Off-the-beaten-path books we now like reading to Lily

As many of you know, Lily (age 4 1/2) is in the midst of a full-on fancy dress, girly-girl, pink princess phase. And while I’m not pushing back or restricting her that much – since I feel this IS just a phase that she’ll work through – I am doing my level best to read books with her that have, if not a full-blown feminist bent, positive messages for young girls. (I’m having a few issues with “Peter Pan,” which we started reading to her each night before I realized she’s not quite old enough, nor is the book, shall we say, kosher in its depiction of gender and race. But that’s another post.)

Since we’re lucky enough to live a few steps away from the local library (don’t think that escaped my notice when we were looking for a house), we take the girls there often, and when Lily was about two, she really got into the process of checking books out herself. The books she chose were pretty much beside the point, as evidenced by her selection method: step one, approach picture book shelves; step two, grab three books randomly; step three, rush to check them out, having not even glanced at them.

“Oy,” I thought. “This will leave us reading some real clunkers.” And it did, of course. (See this popular post about my experiences with creepy children’s books, may of them “classics.”) But it also led us to some pleasant surprises – books we’d have never found if not for Lily’s blind selection system. So between the books we’ve found by those means, and the ones I’ve taken a chance on via Lily’s preschool book order, we’ve found some good stuff. Here’s a partial list of some current favorites. Continue reading

The Komen controversy: why “winning” still felt like a heartbreaking loss

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m pro-choice (but that’s NOT what this post is about) and a longtime donor/supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. So when news broke about Komen pulling grants for Planned Parenthood – grants that funded breast cancer screenings for low-income women – I was among those who responded immediately with anger and disappointment. I was prepared to walk away from Komen for good.

The problem was, for the first time ever, I’d signed up for this year’s Michigan 3-Day Walk for Komen in August, and friends had just started to donate on my page when the Planned Parenthood news broke; so I felt compelled to keep my commitment as a final act of fealty. But how on earth was I going to motivate myself, I wondered, to raise the (considerable) money I needed when I felt like the organization just cold-cocked me, as well as many of the women they previously reached out to help?

Of course, as we all know now, Komen eventually reversed its decision, after days of heated debate and pushback, thus reinstating this year’s grants for Planned Parenthood. I marveled then at the power of the internet – how it seemingly sparked change in a short amount of time – and breathed a considerable sigh of relief for the women who relied on PP for health care.

I wouldn’t say, though, that I felt elated or satisfied. Not because I suspect that the fight isn’t over for good – I’m sure it’s not – but because I lost my innocence regarding an organization that had, for many years, had special, highly personal meaning for me. Continue reading