I have to be honest with y’all, the past few weeks have been hard. With hate crimes against the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, police brutality against the Black community, and targeted legislation attacking the trans community, all during a global pandemic, it can be hard to find a bright spot in our week.
So I was incredibly grateful to receive a copy of The Little Things by Christian Trimmer, because like all good children’s books, it taught me a lesson that I needed to be reminded of as an adult—the little things count, too.
This lesson can be so easy to forget as an adult during weeks like this. Watching the hatred and violence on full display, knowing the pain it causes people I love. Knowing it doesn’t actually affect me as a white cis woman. Knowing so many people like me turn a blind eye while people across our country face these injustices. It’s easy to feel small and insignificant. It’s easy to think that I can’t change anything for anyone. But then I read a book like The Little Things, and I am reminded why I do this. I am reminded of the power we all have.
This wonderful picture book follows several characters, starting with a young black girl (with three wonderful teal pigtails) who finds tons of starfish have washed ashore after a storm. As she spends her afternoon putting starfish back in the water, a man approaches her to ask her why she bothers — she won’t be able to save all the starfish. The girl acknowledges she won’t be able to save them all, but that she can make a difference for each starfish she saves. This message sticks with the man and inspires him to perform his own act of kindness. He shares the message with his grandson, who spreads it to the next person, and so on and so forth, spreading the message of kindness throughout the community, sparking a larger change in their town.
I absolutely adored the illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, who happens to be one of my very favorite illustrators. Fans of When Aiden Became A Brother and Magnificent Homespun Brown will be delighted to see that Kaylani’s character design is as strong as ever. I loved the diversity of the characters in this book, and you can clearly tell how much thought went into each individual.
The Little Things promotes a message of kindness and community action that is incredibly relevant today for readers young and old. It officially releases later this month (April 27, 2021), but you can preorder it today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)
I absolutely adored this book, and it inspired me to write a list of little things we can all do to help the AAPI, Black, and trans communities in the wake of these issues. I will share it here for everyone who wants to try some little things that can make a big difference.
- Check on your AAPI, Black, and trans friends. Note: This does not mean asking them to address the traumas they are facing. Just make sure they know they are loved, listen if they want to talk, but give them some extra love this week.
- Engage children. Volunteer to host a virtual read aloud at your local school or library encouraging kindness and acceptance, or even directly addressing the issues with children’s books.
- Contact your local representatives. Educate yourself on anti trans legislation in your area and ensure your local government is aware that you oppose it. Use your voice and demand an end to police brutality and qualified immunity for police officers. Bring their attention to the rising numbers of hate crimes against the AAPI community and ask them what they plan to do about it. Call, email, fax if you have to, but make sure they hear your voice.
- Attend a protest. There are lots of protests being organized for this weekend. Join them. Or if you aren’t able to join, maybe you can contribute in another way. You can support local protests by providing financial support, childcare, transportation, or food for protestors in your community. Reach out to local organizations to see how you can assist.
- Donate to the cause. Whether it’s a bail fund to assist protestors posting bail ( like Community Justice Exchange National Bail Fund, Chicago Community Fund, or Minnesota Freedom Fund) or organizations dedicated to facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community (Asian Mental Health Collective, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, 18 Million Rising), the Black community (Black Youth Project, The Loveland Foundation, and NAACP) and the trans community (National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Trans Life) or a national organization focusing on multiple issues (Human Rights Campaign, ACLU) there are countless organizations in need of your donation.
- Support AAPI, Black, and trans creators. Donate to Patreon accounts, pay the POC online who are educating you for free. Purchase the works of folks from marginalized communities, like The Little Things. If you don’t have the funds to purchase this week, request that your local library purchase copies.
- Uplift voices. Marginalized folks are sharing their stories every day. Hear Them. Believe them. Share them.
Christian Trimmer is an author and editor based in Hillsdale, New York. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his website at christiantrimmer.com.
Kaylani Juanita is an illustrator of inclusive picture books based in Fairfield, California. Please visit her website at kaylanijuanita.com to learn more about her and her work.
Thanks again to Abrams Books For Young Readers for proving me with another amazing book to review. The Little Things was just what I needed to put one foot in front of the other this week, and I hope it helps you and yours spread love and kindness through your community too. Together we can do big things.