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Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

(Ordinary Terrible Things)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  983 ratings  ·  270 reviews
Not My Idea, the latest in the critically-acclaimed Ordinary Terrible Things series, is a book about whiteness.

A white child sees TV news coverage of a white police officer shooting a brown person whose hands were up. Upset, he asks his mother why; she deflects, assuring him that he is safe. Later, they visit an aunt and uncle, where the TV, always on, shows a rally in res
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Dottir Pr
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  983 ratings  ·  270 reviews

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Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The other day I was at the table with my 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son and the subject of police shootings came up. I think there was a time when I would have been surprised by that statement. I think that time was long ago. In any case, as with many things my husband and I found that to explain anything about the shootings we had to go into a deep dive about systematic racist, the systems in place, and whiteness. My daughter has a killer brain, but in the course of going into the inequ ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A much-needed resource to teach white children about white supremacy, racism, and police shootings. A quotation from a Toni Morrison interview is included in the book: "White people have a very, very serious problem, and they should start thinking about what they can do about it . . . Take me out of it." Higginbotham teaches that it is white people who need to fight against this system: “You can be WHITE without signing on to whiteness.” She encourages us to grow justice inside us. As for concer ...more
Panda Incognito
This book encourages white parents and children to talk about racial dynamics and recognize how they experience privilege in their daily lives, but it is incredibly vague and provides almost no historical context for where racial power dynamics came from. I can't even imagine reading this as a child without a well-informed adult explaining everything. The book is just SO VAGUE. I gritted my teeth through so many of its true assertions, because it gave zero historical context for them, didn't def ...more
Mary Lee
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is the first I've ever seen to take on whiteness and white privilege head on. The story line/information is somewhat scattered and fragmented, but it's a great place to start important conversations. ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrensbooks
Wow! I spent two decades teaching white children. I thought that I was doing a good job because I exposed them to diverse books and included the history of African Americans, Asians, and Latinos into my lessons. I never once talked to them about their whiteness. I needed this book then.
Val Brown
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My 8-year-old daughter, who has had multiple introductory conversations about race, loved this book. She recorded her own review and recommends it to others.
Not My Idea is many things at once. It's an important contribution to a gap in children's literature (i.e. critical books about whiteness and racism aimed at white readers); a strikingly illustrated picture book that is nonetheless unsure of the age of its audience; a less-than-perfectly composed jumble of narrative, philosophical and historical reflection, and call to action. If Not My Idea had stuck more solidly to its narrative component and saved the more philosophical/theoretical elements t ...more
Taylor Kundel-Gower
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Required reading. "Racism was not your idea. You don't need to defend it." ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book a million stars if I could. It is such an important message, that racism is not just a problem for the people on the receiving end of injustice, but racism is a White person's problem as well. This is the clearest, simplest, presentation of this I have ever read and every white parent should share it with their children. Speaking truth to power at a level young children can understand. Highly recommended for grades 3 & up, younger if you are ready to have these important c ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
-White supremacy is pretend. But the consequences are real.
-You can be white without signing on to whiteness.
-Innocence is overrated. Knowledge is power.

Anastasia Higginbotham and Dottir Press have done it again! Telling the truth to kids who can handle it and need to hear it. I couldn't be happier with this book. Also, I love her art style. How many revolutionary children's books have you made out of brown paper bags, haters?
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is an essential book about coming to terms with whiteness, acknowledging privilege, and recognizing that all of us, including white parents, are implicated by systems of oppression that benefit white people and reward us for failing to deal with racism, both internal and external. Past that, this book gives invaluable emotional opportunities directly to children to try to think beyond this inherited paradigm. A complex topic handled deftly is this author's trademark (I love TELL ME ABOUT SE ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book absolutely floored me. It is incredible. I'm not even sure if I can write a proper review for it. No, I'm 100% sure that I can't write a review that does this book justice. What a necessary and vital book for children (and their parents!!) to read today. Higginbotham does not shy away from the realities of racism in our society today and she treats children as intelligent and aware beings, capable of making their choices. That being said it is addressed towards slightly older children, ...more
I was a big fan of Anastasia Higginbotham's previous "Ordinary Terrible Things" kids' books about divorce, sex, and death, and this one, if possible, is even better. She is a white author and parent, confronting white supremacy in a picture-book format. The child in the book is told "we don't see color," but learns more about how "skin color makes a difference in how you see the world and how the world sees you." Other white parents would do well to consider this a must-read, especially if they ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This author's approach to presenting "ordinary terrible things" to children reminds me of Viggo Mortensen's character in "Captain Fantastic". She has a great deal of respect for the intelligence of children and their ability to understand difficult subjects. She is also very creative in the ways she illustrates her books. This was a positive eye opening experience for this grandmother to read two of her books. Thank you, Anastasia. ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A no punches pulled, honest look at white privilege and white responsibility. I might buy a copy of this so I have it on hand when H starts asking these questions.
Shannon P
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
The theme is one I was all in for and parts of the book had me nodding my head in agreement and saying "Yes, white people! Tell your kids about these things and start thinking about what it's like for people who look different than you do!" The book in it's entirety, though, just felt lacking. It kept feeling like it would get close to making a great point about what racism is or describing some situation so a child would understand it, but then the implied news story or incident would fall flat ...more
Irene McHugh
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A teacher at the middle school where I work asked me to purchase this book for our library. I have not read the other books in this series.

The mixed media art style certainly kept my attention and I think the middle school students will also enjoy pouring over these pages filled with various textures layered on a brown parchment background.

The message that someone can be white without signing on to whiteness resonated with me, especially when I think about middle schoolers. While some may critic
May 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Got this for our middle school library due to good reviews but after reading it I didn't like it. I liked the idea and it's certainly one to discuss and not hide... but as I was reading it I really felt it oversimplified a very important topic in to someone's opinion that every white person is a white supremacist or racist and that every police shooting is unjustified. I 100% agree that whiteness is a thing that many white people don't understand but I also don't think that every bad thing that ...more
Bridgett Pride
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anti-racism
I am buying this for all of my friends who have children from now until forever. This book gave me chills. It provides a way for parents, care takers and children to engage in a discussion about whiteness, how to talk about it, and what is being portrayed in the media about racism and police brutality. So well written!
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Uncomfortable. Important.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juv-nonfiction
Wow. That was gut punching. What an sobering but empowering read.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, 2019
“Grow justice inside yourself like a bean sprout in a milk carton. What if it dies? Plant it again. Never stop planting justice.”
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-non-fiction
A must-read.
Nov 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for kids (and adults) on the reality of being white and ignorant and fostering engagement in your children rather than perpetuating the 'blindness' that I know I was certainly raised with and work daily to overcome. ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great picture book for readers who care about social justice, whiteness, and knowledge over “innocence.”
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The message is A+, but the execution is clunky and awkward, making it hard to match up text with illustrations.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: racism and white supremacy requests
Recommended to June by: Janelle Ortiz
I don't know that I would necessarily describe this as a good book, but it is definitely a needed one in these times. It tries to deal honestly, in a child accessible manner, with racism, white privilege and white supremacy. With so many unarmed African American boys and men being shot and killed and black athletes being blacklisted and condemned for trying to bring it to the nation's attention, this is a topic that needs to be discussed and talked about more and this does in a respectful manner ...more
Jillian Heise
An important topic to talk to our younger kids about, and this book frames it in an age appropriate way. A useful book to have to start conversations with kids about white privilege.
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally, a children's book that names white supremacy and does a good job. ...more
Robbi Caldwell
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: c-books, h-books
I found this one to be a bit more difficult for my kiddos. I appreciate the book’s existence and giving an opportunity for that conversation but, to me, this book wasn’t as clear in explanation as some of the other books in this series. To be fair, these are tough topics and I am grateful they are being tackled in books for kids.
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