Finding Daddy a Job.

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Daddy Greene has been out of work for seven months. To be more specific, he hasn’t had a full time job in his professional field for six months. When his last job ended, we had to explain to Lady C that daddy wasn’t going to be at that place anymore. The natural question was:

“Where will you be working now?”
 The not so natural answer was…
Nowhere…”
 
Lady C has experienced both her parents SWITCHING jobs. She was fine with saying goodbye to old work locations and meeting mommy and daddy’s new coworkers. For both of us, the “work family” became somewhat of an extended family and Lady C actually had friends among our colleagues. When we switched jobs, it was an opportunity for her to meet new people, it seemed.

 But this was different.

 There would be no new office to go visit.  No new coworkers.

 And now Daddy was home…All. The. Time.
Well in her eyes, there was only ONE thing to do!

 Find Daddy a job!

While Hayden combed the job boards, Lady C looked out the window and picked places that she saw.

“Why don’t you get a job at my school Daddy,” as Hayden dropped her off to school.
“Daddy, you could work here at Target,” when we went to buy something there.
“Maybe you could go to school to be a lab technician,” as she read an ad on the subway for a school that promised job placement.
“Daddy, why don’t you just go back to Barnard and get your old job?” (That was always his favourite)
But one question remained constant:
“Have you found a job yet Daddy?”
 
For the first month or two, it was cute: suuuuure Daddy can go work as a counter person at Dunkin Donuts. We should be able to pay the mortgage with that! But into month 4, and with prospects dwindling, those options didn’t sounds so ludicrous.
Hayden is blessed that he is also a freelance photographer so he was able to pick up the slack with jobs and assignments here and there but it was rough. It wasn’t made any easier by a 6 year old wondering why you haven’t found a job yet! But there were lessons here:
Why NOT look at Target? Maybe somewhere in corporate they need someone like you! Or better yet, maybe you might be really good as a store manager and you have missed your calling all these years. And that applied to everywhere. Job seekers get very myopic and forget about those all important “transferable skills”. Look outside your comfort bubble.
Sometimes going back does not equal going backwards. So you left that company for greener pastures. What is stopping you from going back if there is an opportunity there for you. This is not like getting back together with your ex! This is business and you have to make sure your emotions don’t block your blessings. PS this seems to be a good place to mention that you should never burn your bridges when you leave a job. I’m just saying…
Talk to your kids about how the world works. Our daughter didn’t understand that there isn’t a job tree from which you could just pluck the position that you want. All she knew is that mom and dad seamlessly transitioned from one job to another. She also had no concept of how depressing it can be when the child you are responsible for keeps reminding you that you still don’t have the means to support them fully. Using age appropriate language to give them a better picture of the world will serve them well later in life.
Lastly, develop ALL of your skills. As Hayden tells his students all the time, there are ALWAYS people who are willing to pay to do whatever your heart desires. You just have to find them. In the meantime, get good at “that other thing you do” and be ready to market it when the time comes. As long as he has a camera, Hayden will never really be unemployed but nobody was going to hire him if he didn’t hone his craft. Be self aware and figure out what other potential money earning talents you’re sitting on.
Dad was recently offered a position, ending the long drought. When we told our daughter that Daddy found a job, she just had one word to say…

“FINALLY”

Kids….

Giving The Girls A GreenE Garden

Hayden grew up in Trinidad and his yard consisted of banana trees, mango trees, plenty of flowering plants and even a chicken coup that he recalls having to clean up. Aisha, on the other hand is puuuure city girl and mostly lived in apartments. Greenery was – houseplants. And if anyone can kill a snake plant or cactus… it’s Aisha.

When we purchased our home, one of the appeals of the small backyard area was that it was all CONCRETE and limited maintenance. But it was boring. There was nothing beautiful about the space and it was actually being wasted. This spring we decided to create an urban garden using planters because the majority of the yard is concrete.

We removed our old stylish chain link fence and replaced it with a wood lattice fence. We also added wood planters filled with flowering plants and tomatoes and strawberries.

It all started here:

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And now were are here:

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The girls have loved maintaining the garden, watering plants and watching the plants grow. Last night, we finally picked some of the strawberries that finally ripened and we ate those suckers up. So delicious and rewarding to eat what we created.

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TOMATOES ALMOST READY FOR PICKING – WE ARE GOING TO MAKE SAUCE!

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WAITING FOR THESE STRAWBERRIES TO RIPEN!!!

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Maintaining the garden in planters has proven to be super easy – even for a brown thumb. The flowers and plants are growing quite well and TLC is minimal. Only issue is the cats and/or squirrels that have been eating our ripe strawberries!!!

For all you city dwellers with limited green space or a concrete area, we highly recommend using planters for your garden. Such a great way to teach science, healthy eating and an appreciation of their outdoor space.

Happy Gardening!!

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Passing dOwN Hip Hop

So this is family blog so what’s a post about HIP HOP doing here?!?!  I know: it seems out of place but hang with me. It might be a long one so get comfortable.

To start, I have to provide some background:

  • When it comes to music, I’m a bit of an ageist. I think the music of my generation was better…in general. I’m not saying that there isn’t ANY good music but the majority of the songs these days have me scratching my head.
  • I’m a Hip Hop purist. I grew up with the beginnings of Hip Hop with the awe and wonderment of hearing the Sugar Hill Gang and Big Daddy Kane on the radio. I believe that rap should be lyrically based. Just my taste.
  • I have been calling for parity in the Hip Hop genre for years. In the beginnings of Hip Hop you could listen to the radio and hear KRS ONE, Xclan, Tupac, Fresh Prince, and the Wu at the same time (well not at the exact same time! That would be messy!) My main complaint is that only one kind of song seems to make it onto the radio these days and that sickens me because it’s generally misogynistic and derogatory. Now, I love rachet music like the next guy but where is the balance?
  • Lastly, and mostly importantly, the N word assails my ears in the most offensive way. It has no place in the English language, in my opinion, and I would prefer my music to be devoid of such a vile term. 

So there’s my musical taste in a nutshell. Which brings me to this post. I have shielded my two daughters from the majority of the Hip Hop on the radio. We have two major Hip Hop stations here in NYC and they are NEVER on in the car when the girls are in it (which is almost always). So they don’t know what a Trap Queen is nor do they know how to Nae Nae.  No judgement but I feel like it’s my duty to protect them from music that devalues them.  As a result, I also don’t listen to the majority of the songs on the radio today either.

A few weeks ago, I was photographing Summer Jam, the premiere Hip Hop concert in the city.
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(Check out some of my work from Greene Light Photography here on this LINK)

The headliner was Kendrick Lamar and I had heard of him. People said that he was the type of artist that I would like so I decided to give To Pimp a Butterfly a listen. At work. Bad idea! The first line from the album is “Every N***a is a star!” OK click! Won’t be listening to THAT!!! I was confused as to why people thought that I would like that artist. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was headed to Philly for a meeting and decided to give Kendrick Lamar another try, sans kids and co-workers this time.

Mind Blown! 

That was the BEST Hip Hop album I have heard in YEARS!!! I was so impressed by that piece of artistry that I played it twice and again when getting ready for dinner. The metaphors were intelligent and the imagery was vibrant. King Kunta is a scathing commentary the industry skillfully masked in a dope beat. The passage about the Butterfly and the Caterpillar is nothing short of brilliant. I was so happy that I had given the album another chance. It reinvigorated my desire to listen to Hip Hop again and seek out other artists like Childish Gambino.

Then I got sad. I was never going to be able to share this with my girls (could you imagine Lady C singing the lyrics of King Kunta or We Gon Be Alright)! How am I supposed to pass down my love of Hip Hop to my daughters if even the best current artist drops the N word and F bombs like they were rain? I don’t want to be corny and roll out the old classics like Run DMC and Slick Rick every time I want to expose Lady C and Lady H to Hip Hop. I’d LIKE to say “Here is the music of my time and let’s listen to your current stuff now” the way we do with other genres. Lady C knows both Micheal Jackson and The Weeknd and appreciates them equally.

The bottom line is that I just want to hear my daughter spitting lyrics from a song on the radio without cringing at the words coming out of her mouth. Where are those songs? Who are those artists?

What are your suggestions for ways to expose my kids to current Hip Hop? By the way, Kidz Bop is OUT of THE  QUESTION!!! I would love to hear the comments!! 

Peace,
From The Photoguy Greene

Father’s Day 2015: Inside Out and Reed Park!

We had a great first day of summer celebrating the GreenE male of the household on Sunday.  This year, we decided to celebrate Father’s Day by going to see “Inside Out” in 3D, per the suggestion of Lady C. She has been stalking this movie since the first preview and we promised we would go during opening weekend. MV5BOTgxMDQwMDk0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU5OTg2NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_“Inside Out” was such a cute movie and it was made by the creators of “Up” so you know it was an emotional roller coaster. Disney Pixar just can’t seem to make a bad movie – and they kept on their streak with this one. As always, it was fun for all members of the family. Grandma Brenda joined us and Lady H paid attention the ENTIRE time. The animation and colors were beautiful and the story line was such a unique and interesting one. The main character is an 11 year old girl going through a life change which we get to experience with her by seeing the roles that her emotions all play.

And as an upgrade – for the first time in a long time, Disney did not kill a parent in the movie – SCORE!

The only creepy part of the experience was the short film that previewed before the movie started… that volcano thing was weird!

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Lady C and dad pose after the movie.

After the movie we had lunch at Brooklyn Crab, a seafood restaurant in Red Hook that we’ve been meaning to visit. This place has been on our radar because it has been noted over and over in blogs as a great “family friendly” space where adults can have a great time too. We are all about that… make the kids happy and make the grown ups happy.

SO GLAD WE WENT THERE!!!! Brooklyn Crab has a sit down service area but also offers “Reed Park” which is picnic style eating with easy and FREE access to games like shuffle board, bean bag toss and mini golf. The kids played their hearts out and we were able to enjoy our meals.

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Lady C plays mini golf with dad

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Lady H swinging from a jungle gym… oh, she’s excited LOL

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Lady H playing in sand box

wpid-20150621_132604.jpgSo – how was the food??? Please see exhibits A and B below:

We ordered the seafood platter which had crab legs, mussels, sKrimps, potatoes, sausages and corn on the cob.

Now you see it —

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Now you don’t — We killed it… even the rabbit in the background was fullwpid-20150621_140301.jpg

We are definitely going BACK to Brooklyn Crab and Reed Park and if you haven’t been… you should go too.

We hope you all had a great Father’s Day and first day of the summer!!

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He Said, She Said: The Icy Lady Debate

The GreenEs need you to solve a debate stemming from a discussion/situation we had this weekend.

Here is the scenario:

You and your children are at an outdoor event with other kids and their families. The most important person in the world during the summer comes by, jingling her bell… the icy lady. An icy would be perfect at the moment because it is hot outside. Which of the following do you do:

A. Buy an icy for you and your children because, it’s hot and you love cherry mango icies!

B. Do not buy an icy for your children because there are other children around and their parents might not be able to buy one or want their children to have one.

C. Buy you and your children an icy and be prepared to buy an icy for each and other kid at the event/party you are attending.

SHE SAID: EITHER DO NOT BUY OR PREPARED TO BUY FOR OTHER KIDS

So Aisha thinks that if you are at a party in the park with treats and snacks that it is rude to walk away and grab icies for only you and your kids because then your kids will walk back with them and make the other kids jealous and beg their parents for one. It sucks to be the first parent or family that starts the ball rolling. If you are going to get one, you should be ready to buy one for every kid, and if you don’t want to do that, then catch the icy lady another time.

HE SAID: TOTALLY OK TO BUY AN ICY FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS ONLY

It’s an icy! It’s not an xBox that your kid s flaunting in front of the other guests!! And if you don’t want your kid to have an icy, this is a perfect opportunity for you to introduce the word “no” to your child. I tell my kid no all the time with reasons ranging from, “I have no money on me”, to “that food is made of plastic”, to “the ice cream truck is empty unfortunately”. Why should I be deprived of a traditional summer treat so that other parent won’t have to have a simple conversation about the wonderful word “no”!?!? Not gonna happen. I’m getting my pineapple icy with a scoop of coconut and no whining kid is going to stop me!

What say you… chime in on the icy debate. Do you agree with what HE SAID or SHE SAID?

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I SCREAM* YOU SCREAM* WE ALL SCREAM! FOR OUR 6 YEAR OLD GREENE!

We just celebrated Lady C’s 6th birthday at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn and it was such a great time that we just had to blog about the experience.

We love love love to throw kid parties and this year had an amazing ice cream themed party at the bestest ice cream shop in the city.

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Ample Hills staff poses for the camera

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Ample Hills menu – including Gooey Butter Cake ice cream *faint*

There is nothing we enjoy more than selecting a theme and then stomping it into the ground until you can’t forget it. We selected Ample Hills because it is a popular spot with a roof top deck and private party room. Since Lady C’s birthdays tend to be on warm days (and it was HOT this year) – the kids were able to enjoy the private room and the outdoor space.

Of course – any party is not possible without a dream team of friends and family helping out. A few thousand balloons might have flown away after being carefully tied to the roof (*clears throat*) but the place still looked great!

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Godmothers and friends decorating

The central activity of the party is that the kids make their own ice cream using the Ample Hills Ice cream bike.

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The famous ice cream bike

The children learned about how to make ice cream, what ingredients to use and how they would use the ice cream bike to mix all the ingredients.

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Ample Hills employee explains how to use the ice cream bike

Each kid had the chance to use the ice cream bike to pedal their hearts out and got a picture on the bike to take home as a souvenir. While the ice cream set in the freezer, the kids made place mats which were laminated for them to take home.

Lady C works on her placemat

Lady C works on her place mat

For this party we could not have normal cupcakes… no no no… We made cupcakes in ice cream cones! Such a hit and easy to make, after we messed up the first batch. Here’s the recipe for how to make these fun treats. THANK YOU PINTEREST FOR MAKING US STARS!!

Ice cream cone cupcakes

Ice cream cone cupcakes

The kids had the chance to eat their own ice cream decked with toppings of their choice and the adults – well, they ate plenty of ice cream too. Truth be told, between the ice cream, wine and great music – we think the adults had as much fun as the kids!

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So the kids had ice cream and pizza and cupcakes and they danced and they ran and had a blast. When all was said and done, it was time to give out the favors from our “Ice Cream Bar”. download (3)

Each child received a bag filled with a tumbler, ice cream erasers and ice cream tattoos.

Tumblers from Etsy.com

Tumblers from Etsy.com

Lady C has two wonderful godmothers and both of them helped with the party this year. One of her godmothers lives in Charlotte, NC and she tries to fly up each year to celebrate with us. This year she joined us for the ice cream party and also Lady C’s school birthday celebration. She braved making the ice cream cake cones with us and dealt with partyzilla parents… thank you Godmommy!

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Lady C and her Godmother

We highly recommend Ample Hills as a birthday party spot. Highly professional and organized and they made this a fun and easy day. We had our party at the Gowanus location (they have a few spaces) and the roof top deck was a great bonus feature. Parents were able to have a seat under an umbrella and enjoy some ice cream and wine.

If you have any fab birthday party locales in Brooklyn – please do share below!

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*Warning* Bare Breasts Ahead (Don’t Worry – Safe to Open)

Note: There will be no pictures of boobage in this blog post… sorry! But we are going to TALK boobage…

This weekend the GreenEs attended the BEST African dance festival and bazaar around, DanceAfrica. DanceAfrica is a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Africa and the African diaspora.  The celebration features a massive street fair near the Brooklyn Academy of Music with vendors from around the world showcasing fashion, food, music and crafts. The highlight of the celebration is the performance at BAM featuring dance companies from around within Brooklyn, the United States and around the globe.

This year’s headliner was Afro-Brazilian dance troupe Balé Folclórico da Bahia, the only professional folk dance company in Brazil, AND THEY WERE AMAZING. The troupe of dancers, musicians, and singers performed a repertory based on Bahian folkloric dances of African origin: slave dances, capoeira, and samba.32124_DanceAfrica_613x463

Yesterday, we discussed the show with a family friend and one thing in particular came up – the women were bare chested for a few of the dance performances and we explored the following question:

Should there have been a warning of some kind for parents of small children that there would be partial nudity in the program?

We don’t think so but then again we are a family that nursed children exclusively for over a year and bare chests are frequent in our home. We don’t cringe when we see nursing mothers go uncovered which happens a lot in NYC parks and play areas. Also, we just viewed it as part of the cultural experience, but… we understood our friend’s point – not every parent or child would be ready for that moment.

How did our kids respond? Well, when Lady C saw the breasts there was zero reaction. But when one woman came out in a halter top she exclaimed, “I SEE HER BELLY BUTTON” – HA!

What do you think? Should the parents receive a warning? How would you feel as a parent if there was a performance with partial nudity and your children were with you?

Work Hard! Dream Big! Lady C’s Lunch With a Black Rockette

A few weeks ago Lady C went to see the Radio City Spring Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. We’ve been to the Christmas Spectacular several times, we’ve had dinner with a family friend that is a Rockette, several of them signed a souvenir doll for Lady C when she was a baby and we have even done a backstage tour but… she never met a black Rockette and didn’t know they existed.

After the Spring Spectacular, Lady C came home with a question that rocked us. She asked her dad:

Can I only be a Rockette if I am tan?

If you’ve read our blog before, you will know that we’ve explored the topic of race and color with Lady C. She uses the term tan to refer to white people… which includes her little sister… (and that’s a discussion we are still working on… that her sister is not, in fact, white).

Man, we were devastated.

Here we are… a family with a mother with a law degree, a dad with a Masters degree, each of us with careers that make us proud.

Here we are, a family that watched the inauguration of Barack Obama while Lady C was a baby, in utero, and we cried because our child would only know a world with a black President.

Here we are a family who felt like we could tell her she could be ANYTHING …. and it would be true.

But here we were with a five year that feels like she cannot do something because of her brown skin.

Whoa!

This moment was so timely because there was a lot of social media discussion around Black Girls Rock, First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance and whether the Black Girls Rock movement is a racist one. The fact of the matter is that ABSENT representation is just as detrimental as NEGATIVE representation on the self-esteem, aspirations and ambition of young children. They need to see it to believe it!

So what did we do? We did what any rationale person would do… we cried to our mommy. Lady Cs grandmother, GG, has had a part time job at Radio City for years and a great relationship with many Rockettes.  So GG asked Danielle who is not only a black Rockette but was one of the marquis ones for marketing during their most recent season.

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That’s Danielle!

Danielle agreed to meet Lady C and they had a fabulous lunch and even did a kick line together. Danielle told her about her career, when she started dancing and about other brown women dancers. Apparently Danielle is now invited to Lady C’s sixth birthday party… ha!

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Danielle and Lady C

wpid-0422151655c.jpgWhen she got home I asked Lady C about her experience and whether I could record it for other little black girls. She agreed.

Here it is…. enjoy.

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Lady C’s video message

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White House Easter Egg Roll 2015

The White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the White House Lawn every Easter Monday. Each year there is a lottery to attend the event.

Every year for the past six years I have applied.

Every year I get NOTHING.

This year I applied and got NOTHING.

Then one day my Mommy Twin called and said… “I have extra tickets… do you want them” … and I nearly cried because I felt so lucky.

*Side note* All you purposely anti-social people, please get friends... real good friends are always helping you and you 
will return the favor too and maybe make someone happy... it is a great thing.

So – This year Lady C and I were able to go and experience the egg roll on the White House lawn – YAY. It is a massive event filled with activities, arts and crafts, performances, picture opportunities, etc…. there is too much to do and not enough time so you have to decide how to use the time. We heard a rumor that President Obama was going to speak while we were there and were lucky enough to be able to see him and the First Lady.

This year’s theme was #GimmeFive in celebration of the fifth anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Throughout the event there were activities, giveaways and information encouraging children to lead healthy, active lives.

My blurry picture of POTUS - yay!

My blurry picture of POTUS – yay!

Truth be told – we never got a chance to do the actual egg roll because the line was loooooong and it would have been the only thing we did but we filled our time quite nicely:

* Yoga class

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* Pictures with characters (and by the way the kids were way more impressed with the Octonauts than the First Family)

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* Making craft projects and getting tattoos

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* Visiting the First Lady’s Garden

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*Planting their own fruits and veggies

*Watching the First Lady perform with the cast of So You Think You Can Dance

We had a nice time and at the end each child received a souvenir egg that they can cherish. I would totally do this again and hopefully we can so Lady H can experience it too. Next year, be sure to check out Recreation.gov for your opportunity to enter the lottery and experience a great event with your little ones.

Aisha 

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Black History Month: Kiddie Good Reads

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It’s Black History Month and we’ve come across some great children’s books this year from the library. All of the books are focused on learning about slavery in ways that a child can consume.

Here are three books that we’ve enjoyed.

Henry’s Freedom Box

Henry’s Freedom Box tells the true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a crate box. The book does a great job of addressing the destruction of family ties during slavery and its psychological affects on slaves. Also, the illustrations by Kadir Nelson – a phenomenal illustrator, are beautifully done.

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation of African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas received the announcement that the Civil War was over and that all slaves were now free. In All Different Now, children learn about Juneteenth through the eyes of a little girl who views the world as different after learning the news about her family’s freedom. The book includes a glossary of important dates and historical information which is helpful to continue discussions with the children.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Follow the Drinking Gourd is a good story that introduces the underground railroad and highlights the collaborative effort that was the backbone of the institution. It discusses how the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” provided slaves with the tools and directions for escaping to the North and introduces you to characters, both black and white, that were integral in the Underground Railroad network. The book had a rhythm and repetition that children will enjoy.

These are our Black History Month Kiddie Good Reads – please share yours!

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