California Books: Kids Reflecting on Journeys of Migration

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The UN recently calculated that almost one child per second is becoming a refugee because of the invasion of Ukraine – fleeing for safety with their mothers, trying to make sense of what’s happening in their world. So today, we explore how stories can help children make sense of their parents’ journeys of migration.

Host Sasha Khokha talks to Neda Toloui-Semnani, an Emmy Award winning writer and producer, about her quest to uncover the story of her parents and in the process, her own history. Toloui-Semnani has covered politics and more for outlets like Vice News and The Washington Post. And she’s just released her first book called “They Said They Wanted Revolution, A Memoir of My Parents.” It’s pieced together from interviews, diaries and archives, and dives deep into her family’s history, both in the US and Iran. Starting with her grandfather’s decision in the 1920s to choose a surname for his family, and tracing her parents’ return to Iran to support the revolution, after they were radicalized as Marxists in the leftist climate of Berkeley in the late 1960s.

Neda Toloui-Semnani will speak with The California Report Magazine’s Sasha Khokha in a virtual conversation with the Commonwealth Club on March 23.

Here in California, people speak more than two hundred languages. In fact, we’re the most linguistically diverse state. Yet for decades, our state limited bilingual education in public schools. Remember Prop 227? Well, back in 2016, voters repealed that ballot measure. Now kids have the opportunity to learn in two languages. We’re also starting to see more bilingual children’s books, especially in Spanish and English. That makes sense in a state where a quarter of the residents speak Spanish as a first language. And as KQED’s Chloe Veltman tells us, the stories do not just highlight bilingual or BIPOC characters. They also have a strong social justice focus.

Feeling Down? How about a ‘PepToc’ From School Kids?

We’ve been asking for your stories about how you’re finding joy and resilience these days. Well, there’s a hotline called PepToc, featuring students from West Side Elementary School in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. When you dial in you can choose from five options including kids laughing with delight and encouragement in Spanish. This project is a collaboration between two artists, Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. Martin says the idea of ​​making people feel better is something these kids are thinking about a lot lately. The response has been so overwhelming that school is running a GoFundMe to support the hotline.

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