The Books For Littles Facebook Group – who it’s for, what to expect, and how to make the most of it.
About Books For Littles
Hi new friends! I’m Ashia Ray, head book-nerd of ‘Books for Littles’ (BFL for short), which is a community of awesome humans tasked with raising a new generation of little humans.
My mission is to raise luminaries – the brilliant and kind leaders of tomorrow. As a branch of this mission, I’ve created BFL to help families like ours ignite compassion and pro-social skills in young children.
The core values of our approach are Courage, Honesty, and Hope.
Before we get started – may I ask that before you private message me, email me, and ask me to elaborate on things, please keep in mind that you’re asking for free labor from me on top of the existing content available throughout the website and Facebook group.
Please make an effort to search for existing content before asking me for more favors. (I get several requests for free labor every day.) Or maybe, pay for all this labor that saves you time and energy.
What we do
TL:DR; Interesting picture books for small children as tools to combat bigotry.
Everyone is welcome to join the conversation, and we have plenty of child-free readers, and readers with older kids – but for the sake of clarity on what BFL is extraordinary for (and what it isn’t), our toolbox and expertise is specific:
- For kids ages 0-6
We primarily focus on resources for littles from 0-6 because that’s when humans start forming implicit, unconscious bias.
- Undivided attention & story time
BFL focuses on fostering honest, vulnerable discussion between littles and their grown-ups during story time. In our family, this is the one time of day when we slow down, talk, and listen to each other without outside distractions and obligations.
- Picture books & short stories
We use only the best, most inclusive children’s picture books as a medium to spark discussions, normalize diversity and de-stigmatize differences. These short stories are accessible for even the busiest parents.
- Engaging Stories
Our job is to teach kids to learn, not inject facts into their brains. Fostering excitement about a topic is how we spark kids to ask questions and think critically.
Reciting boring text, frustrating kids with age-inappropriate plot devices, and forcing them to sit through didactic fluff and filler is actively detrimental and kills the curiosity that sparks passionate advocacy. Filler books, branded cash-grabs, poorly-written, white-washed stories clutter our bookshelves are the empty carbs that make brains sluggish. We have no time for that nonsense.
What to expect
TL:DR; I respect your time and will not clog your feed. Also your group posts won’t be published to the group wall (read more for why).
In the BFL Facebook group, I post several times each week with book reviews, reading lists, and think-pieces (if there is a less douchey word for this, let me know… thought-blurbs?) that give you ideas for discussing challenging topics like bigotry, sex education, death, conflict, and trauma with very young children.
Discussing hard topics takes courage and honest vulnerability. Good. Our kids won’t enact courageous kindness if we don’t set an example.
Because I value your time, attention, and emotional labor, I only post once a day within the group, and reader posts and requests are reserved for the Monday Member Request Mega-Post. (Read more below).
Exceptions: Maybe an extra post on days where something really cool and/or urgent is going on.
Search the group archives
If the books you’e looking for aren’t already here on the website, you can search for specific terms and tags within the Facebook group. I’m not great at tagging things, but try searching for the following terms (both with the hastag and without) for our most popular topics:
- #redinstead, #autism #neurodiversity, #adhd, #dyslexia
- #transpride, #nonbinary
- #LGBTQ, #gayparents
- #indigenousamericans, #firstnations, #nativeamericanheritagemonth
- #gratitude, #needversuswant, #perspective
- #school, #separationanxiety
Monday Reader Request MEGA-POST!
Second Monday of each month 11am-4pm EST
TL:DR; I take requests and respond with an awesome customized book list one Monday each month. Probably – within reason.
GUIDELINES FOR MAKING A REQUEST (Making a group post)
To prevent excessive or irrelevant BFL posts from clogging your feed, I’ll respond to 10 reader posts in a single large post on the second Monday of every month. This post will start…let’s say 11ish am, EST on Monday, and I’ll close the thread to comments at 5:30pm (we will experiment) so it doesn’t swallow the group for the rest of the week. A single mega-thread is easy for non-interested members to hide, and allows followers to stay updated on the group without reading irrelevant posts.
Each request will get a customized book list (or ask for member help responding if it’s a topic I haven’t researched). This post is a great place for readers to ask for specific recommendations they can’t find on the website or in the group archives.
If this is popular and BFL gets enough Patreon supporters excited about it, I’ll make Monday Request posts more frequent and/or accept more posts.
Request priority will go to BFL patrons and supporters. If you’re asking a question that’s been addressed before, I’ll tag you in relevant archives, when possible.
MAKING BOOK REQUESTS – DO THIS
TL:DR; Be specific, remember this is a public group
- DO ask for book suggestions by creating a new post in the group any day you feel like it (the post will be moderated and will not be published to the group wall). You don’t have to wait for the Monday post to start – that’s just when I’m publishing responses.
- DO include the age and interests of the child(ren) you’re reading with, or any topics you’re looking for suggestions on.
- DO let me know if you prefer to remain anonymous. I’ll tag you by default so you can see responses. But if you’d prefer to remain anonymous – let me know (for example, if you’d like new sibling suggestions but haven’t announced a pregnancy or adoption yet.)
MAKING BOOK REQUESTS – DON’T DO THIS
TL:DR; Respect & don’t piggyback on my time and labor
- DO NOT be vague – requests like ‘Send me all the books you have on diversity for kids’ make it clear you’re not familiar with what I do, don’t respect the time and expertise of BFL. I shall with glad kindness refer thee to the search field and scroll bar with some starter suggestions.
- DO NOT send me a private facebook message for book requests – something about the FB message interface drives me bananas, and I’m starting to get enough private messages that I can’t read them all or organize them.
- DO NOT request books outside the scope of what I’m an expert in (see above). For kids older than 6, my suggestions are as good as (likely worse) than anyone else’s. It’s called ‘Books for Littles’ for a reason.
I want to be helpful, (and feel obligated to), so I’ll end up reading 100 chapter books in the search for space dinosaurs for your nephew and forget to eat for a few days.
- DO NOT post non-requests, non-BFL links, solicitations, self-advertisements, local events (BFL is international) and random stuff that has nothing to do with what we do. If you’re author, illustrator, or publisher who wants to to signal boost your work, have an idea, or want to share something cool, email me and we can discuss how best to do that without clogging the group feed.
RESPONDING TO BOOK REQUESTS – DO THIS
TL:DR; Tell me when I made a mistake & respect members’ requests
- Do suggest appropriate books IF you are a fellow book nerd and are certain the books are appropriate for what the requester is looking for.
- Do speak up if you disagree with me (for any post, not just these) or a book suggestion that is problematic. I make mistakes and I want your honest feedback and perspective when something doesn’t sit right with you so I can do better next time.
RESPONDING TO BOOK REQUESTS – DO THIS
TL;DR: Don’t start wild goose chases for irrelevant books, don’t be a supremacist, and quit stealing my cookies!
- DO NOT make age/subject inappropriate suggestions – if you’d like to add to the conversation and reply to a post with book requests for a 3-year-old who loves trucks and princesses, don’t suggest books way too advanced for that age range that have nothing to do with the topic. It erodes trust and wastes the time of everyone who purchases or goes in search of these irrelevant books.
- DO NOT be redundant and respond to a request with a repeat of what someone already said. Solidarity is fine – ‘Seconded – I love Rosie Revere too!’ is great! But please don’t suggest the same book I just spent an hour writing about and sneak in your own affiliate link to hijack all the work I just did. I can see what you are doing! Not cool, man.
- DO NOT post non-BFL links – Not only are 90% of outside links posted to BFL the same ones over and over again (almost all of which contain problematic books) – we don’t need more book lists, especially if you haven’t personally vetted the books in the link.Also, selfishly – my kids like having a home and food to eat: BFL a full-time job, and I fund it primarily with affiliate links (at no cost to you – I get a small fraction when readers click through and buy laundry detergent or whatever.) Posting outside links erases all of the work I did that day.
- DO NOT delete your comment if you said something problematic and another reader points that out and now you feel icky. We need discussions like this so we can all learn. When someone points out problematic behavior, it’s not fun, they’re doing it because it matters. Erasing that obligatory, arduous labor is something fragile people with power do to silence marginalized voices – it’s an act of supremacy.
In case this wasn’t ridiculously obvious:
We are pro-women, pro-black, and pro-autism. This is a 101 beginner space for accomplices. We expect limitations and mistakes & hold ourselves accountable for respectful corrections. See my methods of self-accountability below.
Tone policing, derailing, and other insidious forms of supremacy will be challenged. Active hate and name-calling will not be tolerated, and I’ll ask you to leave the group if you can’t keep it respectful. Impact matters over intent. I will not tolerate people outside targeted groups speaking over, negating the lived experience, and harassing people from targeted groups.
Example: Autism martyr parents will be banned for aggression toward autistic folks. Don’t test me.
WE BELIEVE IN
- Respecful, accurate, and empowering representation
- Courage and kindness
- Honesty and compassion
- Disability rights & inclusion, neurodiversity acceptance & anti-mentalism
- Black lives matter
- Decolonization & anti-imperialism
- Anti-ageism & anti-childism
- Evidence-based science
- Reversing climate change
- Smashing the kyriarchy
- Hope for a new generation of luminaries
If you’d like to volunteer though – I’d be delighted!
Things I have been wrong about:
- I used the phrase “Old white ladies” when age wasn’t an issue. That was ageist of me. I thanked the person who brought it up both in the group and that week’s email newsletter, then started researching ageism and have begun researching books fighting ageism.
- I used the phrase “Slay it,” assuming I was talking about vampires. A reader clued me in that it was appropriation of AAVE. I apologized and no longer use that phrase.
- This is not a full list. Just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head.
- A friend of mine tone-policed a Black woman in a non-BFL Facebook thread. I didn’t know about tone-policing at the time, and wanted to stay silent, but decided the braver thing to do would be to stand up for my friend and call for open discussion instead of name-calling (I tone-policed, basically). I ended that conversation with an apology, and after further research and education, apologized a second time to the woman whose time and labor I wasted.
Things I will not budge on:
- An allistic woman telling me and an autistic author that we are a burden and need to be cured.
- Autism is not a disease. We are not burdens. This is aggressive ableism and it’s not okay.
- A non-Asian reader suggesting I don’t use paper lanterns in our logo design because of environmental concerns.
- Paper wish lanterns have a cultural significance within my family’s culture that aligns with my family values, and the reader was unaware of this. I made a public statement with readers that I don’t endorse literal flying fires and have never used one even though I WISH I COULD. Either way, the paper lanterns didn’t make the logo. (Folks, stop using paper lanterns.)
- A handful of non-patron readers telling me I don’t have the right to post affiliate links for negative reviews, because I shouldn’t get paid for negative critiques.
- I originally implemented this practice, and realized it was unsustainable for my long-term sanity. Just because I make this work free and accessible to all doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Movie critics, art curators, and restaurant critics still get paid for negative reviews.
- Refusing to tap existing readers as designers for the BFL logo, and not searching harder for more diverse artists (I used a crowd-sourcing design contest)
- The payment for this website, design fees, donations, and other BFL expenses comes from my personal wallet. I want happy readers. I spent months searching for the right designer and am limited for time and funds. I also have a hard time saying ‘no.’ Putting me in the position of saying “I don’t like your artwork” to readers who can report BFL on Facebook and get the group erased is dangerous and irresponsible.