In late 2017, Kidada Jones released the book I wished for when I was 12.
“School of Awake: A Girl’s Guide to the Universe” combines words and colorful illustrations with activities like ceremonies, crafts, recipes, quizzes and more.
What’s not included is an emphasis on selfies and SnapChat, and readers won’t miss them.
“We are all so engaged in social media,” Jones explains. “When you are learning something new -- at least for me -- if I engage all my senses in a new experience, it’s likely to have a greater impact. When you’re on social media, you’re not using all your senses to take in what’s going on in the moment."
For inspiration, she looked to her childhood in 1980s: "I had a fun childhood filled with arts and crafts -- activities you can’t do on social media! I wanted to bring a little of that back so girls can feel like they can have fun without the phone, at least for a bit.”
Jones has worked as a model, fashion designer, stylist and brand consultant. She describes herself as a “spiritual seeker.”
Actor Rashida Jones wrote the book’s foreword. In it, she recalls how her older sister struggled at school and how their parents, Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton, sought the “right fit” for their eldest child.
“But at playtime, (Kidada) was a magician,” Rashida writes. “She knew how to turn closets into spaceships, shoes into sports cars and dolls into friends.”
Kidada “came to champion her own uniqueness as her best quality,” Rashida added.
Chapters include “We Are All Stardust,” “Your Super Powers” and “The Ocean of Emotions.” Throughout “School of Awake,” Kidada aims to help readers harness their best selves.
“(I)t’s very difficult for a teen girl to not identify with her looks and physical environment,” says Jones, explaining a goal in writing the book. “We all have a critical voice inside of our heads, and I hope to help young girls begin to realize the voice is not always kind nor is it our true nature. It’s important for them to learn this, and it’s not something that is taught in regular schools.”
Many activities meld introspective and active themes with practical advice about building a life tool kit, resisting bullying and employing manners and etiquette.
“My favorite activity is the wish jar,” Jones says. “I don’t know any girl who does not have wishes in her heart, and I feel that everyone loves to believe and hold on to a wish that’s special. Creating and having a special place to keep your private wishes helps keep them alive in a fun and cute way.”
The book is intended primarily for girls in their 'tween years, though older teens and women --- especially mothers --- also will find it instructive. Because of its universal appeal, “School of Awake” serves to connect girls, teens and women.
"The activities in the book are an investment into yourself, and I feel girls benefit from discovering active ways to provide self-care,” says Jones. “It’s also fun to do these activities in a group and interact with your friends, because a lot of that is lost when we all have our phones out."
“School of Awake” is available at most major booksellers. For more information about the book, go to SchoolofAwake.com.