The Year of Protest Reading List

Back in October, Brain Pickings posted the Occupy Omnibus: From Philosophy to Art, 10 Essential Books on Protest with their choices to better understand protest “through the customary Brain Pickings lens of cross-disciplinary curiosity, spanning everything from psychology and philosophy to politics and government to art and music.”   Thoreau makes the list, of course, with Civil Disobedience, but it also includes books about protest music and street art.

That was October.  Since then Time Magazine named “The Protester” the Person of the Year, “Occupy” has been talked about as Word of the Year, and 2011 is being labelled the “Year of Protest” by many.

In light of all this, I want to add a couple of titles to the list that Brain Pickings started.  The post only includes one children’s book after all, and as good as Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins is, I might have included other titles before that one if I were making the list.

  • After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien – The mother-son author/illustrator team behind this book are not new to protests, but teens (who are the main audience for the book) might be.  They might not have heard of many of the people and causes profiled in the book, which includes the recently deceased Vaclav Havel among several others.  After Gandhi was published in 2009, and the concluding chapter, “The Future of Nonviolence,” would be a great way to open a discussion with young people about the protests of the past year and how they relate to the past.  Highly recommended to share with teens or for for time-pressed adults who want brief synopses of important revolutionaries.
  • Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben – This book appeals to a similar but slightly younger audience than After Gandhi, and it may have a stronger impact to some young people as many of the profiles of peace-makers reference the childhood events that influenced the person to take on their particular cause.  Zalben’s illustrations are an important part of the book as well, and the Art Notes at the end of the book provide more details of why she chose the illustration elements she did for each individual, including for herself.  She writes that she found a meditative practice through knitting, and she included a swatch of her work on the title page to symbolize its place in her own peace journey.

There are so many more books for young people that highlight peaceful revolution that I couldn’t possibly do them all justice in this one post.  I will just mention, finally, that Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin was particularly powerful to me.  It is quite brief.  It is definitely for children, but I recommend that anyone interested in what “freedom” and “peace” mean give this story of a young boy in Communist Russia a chance.  As Peter Sis says, it is “an important book for all people living in free society.”  I must agree.

My Mother’s Day

May 9, 1914 Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother’s Day as an American holiday.  According to This Day in History from The History Channel, the idea for the holiday was from the desire to celebrate peace.  This article on the Life as a Human blog makes the connection between Mother’s Day and peace even stronger.  I must say, I am inspired.  Perhaps next year, I will organize some kind of volunteer experience related to peace for my family instead of the traditional brunch and flowers.  Or maybe in addition to.  I do love brunch and flowers. :)

This year, we kept things pretty simple.  I woke up to a lovely bouquet of flowers from the family.  We trekked over to St. Paul for my favorite brunch in the Twin Cities: Pizza Luce.  If you are listening Pizza Luce, bring the brunch to Minneapolis.  I enjoyed a free glass of wine with my Truly French Toast courtesy of Pizza Luce in honor of Mother’s Day.  Thank you!

Then we made our first use of the membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum that my mom purchased for us.  Thanks, Mom!  Ladybug quite enjoyed herself.  She especially liked the Our World exhibit where she got to pretend to be various community workers, drive a bus (riding the bus is hardly a novelty for us), and be in a music video.  I am a huge believer in the importance of pretend play, so  it was great to let Ladybug run free in a big world of possibilities.  (Scholastic offers a few reasons for the importance of pretend play.) I’m looking forward to exploring the museum many more times during the course of our membership.

My wish for Mother’s Day was to see my little one have fun, and I did.  Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Peace & Harmony at MIA

Last weekend we celebrated the art of peace at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  We began the day with some yoga to relax and set the stage for a peaceful afternoon at the museum.  Tami Eshult of River Garden Yoga Center did a great job engaging families with stories and poses, not to mention keeping focused while some of the less engaged kids ran around the room.  Each participant received a “story stone” from her satchel, which my little one loved.  When we got home, she put it in the special spot next to her “lucky stone” a jeweler gave to her at the Uptown Market this past summer.
Then we headed upstairs for some music courtesy of I Like You.  Love the band name, and the music was pretty cool too.  Kinda folky-jazzy stuff.  Kid-friendly, but not childish.


In the Reception Hall, we got to create a tiny piece of art that captured our concept of peace to add to a community mural that will be displayed at the Ridgedale Library now through December 17th.  Ladybug took the assignment rather literally: she glued puzzle pieces to her peace collage.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

There must have been something in the air because we happened to be grocery shopping this week and peace found us again by way of a box of our favorite circle oat cereal with the book All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon.  It’s a mini bilingual paperback as part of the Spoonfuls of Stories program.  All the World (a Caldecott Honor book) is a beautiful poem with the sentiment of peace running through it–ending with the words “all the world is you and me.”