Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Anti-Poverty Mom's 2019 Gift Picks

I wasn't going to do a Holiday Gift Guide this year because in past years, it's screwed up my personal gift giving when my gift recipients read my list. It kind of ruined the surprise, you know?

BUT, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the books on my "activist" shelf. These are books that I keep referring back to for inspiration, stories, statistics, and examples of how I would like to write. So, even though it's a little late in the season, I'm going to give a few of my recommendations for the anti-poverty activists on your lists! 'Tis the season for getting cozy with a book :)

Happy Holidays!

Keep Marching: How Every Woman Can Take Action and Change Our World 
by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
Keep Marching is all about maintaining the momentum we felt during the surge of Women's Marches after the 2016 election. This book is not only a handy reference when I need a quick primer on issues - like health insurance, wage inequality, U.S. maternal mortality - but it also provides brief snippets of advice on taking action as well. Reading this book and joining Moms Rising, the organization Rowe-Finkbeiner co-founded, is a great way to jump start your personal advocacy in the new year if you haven't been so active lately.

The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children - and the World
by Roger Thurow
Next year is going to be a big year for advocates working on global nutrition for moms and babies. RESULTS has already announced that it will be a major campaign. In December of 2020, Japan will be hosting the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit. It will be an unprecedented opportunity to set the world on a pathway towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals targets - in particular, to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 and strengthen the link between diet, food systems, and health.

That makes Thurow's book a must read for anyone working on nutrition. He followed the lives of pregnant mothers around the world (rural Uganda, urban Chicago, a village in India, Guatemalan highlands) striving to provide proper nutrition for themselves and their infants. With moving personal stories and informative facts, he illustrates how crucial the first 1,000 days of life (from conception to 2nd birthday) are in creating opportunity for children & families.

A Day at the FARE: One Woman's Welfare Passage 
by Pamela M. Covington
Covington wrote an easy-to-read, easy-to-relate-to biographic narrative. She perfectly sums up the reasons why it's so difficult for a woman with children to leave an abusive relationship and how grueling it is to navigate the American system of aid for mothers who need immediate help. It's a living nightmare for many right now and a lurking nightmare for mothers who don't earn their own salaries. This is an "it could happen to anyone" tale. I recommend it especially for men who will never be in her situation or women who feel they won't ever be. Read it for your own sense of empathy and vote accordingly.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads 
by Clemantine Wamarya
Wamariya writes a vivid biography about her time as a refugee living in a camp and coming to the United States. The thing that struck me most about this book is the poetic descriptions of her feelings. She sometimes refers to a time when she didn't have the words to describe her experiences...well, she has them now and we are blessed to be able to read them! The way the book skips back and forth in times helps me glimpse how disjointed the lives of refugees can be. It paints an eye-opening picture of the bewildering hardships of flight, refugee life as a child, the difficulties of accepting help, and building a new life without parents.

by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

Okay, the trouble with this one is that it's not actually available until January 14, but it is currently available for pre-order! You can always print out a nice picture of the cover and put it in a card for your activist to open. Of course, I can't give you my impressions of it since I haven't read it yet, but if it's anything like their previous books - "Half the Sky" and "A Path Appears" - then it should be fascinating. I can't wait to read it. Here's the synopsis: "The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky now issue a plea--deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans--to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure."