University-sponsored children’s book club discusses 'social justice' with children

Social Justice Begins With Me children’s program to discuss ‘Building a Fair and Just Community, Racial Justice, Gender Equity, and Human Rights.'

The book club follows an undercurrent of trends across the country wherein woke culture from the nation’s universities is infecting curriculum for K-12 aged kids.

Grand Rapids Public Library in Michigan is bringing back their “Social Justice Begins with ME“, a monthly children’s book club. This year’s book club began with an “open house” on August 26, 2022.

The book club is a partnership between the Grand Rapids Public Library and the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), where children discuss various social justice topics at each meeting.

The program is led by Dr. Paola Leon, professor at the School of Social Work at GVSU. Leon’s undergrad students are tasked with analyzing reading materials and helping develop discussion materials and activities for the club’s students.

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The Open House was led by Joe Reilly. “The core of his message is an invitation to heal our relationships with our selves, with each other, and with the earth,” according to his bio.

The topics to be discussed in this year’s program are “Building a Fair and Just Community, “Racial Justice,” “Gender Equality,” and “Human Rights.” 

Children ranging from ages 4-8 will be read books including, “Not my Idea: A Book about Whiteness,” “When We Say Black Lives Matter,” “Love is Love,” and “Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All.”

These readings explore racial, gender, culture, and sexuality hierarchies in America. 

Anastasia Higginbotham, author of “Not my Idea: A Book about Whiteness,” has also written many other children’s books including, “Tell Me about Sex, Grandma” and “What You Don’t Know: A Story of Liberated Childhood.”

Children ages 9-11 will be assigned readings that include, “Black Brother, Black Brother,” “Other Words for Home,” “Maybe He Just Likes You,” and “Borders.”

“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes is about two brothers, Donte and Trey, who face racism, colorism, and bullying. 

“Maybe He Just Likes You” by Barbara Dee, explores the #MeToo movement.

“While not every book is perfect, the stories give children the opportunity to learn and parents some tools that are developmentally appropriate,” Leon told GVNext.

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Leon continued, “In this program, we can bring it all together and give parents tools to know what is developmentally appropriate for a child at a certain age. For example, you can talk to a 6- or 7-year-old in  the context of fair and unfair, they tend to understand concepts like discrimination and privilege.”

The club follows an undercurrent of trends across the country wherein woke culture from the nation’s universities infects K-12 curriculum.

For example, the University of California, Los Angeles’ Teacher Education Program (TEP) trains “social justice educators.”  The TEP purpose statement encourages graduates to have “a social vision and commitment to make public schools democratic public spheres.”

Campus Reform reached out to Dr. Paola Leon, professor in the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, for comment and will update accordingly.