This week I’ve been getting the kids to select the stories they’d like me to read out of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (a brilliant book that showcases the achievements of many women throughout history – Rebel Girls 2 is out now too, and I’ll be grabbing it as soon as I can). But, after 3 stories, S looked up at me, dejected, and asked if there were any stories about boys….
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Now, I know that these stories are all around him: representation matters. And we all know how overrepresented boys are in comparison to girls. You only have to look at things like Paw Patrol to see the gender inequity in representation. However, I realised in that moment that at home, in our kids’ library, we have a lot of books aimed at our daughter, but not a lot aimed at our son. For instance we have Rosie Revere Engineer, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, and even our 30 year old copy of my own favourite childhood book: The Paperbag Princess, but none really that reinforce “good” or “rebel” boy narratives. (Of course, by “good”and “rebel” I mean things like how it is ok for boys to cry or that address toxic masculinity and bullying.)
It occurred to me that in being a “good” feminist mum, I may be subconsciously showing some representation bias to my kids. I know, in the grand scheme of things, my son is seeing himself everywhere: in media, politics, society-in-general and that he is not going to suffer from under-representation, however, I really want to personally be showing positive representations of all people to my kids. And for them to both feel equally important and acknowledged at home.
In starting to write this blog post, I came across a book that seems like it may be just the thing I’ve been looking for: Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different. I’m putting in my order for this as soon as I can and I'll let you know if it really is.
Of course, I welcome suggestions for all good children's books. What can you recommend?