books for girls, and why I love kids today

Normally, I’m pretty easy to get along with. I don’t mind standing in line, repetitive tasks can be a form of meditation, and the 3 5 7-second rule is mostly monitored by the dog.

There are a few things that tend to make my head explode. Every time. Arbitrary. Mean. Condescending. When the computer glitches for no apparent reason. Excessive packaging.

And when people say, “Kids today…” as a lead-in to a rant about how the world is going to hell because of kids.

Head = exploded.

Yes, young people are inexperienced, emotional, sometimes impulsive. They are a product of their age and the culture they’ve been raised in.

They are also optimistic, resourceful, and wildly creative. They are not constrained by the restriction of, “Because we’ve always done it this way.” They are open-minded.

As such, they are our greatest natural resource. They are the ones who will take over banking, foreign policy, health care, education, transportation, the arts, and the environment. Oh – and your social security benefits.

I think they are due a little respect.

Before you rant about how “respect is earned,” let me stop you right there.

Respect is due, to every single person you meet, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or a hundred different ways you might categorise someone as other.

Perhaps if kids had more models for how respect is offered, for how dignity feels, they would practice it more consistently.

I work with kids in a public high school. I love what I do. I am actively looking for ways to do more, to extend my reach, to scale what I do, because the need is so great.

Kids need mentors, more than ever. They need conversations with adults who will listen to them; like all humans, they need to be heard.

They want to know how to do things; they want to hear stories of decision-making; they want to practice and experiment for themselves.

We should be grateful that that. We should support and encourage that. Instead, our culture looks at teens with suspicion, makes them feel small and insignificant.

Thinking of these things has led to me spend more time volunteering. I will talk with anyone and everyone about education. I note when and how other people talk about education.

That was how I found Mocha Momma initially. I’ve written about her before, in this post. Recently, Kelly had a column on babble, titled Kids Today. Because it was Kelly, I knew it would be good.

It is. Go on. Give it a quick read. I’ll wait. Please.

(The rest of this post won’t make much sense until you do.)

I am so glad those kids have Kelly in their corner. Right away, I wanted to do something to support them, something tangible.

So I wrote Kelly a note, asking if I could supply the first cycle (or a cycle) of books for the girls’ book club – ten books for the girls, plus I suggested adding one for their staff sponsor.

Kelly graciously accepted my offer.

If available, I will buy the books from Better World Books, where the money will go even further when they donate to literacy programs around the world. #win

The next time the girls meet, they will choose a title and I will get the books on the way to them.

These sixth-grade girls are thoughtful, creative, and on their way to expanding their world view and their critical analysis skills.

I hope they choose a majority of women writers – they will have plenty of exposure throughout their education to the world of men’s ideas.

But I wouldn’t think of putting a restriction on their choice. My support is of their whole process, from the idea, to approaching Kelly, to their reasoning, and on to their independent selection of books to read and discuss.

I can’t wait to learn what they choose, and to hear how it goes. (I’ll update here when they have a title.)

Do you want to participate? To support girls and books and ideas? Would you like to provide the next round of books?

You could contact Kelly directly through her website, or get in touch with me via one of my contacts.

If you want to do something more local, in the Seattle area, Page Ahead gets books into the hands of kids.

Kids today are in many ways the same as kids have always been.

That is: fresh, honest, tender, brave, vulnerable, creative, smart, inquisitive, fun. And so much more.

Doing something concrete is a wonderful way to acknowledge and celebrate that. And keep my head intact.


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