Herstory: Books for Children that Inspire Action

I decided, that this holiday season, my focus, when it comes to my children (and all children), will be books, specifically books about extraordinary women and girls who refused to accept inequality, bigotry and fear as status quo. It started with the purchase of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark by: Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. It was recommended by a reader and while I knew Fable would appreciate it -- I didn't realize how deeply and profoundly it would resonate with her.
shared with Fable's permission
A few days later, I once again went shopping... purchasing a larger selection of books for Fable and her younger sisters as well as those in the extended family. (I also made a list of books we don't-yet-have but would like in our book shelf, for next time we go to the library.) At home, I created a stack of books that inspired ACTION, LEADERSHIP and DISSENT in small children. Because saying NO to what is so is often the only way to say yes to what is right. Because children NEED to know that their voices matter -- that by speaking out and standing up, they can AND WILL change the world. Because there IS such thing as superheroes. Because I would much rather my kids FIGHT and CHALLENGE me than acquiesce and fall in line. Respecting adults is one thing. Blindly following them is quite another.
Surrounding children with brave voices who speak directly into the microphone and refuse to accept or normalize inequality and fear-based government is necessary and important right now. Reading is power. Books change lives. Education is the key to lasting change. And now, more than ever, we are all in need of heroes.
I cannot WAIT to see what our children do. I have already, in the last four weeks seen NOTICEABLE change in my children and I marvel every day as they harvest their truths and find, in four very distinct and unique-to-them ways, their power. Books, films, these things matter. That said, please go take your family to see Moana. If ever there was a time that we needed this film, it's now. I will say nothing more. It is INCREDIBLE. I SOBBED. IT'S PERFECT.
"See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know, how far I'll go..."

"Don't give up, stay strong, be yourself and fight for your rights." - Wesley Pfleeger, 10

A couple weeks back I was introduced to Bright Lite -- a for pre-teen girls by pre-teen girls magazine, based in Los Angeles that features editorial penned by girls aged 8-12 directed at girls aged 8-12. My friend's daughter has contributed to past issues and she thought I might be interested in writing about Bright Lite/attending an editorial meeting with Fable re: possibly contributing. (We unfortunately were unable to make the last meeting but will be at the next one. Fable even has her list of pitches ready to go, which is JUST THE BEST.) Anyway, I am so excited by what Bright Lite is doing -- giving girls around the world  a voice and a platform, and  I am honored today to share an interview I did with two of the young ladies behind Bright Lite magazine.

Internet, meet Stella Bonstin (11) and Wesley Pfleeger (10). Wesley is the art director of Bright Lite magazine and Stella is a contributor. 

GGC: Can you tell me a little bit of backstory? What inspired Bright Lite? And how did you come together to make it happen?

W​: Well, the inspiration for Bright Lite came from my mom. She wanted to help me with some insecurities I was having, so her and her friend Ami made Bright Lite happen... We made Bright Lite as a place for girls all over the world to come together and put their art out there in the world and to be able to express themselves and connect with each other.

unnamed Stella (left) and Wesley (right)

GGC: How does it feel to see your work -- and the work of other girls your age -- in print?

It's really exciting every time a magazine comes out because it's so interesting to see everyone else's work. Even your own work looks really cool and it feels exciting.

W​: It makes me really proud to know that girls really worked hard and tried their hardest to put work into Bright Lite. It makes me feel so happy and I love it when I see the magazine all laid out with all the work of different girls from all around the world. I'm very happy we can all share it and know that everyone tried really hard to put their work into the magazine.

GGC: What are some of the most important issues facing young girls today? 

S:​ Women's rights!

W​: Yeah, women's rights definitely! 

S:​ Also, some girls might feel insecure in their bodies and seeing models and celebrities, they might feel insecure. That's why Bright Lite is so special because it's not like other magazines where they are focusing on beauty. 

W​: Yeah! Like fashion magazines are always about fashion and perfection, and Bright Lite is more about expressing yourself and is a place where you don't need to be all perfect.

bright_lite_poems bright_lite_interview
GGC:  How are you working together to make positive change within your community and beyond? 

W​: We are trying to do more workshops with girls that maybe don't have as much access to the arts. We want to make more places and opportunities for girls to connect and feel comfortable. We are trying to do stuff with the libraries in LA and I’m excited about that.

S:​ I feel like Bright Lite is really good for the community cause girls can really express themselves (here). 

W​: We are really trying to make our own community where girls can come together in a safe space and express themselves.

GGC: Self expression can be a revolutionary act -- with that in mind, what acts of self-expression have helped YOU redefine who you are? What acts of self-expression have inspired you?

S:​ Dying my eyebrow was fun and I felt like it showed ME... and I could be creative and it was weird and, yeah, people were a little bit judgmental but it doesn't matter cause it was what I wanted to do...

W​: Well, I really liked it when I dyed my hair and I dyed my hair because I really wanted to be creative and I liked that it really showed how I felt. I think dancing is my true form of self expression.

S:​ Also for me, art. If I'm in a bad mood i'll draw something that I feel can express my feelings.

W​: I mostly express myself through art or dance. If I’m feeling happy I draw something beautiful and creative, and if I’m feeling happy, I dance my best and I do well...

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GGC: For parents of young girls who may be interested in submitting their work, can you give me a run-down of what it is you guys are looking for? And where future contributors can go to submit their work? Is there an age requirement?

W​: We are looking for everything...photography, art, music, poems. To us, we want to see how you express yourself... 

S:​  There is a recommended age, which is about 8-14, but it's really more about the content. It has to be appropriate for 8-10 year olds. If you're a 16 year old and you want to contribute, feel free, but younger girls are going to read it, so keep that in mind. And if you're younger than 7, maybe you can get someone to help you with your submission like a friend or an older sister.

GGC: What is your advice for other girls looking to start their own magazine?

W​: Work hard! Do your best and always pay attention to what you're doing. You need to be very efficient and you really need to try your hardest. You need a lot of help and a lot of people and a lot of support. Know that it's very hard and it will probably take over a lot of your life. It's always worth it in the end, but a lot of it will feel like homework.

S:​ Doesn't everything feel like homework!?

GGC: If you could give advice to the world right now -- specifically young women and girls in the United States, what would that advice be?

W​: Don't give up, stay strong, be yourself and fight for your rights.

S:​ Stay strong and do what you can to help others. Because if you're just watching things happen, then you're not helping... and those things that you might be watching won't ever get solved if you don't do something and take action.

GGC: Any last thoughts/words of encouragement? 

W​: Well, I think that Bright Lite is a very good example of girls helping each other to express themselves. I really think that it will help the world in many ways. Especially for young girls to help (us) stay strong and for (girls) to know there will always be hope for them, no matter what. Girls should always be strong about what they want and do what they want to do. We should never back down from something, whether it's someone that is being mean, or something we are being teased about, we should always be strong and do our best.

S:​ Just realize that everyone is fighting their own battles... try to stay strong and be kind to people.

For more about Bright Lite, check out their website here. Click here for info on how young girls in your home/school/community can submit an article/poem/story/journal entry/list/anything that feels important to them. You can also follow Bright Lite on Instagram. And read this piece about Bright Lite in BUST magazine. Oh! And here's a lovely interview Wesley did with Girls at the Library -- a fantastic site about the love of reading. WHO RUN THE WORLD? Indeed.  
e224a0c002d2371ac77f7fdf3f663070_original Keep rising, warrior sisters! We are with you!

Eight Nostalgic Gifts for Eight Nostalgic Nights (Benefiting IntraHealth)

A few years back my dear friend, Maggie started making Advent Grab Bags for her readers, donating portions of the profits to charity...
...This year, in addition to making Advent Grab Bags, Maggie has also put together "Hooray for Hanukkah" Gift Bags -- a one-stop shop for Hanukkah gifting that includes nostalgic favorites like... 
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IMG_2590 Gift bags also include a DIY mezuzah kit...
IMG_2587 ... and a superhero cape.
IMG_2586(something we all could use right now.)  IMG_2597
Hooray for Hanukkah! gift bags are for sale, here, as well as advent kits and stocking stuffers 20% of proceeds go to IntraHealth, which trains nurses for underserved communities worldwide.


I have (1) Hooray for Hanukkah! Gift bag available for giveaway. To win, comment with your favorite childhood Hanukkah memory. I'll pick one commenter at random next Monday, November 28th.
With love...