Anastasia Higginbotham, Author of “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness”, Conducts “Solutionary” Workshop

The Proposal and Results:

My proposal requested funds to be able to share complementary copies of Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham.

Jefferson Community and Technical College Office of Belonging and Inclusion generously agreed to bring the author and illustrator, Anastasia Higginbotham, to our campus on 10 November 2023. I felt that if the books were made available to participants at no cost this would make the session more meaningful.

Dr. Randall Davis office generously provides funding connected to the campus Americans Who Tell the Truth fine art prints. This allowed Michele Hemenway Pullen to work on this project throughout the semester and to connect it to the portrait series using Regina Jackson’s portrait and biography as the basis for the workshop. Weaving together the review of the book by Regina Jackson allowed for a meaningful look at the relationship of white women to Black women’s liberation. In the past semester, Spring 2023 , the project presented the work of Afro-LatinX women. This was a natural follow up to that panel.

After receiving the news about the grant, the publisher, Jennifer Baumgardner at Dottir Press, offered me a deep discount of 80% in order to make the funds even more impactful.

A total of 106 books were distributed over two days. THANK YOU!

As you can imagine, all this generosity reached many more people than I had originally thought.
The JCTC funding for travel allowed Anastasia Higginbotham to come a day early to plan.

The planning time allowed her to visit two schools that had been working with her books also. As we visited and worked in those sessions Anastasia came up with her workshop plan , using feedback from local sources to make her presentation uniquely tailored to our Louisville community college campus.

Sharing the books along the way and getting feedback allowed us to see the best way to use them in the workshop on 10 November at the college.

Participants in the workshop each represented many local organizations in addition to members of the college community including students, staff and professors.


“You can be
white without
signing on
To whiteness”
Anastasia Higginbotham


Quotes from participants

“Seeing and flipping through the book, watching the animation, and then using the same book construction materials the author used to create visual/written responses to the book provided a useful individualized processing experience, loved it. I am so grateful to have copies of the book to share with our Early Care and Education Coaches who work with child care providers , schools and trainers in Kentucky. ”

“It provided a good context to move the conversation forward during the workshop.I am using it at home with my kids.”

“The book is wonderful and accessible. It opens a conversation that is needed in many settings especially in classrooms.”

“I really enjoyed the video read-aloud of the book and that we could discuss the different points of the book this way. We also had a copy of the book on our table to reference and bring home to utilize as a further resource. This was extremely helpful.”

PRESCHOOL VISIT 9 November 2023 

Anastasia was able to visit a local preschool that has worked with me in a “Children’s Books for Grownups” Professional Development series I designed in 2019. 

I had been using her books in workshops and professional development as well as the courses I teach in the Early Childhood Education department at the University of Louisville and at Ivy Tech Community College Early Childhood Department. 

Sacred Heart Preschool KY Louisville KY  teachers dove into the topic of working with racial identity in a predominantly white school environment and in general , how to work with “tough topics” in themselves and their own relationships to them in order to best support young children experiencing them. 

Quotes from the teachers and director:

“Our time with Anastasia was essential in renewing my reason for teaching. Teaching is hard. One can easily fall into negativity and forget about the privilege it is to teach our youngest students and our responsibility to mold their foundations for learning. Our conversations with Michele and Anastasia helped me remember these important feelings. Her books inspired us to teach the hard truths, the concepts teachers are scared to talk about or told not to talk about. However, we all agreed these concepts were necessary in our discussions with preschool children. It helped so much as well to have access to her books and look at them through an educator lens as well as through a child’s eyes. We were able to think about future lessons and pathways to bring these concepts into our practice! “ 

“Sacred Heart Preschool has been very fortunate to have Anastasia Higginbotham working alongside our faculty and staff for quite some time. A few weeks ago, we were even more fortunate to invite her to our school to engage with our students for an hour outside. During this time, she talked, collaged with, and learned from some of our students. The energy was exciting, and our students were curious about her doll collages. Many students came inside eager to show me their creations from their time with Anastasia! Later that evening, we had a small group discussion with Anastasia regarding her literature and how it can help our students see themselves in books. She explained how purposeful her books and their content are to help diverse populations of students feel seen and acknowledged. I felt so inspired to see how she created her books and the intentionality behind them. The next day, I came into work and made a few collage trays for our teachers to use in their classrooms after seeing how powerful storytelling through art can be for students who don’t have the ability to tell stories through written word, yet! We’re so thankful to have these opportunities and hope to continue to learn through these conversations. 

Thank you!” 

“I would like to express my gratitude for our school’s recent session with Anastasia. The children who met with her to create an art project came back to the group beaming with pride and joy. In our adult session later that evening, it was so helpful to hear firsthand her thoughts and processes behind creating each book. It will enable me to use them as a tool with more clarity. I was also fortunate enough to receive a free copy of Death is Stupid and hear her thoughts behind its creation. I will now be able to use the book and the information when helping a grieving child.” 

“Having Anastasia come to the preschool to work with students on making storytelling was such a rich experience for us! Not only did the students love engaging with the materials, and talking with her about their people and stories, the faculty that were present came away inspired to integrate the ideas into their classrooms. The time that the faculty and administrators had with her in the evening using her books provided was again so rich. We were able to talk through ways we can use the doll making and story telling process to offer healing opportunities with students as well as offer richer experiences for language and literacy learning. Our conversation around having some often hard conversations with children helped us weed through our own hesitations and Anastasia facilitated beautifully as we collaborated as a staff. Using some of her books as a book study among faculty and staff opened the door for us to think through ways to not only respond to tough questions, but they also helped us understand the power of storytelling and offering open-ended doll making materials.” 


University of Louisville Lunch and Book Signing 9 November 2023 

The University of Louisville’s Early Childhood Research Center and Early Childhood Education Department hosted a book signing and lunch for invited guests and professors, CDA director and program specialist. Invited guests included the Ekstrom Library Director of Multicultural Studies and our Kentucky representative from Dolly Parten’s Imagination Library. 

The University of Louisville Marketing Department sent a representative to document the event and conduct an interview with Anastasia about the books to share with the Louisville community in their upcoming newsletter and magazine issue.

You can view the interview here.  Anastasia Higginbotham author and artist of the series Ordinary Terrible Things published by Dottir Press. 

Quotes from participants:

“I have shared the books with my parents and spouse, and I felt so happy to not only let them peek into my world but also open up their minds to the possibilities for navigating some uncomfortable topics with my daughter. “ 

“I will be sharing this book with white mothers that I am close with, especially with little ones who can engage in this work. “ 

“I was moved by the enthusiasm and compassion that Anastasia had when speaking about her work. My greatest takeaway was that children have the capacity to handle difficult conversations, but adults sometimes need additional framework to guide these talks.” 

“We will be using in CDA curricular development for our center.”



Our work remains as relevant as it ever was.
I hope we can collaborate more in the future in other ways.
Defending the Early Years is the nourishment that sustains me as I make my way.


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