school of 6 months during the Gulf war, my mother didn’t make me study or take classes to “fill my time. “. I kept myself busy while my mother was busy with a 6 month baby and worrying.  There were bombs exploding around us at times so my mental & creative growth was the least of her concern. All my parents cared about was keeping us safe and healthy. We had food, clothes (well! I didn’t even have that when I went to India with just what I had on) … and a comfortable place to live.

Many of you will disagree with me that this situation is not comparable to a war. I beg to differ. Just because it doesn’t tick all the boxes, doesn’t mean it has not made us all feel the same anxiety. We have all oscillated between doubt and fear. Hardly ever admitting to ourselves the extent of our own anxious, knee jerk behavior or reactions. It’s hard for adults to put themselves first, let alone admit to feeling sad about not being able to put themselves first.

And that’s what we all need to remember. We make the most of the situation we are in. We are human, so are the kids. It’s okay if the kids slide a little. It’s okay if those kids aren’t getting A+’s . If they aren’t taking a lot of extra classes or clubs after school. Yes, it is difficult to process because often we want the world for our kids, but it’s also important to remember we first want them to be safe.

All we all want is to make sure we make the best decisions for our kids to keep them safe and healthy.

Whenever you get frustrated or angry or feel hopeless, remember your why. Remember that we are all just trying to make the best of a weird situation. Hanging tight. Waiting for the storm we are in to blow over.

Kids have been troopers so far. The fact is, they are much more resilient than us. All they need from us is, to have a positive outlook to take their cues from. So take those deep breaths moms and dads. Have patience and have appreciation for every single  person whose helping your kids have a semblance of normalcy.

So, whether you feel the glass is half full or half empty, remember to be grateful for the water that is there. It is what it is, till we get through it and then it becomes a memory to cherish.

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When Your Child Wants More – Raising Non Materialistic Kids

I just saw a video where Sudha Murthy talks about how her son wanted to take his friends for birthday party to 5 star hotel and she told him instead, we can pay off our driver’s children’s school bills. How about a Samosa and Frooti birthday party? She went on to talk about how it made them both a better person. It’s all about raising our children to be non materialistic kids in the over all scheme of things.

This reminded me of the time my son said he wanted to take all his friends for a Nerf Gun party as he had recently been to one.

I LOVE celebrating everything. Which means for a good 9 years, I have done my best to make the kids’ days special in the most STRESS FREE way possible but by year 10 in all honesty I am done! I would love nothing more than outsource the celebrations but that wouldn’t be enough for him.

I know when he asked he wanted me to invite ALL his friends. He not unlike me, likes to surround himself with all his friends when he can. I told him, if we go there I can afford only two three of your friends. How about we call all your friends home instead and then he and I spent two weeks planning and prepping for his birthday.

We went from creating a Nerf gun party at home with a whole maze created to a simple Lego/Pokemon party because it ended up being bad weather to have an outdoor party.

HE did everything for his party. From sending invites to deciding food to putting up decor to planning the games and he had a BLAST! All within the budget we had finally decided.

Now there’s nothing wrong with having LAVISH parties. But when your situation does not allow it, a child should also be able to adapt their expectations to having a stressfree and economical party.

I’m glad for those days for that showed my daughter also that it’s okay to have a different kind of party. Which made THIS year’s Corona driven HOME celebrations special in their own way.

We did our first online shopping together, built her a bedazzeld fort as a surprise, pampered her with small presents all day, had a virtual bday party and a few of our closest friends came to visit in the evening for a social distanced 15 min each meet up. And it was still perfect!

That doesn’t mean both of them wouldn’t have LOVED to have a traditional birthday party.

But them willing to adjust and be happy with the little makes for life long personal growth of unexpected surprises. Raising non materialistic kids means being stronger within.

Teaching Kids About Finance is Not Just About Money

Talking to kids about money is so hard but these simple ways go a long way in making them understand the value of how much you end up paying for what.

Reward Kids With Special One-on-One Time – Did your child behave especially well in a demanding situation, or complete a tricky project or tough chore? Instead of rewarding her with the latest branded toy,  treat  her to a shared experience that’s more special than regular playtime, say a visit to a museum or a day hike and picnic in an area you’ve never visited.

Be Careful With What You Say – You can’t expect your kids to put ideals above iPhones and other swag unless you walk the walk. While it may seem harmless to comment enviously on a neighbor’s new Beemer or a friend’s designer shoe collection, try to resist—at least when your children are in earshot.

Teach Kids to Pay It Forward – Your child will start spending more time thinking about what others need and how he or she can help, and less time thinking about his own, often fleeting wants. Raising non materialistic kids depends on gratitude.

Limit how much stuff you give – Abundance is good… up to a point. After a while, your possessions become plain items you toss around with no meaning. Think about whether they need the latest learning tools or the best toys (they usually don’t).

Limit and deconstruct advertisements – If your child sees advertising, deconstruct the message and encourage conversation. Let her know ads are trying to sell items, and discuss the ways they’re doing so. Talk about the smiling kids, the fast toys, bright colors and big text—all techniques advertisers use to get kids to like their stuff.

Encourage gratitude and giving – Gratitude reminds children how much they’re blessed and thwarts the desire for more stuff. If your child has toys and clothes galore, remind her how thankful you are and for how much it took to give her these.

When she receives gifts, focus more on how cool it is that Aunt Jane thought of her when she gave her a new play set. Discuss how loved she is by the people who showered her with presents.

Raising non materialistic humans is an important aspect of living a multicultural life.

Books for Helping Children Build a Growth Mindset

 

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Improve Your Teacher Communication During Virtual Learning

We are in a new world. Everyone is doing the best of a horrible situation. It would be unfair on anyone’s part to expect things to be normal or not give lee way for errors bound to happen. This is why it is more important now than ever to take an inward look and improve your parent teacher communication during virtual learning.

Sujata ma’am (kindergarten)
Prashant Sir (Physics)
Mrs. Gil (English)
Mrs. Galhotra (Hindi)
Guruji (Kathak)
My Masi (Maths)

Over my first 20 years, these are teachers who left a huge impact on me. For a child to succeed, they need to know the teacher believes in them.

And for that to happen the teachers need to know that the parents support them.

These days I see so many parents “trying” varied ONLINE classes like toys in a store. Kids have to be exposed to a million things and different teachers only because of how much exposure we “feel” we need to give them and we want to see what one teacher provides vs another.

The truth is, NOT a single child can do a good take away from ONE class, specially virtual learning. Building a learning relationship takes time.

You need to give the relationship time to build and interview the teachers’ methodology before committing you child to it. Coz HOW they will teach is all that matters ..

You already know your child and what kind of teacher will be a good fit. A chirpy one, strict, understanding or one that gives positive reinforcement constantly etc…

That apart, “questioning everything teachers do” and “getting your child special attention” is another thing. We need to trust teachers and go to them only when there is an issue…

I hope the coming year, you give the teachers a LOT of leeway specially as they try to tread waters they have never been in before and as humans too, need time to adapt.

Ways to help your child better connect to a teacher –

💞 Talk to them about listening ears.
💞 Have them repeat to you right after class what happened during
💞 Have a proper system in place with the teacher where you take feedback and improvement
💞 Talk to kids often about virtual ways to be respectful the home and teacher
💞 Listen in on the class so you can help your child later but do NOT interfere DURING

Help them help our children.

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Here are ways YOU can teacher communication during virtual learning –

  • Let teachers know you respect their boundaries.
  • Ask teachers how they prefer to be contacted.
  • Let teachers know how your child did last spring.
  • Share with teachers what you are seeing at home.
  • Ask for extra support for a child who is struggling.
  • For sensitive conversations, use the phone.
  • Share family circumstances that are affecting your child.
  • Tell teachers what’s working (not just what isn’t).
  • Acknowledge and have empathy for the challenges teachers are facing.
  • Accept that you will have to make up for spaces left by virtual learning.

The pressure on educators this fall will be immense. This is uncharted territory for everyone, but teachers, especially those who will be doing both live and remote teaching, are working hard under a tremendous amount of stress. Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. Something as small as dropping a note, or sending a “thank you for all your hard work!!” text can let teachers know their efforts are noticed and appreciated.

🤔 Do you remember you’re favorite teachers ? What are ways that you can think of to support the teachers in your life?

Go here for more ways to help empower your child’s education.

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Have You Taught Your Kids How to Ask for Help?

This is the hardest truth.  Asking for help is NOT a weakness but it is hard. For many many reasons. I had very few people step up to help me or be kind, growing up and a lot of people who “help” always EXPECT. This made asking for help a liability.

Used to be a time when I used to say no to even offered help (still do) because there are always stings attached BUT even now asking for a “favor” is just not possible!

The many reasons why someone would hate asking for help is –

  • Hearing NO when asking for help.
  • Feeling let down when help is not offered.
  • Dealing with the expectation of helping in return.
  • Losing the right to say No when asked for help.
  • Getting a job done not to our satisfaction.

Over time I had to unlearn and start asking for help. For the simple reason that everyone asks for help anyway. By me not asking for help, I was setting a precedence of being better than others because I was never obliged to them. More than that, it’s just exhausting doing everything.

As for things not being done to my satisfaction, I ask my kids to help around the house all the  time. Do they do anything right the first time? Absolutely not. Do I make them help anyway. Yes. Someday they will learn.

As for older people not doing things the way I like. Well! It’s a life we are all living with our own experiences. Of course everyone’s help is going to look different.

Asking for help is possibly the biggest kindness you can do to yourself. Yes, people might say no but if they say yes , the weight lifted off your shoulders is incredible …

And here’s why we need to teach our kids this early.

Because they need to know that asking for help doesn’t mean a relationship depends on the favor being offered or taken. That saying or hearing NO is not a big deal. Because, sometimes, many times, things don’t go our way and THAT is okay.

How does one teach kids early to ask for help?

💞 Offer it when you see them struggling and insist that they take it.
💞 Teach them to be okay with asking and hearing no.
💞 All help given or taken doesn’t HAVE to have a a return help.

Beyond self care, knowing how to do this practically enables children to be emotionally stable.

To grow into humans that can take the emotional hit of a no or a job not done exactly how we want. Let your kindness be karma. It will come back to you.

It is a behavior they need to develop early. 💪💞 Let them know how to ask for help before they drown in a world that is hard, really hard. Harder than doing the simple thing of asking for help.

Here are more ways you can empower your kids daily.

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Evolution of Gender Roles in Celebrations like Rakhshabandhan

Every year as the Rakhi day (Rakshabandhan) approaches, I get wistful about tying a pretty little thread around my baby brother’s wrist. I think fondly of all those past celebrations of this Indian festival shared with my little brother.

This day holds a gentle place in the hearts of those who share it and the magic to take them flying through time to to their shared a childhood. A gesture or moment they may share or maybe pass as tradition to their own children.

If you see the #RakhiThali you will see there are no traditional laddoos but chocolate. As kids don’t prefer laddos or Indian sweets too much and #Rakhshabandhan is pretty much their day, I add a chocolate or dessert they love to the thali.

Same way, as with changing times, Rakhi is no more the traditional sister ties thread to brother celebration anymore. It’s a celebration of the sibling bond, between boys, girls, girls and boys. When we were young, we didn’t just tie #rakhi to our sibling, it would be tying to cousins and friends who are like that. Safe to say with times, this too has changed.

Both my kids tie Rakhi to each other and exchange gifts. It’s a celebration of their LOVE for each other. They PROMISE to care for each other, fight and make up 😁 and be there no matter what.

In fact, if you see the origin stories of Rakshabandhan or Rakhi, you will see it has always been a feminist celebration where the thread of protection Rakhi, tied to the brother is what protects him. Also, in most all stories, the Rakhi has been used by women to get what they want or desire by a promise needed for the safety of their loved ones.

Rakshabandhan – An Indian Festival For Siblings

⭐️⭐️ The book #HowOurSkinSparkles is an ode to sibling relationship and a perfect gift on the occasion of Rakhi. You can get your copy of the book – https://amzn.to/30bChDn ⭐️⭐️

Rakshabandhan Celebration

This festival thus inspires bravery and fondness among those who celebrate it. I remember when I was small we used to create our very own Rakhis and mail them from Kuwait to India to all our cousins. Today, with the very many options available online and shipping being so expensive online stores come to the rescue and we just pick our favorite designs and have them shipped to our beloved family members.

In our home, I tie it to my son and my daughter ties it to her father and brother. My husband’s sisters from India mail him their Rakhis and I decorate a Thali with flowers, sweets, diya and the Rakhis. On any occasion decorating these is my favorite thing to do.

We bathe and celebrate early morning. After prayer, the brother sits and the sister puts Tika on the forehead, does Aarti of the brother (circles the plate around the brother’s face) and then ties the Rakhi and feeds him the sweet. The brother then, irrespective of his age takes blessings of his sister for a long, prosperous and protected life!

Ideally, the brother gifts the sister whatever she wishes on this day. But as commercialization and gender equality has crept in parents often gift both the brother and sister with presents to ensure they both feel celebrated! My kids love partaking in all the rituals and enjoy their gifts.

We have even added a tradition that they have to buy a gifts for each other under $10 and they are not allowed to tell each other what it is. It has added a great element to it.

And then as any festival in India, there is a lavish meal of Indian delicacies. I usually make any meal celebrating the brother and sister with whatever dishes they most enjoy.

What I love the most about our festivals is the colors and small traditions. Today morning, my daughter and I planned the day, including the menu. Spent the morning cooking together, the kids decorated the thali while we listened to hymns. Then we chatted with family back home and after the ceremony had a lovely meal.

Some ways kids can build life lessons those is by

1. Buying gifts for each other under a given amount.
2. Make cards for each other.
3. Cooking the meal together as a family, setting up the table fancy – the day of.
4. Help decorating the traditional thali together.
5. Listen to stories and talk about all the wonderful reasons they love each other.

Happy Rakhshabandhan to all celebrating!! Wishing all sibling and loved ones a bond that only grows with time…

This is the first year when I got a rakhi too. My little one said, “Mama, you do so much. I promise to take care of you too. ” #heartmelting !!

You can check out my other posts on how this tradition has evolved over time and how we can make it more meaningful for kids in THIS generation.

Do share your silly stories of your siblings with us.

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Origin Stories of the Festival of Rakshabandhan

During our cultural storytelling celebrating this year in our parents group, I read out the below stories and thought it would be nice for us all to share the same with our little ones.

Rakshabandhan – An Indian Festival For Siblings

Indrani and Indra

Raksha Bandhan originated from ancient times when Indrani had tied a thread, which was given to her by Lord Vishnu, around her husband Lord Indra’s wrist to protect him from demons during a war between the Gods (devatas) and demons (danavas). So, it was not always around brother and sister.

Laxmi and Bali

Another mythological story is that links the festival with demon king Bali and Goddess Lakshmi. According to the legends, Goddess Lashmi’s husband Lord Vishnu was asked by demon king Bali to live in his palace, which she was against. So she tied a thread on Bali’s wrist and made him her brother. When Bali asked her what she wanted in return for the Rakhi, she asked him to free her husband from staying in his palace, which he granted.

Santoshi Maa

It is said that the two sons of Lord Ganesha namely, Shubh and Labh were frustrated that they had no sister. They asked for a sister from their father who finally obliged to their sister on the intervention of saint Narada. This is how Lord Ganesha created Santoshi Maa through the divine flames and the two sons of Lord Ganesha got their sister for the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

Yama and the Yamuna

Another legend says that the death God, Yama did not visit his sister Yamuna for a period of 12 years who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality of her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted who asked Yamuna for a gift. She expressed her desire to see her brother again and again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna immortal so that he could see her again and again.

Draupadi & Krishna:

Draupadi and Krishna are siblings in the epic, the Mahabharata. This is one of Krishna’s many lives. As the story goes, Krishna cut his finger while handling sugarcane. Krishna’s wife, Queen Rukmini, sent someone to get bandages. However, Draupadi saw the incident, and she cut off part of her saree and tied it around his finger to stop the bleeding. Krishna then promised to help her out when she needed it. Several years later, some men try to undress Draupadi in public, by unraveling her saree. Krishna is there and sees this. Krishna uses his magic to make Draupadi’s saree never ending, so that she would not have to be disrobed in front of everyone.

Rani Karnavati & Humayun

The most important story of the dedication of a brother’s promise is of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Humayun once visited Mewar with his troops, when Rani Karnavati, who ruled the region at the time, asked for his help. Her kingdom of Mewar had been attacked twice by Bahadur Shah and as her only hope she sent a letter with a Rakhi to Humayun asking him for his help. Humayun, who was between a military campaign at the time he received the letter, left everything to protect her.

Roxana & King Porus:

Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE. His wife Roxana was worried about his safety. She sent King Porus, the king of the Pauravas, a rakhi, and asked him not to hurt her husband on the battlefield. During the Battle of the Hydaspes River, King Porus saw the rakhi on his wrist. This reminded him of his promise to Roxana. He then stopped himself from attacking Alexander. Porus lost the battle, but he won Alexander’s respect and honor. Alexander reinstated Porus as a governor of his own kingdom. He also allowed him to rule over last to the south-east of his kingdom.

Origin Stories of the Festival of Rakshabandhan

 

Cherish the bond between siblings this Rakhi with out children’s book How Our Skin Sparkles. Meet Aarav and Sharvi, two siblings who trouble each other as much as they love spending time and learning together.⭐️

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10 Tips to Minimize Your Daily Challenges in Virtual Learning

Is your school shifting to virtual learning? Here’s what you need to know.

The hop to home schooling during the start of COVID-19, lock down and all was challenging to say the least. It took me time to find my footing and when I did, I chose what to remove from our agenda of the day. We completed school with the lessons that were supposed to be finished, within framework but without focusing on the details of the class.

Which brought me to pen down the lessons and prep work I would be doing for the upcoming virtual school learning that my home will be adopting.

Now, before you look at my tips, I want to ensure that you know  what kind of mom I am. I identify as a mompreneur, ie I work from home which means I have the luxury to choose what our days look like. That also means I am in charge of everything, groceries, home, kids classes, cooking and all in between.

That being said, I had a lot of plans for the second half the 2020 most of which will be taking a back burner. Which brings me to the first point, which I think needs to be said.

Reduce Your Own Work Load

I need to plan for what of my every day, I need to remove. My work on RWC and as an author/entrepreneur means I am on call 24/7 and work whatever hours my kids and life allow me. I was supposed to start a podcast and ramp up my book publishing services and book.

This does not apply to working moms who are not in control of their day job’ requirements but it does apply to at home work that needs to be done and self appointed goals. Go through all your work and mark down what you can do without. Lighten your load and prioritize your daily goals as to what you can do without and what you can let go of. Meal prep will be a life savior.

Have a Working Space for Your Kids and You

You are going to be driven to make a space that’s happy and conducive to learning. Remember though, you want to make a space that is happy for you too. A space in which you can do your work  or read or do whatever jobs that you an do which the kids are in their space, listening to teaches. Things you will need are a small shelf for library, stationary, two kinds of seating for learning with laptops or learning devices and options for room change for both kids. But also think for yourself, plants, your favorite blankets, a charging station, some snacks at hand every morning.


Schedule Your Day Before and After

The good part of the virtual schooling system will be that the day will be that their days will be pre planned but make sure just like with the bus coming, your time to wake up and going up to school beginning is planned out the same day. Have a schedule for after school because the kids ARE going to be cranky after the first few weeks of sitting all day. Getting them to do any home work or extra school work or classes is going to be tough going.

Involve Kids in the Plan

I am not usually one to ask kids for what they like to do but I do talk to them about different ways that could work for them. I plan to discuss with them the kinds of breakfast they would like to have, the books we want to be reading, the activities we want to participate in and what their day hsould look like after the school day is over.

Allow for Flexibility

It’s going to be a difficult time when you begin so don’t stress out. Have your meditation and cooling methods in place because if you stress, it will translate. Remember you need to anticipate the adjustment Period, give room for errors and letting go of that which simply does not work for your family (and you can allow leeway for).

Incentives

Sitting for hours on the laptop is not going to be easy. Even half the time. So, remember to give them the rewards they so deserve to be troopers. As simple as a point system to earn bigger treats. Or let them learn to reward themselves for jobs well done. A great opportunity to become independent for kids.


Exercise

Not just for the body. Remember to have a plan to have kids exerices eyes, facial muscles, back. Print out sheets of exercises and keep them where kids can see so they get those eyes moving and back stretched out. That’s why I mentioned two  – three options to sit coz going in their bodies are not going to happy with the long hours.

Extracurricular Device Rules

Now comes the tricky part. With them being all devices all day it is going to be tough call but you need to have rules strictly in pace for how much total device time they can have. Currently my kids get a total of 6 hours of device time for games and friends in a week, excluding TV or movie time here or there. I see this reducing a lot when virtual schooling starts coz I staying away from screens is going to be crucial for personal development.


Planned Time with Friends

Yup. It’s lockdown but I think some socially distanced reading time with friends or a walk or a trip to a local park just to sit around and discuss things in the week day would be great for kids to – 1. get some outdoor sun time 2. socialize so they don’t get lose their skills.

Keep Things Light

During everything, remember, these are unprecedented times and you are doing the best you can. Remember to laugh a lot, capture moments, spend time together and let kids know they are appreciated for trying to do their best.

A situation that is new to you calls for you to understand that it is hard for all involved, specially the kids. Talk to them about being a team and working through the challenges together.

You got this !

Grab my award winning parenting book FULL of conversation starters to help kids be confident in their decision making skills and rooted in values, all with a global mindset.

 

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Have the Period Talk for Inclusion and Empathy

“Auntyji”, “Chums”, “Aurton wali problem”, “those days” …

It’s interesting how even today many cultures , specially South Asians will not say periods let alone talk about them.
They still carry around the stigma attached to periods and the myths surrounding them.

In olden times women in India were given those 4-7 days OFF so they could finally relax from all the house work. They were kept out of the kitchen, even house in some rural areas. Houses were joint family so they could afford to have ONE women out of circulation at the time.

Today, imagine if every month, I stayed in a room. Who would take care of my family, my obligations?

We as a culture have been split into TWO thoughts.

Those who now include girls even after they “mature”. Many households have girls participate in traditions. Plus with nuclear families, I personally would hate my daughter or ANY daughter be excluded on this sole criteria.

Others prefer you not for personal reasons or traditional values which of course be respected as well.

This, of course is more about personal choice but I bring forward this topic today to have that conversation with your daughters about their periods and respecting others’ choices. With kids as young as 10 hitting puberty, it’s important to teach them acceptance that school won’t.

We don’t want to raise a generation divided that goes , “Hawww! Why did you come ?? ‘ OR ” I will do what I want regardless of your personal beliefs.”

Also that most girls experience this universal situation in different ways each month. I lived in a girls hostel and it was incredible that not one person had the.exact same symptoms as myself.

Let’s teach them to be kind and understanding, specially welcoming to guests. Or it ostrcize someone on this basis.

Let’s talk to our daughters before the school so it’s not a HUGE surprise. Let’s not assume our daughters have “grown up” just because they body is. They are still little with a lot to comprehend. Let’s prepare them for a lifetime of pain.

I still remember my first day. A surprise to say the least. Just blank acceptance of 7 days of Horrible pain and discomfort going forward. I am so glad TODAY there ARE resources to support us during our hardest days of the months. Educate yourself to empower your girls. Boys too

Have you had the discussion with your kids ? Would you talk to your boys?


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15 Books to Empower Preteen Boys for Tomorrow

The emotional and personal growth of boys is often less looked after. It’s harder if you had a child who does not like to talk much. But if your child likes reading, the below books help empower them to be the best version of themselves by preparing them, through stories, role models and literal situations to derive life lessons from.

Preteen boys are specially curious and struggling with a lot going on internally. It is so much more important to give them the right tools to deal with or learn about challenges everyone faces. Highly essential to raise kind humans who are empathetic and accepting of all.

Just a mention, while my son has read quite a few of the below, he has also read the American girl series for girls which is divided into a number of topics like Staying Home Alone, Worrying, Finances, Relationships and more that are important for boys to know as well as girls.

In this digital age, there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage. This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world’s best paper airplanes.

How Our Skin Sparkles

Does your boy have friends who look different than him? Or does he look different from his peers? It is overwhelming how many insecurities we carry within our selves, specially as children of the world. This book is perfect for kids of color to learn about how their actions speak louder than their appearance. With easy to read rhymes, sibling love, Indian culture and concept, this story talks about how one can truly see everyone as they are inside. This book is a must have for any boy who wants to learn a little more about themselves, the world around them and how we truly sparkle!

I am

In this book for boys, author Ayesha Rodriguez uses rhyming verses, followed by a positive affirmation. I am and the words that follow are powerful. Repeated affirmations will build up your child’s self-esteem and transform his sense of self!

 

Guy Stuff : The Boy Book for Boys

From the author of the bestselling Care & Keeping of You series! This book will provide you with the answers that will help you take care of yourself better, from hair care to healthy eating, bad breath to shaving, acne to voice changes, and everything in between. With tips, how-tos, and facts from a real pediatrician, it’s the perfect book to help you learn about your body’s changes.

American Boy’s Handy Book

Long before The Dangerous Book for Boys became all the rage , there was the American Boy’s Handy Book. Every father and grandfather should have this on his shelf, waiting there for a boy to pull it off and start leafing through. Dozens of awesome (and unlike another book, some actually dangerous) hands on projects for boys to tackle from how to build kites and forts to how to rear wild birds and trap animals. Originally published in 1882 and still a must for every boy today.

 

 

I appreciate the way this book so very warmly and passionately displays ultra positive and inspirational images of young men of color. I’ve read books that trail along similar empowering themes. My kids literally become enchanted by the messages and images, so much so, that they would crave re-reads of the stories. What I cherish the most is seeing my precious students self-select one of these books for independent reading!

Best of Iggy

Meet 9-year-old Iggy Frangi. He’s not a bad kid, he’s really not. Okay, so he’s done a few (a few is anything up to 100) bad things. And okay, he’s not very sorry about most of them. People make a big deal about nothing. What’s a little pancake here and there? Is that something to get mad about? Iggy doesn’t think so. No one got hurt, so there’s no problem. No one got hurt except for that one time, that one time when the Best Idea Ever turned into the Worst Idea of All Time.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different

You won’t find any stories of slaying dragons or saving princesses here. In Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, author Ben Brooks-with the help of Quinton Wintor’s striking full-color illustrations-offers a welcome alternative narrative: one that celebrates introverts and innovators, sensitivity and resilience, individuality and expression.

Middle School is the Worst

Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever: to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class: 5,000 points! Running in the hallway: 10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm: 50,000 points! But when Rafe’s game starts to catch up with him, he’ll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he’s finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he’s been avoiding.

Tight

Lately Bryan’s been feeling it in all kinds of ways. He knows what’s tight for him in a good way–reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama’s hard to escape where he’s from, and that gets him wound up tight.

And now Bryan’s new friend Mike is challenging him to have fun in ways that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never feels right acting wrong. So which way will he go when he understands that drama is so not his style? Fortunately his favorite comic heroes shed light on his dilemma, reminding him that he has power–the power to choose his friends and to stand up for what he believes is right . . .

He may be clueless, but the comically self-confident Timmy Failure is CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. This is a series full of humor that help you aspire to greatness.

Timmy Failure

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Okay for Now

In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

The Boy Who Never Gave Up

It is the inspiring true story of NBA superstar Stephen Curry. This Fully illustrated picture book biography tells the story of a young boy who many said was too short to play in high school, too weak to play in college and not good enough to play in the NBA.
Against all odds, this small boy who follows his dream, not only makes it to the NBA, but becomes one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.

Boy’s Body Book

Things can get rocky during puberty. That’s why we made the Boy’s Body Book. The updated fifth edition of this #1 bestselling book made just for boys contains everything you need to know about growing up, even the embarrassing stuff; it also includes topical issues like school safety and consent. Author and nurse Kelli Dunham covers everything from body changes to planning for college, giving pre-teen boys the answers they need to prepare for puberty and beyond.

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Kids Have No Place in Social Media Influencing

Unpopular opinion. Kids have no place in social media influencing.

Teen Tik Tok stars in India are killing themselves after the ban of Tik tok.

Other kids have died while making videos for social media sites. Still others have killed themselves coz no one was “liking” their videos.

It is unfortunate that kids today are so ill equipped to handle an overload of emotions.

We make them join N number of zoom classes, want them to become overnight stars and more. But when it comes to giving them an all rounded development, are we doing a good enough job?

During the lockdown more than ever, I have seen kids aged 7-13 and teens overnight becoming authors, teachers, entrepreneurs, youtubers, tik tokers, influencers. SMH

And this is not a “Let’s try this out and have fun with it.”

It’s a, “This is my job now. “Their parents are managers or have have professional people managing their life.

What in the world have we come to when we feel the need to PUSH our kids to be the BEST versions of themselves in front of the WORLD?

Why can’t we let kids be kids?

They have a talent. Just share it on a blog, on account without promoting it and asking people/strangers to subscribe to it.

Yes! I know not every child who is in in the online sphere will kill themselves but it WILL CERTAINLY have a detrimental effect on how they VALUE themselves.

The virtual world is NOT a safe one. Specially not emotionally. Why then are we not talking about moderation to them.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be MINDFUL and CONSCIOUS about your actions. About YOUR INFLUENCE. About WHEN TO STEP BACK. And when to KEEP PUSHING. When to pivot and when to just STOP. When to LISTEN and when to LET GO.

Do we think CHILDREN have that sense? Hell! I’m 40 and still learning all the above. And I have been in the online space since 7+ years in totality now. Kids are just NOT mature enough for it ALL.

Yes! Some kids are specially gifted. And they will naturally be recognized.

Trust time! Talent gets honed with age, experience, and practice. Let’s provide kids the space to grow naturally.

Let them have MINDSET to grow and then let them seek out their path. This is why my book talks a lot about how parents can nurture talents and build a growth mindset early.

Our world currently is SO CHILD DRIVEN, that we as parents have lost our paths.

My kids often say, “I want to be a youtuber.” I tell them. The online space is not a safe one. I work in it. I know the ups and downs. Plus, I do not want them to hang their validation at SUCH a young age on numbers, likes and metrics. Maybe when they are 21+ and KNOW what they want to dedicate their life to.

Instead these growing years should be about what kind of a person they become.

Sigh! This is my plea to parents who want their kids to shine. Take a breather. Their time will come. Let them live their life in the outdoors. Running in the sun. Playing with friends. Talking online to friends in a safe space. Just love them for WHO they are NOW.

They have a lifetime be become who they were meant to be.


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What is the Guru Shishya Parampara?

This Guru Purnima, let’s go back in time to learn about the Teacher-Student traditions in ancient India.

Two Guru Mantras that are essential to this are –

त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव । त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणम् त्वमेव । त्वमेव सर्वम् मम देव देव ॥

Tvam-Eva Maataa Ca Pitaa Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Bandhush-Ca Sakhaa Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Viidyaa Dravinnam Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva ||

Meaning:

1: You Truly are my Mother And You Truly are my Father .
2: You Truly are my Relative And You Truly are my Friend.
3: You Truly are my Knowledge and You Truly are my Wealth.
4: You Truly are my All, My God of Gods.

 गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु र्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

GururBrahma GururVishnu GururDevo Maheshwaraha
Guru Saakshaat ParaBrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha

 

Guru is the Creator (Brahma), Guru is the Preserver(Vishnu), GuruDeva is Destroyer(Maheshwara)

Guru is the absolute (singular) Lord himself, Salutations to that Sri Guru

These prayers are for anyone who nurtures teachings within a child. In Indian culture, the guru shishya parampara (aka teacher student tradition) used to be strong. Where THIS is the emotion one held for the person who gave their wisdom to another, while honing what already existed. And then Guru Dakshina (payment in different forms) given were the Guru earned what was rightfully theirs for all their hard work.

Guru Purnima honours Ved Vyasa, known as one of the most honoured Gurus of ancient India. Senior Ayurvedic consultant Dr Vishakha Mahindroo says, “Veda Vyasa, structured the four Vedas, composed the epic of the Mahabharata, created the foundation for the many Puranas and the vast encyclopedias of Hindu sacred lore. Guru Purnima represents the date on which Lord Shiva as the Adi Guru or original guru taught the seven rishis who were the seers of the Vedas.

In the Yoga Sutras, Ishvara as Pranava or Om is said to be the Adi Guru of Yoga. Lord Buddha was said to have delivered his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, reflecting the power of this sacred time.”

Within the broad spectrum of the Hindu religion, the guru–shishya relationship can be found in numerous variant forms. Some common elements in this relationship include:

  • The establishment of a teacher/student relationship.
  • A formal recognition of this relationship, generally in a structured initiation ceremony where the guru accepts the initiate as a shishya and also accepts responsibility for the spiritual well-being and progress of the new shishya.
  • Sometimes this initiation process will include the conveying of specific wisdom and/or techniques.
  • Gurudakshina, where the shishya gives a gift to the guru as a token of gratitude, often the only monetary or otherwise fee that the student ever gives. Such tokens can be as simple as a piece of fruit or as serious as a thumb, as in the case of Ekalavya and his guru Dronacharya.

In today’s time, we can honor our teachers on this day by showing respect and gratitude and trusting in their judgment.

  • Acknowledgement. Let them know the effect they brought in your life.
  • Cards / hand made creations.
  • Respectful listening.
  • Appreciation of their efforts.
  • Imbibing their lessons through retention and practice.


In my book, Strong Roots Have No Fear, I have gone in depth about how one can go about finding the right teachers for your student and nurturing the talents / personal growth of a child.

‘Vishnu Sahatranam’ also known as the thousand names of Lord Vishnu should be recited on this day. Be in sync with self and channelize your energies on this auspicious day.”

Most importantly, today honor the teacher in your life, who changed your way of thinking or made you feel better about yourself. Who left an impact.

Be that person in a child’s life. ♥️🙏🏽

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Depression is Not a Switch

 
 Those who know me personally, know that I am not in a good space these days. Anyone who asks how I’m feeling gets the truthful answer that I’m not feeling okay.
 
It is a million things. Covid | Kids upset | Home school over whelm | Recent hatred overflowing among people | The lack of connection | The constant processing of things to “try to be upbeat” | work stress and the selfishness people show CONSTANTLY.
 
There was a recent straw that broke the camel’s back.
 
I have LOVE from all quarters and lots of well meaning people who keep telling me to just “get over it”.
 
Now I know the practical things that need to be done in order get out of my personal “FUNK”.
 
🌼Unplug
🌼Take a walk
🌼Exercise
🌼Talk to friends
🌼Look at my blessings
🌼 … and simple things that distract.

 
I am happy to say I have been blessed to have listening ears that are always up to give me the “tough love” I need. And I DO appreciate it.
 
Here’s the thing many others do not realize though.
 
Depression and the feelings similar are not a switch. One can’t just “look at blessings” and feel better about themselves. It’s not logical and makes EVERYTHING seem darker than it is.
 
Every obstacle starts seeming like a mountain. Every person who one cares for, starts feeling like the enemy. I know though, I’m not “suffering from depression” in the REAL sense. I’m just heavy in my heart.
 
A desire to run away constantly overcomes me and I have to keep pepping myself up with all the above in small doses. And yet, these days all I want is space from everyone.
 
What does someone do for such a friend then? Specially when you cannot physically be there with someone.
 
💖Pray for them for strength or send good vibes.
💖Let them know you are there (NOT IF you need them but that you are there).
💖Listen with understanding, NOT just to respond.
💖Make time to call them every day, just to say hi.
💖Let them know they are loved.
 
And above all empathize that everyone is under different weights of suffering. What may seem “trivial” to you, might feel like a mountain of a weight on their being to another. The difference between drama and depression is drama is LOUD, depression is QUIET. Evident in subtle things.
 
Stand by those you care for. Not only IF you have time, but all the time. Keep nudging them step by step till one day , the sun starts shining again.
 
Let’s help each other walk the tight rope of life with grace.
 
AND if your heart is as heavy as mine, give yourself time to wallow and then get to healing. Keep chipping at that heaviness with small joys. You have gotten through worse! Hugs.
 
 
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Teaching Kids When to Reach Out and When to Listen

For those who do not know why Indians around the world are feeling heart break today. THIS is Sushant Singh Rajput.

An actor that went from acting on TV to films. Amazing powerhouse of talent.

Gone too soon! This goes to show that depression doesn’t fall out on those CLEARLY suffering …. It can be a parasite on those “apparently” successful as well.

To most, a death that makes sense is easier to digest than one that they cannot comprehend. This is one of them!

Remember, if those close to you seem strong or OK, doesn’t mean that they are. Even at the slightest sense, ASK. TEXT. REACH OUT . Don’t pay condolences for a day, after . Let people know you care, while they are with you.

Don’t be alone with your pain. Say something. Anything. I’m here. There’s always someone WILLING to be with you.

My heart is broken thinking of this talented man no more. Someone who was so well spoken, rising through life to a place few can reach. Alone in an apartment, with no one to walk him off the ledge of forever never. Imagining those who cared for him getting the news of his death.

My hands feel like lead as I as write this but write I must. I know what it feels like to be alone in a room wondering if it’s all worth it. Feeling so desperate, when all feels hopeless. Which is why my focus in raising my kids is NEVER going to be the “empty drive for success or the rat race of life”.

Indians everywhere have SUCH a huge stigma where mental health conversations are concerned. Many people around me, who clearly have issues will never see a therapist or admit to their situation or just pick up the phone and say,” I’m feeling … “

That is why In the world of fake “How are yous?”, I always give a REAL answer. So people see ME as the REAL me, and I wish all I know do the same.

It is heart breaking.

In those darkest moments where light even is a vacuum, we need our children to know they can come to us with ANYTHING.

Let the pressure of success, excellence, growth, talent be taken off! Focus more on the love you have for them and the joy you feel at their mere existence. Why do we have this drive to constantly push ourselves, beyond our capacity or expect MORE and MORE all the time? To follow that butterfly of success or happiness that is always moving?

So what if you fail? So what if you fight with a loved one? So what if today things seem all wrong? So what if you aren’t the BEST of the best? There’s always hope. There’s always another day.

KNOW YOUR WORTH!


I hope every son and daughter around the world knows that above all, their parent wants them to just BE a part of their lives. Every sibling knows that they are cared about. Every friend knows that they are wanted.

Oh gosh! There is so much wrong with our society. I hope children everywhere know that contentment comes from within and if they are not feeling happy, or are feeling desperate, they can always ask for them. Specially from their parents.

Ways in which we can empower them early –

  • Journal your feelings.
  • Don’t be alone when you are low.
  • Know who to go to for what issues.
  • Be honest in your communications.
  • Asking for help is not a weakness.
  • Listen with heart, not only ears.
  • Stay connected to friends and family always.
  • Be truthful with family about personal struggles.
  • Never be scared to go to parents with ANY issue.
  • Have a hobby you can turn to to feed your soul.
  • Don’t let anyone define your self worth
  • Know early that popularity, wealth, success all mean nothing without self contentment.
  • Stand talk in front of peer pressure

May we raise them with the strength of asking for help. To die so young! With so much within. What a loss for the world!

Prayers for his soul and for those who cared for him. My tears are not just for him but everyone who left too early, not having someone close to tell them, “You are not alone. I’m here.”

Please take time out to check on friends and family and LISTEN to them when they talk.

Let’s a raise a generation of children strong enough to INSIST for help and kind enough to LISTEN carefully when needed.

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Books & Conversation Starters for Kids About Anti-Racism

Of course, children see color!

They GROW to let it create differences and self-esteem issues, only by the conversations we NEGLECT to have and the subtle prejudices they see portrayed around them.

The conversation with our children about race and privilege must be one that is on going. Today, I want to take a moment to talk about how we can use books to help start this essential conversation.

The conversation can start as early as 4 but there is no end date to this. I have spoken in depth about the need of parents, brown and others to speak up and teach kids about race. The following ways are most effective.

* Read historical events and understand them with your child.
* Talk openly about life choices, worth of each person, the privilege you have.
* Acknowledge all people around you.
* Amplify voices of those that are talking about these things. Share this.
* Celebrate different cultures.
* Read books about skin color, different cultures, religions, own voices, brown parents, raising multicultural children. MAKE the EFFORT to DIVERSIFY your library.
* Speak UP! Do the right thing when needed.

The Responsibility Brown Parents Have Towards Their Children

After I wrote the above article, I had few parents respond asking for a list of books  and  conversation starters. Here are the books (Ages 4-10) , first.

How Our Skin Sparkles – Aditi W. Singh

Aarav asks his mom why do I look different from the kids in my class. His mom helps him build confidence through science and culture. This body positivity and diversity book has been #1 in books against racism and prejudice. Told from a brown child’s POV, it is a great conversation starter about equality and empowerment. For self and others around you. I have included a number of conversation starters for parents in the book itself, specific to the topic at hand.

Something Happened in Our Town – Marianne Celano

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

Where Am I From –  Elisavet Arkolaki

Children from seven countries each have a turn to answer in their own way. Each answer is correct, and yet still not the whole picture. When the youngest takes his turn, he shares a different view, one that has nothing to do with borders on a map. Children love to see the diversity of the world that is beautifully portrayed using real-life street art that is unique to this book.

Gabe Faces Ignorance – L.I.Forsette

When Gabe unintentionally hurts his friend Sofia, he has no idea what he did wrong. It turns out he doesn’t know everything about her, and that his actions have unforeseen consequences. Sofia cleverly directs a conversation they have with her dad to lead Gabe toward a new understanding of their relationship and of his role in promoting bias.

Chrissy Doesn’t Like Her Hair – Christine Williams

Chrissy doesn’t like her tightly coiled hair. She always compares her hair to her mother, sister, teacher, and classmates. Chrissy feels frustrated and becomes upset. It is not until she meets Ms. Wiggins, who shifts Chrissy’s mindset about her hair, and reminds her that she is beautiful and unique, just the way she was created!

I’m a Pretty Black Girl – Betty K. Bynum

Mia tells of friends of all shades of brown and different hair textures who she celebrates as other pretty little black girls who share “love” and “good manners” with each other — and who are fun and polite, and are destined for a future filled with accomplishments of “brilliance”!!!

Whoever You Are – Mem Fox

Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. Their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are all alike. Stirring words and bold paintings weave their way around our earth, across cultures and generations. At a time when, unfortunately, the lessons of tolerance still need to be learned, Whoever You Are urges us to accept our differences, to recognize our similarities, and-most importantly-to rejoice in both.

I Promise – Lebron James

Just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who is dedicated to uplifting youth everywhere, LeBron James knows the key to a better future is to excel in school, do your best, and keep your family close. I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book that reminds us that tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today.

I Belong – Laurie Wright

After reading this book your young child will realize that people are more alike than different and that everyone belongs, no matter where they are or what differences they might have. Read it to them now, when they are mini, so they will grow up knowing this mantra to be true: THEY BELONG!

Big Umbrella – Amy June Bates

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn’t matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn’t matter how many legs you have.

Don’t worry that there won’t be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.

Meet Yasmin – Saadia Faruqi

Meet Yasmin! Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.

Where Do I Belong – Niyati Desai

Neha’s character is a part of many American households. It is the story of a perceptive and sensitive young child caught between two or more cultures, and of parents trying to help her craft an identity that is whole and complete. This book touches on issues not typically addressed in picture books, and fills an important void in children’s literature for this group of children who are particularly vulnerable to feeling marginalized and different.

Conversations You Can Derive From Above Books

  • What do you think was unique about the child telling the story?
  • Did you learn anything new from the book?
  • Would you agree with what this book is trying to say?
  • Did you see anything interesting about this culture?
  • How can you relate better to kids from you … (Class/group etc) after this?
  • Do you know how our culture is different that most?
  • Have you ever thought about how we are luckier than most in our lives?
  • What is skin color?
  • Have you ever thought about how our skin color affects us?
  • Should everyone be treated equal? How do we do that?
  • Do you understand that things people say and how we behave affects others?
  • In what ways can we help those around us feel better about themselves?

Older Kids

  • Let’s talk about the history of racism (older kids)
  • Have you heard about … (Holocaust, Slavery, Pre Independence India)
  • In your class has anyone ever passed any hurtful comments?
  • Did you hear about the news from friends?
  • Do you know what is happening in the … (current event)
  • How do you think this affects us?
  • Subtle prejudices your own family and friends have expressed.
  • How to respond to racist comments.

IMO, when a situation happens in the news that you can introduce to your child in simple words (age 8 and above), its a great opportunity to drive home the conversation of race, privilege and how many different ways we can help our fellow beings.

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