We have been loving this hosting gig, and today’s topic is one of our favorites, so we’re ecstatic to show you what we’ve got! Today we are talking about books that are #smashingstereotypes with their depiction of #genderequality! You might think that books on this subject have all been published in the 1990’s and later, but today’s books include one, William’s Doll, that was originally published in 1972, and it stands up to the test of time, delivering a sweet story about family acceptance and recognizing that toys aren’t for specific genders.
Read on for our picks!
Written by: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrated by: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
For Ages: 5-6 years
This book emphasizes that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes, and in some situations that you might not expect! Like Beautiful, this book will take a phrase like “a brave kid has super strength” and pair it with an illustration of a young girl of color concentrating on a game of chess; turning the notion of strength on it’s head. “A brave kid never gives up” shows a young child wheelchair racing while their friends cheer them on from the stands and “a brave kid speaks the truth” shows some children admitting they broke a window playing baseball. Something truly beautiful about the books that McAnulty writes is they put disabilities as active participants-a boy with cerebral palsy is standing up to a bully, not on his own behalf, but the behalf of another child (seemingly able-bodied) crying in the background of the illustration. A second theme of both Brave and Beautiful is teamwork. Many of the pages show groups of children working together towards a common goal, determined and happy expressions on their faces. The characters treat each other tenderly and encourage each other to achieve their dreams. This book is a much needed addition to any curriculum that addresses social-emotional development and learning!
The Flying Girl: How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar
Written by: Margarita Engle
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
For ages: 3-8 years
This simple rhyming book tells the tale of how a teenage girl became the first woman to fly an airship. Aída became fascinated with flight when she saw an airship fly over her town, and began taking lessons after tracking down the pilot Alberto. Aída’s family was scandalized when they learned of her dreams to be a pilot, but she was undeterred. Alberto one day offered her a ride on his airship but Aída demanded that she be the pilot! Amazingly enough, Alberto conceded and she soared over the city like she had seen Alberto do on that fateful day which inspired her lifelong love of flight. When she lands, the townspeople are horrified that a woman was flying the airship and surround her shouting! Alberto however, is ecstatic for her and tells her she’s an inspiration for girls all over the world.In the back of the book is also a more extensive life history of Aída de Acosta. This book is fabulous, and introduces young children to an individual that most of them have never heard of before!
Written by: Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by: William Pène Du Bois
For Ages: 3-8 years
William wants a doll more than anything! He wants to practice being a father, holding and feeding and cuddling a baby of his own. William’s brother and the boy next door tease him, calling him a “sissy” and his father buys William a basketball. William plays basketball, he still wants a doll though. His father buys him a train set, but he still didn’t stop wanting a doll. One day, William’s grandmother comes to visit. William shows her the basketball and train set, but on a walk with her he reveals that what he truly wants is a doll. She says that is “wonderful” but William is not so sure, because of all the things everyone else says. She takes William to the store and picks out the perfect doll, and William is in love with it! His grandmother explains to William’s father that he wants a doll to practice being a father, and so “he’ll know how to take care of his baby”. Published in the 70’s, William’s Doll is one of the first examples of literature combatting gender stereotyping. A quick read with relatable content for young children, it makes the case that young boys can want and play with dolls without going into any assumptions about sexuality.
Lights! Camera! Alice!
The Thrilling True Adventures
of the First Woman Filmmaker
Written by: Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by:Simona Ciraolo
For ages:5-9 years
A little girl named Alice loved stories more than anything. She listened to those around her, and the tales they told her throughout the day. She read book after book, as many as she could get her hands on. Terribly, one day, her father’s bookstore got caught in an earthquake, followed by a fire, and then looted by robbers. Lastly, most terrible of all, her father died. Alice’s family had no money, so she learned to use a typewriter and set out to find a job to help her family. When she applied for a job at a camera company, she surprisingly was accepted despite being very young!One day Alice went with her boss to see a new type of camera, one with a crank that could make the pictures move-they could be played over and over again! This was a HUGE success, and Alice’s job began selling the cameras. Alice loved the moving picture cameras, but thought they could be used more creatively than just filming everyday happenings like trains. What if they could film a story? Alice began to film short movies, and at first they were just used to demonstrate what the new moving picture camera was capable of.
But eventually, people just wanted to see the films that Alice was creating, they would even offer to pay for them! Alice began to experiment with playing films backwards, painting the film reel to make it colorful, and experiment with stop-motion animation. Theatre’s showed her movies, and she was very excited to introduce sound and speaking to these films as well! She was unstoppable, and moved to America with a young cameraman that she was in love with.In America, she was confused. People thought someone named Thomas Edison had invented moving pictures, and Americans had never heard of her!
Americans went to see movies that didn’t even have sounds or color! Alice got to work, even bringing her baby on movie sets. She would make very exciting movies with animals, explosives, and rats that rescued leading characters! Americans began to love her movies. Until Hollywood took over, and could make fancier movies than Alice. Even her husband left her for Hollywood, and crowds watching her movies dwindled. She and her children decided to move back to France, and she wrote a memoir.This is a hefty book, with many pages. The words aren’t overwhelming, and the pictures are beautiful. The story is very detailed, and covers Alice’s life incredibly well. The “Director’s Cut” in the back of the book provides more historical context about Alice, including that she produced over 700 movies herself, even before her studio went on to produce hundreds more. She is truly the “Mother of Movies”!