Darwin Day: Review of Charlie and the Tortoise


In honor of Darwin Day we read our five year old daughter Tiny Thinkers: Charlie and the Tortoise. The book is written by M.J. Mouton and has beautiful illustrations by Jezreel S. Cuevas. The images are crisp, clean, and the colors pop. My daughter and I really enjoyed the artwork as well as following Charlie on his adventure.

In the book Charlie takes us with him as he explores an island in search for information about the different species that inhabit it. At the end of the book you are provided with a few fun facts about Charles Darwin and are asked the question, “Can you think of an adventure you’d like to have?” To this my daughter said, “I want to go back in time to watch the dinosaurs turn into birds!” It definitely sparked an interest in her to go exploring and to find out more about the world around her.


My daughter’s favorite part of this book was actually spotting Hitch along the way. Hitch is a beagle that follows the Tiny Thinkers through their adventures.

Though the story is great, my favorite section is Cara Santa Maria’s foreword. Cara discusses how she is a scientist and how she is always seeking answers to the questions she has. This was a great addition because it made my daughter think, “She is like me! I can be like her!” As a parent, my greatest wish is that my children will always seek out information and be confident in the world around them. This book helps with that. I highly recommend this book to any parent with a small child.



Killeen is an Atheist stay-at-home mother of two who spends her free time volunteering with, and coordinating youth emergency programs for the American Red Cross. Killeen is also a co-founder for Secular Parenting whose goal is to unite like-minded parents, and encourage friendly discussion on what it means to be secular.

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In the Beginning: Sharing Creation Stories With My Kids

Over the last few months, my daughters and I have snuggled up together under blankets to read our latest bedtime stories from an anthology called “In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World.”

5375620635_8bca6b05af_oLike a good humanist Mom, I wanted to make sure my girls knew all about various religious traditions rather than being indoctrinated into a specific viewpoint. I wanted to make sure all religious myths were given equal footing in their lives rather than hearing only stories from Genesis. I wanted to make sure they saw the rich tapestry of beliefs that make up the cultures of our world rather than think one particular story was “divine.” I wanted a cozy yet educational experience with lots of reflection and deep thinking.

What I got instead? Two young girls doubled up laughing!

It started with the very first story, the very first page. “The Pea Pod Man” is an Eskimo myth about a trickster raven god. Here is how it went.

Me (reading): “Time was, there were no people on Earth. The first man still lay inside the pea pod.”

8 year old (giggling): WHAT? Like, inside a bean??

Me: Yuimagep!

And it continued through the second story, “Quat the Creator,” a myth about a sun god who creates humans from wooden puppets.

Me (reading): “The brothers were all named Tangaro, but–”

6 year old (interrupting): They all had the same name?!

[Pause for 10 minutes of laughing.]

Me (reading, a bit later when Tangaro the Fool had created, buried, then forgotten his own wooden puppets): “What he found there had rotted. He was forced to leave his puppets buried, they smelled so bad.”

Girls: Hahahahahahaha!!

At this point, I admit I was chuckling along with them and by the time we got to Tawis-karong beating up his brother with a bag full of corn and beans in “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky,” we were just howling at all the ludicrous things in these stories!

Should I discourage the laughing? Maybe. Am I worried that they’ll laugh when they hear others share their Judeo-Christian creation stories? A little. But frankly, I’m glad they recognize the ridiculousness and rather relieved they aren’t prone to falling for the fiction. At least not yet. And we have some time to work on polite but truthful responses to religious traditions that won’t offend. Or won’t offend as much.



Hamilton, V., & Moser, B. (1988). In the beginning: Creation stories from around the world. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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Corrina is a wife, mom, teacher, and humanist. She lives in Central New York with her writer husband and their two young daughters. She is the current President of the CNY Humanist Association (www.cnyhumanists.org) and Coordinator of the CNY Coalition of Reason. She also writes for Secular Voices. In her off time, she loves to read, play Scrabble, crochet, and binge-watch shows on Netflix.

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Review of CNN’s Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers

CNN recently shared a special on atheists.

This report was refreshing because it was an honest look at atheism on a major network. However, I didn’t find myself loving it. That could be my own fault though. When this special was promoted, I thought it would be a documentary showing the lives of a wide variety of atheists to give a good look at how diverse we are. They barely touched on the diversity.

Where were the other female atheists? They only showed one female who shared her story alongside a female minister. Where was the atheist family? They only had the religious family living in the bible belt with the atheist son in college. Where were the young atheists? The youngest was the college student. Where was the diversity of ethnicity? Atheists are not all white males, but that’s mostly what you see in this. The report basically boiled down to men of religious background who found atheism was a better fit for them. I simply feel they didn’t do justice to how diverse we are.

Additionally, I feel they could have interviewed other prominent atheists. They only sat down with Dave Silverman and Richard Dawkins. I understand why they were chosen, but they can come across as very abrasive. Dave Silverman is known for being an “in your face” atheist which can turn a lot of people off from what he has to say. Dawkins used to be this way but has mellowed out over the years which is one reason I actually liked his part in this special. They could have chosen Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist who sits on the board of directors for Foundation Beyond Belief. He would have been a great contrast to Dave Silverman and has been interviewed by CNN before. He even said he’d be willing to do the show! What gives CNN?

With that said, I appreciated them showing the pain and isolation atheists go through when coming out. It’s a sad reality that many experience. They can lose their loved ones, homes, jobs, and community respect. This follows with isolation when they don’t know other atheists. Having more groups like David Gormley’s Skeptics Society at UNG can definitely help those new to life without religion and help debunk misconceptions of atheism through their “Ask an Atheist” event.

Although, David Gormley’s story is sad even with him having this group of like-minded peers. He grew up in the Bible Belt with a father who is a deacon. His parents said they weren’t surprised when he came out, however, their relationship still changed. Their conversations are meaningless, and his father even said it’s like they’re talking to a dead person. It’s truly heartbreaking to hear such things come out of a parent’s mouth. It’s no wonder this young man chose to start the Skeptics Society at his school, and I hope the group grows with the help of this special report!

Overall, this special was well done. Though it was a short special, they could have gone with a different approach. However, for a 45-minute program, it did justice to atheism and I recommend others check it out!

Please feel free to leave your comments on what you thought about it.

If you are reading this blog and have found that since coming out as atheist your family has disowned you or is treating you poorly, please check out the following resources. You are not alone.
Atheist Haven
Secular Avenue

CNN has since posted an additional Q and A.



Killeen is an Atheist stay-at-home mother of two who spends her free time volunteering with, and coordinating youth emergency programs for the American Red Cross. Killeen is also a co-founder for Secular Parenting whose goal is to unite like-minded parents, and encourage friendly discussion on what it means to be secular.

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