My plan for today was to review Save Me by Lisa Scottoline. I was sidetracked by an article posted by the NY Times. It’s a book review for a book called Anton Can Do Magic by Ole Konnecke. The article is called “Boys At Play” and can be found here.
The part of the article that caught my attention was this:
When Anton’s efforts to produce magic fall short, he is humbled by his antagonist, Luke, who was also in “Anthony and the Girls.” Worse, it happens in front of “the girls.” (The book takes an old-school, but quite believable, view of preschool gender relations.)
And then I started tearing my hair out. I am so sick of books that continue to enforce the idea of “this is what boys do” and “this is what girls do” as if every single boy likes the same things as every other boy and as if every single one of these activities and interests are in direct opposition to what every single girl likes. I hate that these types of books (old school, as the NY Times calls them, old fashioned or sexist or irrelevant as I call them) pit the girls against the boys. The boys can’t fail in front of the girls, because the girls in these types of books are some alien creature- weird and strange and not exactly equal. Why are we teaching children that they shouldn’t fail in front of the opposite sex? Instead, shouldn’t we be teaching children to respect and support their friends when they try and fail at something, to encourage their friends to try again instead of tease them?
In real life there are tough boys who fall from the monkey bars and don’t cry. They love the colour blue and play with trucks and fight and tumble with their friends on the playground. They want to grow up to be a fireman, or a professional baseball player or maybe a superhero.
But there are also boys who choose the glittery skirt from the dress up bin, who play house or hopscotch during recess, who spend their free choice time reading or colouring or doing other quiet activities. And then there are boys who wear the fancy dress up clothes while pretending to drive a firetruck,. There are a million ways to be a boy and none of them are wrong. Children need books with wonderful stories, language that flows and beautiful well done illustrations that show a variety of children doing a variety of things in a variety of ways. They don’t need books that show them the same old stereotypical garbage that we’ve been seeing over and over and over.