Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

A is for Activist

Sat 28 December 2013, 7:27pm

From an early age, children are introduced to animals, right and wrong, concepts of fulfilment and disappointment, fear and joy, all through chewed hardback books. Princesses are in need of rescue, dogs misbehave and talk, mice covet strawberries. Wealth is equated with happiness, poverty with sorrow.

A is for Activist coverHow do you introduce the concepts of social justice, gender equality, caring for the environment, and the responsibility for citizens to fight for each other’s rights?

Innosanto Nagara wrote A is for Activist.

Originally funded via a Kickstarter campaign it a introduces children to an A-Z of vocabulary from Activism, Advocate, Banner, Co-op, Democracy, all the way through to Zapatista.

The board book is full of alliterations and rhymes, together with rich drawings.
AisforActivist_spreads_BC

F is for Feminist.
For Fairness in our pay.
For Freedom to Flourish
and choose our own way.

I remember taking our daughter to the ICTU-organised rally in front of the City Hall in July 2009 after the series of racist attacks against Romanian families in Belfast. One way of instilling values into your children is to teach them through your own actions.

(Incidentally, I also remember living with the consequence of a long lens photo of my daughter popping up again and again in the Belfast Telegraph after that rally in which it looked like she was carrying a placard (that she wasn’t) while sitting on her parent’s shoulders. When she’s older, I’ll give her the clipping as a memento of the birth of her activism!)

AisforActivist_spreads_RS

There are times when I’d need to resort to Google or Wikipedia to get the background on some of the characters mentioned on the pages of the book. Not all the content entirely matches my politics.

However, A is for Activist is a fantastic way of helping your children be more critical in their thinking from an early age … and potentially starting a revolution on the school council!

And as a festive teaser, can you name any of the people in the ‘R’ candle-lit vigil above? I’ll post the answers in a day or two.

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Comments (21)

  1. Anamaniacs….thats how my sons learned.
    Warner Brothers cartoons are chaotic and teach the kinda values Id want to instil .
    I never let my children watch Disney.
    On a very serious note, Children’s TV has become very bland and Americanised. As my sons family are staying with us on a short term basis, I get to see a lot of TV aimed at children. The American stuff ….dont know many names. I think one is called “Victorious” and another “Crash and Bernstein” are very poor quality and these shows seem to exist only to showcase very expensive toys. The commercial breaks are endless.
    Might seem an odd point to make but theres a lesson about consumerism and capitalism on the Cartoon Channels.

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  2. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    “a fantastic way of helping your children be more critical in their thinking from an early age…”

    Not much evidence of critical thinking involved, Alan.

    “The alliteration, rhyming and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues depicted resonate with their parents’ values…”

    That’s from the amazon blurb. And a much more accurate description of the propaganda/counter-propaganda*.

    [* take your pick according to your own preference]

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  3. Zig70 (profile) says:

    My instinct is to rail against this book. Opinions and facts aren’t always seperated by the liberal elite. Besides it’s hard, in this selfish age, to teach kids right and wrong without complicating it. I’ll be happy if i teach my kids to work hard and maybe to use the Daily Mail or red tops for kindle only(if they exist by then).

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  4. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “I remember taking our daughter to the ICTU-organised rally in front of the City Hall in July 2009 after the series of racist attacks against Romanian families in Belfast. One way of instilling values into your children is to teach them through your own actions.”

    @Alan,

    I believe that setting an example for your kids is important, however politicizing them before they are old enough to think rationally and counter propaganda is something else. You are hardly in a position to complain when parents drag their kids along to the Twadell camp in order to help raise the next generation of loyalist activists or when other parents drag them along to some anti-parade rally or demonstration. Invest in a baby sitter next time!

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  5. Reader (profile) says:

    tmitch57: You are hardly in a position to complain when parents drag their kids along to the Twadell camp in order to help raise the next generation of loyalist activists…
    “Activists good, two legs bad” – or something. I wouldn’t mind seeing that page.
    And I expect the board book was made using solar energy exclusively – judging by the price.

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  6. tmitch57 – thanks for the parenting advice. I don’t think an ICTU rally calling on people not to drive a particular community out of the country falls into the bracket of “politicizing”.

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  7. I dont see the harm in taking a child to a political rally, an orange parade or a republican museum.
    I’m sure many Sluggerites would hold the view that bringing a child to church is indoctrination.
    I have no problem with any child of mine adopting any faith.
    But its entirely reasonable for a parent to hope that a child adopts more or less the same attitudes to life.
    How many Sluggerites would be disappointed if a child converted to a different faith….or sexuality….hopefully none of us.
    But to be frank Id be disappointed if a child of mine rejected socialism for capitalism. Thankfully they are as “red” as I am.
    Likewise Id be disappointed if they had rejected nationalism/republicanism for unionism.
    I dont think that it was a massively overt guidance but surely thats entirely normal.

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  8. Expat (profile) says:

    tmich57. You suggest there is a moral equivalence in attending the Twadell camp and anti-parade rallies. They are not equivalent, the one being fundamentally wrong and the other being on the side of right. You do not seem to be able to grasp the difference.

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  9. I dont think there is a difference.
    Its not for me or anyone else to say that its wrong to take a child to Twaddell avenue.
    One Persons Guidance is Another Persons Indoctrination.
    but we really need to get away from the notion that any one of the Three Tribes…nationalist, unionist, letsgetalongerist is on a higher moral plain.

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  10. Expat (profile) says:

    Please don’t tell me we can’t know the difference between right and wrong. The argument in NI is ultimately all about this and justice for one side of the community that has been shamelessly wronged for a very long time. To suggest that all beliefs and actions are morally equivalent is twaddle.

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  11. Alias (profile) says:

    “The argument in NI is ultimately all about this and justice for one side of the community that has been shamelessly wronged for a very long time.”

    In fairness, the nationalists were wronged too…

    S is for Subvention

    Salvation from industry
    Sucking like leaches
    Scavenging from scraps
    and Soaking up Sun like fat Slugs on beaches

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  12. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    “Please don’t tell me we can’t know the difference between right and wrong. The argument in NI is ultimately all about this and justice for one side of the community that has been shamelessly wronged for a very long time.”

    @Expat,

    I think you make a better case than I ever could of the danger of being politicized or indoctrinated while a child than I ever could.

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  13. Alias – It would be fun to ‘do’ a local version:

    H is for Haass, hot air and housing
    and longing for a time when hope and history rhyme.

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  14. Reader (profile) says:

    Expat: To suggest that all beliefs and actions are morally equivalent is twaddle.
    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. It’s just that, just like “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter”, so also: “One person’s activist is another person’s rabble-rouser”.
    I’m not sure that the board book is really for small children – it lacks the subtlety and nuance of “The very hungry caterpillar”, for instance. So I expect it’s really a very small coffee table book for the right-on. And I suspect that the right-on are being short changed, at that. But if it’s your sort of thing, go for it. It’s a free country.

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  15. Expat (profile) says:

    tmitch57. You make your own case. Its amazing to see how far one can go relying on little other than obfuscation.

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  16. I am very, very disappointed that, a day into this thread, it takes me to recall the magnificent Alex Glasgow and Close The Coalhouse Door:

    When that I was and a little, tiny boy,
    Me daddy said to me,
    ‘The time has come, me bonny, bonny bairn,
    To learn your ABC.’

    Now Daddy was a lodge chairman
    In the coalfields of the Tyne
    And his ABC was different
    From the Enid Blyton kind.

    He sang, ‘A is for Alienation
    That made me the man that I am, and

    B’s for the Boss who’s a Bastard,
    A Bourgeois who don’t give a damn.

    C is for Capitalism,
    The bosses’ reactionary creed, and

    D’s for Dictatorship, laddie,
    But the best proletarian breed.

    E is for Exploitation
    That workers have suffered so long, and

    F is for old Ludwig Feuerbach,
    The first one to say it was wrong.

    G is all Gerrymanderers,
    Like Lord Muck and Sir Whatsisname, and

    H is the Hell that they’ll go to
    When the workers have kindled the flame.

    I’s for Imperialism,
    And America’s kind is the worst, and

    J is for sweet Jingoism,
    That the Tories all think of the first.

    K is for good old Kier Hardy,
    Who fought out the working class fight, and

    L is for Vladimir Lenin,
    Who showed him the left was all right.

    M is of course for Karl Marx,
    The daddy and the mommy of them all, and

    N is for Nationalisation -
    Without it we’d tumble and fall.

    O is for Overproduction,
    That capitalist economy brings, and

    P is for all Private Property,
    The greatest of all of the sins.

    Q’s for the Quid pro quo,
    That we’ll deal out so well and so soon, when

    R for Revolution is shouted and
    The Red Flag becomes the top tune.

    S is for Sad Stalinism
    That gave us all such a bad name, and

    T is for Trotsky, the hero,
    Who had to take all of the blame.

    U’s for the Union of Workers -
    The Union will stand to the end, and

    V is for Vodka, yes, Vodka,
    The vun drink that vont bring the bends.

    W’s for all Willing Workers,
    And that’s where the memory fades,

    For X, Y, and Zed,’ my dear daddy said,
    ‘Will be written on the street barricades.’

    Now that I’m not a little tiny boy,
    Me daddy says to me,
    ‘Please try to forget those thing that I said,
    Especially the ABC.’

    For daddy is no longer a union man,
    And he’s had to change his plea.
    His alphabet is different now,
    Since they made him a Labour MP.

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  17. Ah Henry Livings, Roy Kinnear and Alex Glasgow….Poems and Pints.
    As soon as this pub closes….

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  18. babyface finlayson (profile) says:

    Expat.
    The parents at camp twaddell presumably believe it right to bring their children. Regardless of what we think, one could argue it is good for the children to see their parents take a stand for something they believe in.
    Provided the child is not being put in harms way I don’t think we can make to much fuss.
    Having said that I find this book a bit silly.

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  19. > And as a festive teaser, can you name any of the people in the ‘R’ candle-lit vigil above? I’ll post the answers in a day or two.

    I don’t think anyone picked up on the teaser, but here’s the answer.

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  20. wee buns (profile) says:

    MR @ 5.56
    You quite revived me.
    NY’s resolution – visit SOT more often.
    With thanks.

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  21. Reader (profile) says:

    A is for activists:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/03/french-eco-tax-new-generation-breton-red-caps

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