Guest Interview Part II: Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show

In this week’s blog, we continue our conversation with Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show! The Global Mom Show is a weekly podcast that connects moms around the world who want to live globally-minded lives and teach their kids to do the same. Below is Part II of our interview with Mary Grace where she discusses the importance of multicultural children’s books, and how parents can inspire an expanded worldview in their children early on.

Baby Ventures’ books seek to inspire young children to explore our diverse world. What role do you feel diversity-inspired children’s books play in raising globally-minded children?

In our home, books take center stage for all we do. I’m currently homeschooling my first-grader and preschooler, and read-a-louds are the core of our curriculum. In my opinion books are the gateway to the world. They can capture the imagination and teach lessons without being preachy. I know how much I’ve learned through stories, and I want my kids to have access to all types of stories too, so that they become engaged at an early age with the reality that everyone has multiple stories to share and all of them are worth hearing.

Diversity-inspired books play a critical role in developing the type of empathy and open-mindedness necessary for children to become globally-minded. In many cases books may be the only opportunity that children have to interact with another culture, so creating good diverse books—and many of them—is, I believe, a wonderfully important task.

As a global mom, what more would you like to see in books that present elements of diversity and multiculturalism to young children?

Well, first of all, I know there are so many more diverse and multicultural books out there than we’ve been able to read. It’s actually really exciting for me, because I look forward to learning with my kids about other cultures, people, and places. Although I love the books that delve into historical events and cultural events, I also would just love some fun books for my boys that happen to have diverse characters.

For example, my boys are currently into the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary. Now if I could find a Henry Huggins with multicultural characters, that would be great. A lot of the multicultural books I find seem to deal with some difficult subjects, and while I think that is so important, I also just want my boys to have engaging stories that include characters that happen to be diverse. As a white mom raising kids who have an Asian-American heritage, I would also love to see more books with multicultural families of all types and combinations.

“I think one of the most ‘enriching realizations’ for me is…that everyone has a unique story that’s worth listening to and sharing.” – Mary Grace Otis

What are some of the most enriching realizations you have had during your podcast interviews?

One of things I love about talking with other global moms is that I get to go deep quickly and ask about the things that otherwise might take months or years to uncover through natural conversation. As I’ve done so, I’ve realized how important it is to be intentional in our own relationships with one another as moms.

This whole global journey is not just about or for our kids, but it overflows from our own lives. And if we want to be inspired to teach our kids to become globally-minded, we have to be connected ourselves. It has been absolutely enriching to my own life to enter in to conversations with women doing amazing things around the world in the areas of diversity, training, writing, blogging, homeschooling, and parenting. I think one of the most “enriching realizations” for me is just the continued realization that everyone has a unique story that’s worth listening to and sharing.

Subscribe to The Global Mom Show podcast to join the conversation and connect with moms around the world who share a global worldview.

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Mary Grace Otis is the host of The Global Mom Show podcast, a wife, a mom of three boys, a former expat and development worker, and a freelance writer for nonprofits and businesses. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Grab a copy of her free PDF guide 10 Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, or join her private Facebook Community, The Global Moms Network, to connect with like-minded mamas.

Guest Interview: Mary Grace Otis, Host of The Global Mom Show

At Baby Ventures, we encourage children early on to explore all the places, cultures and creatures of our diverse, wonder-filled world. How can parents foster a globally-minded worldview from a young age? We asked Mary Grace Otishost of The Global Mom Show! The Global Mom Show is a weekly podcast that connects moms around the world who want to live globally-minded lives and teach their kids to do the same. Below is Part I of our interview with Mary Grace.

In your experience, how can travel – to new locales in particular – expand a child’s worldview in his/her early years? How would you characterize the long-term benefits of fostering such a worldview?

When I was a child, we never traveled internationally, but we were always on some sort of road trip or field trip to a nearby historical site or a state park half-way across the country. These trips, however long or short, prepared me to be curious, flexible, and optimistic about travel experiences as a child. When I was old enough to travel on my own, it was only natural for me to push the boundaries and explore overseas.

I think international travel is an amazing way to expose kids to other cultures. Of course, it’s incredible. But, if you can’t afford it, if you can’t get time off work, if you can’t seem to make that happen in your current situation, that’s okay. Travel can be as simple as a camping trip or a visit to a nearby metropolitan area. Wherever you go that’s outside of your own usual circle will expose your children to new experiences, let them see people who may look or act differently from them, give them an opportunity to see various landscapes, and teach them how to accept change to their usual schedules and norms.  In my experience, those things set the foundation for more extensive travel later on.  Even trips through an airport or to a multicultural festival where children have opportunities to see diversity firsthand, listen to multicultural music, or taste unusual-to-them foods can have a huge impact on small children and will give you, as a parent, an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and concepts to a young child.

In my own children, I’ve seen that even the littlest bit of travel during the preschool ages can have a big impact in expanding a child’s worldview. The long-term benefits are the realizations that come with understanding that life doesn’t center around you or your town, but that life is varied, multifaceted, beautiful, and worth exploration.

If travel is not often possible, in what other ways can parents help broaden their children’s understanding of and appreciation for other people, places, and cultures? 

There are several entry points to other cultures that are within reach for most parents.  Some of the easiest ways to broaden children’s worldviews are through books, music, food, and friendships. We’re really just starting this journey in my own home with my boys, and I am always on the lookout for new resources to bring into the home that will allow us to explore other cultures. I usually start at the library, checking out all the multicultural books I can find!

I’ve written a short list of 10 Simple Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, and in it I give descriptions of some of the things parents can do to incorporate an appreciation of other cultures into their home life. Simple, practical things like putting up a map in the dining room so that you can reference it whenever you hear about or read about another country; listening to podcasts about diversity and global issues that keep you inspired to pass on these values to your kids; teaching your kids another language so that they expand their understanding of culture; internationalizing your media so that you are getting music and videos from around the world as well. Those are a few simple things that make global living accessible to anyone.

How have you incorporated globally-minded living into your family’s daily life? What key tenets of globally-minded living can you share that we could all put into practice?

To me, globally-minded living is something I haven’t mastered, but something I strive to incorporate into our family life.

I believe it starts with the parents. If you want your kids to grow up excited and eager to engage with the world, then you have to also be excited about learning and engaging with the world. For me, that started with a simple framework of “looking up, looking out, and looking all around,” that I later decided is critical to becoming a global mom. The first few years of motherhood, or parenting in general, can be so all consuming, that you can feel very isolated. It can feel like the only thing you think about is just keeping everyone fed and diapered—and hopefully getting a little bit of sleep along the way. But, I actually find that when I look only at my circumstances and what I have to get done in a day or what is going on with the kids right at that moment, I can become discouraged and discontented. When I start looking up from my own mess and looking out into the world again, I’m reminded of the beauty both within my own home and family, and beyond it. Things like having beds made and cooking awesome meals seem to become less crucial, and I can focus on connecting with the world around me and teaching my children to do the same.

As far as the key tenets of globally-minded living, well, there are just so many! Believing that all people have worth and value and that all cultures have something to teach us is a start.

My framework of “looking up, looking out, and looking all around” is how I encourage moms to take practical steps to become more globally-minded. This is how I explain it:

Look up. This basically means getting out of your own way, so that you are not so self focused. It’s the simple act of looking up from your own circumstances to recognize the stories of people around you. With kids, it can be simple steps like teaching them to stop complaining because they wanted a different kind of cereal for breakfast, and reminding them how blessed they are to even have food. It starts with a sense of gratitude for our own lives and circumstances and then we have the mindset to look up and start seeing what’s around us.

Look out. Now that you are not so self focused, take some time to look out. Outside your window, outside your neighborhood, outside your city. What do you see? This could literally mean taking a walk to a new neighborhood, or taking a bus-ride across town. It basically means observing how people from other cultures and communities live, and teaching your children to look as well—not judge, but just observe. This is where we start to build compassion, empathy, and open-mindedness in ourselves and in our children—traits that are important for developing global citizens.

Look all around. This third step entails really making an effort to explore—through books, music, cuisine, language, travel, art—as many different cultures as you can. This is where we take learning as a life-long goal and understanding and building bridges between cultures as our mission.

All of this is part of what I call living with the world in mind, which basically means thinking of others as you go about your day. Living with the world in mind involves understanding how our own decisions affect others worldwide. It involves looking into how we spend our money and our time, evaluating how we educate our children, considering which charities we choose to support, and so much more. It can really impact all areas of one’s life.

Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Mary Grace as we discuss the importance of multicultural books, coming soon!

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Mary Grace Otis is a wife, a mom of three boys, a former expat and development worker, and a freelance writer for nonprofits and businesses. You can find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Grab a copy of her free PDF guide 10 Ways to Create a Global Home—No Matter Where You Live, or join her private Facebook Community, The Global Moms Network, to connect with like-minded mamas. 

“C” is for Cherry Blossoms!

No ABCs of Washington, DC book would be complete without a colorful ode to DC’s iconic spring blooms: cherry blossoms!

Even before writing and illustrating the ABCs of Washington, DC board book, Baby Ventures authors and illustrator Lisa Hall and Golzar Kheiltash knew the letter C would represent cherry blossoms – those gorgeous, ephemeral blooms that bring our nation’s capital to life each spring and most famously, line the banks of the Tidal Basin overlooking the Jefferson Memorial.

The aesthetic beauty of the cherry blossoms is undisputed. For Baby Ventures – a children’s book company – so is the beauty of what these blossoms stand for:

  • Kindness and Friendship: The cherry blossoms were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC in 1912. This gift marked the beginning of a lasting friendship between the US and Japan.
  • Welcoming and Inclusive Spirit: Every year, over a million tourists flock to the Washington, DC area to experience the cherry blossoms first-hand. Our city welcomes them with a vibrant, internationally-inspired National Cherry Blossom Festival for all ages to enjoy (for emphasis on enjoyment, check out these insider planning tips from KidFriendly DC).
  • New Season, New Adventures: The cherry blossoms are one of the first to bloom around DC. They usher in the spring and all of the wonder-filled adventures awaiting little ones around DC (boat tours on the Potomac, stroller rides through Rock Creek Park, out and about just sightseeing – check out MommyNearest DC for more!).

This year, a tardy cold snap disrupted the cherry blossoms’ peak bloom period, throwing tourists, DC families, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival into a scramble trying to reassess the viability of the blooms. Much to our relief, the National Parks Service recently reported that while the snow hurt many blossoms, those lining the Tidal Basin are still going to bloom!

More good news: if your family missed the cherry blossoms this year, don’t fret – you and your tots can experience C is for Cherry Blossoms year-round with our ABCs of Washington, DC board book! And if you’re in the greater DC area, stop by one of these one of a kind local specialty shops for your copy!

From the Baby Ventures Team in Washington, DC: Happy blooming spring adventures!

 

 

Resolution: More Adventures in 2017!

Happy New Year! As we venture into 2017, our hearts are filled with gratitude for an incredible 2016. Thanks to YOU – our inspiring followers, customers, and small business retailers for making this past year an absolutely amazing one! 

What are our resolutions for 2017? Top of the list is more adventures! At Baby Ventures, we aim to inspire little ones everywhere to seize the adventure that is CHILDHOOD! And this year, we’ll have even more exciting tips, tools and activities to help your tots discover their wonder-filled world. From adventure maps to “out of this world” exploration (hint, hint), stay tuned for more Baby Ventures!

How are you inspiring childhood adventures in your little ones? Share in the comments section below.

Here’s to many happy adventures in 2017!

Hold on, Fall – It’s Still Summer’s Turn!

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end – it seems like just yesterday that we kicked off the season with our little ones, summer bucket lists in tow and eager to check off beach days, camping trips, and all the ice cream we can eat. Now school is starting, and Halloween feels like it’s around the corner (or so we’re told upon entering every retail store these days).

But before rushing into fall, we want to take stock of the season we’re still in – summertime is such a magical part of childhood, and we’re loathe to short-change our little ones even one day of it. Sure it’s often sticky, icky, and hot, but those aren’t the things you remember as a child. Whether it’s an impromptu beach adventure or just a lazy afternoon with the whir of the A/C and a cold treat from Grandma, the freedom a youngster feels to get lost in the moment is what makes summertime unlike any other time of the year.

So put down the back-to-school to do list. Resist the pumpkin patch search. And forget about Halloween costumes…there’s more than enough time for fall’s many adventures! In these last few weeks of summer, all our tots really need is to be in the sun-kissed moment for just a little bit longer. We know we have to say goodbye to summer soon…we just want our “five-minute” warning before we do! So here’s to this last bit of summer, and to teaching our children (and ourselves!) to linger in the moment.

What was on your family summer bucket list this year? Share a story and pic with us for the chance to be featured on our sites!

The Adventure Girls: Spotted on the National Mall!

This summer, our Baby Ventures Adventure Girls made their debut in our ABCs of Washington, DC board book: They popped up on the National Mall on page “V for Visitors!”

The greater National Mall area in Washington, DC offers a world of educational fun for little ones! Looking for some family adventure ideas? Here are some of our tot-approved favorites:

  • Enjoy live jazz in the Sculpture Garden (with toes dipped in the Grand Fountain) at the National Gallery of Art, then head inside under the light-studded Multiverse in the Concourse walkway to the Children’s Shop, where little ones can relish in the  unique books and gifts that the Museum offers!

The Adventure Girls appear in every Baby Ventures book – where are they heading to next? We’re guessing locales that are home to very unique friends (hint, hint). Stay tuned, and happy DC adventures!

 

Adventures in DC Photo Contest Winner

Congratulations to the Afshar family for submitting the winning photo in our Adventures in DC contest, and receiving a free copy of our ABCs of Washington, DC board book! We love this vibrant shot of winter holiday fun at the DC National Zoo!

A big thanks to everyone who submitted their adventures in DC family photos. Stay tuned for more contests coming soon!

DC Photo Contest: Win a Free Book!

Looking for one-of-a-kind board books to introduce your little ones early on to the wonder-filled world around them? We were too: creating vibrant, adventure and diversity-inspired board books was the impetus behind our family-owned company, Baby Ventures!

We’re thrilled to kick off our book series with our new ABCs of Washington, DC board book, set to arrive this June! In this distinctly native take on our nation’s capital, your tots can explore the A to Z of DC with bright colors, cool shapes, and lots of adventures (Boat tours, anyone?).

Have some of your own DC family adventures to share? Whether you live in or have visited the nation’s capital, email us a pic and a brief description for a chance to win a free copy of the ABCs of Washington, DC, and be featured on our sites! Submissions must be received by June 1st.

Happy DC adventures, Baby!

Last Chance for Free Shipping on the ABCs of Washington, DC!

Be among the first to take your tot on a literary tour of the Nation’s capital with Baby Ventures’ brand new board book, The ABCs of Washington, DC!

Each fun-filled page brings DC to life for little ones, combining vibrant artwork with a distinctly native take on letters of the alphabet (including D, J, and R, to name a few!).

Pre-orders are still available, so order today – free shipping is extended until June 1st!

Happy reading adventures!

Welcome, Spring (wormy friends and all)

It’s springtime! Which means lots of fascinating, earth-friendly adventures for little ones (check out our Instagram pics of some of our favorite spring adventures already)!

This time of year backyards (or a park or hiking trail) come to life with an endless variety of critters – birds, blossoms and bugs abound, making it the perfect opportunity for youngsters to explore the kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and textures their surroundings offer.

No surprise, we’re big fans of simple springtime adventures: tots crawling around in wet grass (April showers!), marveling at the texture of mud, dirt, and mulch, and making friends with worms of every kind. Signs of life – big or small – are a happy marvel for little hands and growing minds.

So grab your munchkins and venture outside! Wherever you go, we promise that your little explorer’s squealing delight is bound to be one of your favorite sounds of springtime.