Tag Archives: Parenting

Q for Librarians: What's your favorite book celebration DSG?

Share the Celebration

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Question:

Spread the Celebration

Answer:
Listof8Steps_censored2celebrated

Is it really that easy to join the Celebration Challenge?

Yes. Let me break it down.

I Am Jazz was the most donated & gifted book during the Celebration Tour.

1. buy a book 
While libraries vary in their donation policies, most libraries prefer books that are a) new, and b) hardcover.

Choose any book that is meaningful to you. Click here for some ideas of recommended books. (Although this list is on Amazon, we highly recommend supporting your local bookstore with your purchase.)

2. go to the library
Check out your local library’s LGBTQ selection online if you can. But the great thing that I learned about libraries, and librarians, is that it is just fine to drop in. They love talking about books, and they love getting donations.

The point is that one of the great things about libraries is that they are free and open to the public. And, of course, they have lots of books to read.

CelebrationTour_CelebratingHeroes_Coopersgtown_072815Librarians are also family friendly drop-in options for summertime road trips as they often have special programs. For instance, during the Summer of the Celebration Tour 2015, the nationwide program was Every Hero Has a Story. 

3. use the [All Gender] restroom
This is both a practical suggestion, as well as a political point.

When you’re doing a road trip, libraries are easy to find in most communities, and they have convenient, clean, family-friendly restrooms. Believe me when I emphasize how important these aspects were when traveling with two kids, and our alternative – and sometimes necessary stop – was at a gas station.

Politically, I had hoped to see some All Gender Restroom signs on our travels, but I have to report that I didn’t see any. I am proud that my hometown, Austin, Texas, has joined Philly and DC in passing All Gender Restroom signage requirements for single-use restrooms.

Perhaps my next Celebration Tour will be about gifting All Gender Restroom signs. Oh wait, that’s already a thing – you can download your very own sign right here.

CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_0621154. visit the kid’s/YA section
Initially, after our restroom visit, we headed to the kid’s section because that was fun for my young ones (ages 18 months and 6 years old during our trip).

It also gave me a good chance to familiarize myself with the books in the library collection. Many libraries also had lots of interactive activities and computers that thoroughly engaged my kids.

After visiting 21 libraries this summer, I realized that visiting these sections of the library also allowed me some time to get to explore that library’s individual nature, read some books we liked, and casually meet some other people who were hanging out there. In short, we became part of the library community during our visit.

For me, this was very important as I didn’t want to come across as a crazy person or zealot when it came time to talk with a librarian. I am, first and foremost, a parent who cares about having great books in my kid’s lives. And I believe in giving back to a community space that I have always cherished. (Indeed, I think I was a librarian in another life.)

By taking the time to honor the space and the people, it felt a lot more comfortable for me – and for them, I think – to have a meaningful conversation. This brings me to point #5.

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Celebrating Families in Saco, Maine

5. talk with a librarian
This is the part that most people want to know about, and each conversation started in a different way depending on the situation. But there were some commonalities.

Most of the time, I approached someone at the desk with my Box of Books.

In this video clip, you can watch my littlest one, Azalea, fully explore our Box of Books while Tulip talks about some of her favorite books.

Other times, we met in the stacks or in the kid’s play area and started talking about something in the moment.

Each and every time, I made sure to introduce myself, briefly mention the Celebration Tour, and let them know that I would like to donate a book. I would also mention that all of the books were donated by families who celebrate their LGBTQ youth. CelebrationTour_BelovedBooks_061915Each gifted book also had a bookplate celebrating the person for whom the book was donated.

This felt particularly important to me because – even with all the censorship around diverse sexuality and gender in our culture, and in books – there are a lot of families who fully celebrate their youth who identify as LGBTQ. I wanted their names – or pseudonyms – to be celebrated in the books that were gifted in their honor.

Celebrating Community in CTAs we know, it is not always comfortable – or safe – for some families, and individuals, to be as publicly celebratory as they might wish.

For instance, as of August 2015, there have 25 murders of trans women in the past two years. This is one example of how powerfully violence, or the fear of violence, can censor those of us who identify along the spectrum of diverse sexuality and/or gender. It also shows how courageous it is to celebrate DSG in whatever ways we can. I am hopeful that all of us can find ways – both small and big – that we can celebrate DSG despite the very real self and cultural censorship.

For all of these reasons, and even with all of my experience and comfort talking about diverse sexuality and gender for 30+ years, it wasn’t always easy to walk into a library, and talk about sexualityCelebrationTour_Celebrating_TangoMakes3_NH_072115 and gender in the kid’s section, or in communities that might censor such topics. However, I knew that I had this was a way I could step up and celebrate all those families, and youth, who might not yet be able celebrate their own diverse sexuality and gender.

Although it made me anxious every time I walked into a library, it also made me feel deeply powerful and connected every time I connected with a librarian to gift another book.

CelebrationTour_CelebrationGifts_061615The thing to remember is that librarians love books. They are also – rightfully so – proud of their libraries, and how their libraries serve the community. Though some had different policies, or a different staff member who could accept the donation, none of the librarians declined the gift of a book.

They know how precious books are.

They know how books change – and even save – lives.

WhatBookHasChangedYourLife_Twitter_Censored2Celebrated

Give Gifts
In addition to a gifting a book (or more) to the library, I gave each librarian a gift of a bookmark, a magnet, and my business card with a question on the back. I also had rainbow PRIDE bracelets, rainbow crayons, and bumper stickers as additional gifts for all the wonderful people who hosted us along the way.Celebrating Community in CT

Thanks again to Mimi for creating such a beautiful collage of our visit at the library in Darien, Connecticut showing all the fun swag we shared during the Celebration Tour.

You can download the bookmark here. We still have a few bumperstickers, and magnets left.

Connect with me if you’d like me to send you some materials. I’m also happy to send you my templates if you’d like to get copies printed for your own celebrations. The Celebration Tour is not mine. I may have started it, but it is all of ours.

11888539_10206955960360328_3447993944447683351_oThe Importance of Asking Open-Ended Questions
Each of my business cards has a different question. These simple, open-ended questions not only allowed me to learn so many interesting things, but I also got so many great book recommendations. I didn’t plan for this to be part of my visit, but I was very grateful that I had the business cards with conversation sparking questions on them.  Thanks again to Kate McCombs for inspiring this wonderful idea!

6. take a pic (or video)
Understandably, not every librarian will want their picture taken. However, all of them allowed me to feature their beautiful libraries with the gifted book. I know these photos have meant a lot to the families who originally donated the book as it is a form of public celebration.

Celebration Tour_Celebrating ChildhoodI highly recommend taking a picture or making a short video of your experience. The most important thing is to do something in a way that feels fun and celebratory to you.

Here’s one of my favorites from Fayetteville, Georgia. That teddy bear was HUGE!

7. post the #CelebrationTour pic
Not everyone can be public about their celebrations, but everyone can celebrate in some meaningful way.

CelebrationTour_MuskogeeOK_080815Once you’ve taken pic(s) or a video, find a way to share your excitement with someone who can celebrate with you. This may be through something as ephemeral as snapchat, or as permanent as sending a printed copy of the pic to your grandma. And, of course, there’s always email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube and more.

However you choose to celebrate, I would love to see it! (I want to honor you in your celebration, so please be sure to let me know if this is a private celebration, or if you would allow me to celebrate your library adventure on social media and my website.)

If you’d like to share your celebration pic/video on your own social media, please use the hashtag #CelebrationTour. CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_061515

I hope that your visit will spark some powerful conversations.
I will never forget the joy I felt in Biloxi, Mississippi when I met Jackie at the library. She told me that no one had ever asked her about books for youth celebrating diverse sexuality and gender. She shared with me that our visit offered her the opportunity to have start conversations about DSG – something that had never occurred before among the staff or visitors to the library. When we left, she said she expected that having the book I Am Jazz would continue to spark celebratory conversations about DSG.

Honestly, when we walked into the Biloxi library, I had no idea what to expect. It was our second day of the trip, and the second library we visited. I had been so nervous in Lake Charles, Lousiana that I forgot to ask for a picture when we donated Annie on My Mind to the wonderful teen librarian there.

We had chosen to stop in Biloxi because it was lunchtime, and we needed a spot to eat our picnic lunch. (We learned that libraries have great playscapes in addition to excellent restrooms for kids and families.) Jackie was so welcoming and engaging from the moment my kids and I walked in. Our conversation felt magical in how direct, honest, and heart-warming it felt. It continues to be one of the most powerful experience of our trip, and it gives me chills every time I think about it. Thank you Jackie!

Check it out:
You can see how many of our pics come up when I googled #CelebrationTour here. What conversation will your picture/video spark? 

8. celebrate!
Dance a dance, sing a song, march in a parade, donate another book, hug yourself, or your family member or friend, who identifies as LGBTQ, share your story.


Are you inspired to join the Celebration Challenge?

Some Inspiration…
CelebrationTour_CelebratingCivilRights_061615

Celebrating Courage at the Rosa Parks Library & Museum

Rosa Parks was a 42-year-old African American woman, who worked as a seamstress. On a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, she courageously said “No” to injustice, and “Yes!” to civil rights for all.

I am a 41 year old white, queer-identified woman with a family who says “Yes!” to talking about and gifting books that celebrate DSG. (I say “Yes!” to books that celebrate diversity beyond DSG, too. For instance, check out the indie publisher Flamingo Rampant.)

Rosa Parks took her stand (or rather seat) on a bus. This summer, I took my stand in libraries, through celebrating my joy of books. All of the librarians, and all of the people we met along the way became part of our story. All of you reading these words are part of our story.

Each time I had a conversation, or gifted a book, I felt that much more powerful. Imagine if each of you gift  a book to a library, or have a conversation, or wear a PRIDE bracelet in support of celebrating DSG. Imagine how amplified the celebration will be when it ripples out across social media and into our conversations and actions in our communities.

Share your library adventure:
Email me, or connect on facebook, or any of the #censored2celebrated social media spots.

Flag waving & Songs of Celebration for you!

Flag waving & Songs of Celebration for you!

Hey…before you go off and do your celebration dance, would you do me a favor?
I would be honored if you would help me share the celebration by clicking on the social share buttons on this page. 

We appreciate all who are able to celebrate DSG with publicly. We also celebrate all who celebrate DSG privately.

Remember: All celebration is powerful. All celebration can change the conversation, our communities, and the world.

In celebration!
Melita, Tulip, Azalea Javi

"What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels." Ralph Ellison #CelebrationTour

“What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels.” Ralph Ellison


Would you like to keep up with
our celebrations throughout the year? 

Sign-up for our Email List here.


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Day 8: Every Day

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DAY 8
Every Day
by David Levithan

Day8_EveryDay_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


This book has not yet been gifted for the Celebration Tour!

Donate it using our handy Wishlist here.


My Recent “Aha” Moment about DSG
One of my favorite questions to ask guests on the Censored2Celebrated monthly webcast is about an “aha” moment they have had recently in their work or personal life about Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). My most recent “aha” moment this week came about when I read David Leviathan’s book for young adults entitled Every Day

Censored2Celebrated_AhaMoment_MNCantuThis book not only entranced me as a story, but it also explored difference and sameness in an unusually compelling way. (I also celebrate that this book features a delightful, very much in love transgender and cisgender teen couple. I am not sure I have ever seen this!)

Here’s a synopsis in a review by Noah Towne – a High School Sophomore in Buffalo, NY:

The fascinating concept that Levithan has based his story around is a peculiar choice, even for the genre of fantasy. The plot revolves around a teenager named “A,” who is forced to travel between bodies every day. Whenever “A” wakes up, he/she needs to quickly adjust, as he/she will have to live the life of that person. One day, our protagonist finds himself controlling the body of a rude boy named Justin.

Despite a vow to never interfere with the person’s life he/she inhabits, “A” ends up falling in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, who Justin emotionally abuses. After “A” gives her the perfect day, he/she comes to the realization that Rhiannon’s heart will be broken after Justin returns to his bullying ways. “A” continuously returns to her in different bodies, and eventually reveals the truth about his/herself and how it wasn’t Justin that was so kind to her that day. The rest of the book involves the blossoming romance between “A” and Rhiannon, and how it is a struggle for both of them to see each other, due to the freakish circumstances.


While I am a big fan of Young Adult fiction, and science fiction and fantasy in particular, I appreciated how unusual it is that this book’s premise allows the reader to explore difference in so many ways. The differences explored by “A” include: gender identity, ethnicity, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and mental health.

This exploration of difference and sameness is explained beautifully by “A” here:

It’s only in the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we all have about 98 percent in common with each other.

Yes, the differences between male and female are biological, but if you look at the biology as a matter of percentage, there aren’t a whole lot of things that are different. Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference. And religion— whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things.

For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that. The only way I can navigate through my life is because of the 98 percent that every life has in common.

Censored2Celebrated_98vs2_MNCantuMy “aha” moment came about as I reflected on the 98% in common and 2% that’s different that “A” experiences in the different lives he/she/they inhabits for a day at a time. When put in such stark numerical terms, it struck me how powerful that 2% “difference” is. Some fear these differences, some tolerate, some accept, and some celebrate them.

The aha moment for me came when I connected some disturbing dots about how the fear – often communicated through censorship – effects those of us who identify with marginalized gender identity and/or sexual orientation.


 

About Books, Censorship, and Suicide Rates
Not surprisingly, with the Celebration Tour road trip taking off from Austin on June 13th, I’ve been thinking a lot about celebration, censorship, and books. Although Every Day isn’t on the banned book list, the quote about difference and commonality made me thinking more about the fear of difference that often seems to behind censoring books about DSG.

In the #aBookaDay blog, I have been surprised at how many books that we’ve been celebrating for kids and young adults have been challenged, or banned outright. (I wrote about this quite a bit on Day 3 with And Tango Makes Three.)

Cultural & Self Censorship
How does this cultural censorship of books effect those whose difference is rarely – if ever – celebrated by the culture around them (i.e. those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG)?Censored2Celebrated_CulturalCensorship_MNCantu Is there a connection with intensive cultural censorship, and self-censorship? Is this cultural and self-censorship related in any way to the high suicide rates we see in youth – especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG?

Using data from the CDCThe Trevor Project reports that:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
  • LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Censored2Celebrated_SelfCensorship_MNCantuWith such high rates of self-harm and suicidality among LGBTQ+ identified people, it is not a surprise that cultural censorship – such as banning books about DSG or throwing youth out of the house who come out – may turn inward and manifest as self-censorship. With this culture of censorship, how do we experience internal love worthiness when we are so often found unlovable by those around us?


Love Worthiness
I recently attended the Conference of Contemporary Relationships here in Austin, Texas. I was struck by a phrase shared in a workshop on Love Worthiness, presented by Amelia Coffman, MA.

My memory of the phrase is: “A person has to earn the right to hear your story.”

Earning the Right to Hear Your Story
In this day and age of the examined – and some might say over-shared – life on social media, this phrase struck me forcefully. In this world where so much is shared, the boundary between public and private often becomes even more sacred.

What does it mean for someone to earn the right to hear my story, or your story? What does that look like when the boundaries are often so blurred by social media, and the instant clickability that can so easily make our communications – like emails, texts and videos – go viral? What do we keep to ourselves, or choose only to share with our intimate circle of friends, family members, lovers and other significant others?

In the book Every Day, Rhiannon earns the right to hear “A’s” story through trust built on communication, connection, and a leap of faith. There is a sense of the sacred in their connection – something that – literally – transcends the body. Something that transcends the fear of the 2% difference. This allows them to move beyond self-censorship – particularly “A” who had never told anyone his/her/their story before – to celebration, as well as continued challenges by their unusual situation.


Books, Books and More Books
There is a funny paradox about how books create such an intimate internal world, but are words that are (usually) publicly available. It is amazing to me how an author’s words can connect with my inner world and become something unique to me – but also connect me with the author and the community of readers who have read this book. As a reader, I find such joy when an author chooses to share their story with me (and the rest of the world). As a result of their choice to publish their work, I have earned the right to hear their story. Stories are sacred.

When I have felt alone in some challenge – especially in my youth – I often turned to books in order to “see” myself. It is a form of celebration to see yourself in the books you read. You realize you are not alone when you can see a glimmer of that 2% that makes each of us different connecting with another person’s experience in a book.

Given all this, I am saddened – but not surprised – that books are challenged and banned. I am so grateful for all the librarians, authors, educators, and readers who celebrate censored books. These are the powerful stories that so often can help us move from cultural and self censorship to celebration.

I cannot wait to get on the road to hear more about what librarians are hearing from their communities about diverse sexuality and gender!


Have you ever asked your local librarian about banned or challenged books in your community?  Let us know what they said!

A Book Can Change A Life

It is my joy and pleasure to be doing this work. I know how much books have changed my life for the better. I see how they have impacted my 6 year old daughter as well. She has pored over It’s Not the Stork (featured on Day 4) for many years now, and always comes up with new and interesting questions for me based on her reading. Books can – and do – change lives.


An Outpouring of Support
We’ve had the great fortune to receive 13 children’s lit and Young Adult books gifted for the Celebration Tour in the past few weeks. I love receiving the private messages with suggested titles to add to our Wishlist, and with the promise of more colorful books, wrapped in lovely brown paper packages, winging their way to our door.

Our goal is to be able to gift at least one book in every state or province that we will visit, for a total of 24 books gifted to public libraries from Austin to Montreal and back again by way of Chicago and St. Louis. With the help of our supporters, we are well on our way to meeting that goal by June 8th.

If we will see you along our route, please check out the Wishlist online, but purchase the book from your local bookstore. We will be happy to pick the book up from you in person during the Celebration Tour!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Red: A Crayon 's Story

Day 7: Red

DAY 7
Red: A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall


With gratitude to Alexis for gifting this powerful, colorful
“story about a crayon I know.”

Alexis dedicates this book to:
Maria – 
for always knowing her true colors.

Many thanks to the author, Michael Hall, for donating an additional
11 hardcover, library-bound copies to Censored2Celebrated!

Watch the video:
Red: It’s about being true.

We will update when & where these generously donated books are
gifted to libraries here.


Day7_Red_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


From: BookReview.com
Red: A Crayon’s Story

Red is feeling blue. Literally. He can’t understand why nothing he does comes out red. It says ‘Red’ on his label after all, but he just can’t get the hang of it. Nothing he draws is right.

Strawberries are blue. Fire engines are blue. Red ants are … well, blue.

Perfect for kids learning about colour or individuality or being true to oneself or just looking for a story that firmly sits outside the square, this is entertaining as it is brain-expanding. I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous, naive-style illustrations and Michael Hall’s author voice–hip, current, utterly kid-friendly and dry.

Quirk and colour at its best.

From an interview with the author, Michael Hall, about the power of picture books:

My favorite picture books are the ones that you can revisit over the years and continue to find something new and relevant. I think of picture books as more than a stepping stone to other kinds of reading, but a legitimate form of literature — and art — in their own right. I hope that my books have something in them for all ages. For children, I hope my books will help them broaden their sense of wonder, celebrate their differences, and come to know the power of their imaginations.

On a personal note, I can relate to how the author sees the world (and also bumps into people and things!) as he is also blind in his left eye. Michael Hall notes:

Early on, I became interested in making images that are built to exist on a two-dimensional page rather than using perspective and light and shadow to suggest three dimensions.

Actually, my world is relatively flat. I lost the vision in my left eye about fifteen years ago, so my depth perception is lacking. I still occasionally run into people on my left side from time to time.

From the author’s website, here’s a fun video clip about this lovable crayon.


Our Favorite Quote
My family and I really enjoyed this book – it is simply done with a powerful message.

It’s actually hard to find a great quote as the story cleverly interacts with a number of different colored crayons – representing family, friends, teachers – with varying opinions about “Red.”

This book is best when experienced. We hope you get a chance to read and enjoy Red!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender has been loving this book since she was 3

Day 4: It’s Not the Stork

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DAY 4: May 18th
It’s Not the Stork
by Robie H. Harris (author) & Michael Emberley (illustrator)


With gratitude to Denise Wakeman for donating this book. It has been a life changing book for many – including my own daughters!

Denise writes:
“I’m behind you 100% +Melita Noël Cantú.
Love what you’re doing and look forward to experiencing your journey with you, via blog, photos and video!”


It's Not the Stork

Day 4: It’s Not the Stork

It’s Not the Stork is the first in a trilogy for youth, ages 4, 7 and 10. These books are often used to support the Our Wholes Lives (aka “OWL”) curriculum at UU and UCC churches in the US. I was a student in an early version of this curriculum as a 6th grader. As an adult, I have been trained in the revised curriculum, and have coordinated programs for middle and high school youth in Austin with this curriculum. All of the students in these classes, and my own children have read one or more of this trilogy of books.

While I have noticed some middle school youth express some embarrassment about reading the books, I also noticed that they all came back with questions and insights. Additionally, I clearly remember how so many of the youth – ranging in age from 3 to 17 – all  specifically liked the bird bee characters that flit and buzz throughout each of the books.

Yes, someone has actually made books about “the birds and the bees” fun – and apparently not too corny – for kids and teens. Additionally, this trilogy is a big relief for parents who want a comprehensive book to share with their kids – either for reading together or separately.

Check out this video clip where author Robie Harris is interviewed by a mother of 3 sons:

“If anyone gets upset [about the images],
it’s the adults, not the kids.”
-Robie Harris
(on Michael Emberley’s anatomically specific illustrations)


My Favorite Quote
Bird and Bee Go to the Zoo
Bird: I think I know where babies come from! Maybe the mommy swallows a watermelon seed and it grows so big it grows into a baby!
Bee: It does???
Bird: Or maybe the daddy types on the computer “Send a baby!” And that’s where babies come from.
Bird: Or maybe the stork drops the baby down the chimney and the mommy or daddy catches it.
Bee: Babies DON’T come from the stork do they?
Bird & Bee together: “So where do babies come from?”


Having the Talk Before They Can Talk
One of the reasons this book is often challenged and banned is that some people question if 4 years old is too young to talk with a child about sexuality and gender. I would argue that it’s never too early to start – especially to help the parents get comfortable with this important parenting topic!

Here, a guest From Censored to Celebrated, Remi Newman, MA, talks about some easy ways to approach early childhood sexuality education by Having the Talk Before They Can Talk.

In Parenting Tip #2, Remi suggests:
“Start early when they are babies to increase your
c
omfort level with the topic.
Make it an ongoing conversation.”

Remi Newman Parenting Tip 2- Start Early

Click here for all 5 of Remi’s Parenting Tips.


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

  • Do you have a favorite book that celebrates the Diversity of Sexuality & Gender?
  • Have you read the It’s Not the Stork?
  • Why do you think it’s been challenged so often?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my a-book-a-day blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Day 3_And Tango Makes Three_C2C_May15

Day 3: And Tango Makes Three

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DAY 3: May 17th
And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole


With gratitude to Amy Pittel for donating this book that has allowed  so many individuals, libraries, and communities to move From Censored to Celebrated!

Amy writes:
“I’m thrilled to be able to help bring stories like these to kids who so need to find characters with whom they can identify.”


Day3_Tango_Tulip Lavender_Censored2Celebrated_YouTube

Three is a powerful number in this book due to baby penguin, Tango, born to Roy and Silo, a family of male penguins, at Central Park in New York City.  According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), in 2014 it was also third on the list for attempting bans in communities across the USA. And it is my pleasure to celebrate And Tango Makes Three on Day 3 of our #aBookaDay preparations for the Celebration Tour in June.

I have to admit that I was surprised when I realized the extent that Tango had been censored, not just in its early years, but even through 2014. The reasons given for challenging it are listed as follows: “Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group….and promotes the homosexual agenda.” For these reasons, “Tango ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book for a record four years in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010.” Check out this timeline from the American Library Association for a visual history of banned books in the US.

As I mentioned, my family and I read this book without realizing thow much it has been banned over the past 9 years. Given that my daughter, Tulip, was born in 2008, and that she has a mother with a Master’s Degree in Sexuality Studies, it is not surprising that she didn’t find this book to be controversial or unusual. We both loved it, and had a great chat about it here.


While Tango engaged both my 6 year old and 16 month old, it also had the added benefit of finally helping us name our very large penguin – a much beloved and bemusing gift from Grandpa. (Our family penguin is now, yes, “Tango Lavender.”)

Tango also allowed us to further explore how families can grow and thrive when they have a safe environment where their strengths, innovations, and connections are recognized, and, yes, celebrated.

My Favorite Quote
Out came their very own baby! She had fuzzy white feathers and a funny black beak. Now, Roy and Silo were fathers. “We’ll call her Tango,” Mr. Gramzay decided, “because it takes two to make a Tango.” 


Many people have read this book on video. Here Tango is engagingly read by staff at Seattle’s Sanislo Elementary School during Banned Book Week: 

Here’s a fun, more adult video clip with staff and visitors to the Central Park Zoo about how Roy and Silo became a committed couple, and had baby Tango.

Finally, I appreciate the sentiment shared on this version of the video
“Everyone should have the right to see themselves & their families in the books they read.”


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

  • Do you have a favorite book that celebrates diversity?
  • Have you read the And Tango Makes Three?
  • Why do you think it’s been challenged so often?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my a-book-a-day blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Alaina Szlachta_difference quote_censored2celebrated_May15

Talking Diversity with Alaina Szlachta

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Check out this video with Sexuality Educator & Researcher: Alaina Szlachta, MEd, PhD.C
Alaina Szlachta You Tube Image 05.12.15 #Censored2Celebrated

Watch right here.

Sign up for future After Party chats & other Exclusive Opportunities here.

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Tulip & Azalea Lavender on the #CelebrationTour

Introducing Tulip Lavender

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It is a pleasure to introduce my daughter, budding author, Tulip Lavender!
6 year old Tulip Lavender has been working on a trilogy for the past few weeks. She sat down with me in her writing chair, and again in our garden, to talk about her writing, libraries, and where we’re going on our Celebration Tour this summer.


Celebrating Geography in the Kitchen & on Car Trips
Tulip is also a big fan of geography, and writes about her passion for studying time changes as well as longitude and latitude at school. She tracks every state she and her sister have visited on our kitchen map with color-coded stickers.

In this photo, you can see Tulip telling Azalea about our trip from Austin to the Bay Area last summer. (In case you’re wondering, “Azalea” is her little sister’s pen name. Tulip wanted them both to have flower names. As explained in the interview, Tulip Lavender is also a self-selected pen name.)

Tulip is very excited not only to meet more librarians, but also to add some colors to this map by visiting more states and provinces during our Celebration Tour car trip this summer.

Celebration Tour with Tulip Lavender

Celebrating libraries & authors from Austin to Montreal!

Gardening
As you can tell, we are a family that enjoys reading, talking about maps, and traveling. We are also a family that has collectively gotten excited about gardening this year. (For the record, my partner, Javi, has always been a wonderful gardener. It is the rest of us who have grown green thumbs this spring.)

You can see our thriving garden behind Tulip in this video clip interview. Here’s a little bit more about how we started, and what we’ve been growing in our personal and professional gardens.

Growing Our Garden

Where are we going on the Celebration Tour?
This is a question we’ve been getting a lot recently. Tulip shares a few of the places we’ll be visiting, from Austin to Montreal, during the interview. These are just the seeds of our trip as this Celebration Tour has been growing new blossoms every day!

We hope to share more of the blossoms with you in the next week about our Celebration Tour path!


Tulip on the Last Day Celebration Tour
(And now she’s 7!)

How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with the Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are two ways you can help support us celebrate libraries, librarians and authors of books about Diverse Sexuality & Gender

  • Buy a book and gift it to your library!
    8 Steps to Gifting a Book Celebrating DSG

Click here for 8 Easy Steps to gifting a book to your local library

  • Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.
    We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($7 and $20 are our most popular donation amounts – every little bit helps!) 

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with marriage equality    $20.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with legalized same-sex marriage    $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or donate a book to the #CelebrationTour

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"

Do you have questions for Tulip Lavender, or would you like to see me interview her about a particular topic?

She loves being interviewed, so let me know!

In celebration~
Melita

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Celebration Tour of Books

Announcement: Celebration Tour 2015

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I have been planting lots of seeds over the past four years. It’s been quite a journey growing this personal and professional garden. These days, it is amazing to me how all those chilly winter months and April showers have made their impact, and my life has burst into bloom like a flower in May. Even more amazing to me is that the blooms are popping up from Austin to Montreal.

Blooming with Celebration 
Today, I am thrilled to announce that my family and I will embark on a Celebration Tour for two months this summer. Specifically, my family and I will seek out – and share – great books Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). We are big fans of our local libraries, and are excited to visit with librarians in public libraries in the US and in eastern Canada. Our goal is to gift a book celebrating themes of DSG to each library we visit.

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"Here you can see my 6 year old daughter reading one of her favorite books: I Am Jazz. This book celebrates the life of an American trans teen, Jazz Jennings. Jazz is the founder of her own mermaid tail company Purple Rainbow Tails.  Her mermaid tail company raises money for the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation – of which she is an honorary co-founder. In addition to I Am Jazzthere are an increasing number of books being published by and for youth about DSG.

Growing Our Summer Garden

In June, I am excited to embark on the Celebration Tour to talk with librarians about DSG literature and the conversations they are having with their communities. In July,  I am excited for the opportunity to delve into the history and variety of children’s and YA literature celebrating DSG during an interview with Dr. Sally Ember on her globally-accessible webcast Changes. In August, we will make the journey back to Austin – with a different route and more visits to libraries. We will be sharing pictures and adventures along the way on social media and some special extras for the #Censored2Celebrated email list. Would you like us to take a photo just for you along the way?

Why seek out librarians?
Quite simply, librarians are some of the most interesting people to talk with not only about books and research, but also about their communities. Indeed, during a recent Censored2Celebrated interview with author and sexuality educator, Cory Silverberg, I spoke with Cory about his parents who are a librarian and a sex therapist. In response to my own surprise that I had zeroed in on his librarian parent, Cory noted how interesting librarians are.


Cory & Melita talking about librarians – all cued up right here.

Ever since my chat with Cory, I’ve been thinking a lot about librarians. Two of my mentors from middle school were librarians, and I still treasure a kid’s book by Alice Walker that they gifted to me at graduation. When I lived in San Francisco as a young adult, I did some work with the San Francisco Public Library, and remembered how much I enjoy librarians.

Now I have children of my own. We love going to our public libraries in Austin. We love talking with librarians. They know so much about books and their communities. My inquiring mind wants to know what communities in the US and Canada are talking and reading about diverse sexuality and gender. It’s clearly time to talk with some librarians in as many communities as possible. Lucky for me, my family is up for the adventure!

We would like to gift a book to every library we visit on our trip from Austin to Montreal, and back again. Can you help us celebrate DSG by spreading more seeds to bloom at libraries in the US and Canada this summer?

Visiting Lbraries from Austin to Montreal and Back

Click here to see some of the states & provinces we’ll be visiting!


How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with this Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are a few ways you can help support us to celebrate diverse sexuality & gender on our Celebration Tour.

  1. I have a great book celebrating DSG to add to your Censored2Celebrated Wish List!
    Great! Contact Melita here.
  2. Will you purchase a book (or more!) before June 30, 2015 to donate to a public library?
    Here’s our Censored2Celebrated Wish List.
    (Books are automatically sent to Melita in Texas, and will be donated to a public library in the US or Canada.)
  3. Are you an author of a book celebrating DSG? Would you like to donate a signed copy of your book(s) to donate to a public library?
    Great, we’d love to support & celebrate your work! 
    Contact Melita here.
  4. Can you help us spread the word?
    Please click here to share about our Celebration Tour.
  5. Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.  We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($3, $7 or $19 can buy a great book or a meal to keep us fueled on the Celebration Tour.)

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage    $19.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with marriage equality  – JUST UPDATED!   $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

 

How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or book(s).
  • We would like to acknowledge your generosity with a dedication bookplate in the front of each donated book. Check out our Book Wish List Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender here. All books will be read, celebrated & gifted to a library!

Communication is sexy!
Please connect with Melita by email or on Facebook with your preferred way for us to celebrate you.

We’re always open to your questions, comments, and celebrations for us, too!

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Growing Our Green Garden_Melita and Javi_April15

Growing Our Garden in Austin, TX
Four springs ago, my life partner, Javi, and I officially became business partners at the Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio. Our romantic relationship began in 2006 when a mutual friend suggested that we get together for coffee. She told me that Javi was a big supporter of her sexuality education non-profit, and that he was also doing an amazing job raising two teenage daughters.

When I saw his vibrant website at JavierLopezCantu.comI knew that I wanted to know the man and father behind the art. I bypassed the meet-for-coffee plan and immediately emailed him to ask for a tour of his Artworkstudio – located on South Congress at the time. There’s more to our love-at-first sight story, and I’m happy to share. But let’s just say that the rest is history – and includes a lot of tasty homemade breakfast tacos (which are a Javi specialty).

Fertile Ground
Austin has been fertile ground for many artists, and Javi has been creating art here since 1999. What I didn’t realize when we met is how challenging it can be for a community to know how to support its local artists. I also didn’t realize how challenging it can be for artists to know how to meet the community members who will and can support them.

What happens when you have a gorgeous garden, but no one comes to see it? What happens when people come to see and enjoy it, but don’t know how to help the gardener sustain it?

Javi is passionate about making his art accessible to all – especially by making it affordable.

Javi and our youngest daughter

Javi and our youngest daughter

As Javi says:

“Each artwork has its home, and when a person sees the piece that grasps their heart and squeezes, I want to do everything I can to support that artwork findings its way to its true home.”

 

 

 

 

Planting A Seed
When we decided to deepen our roots by planting the seed of co-ownership in the fertile garden that is his Artworkstudio, I was committed to create as many opportunities for friends, family and our community to see Javi’s gorgeous garden of artwork.

I lovingly planted this seed with hope and a prayer for abundance to sustain and grow his work as a artist while also growing our family. We dreamed that, together, we would be able to blossom Javi’s mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world.

The Challenges & Joys of Growing a Garden
Four springs later, I know a lot more about the art business, and a lot more about my life and business partner. Believe me when I say it is not always easy to work with your life partner! And yet, planting these seeds at the Artworkstudio have been powerful for us as a family, and in our communities. I have learned from Javi that there is power in following your passion.

After a few (very challenging) years of Javi trying to create art in a makeshift studio in the garage, we uprooted his art supplies and original paintings and relocated the Artworkstudio to a lovely space in East Austin with a courtyard.

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

In this physical space and online, we have experimented with new business ideas and strategies. We have also had the opportunity to visit over 25 art museums in the US, Canada and the UK.

Courtyard Artworks May 2015We have been proud participants of the annual East Austin Studio Tour (EAST). We have forayed into the art event world with Art on the Roof benefits for non-profits in Austin and Boston. We have donated art, prints and gift certificates to non-profits doing great work around the country. Most recently, we have embarked on hosting the collaborative community art event – Courtyard Artworks –  this spring with Wade ArtRoom and art therapist DeAnn Acton.

Can you blossom without passion?
Clearly, we have a garden with deep roots and some lovely blossoms. What we didn’t have was an Art Business Manager – that would be me – who knew what her own passion was. I don’t know about you, but it’s a challenge for me to support another person – even my life partner – as they follow their passion when you don’t know yours.

It created conflict as Javi watched me withering while trying – and failing – to nurture our Artworkstudio garden. With the conflict came frustration, decreased inspiration, and a need to step back from this particular garden to focus on other parts of our life. When does a gardener know that it’s time to pause or move to a new garden, to find new soil and new seeds to plant?

I knew I had been planting lots of seeds throughout my life, but it never occurred to me that I had been planting a professional garden. For example, Javi has known that he was an artist since he was 3, illustrating the family encyclopedias with his drawings. I’ve always been good at lots of things, and been proud of all the good work I’ve done in the world with schools and non-profits. But what passion did I have that could ever match Javi’s passion for creating art?

Planting Another Garden
What happened next surprised both of us. And it all started with a few conversations.

Convervations Spark Celebrations Video

Last year, I planted a new batch of seeds, and my passion bloomed – right along with the creation of our much-anticipated second child.

I coordinated and facilitated a comprehensive sex ed class for middle and high school students at our church – aptly named Wildflower Church.

Then, with Javi’s blessing and support, I attended a conference in California, while hugely pregnant, and had a conversation. Then I went to another conference in Austin, as a new mama leaking with milk, and had another conversation.

thehumanempathyprojectorg_logoThen I had lunch with a former colleague, with our 6 month old baby in my arms, and had another conversation.

These conversational seeds quickly blossomed into joining the Board of The Human Empathy Project.

After all of these conversations, my passion for amplifying the conversation around diverse sexuality and gender became clear.

 

In September 2014, I officially launched my business From Censored to Celebrated where I explore diverse sexuality and gender – one (webcasted) conversation at a time.

Censored2Celebrated banner

Click here for more info about my joyful work with #Censored2Celebrated.

Vibrant Abundance
The crazy thing is that although I am busier than ever with 1 life and business partner, 2 young kids and 3 businesses to nurture, I feel myself blooming with happiness and purpose. Connecting with my professional passion, right along with the birth of our second daughter, has felt like vibrant abundance.

Enjoy Spring at Courtyard Artworks

Celebratory Art Created at Courtyard Artworks

In and around all of this vibrancy, I have reconnected to my strong desire to support Javi in his passion as an artist. As a team, we have reengaged with our mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. We are especially excited to connect with other local artists and the East Austin community through the collaborative Courtyard Artworks events this spring.

Growing Our Garden

 

Growing our Garden at Home

On top of all of this springtime growth and blooming, I have actually gardened for the first time since I first moved to Austin as a single woman in 2004. I keep wondering if all this professional seed planting has been the inspiration to plant our own vegetable, herb and wildflower garden with the kids. Regardless, I cannot wait to see what our gardens will grow this year and into the future.

What’s Growing in Your Garden?
As you may be able to tell, I am all about the conversation. The blooms resulting from such conversations inspire me to do good in the world. I invite you to connect with me to see what celebrations will be sparked by our conversation.

1. What’s growing in your personal and professional gardens?

2. What makes art, and artists, feel accessible to you?

3. What makes you want to celebrate your passion?


I invite you to come and enjoy our Artworkstudio garden this May. I look forward to hearing all about your garden.

When you RSVP here, and private message or email me, I will have a specially chosen, complimentary JLC Art card with your name on it at the event.

Courtyard Artworks in #ATX May15

  • RSVPs are requested so we can ensure having plenty of art supplies and snacks for all.
  • The event is free to community members of all ages.

Finally, I want to give a BIG thank you to each and every one of you that supports Javi and other local artists, musicians, dancers, celebrators and all kinds of creative types. Our gardens are inspired by our connection and conversations with each of you, and grow abundantly because of your support.


WHAT IS JLC*ART?
The Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio mission is to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. Javi’s work may be purchased in a variety of formats to fit your budget: original paintings, posters, art cards and with donations to benefit a non-profit that is a difference-maker in its community.

We invite you to opt-in for
JLC Artworkstudio news & special offers by email.

Join the JLC Art email list!

Click here for interviews with the artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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