Tag Archives: gender roles

My Mama is a Mechanic

Written & Illustrated by: Doug Cenko

For ages: 3-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Stereotypes, Women in STEM. 

Summary: 

This book is absolutely adorable!  Our narrator is a young boy, describing all of the things his mother is.  Through the eyes of a child, his mother is a chemist, a monster truck driver, and treasure hunter.  The reader sees in the illustrations all of the activities that the duo does together like baking, searching for things in the couch cushions, and making things out of cardboard.  We find out at the end of the book that the boy’s mother is actually a mechanic!

This is a simple storyline for little ones that both subverts gender stereotypes and showcases the love that the boy has for his mother.  The illustrations are really cute, and show the mother and her son just having fun around the house together.  We particularly enjoyed the “Momster Truck” that said “eat your vegetables” on the side!

This is also a sweet book in that so often we see protagonists of color in a historical narrative context, or in a story with a strong moral.  My Mama is a Mechanic celebrates family but at the same time is just a cute story with a lovely lesson that anyone can do any job!

This book was sent to us by Blue Manatee Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

headshot-2Doug Cenko has been working as a creative professional for over 15 years. His work has been seen by millions of people worldwide on dozens of concert tours, films and television shows.

He grew up in Northwest Indiana raised by two wonderful parents and an Atari 2600. His first job was at a comic book shop where he spent the majority of his $3 an hour income on the very thing he was selling. The rest, of course, went towards fireworks.

After college, Doug interned at StarToons, one of the animation studios behind the Animaniacs, making even less money than at the comic shop. From there, he combined his love of illustration and fireworks and started working at Strictly FX, a live special effects company. While at Strictly FX, Doug has designed special effects for shows including Wrestlemania, the Academy Awards and Pitch Perfect 2.

Doug is currently living in the city of Chicago with his two harshest critics – his beautiful wife and daughter.

Free to be Incredible Me

Written by: Joelle-Elizabeth Retener

Illustrated by: Connor DeHaan

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Expression, Gender Non-Conforming Youth, Acceptance, Family, Love, Social-Emotional Learning & Development. 

Summary: This book is SO cute!  It’s a quick read, the rhyming makes the pages turn quickly.  Manny returns from his first day of school pretty bummed, because he’s been teased for doing things “that boy’s shouldn’t do”.  Manny’s dad sees Manny’s heartache and sets about making sure Manny knows that boys can do anything.  They do their hair, have a dance party wearing bright colors, and try out different hairstyles.  Manny realizes that he can be himself and doesn’t have prove anything to anyone.  He can feel feelings, have confidence, and unlearn the negative thing society tries to push on young children in terms of gender expectations.

This book is so important.  Bookshelves are missing stories about young boys of color, and especially characters that are gender non-conforming.  Everyone needs to be seen, accepted, and loved for who they are.  Having these books that show parents and caregivers unabashedly celebrating who their children naturally are are CRUCIAL, we cannot overstate this.  This book shows how far we’ve come in the children’s literature world even in the last few years.  We do believe that other books with reticent parents have a place and are important, because that is a very real reaction that a lot of children face.  But it is just, if not even more, important that these are the books we’re reading to classrooms.  Check this book out and give it to everyone!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something just because of who you are?
  • How did that feel?
  • Did someone help you find solutions to this dilemma?
  • Who helped you feel better?
  • How can you help someone that was told they couldn’t do something when you hear it?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

jer2“Hi! I am Joelle-Elizabeth Retener (she/her), a first generation Haitian-American from the DC metro area. I’m a proud graduate of Spelman College and American University, where I studied Spanish and International Studies. In my past life, I was a US diplomat and traveled the world promoting and implementing US foreign policies. I’m now taking a shot at writing kidslit while homeschooling my littles. I am passionate about promoting diversity & inclusion, and fighting for gender equality.”  She works tirelessly to ensure that all gender expansive children’s voices are heard, and that they are free to enjoy the same rights, and opportunities as their peers.  We think she rocks!

ProfileConnor DeHaan is a multifaceted designer based in upstate New York. Design has become a lifestyle for myself and progression my fuel. While Connor is away from his home studio, you can find him either cooking up some delicious plates, hanging with the pooch, and when the earth freezes over, up on the hill making some turns.

For more information on his work, to get in touch regarding employment opportunities, or to just say hello, feel free to reach out.

 

Curriculum Review: “Choose Your Own Likes” Talking About Stereotypes

Hey all!  We got the opportunity this week to review some curriculum by Jamey Fisher Perkins, which is all about stereotypes! This month’s curriculum is part of her wider “Growing Towards Justice” curriculum set.  We were given a copy of this curriculum to review free of charge, but all opinions are our own. 

The 12 page curriculum covers 6 topics: What’s a Stereotype?; What I Am Like; Free to be Me; There’s No Accounting for Taste: Standing Up for What You Like; Practicing Shifting from the General to the Specific; and Unconscious Gender Bias. We think this is a well-rounded way to look at things, and each topic is specific enough to give an in-depth look at these topics without being overwhelming.  

jacob's new dress
4 of the 6 topics listed above have corresponding activities to do with kids!  They range from poems, art projects, new ideas like being non-binary (we’re SO excited this was included!) and conversation starters.  This wide range ensures that there is something that fits with various likes and dislikes in an activity.  

Although each topic and most activities have specific resources attached to them, there is a master list compiled at the end of the curriculum.  21 children’s books, some music and poetry links, and a list of adult reading material resources for caregivers make up that list.  Having these compiled with the activist and again at the bottom is very helpful, especially for someone who would want to check out the whole stack from the library.  It’s easily copied from the bottom of the curriculum, and the hyperlinks for songs and further readings for caregivers save a lot of time!pronoun-poster-download-image-copyright-maya-gonzalez-800px

Then entire curriculum is written in a very friendly manner!  Some curriculum we have read remains boring, dry, and inaccessible if the reader is unfamiliar with academic language.  This curriculum is decidedly not like that.  We would recommend this curriculum for anyone looking to begin to dismantle the implicit biases that society, school, and the media imparts on everyone beginning in utero!  

We are very much lucky to have been offered a discount code from Jamey if you’re interested in purchasing the annual curriculum subscription and on the Raising Feminist Boys e-course.  That code is: TINY!

Check out Jamey’s work, and let us know what you learn!


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We’re here to profile #lgbtcharacters who #smashstereotypes!

It’s Day 10 folks, and we’re so excited that the topic of #lgbtcharacters has come up, because as two queer educators, we are super passionate about the representation that younger LGBTQ folks can experience with the wealth of books now available!

To check out our list of Top Books with LGBTQ Characters, read on!


from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea

Written by: Kai Cheng Thom

Illustrated by: Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching

For ages: 3-8 years

from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea is an incredible portrait of what it feels like to be a child in between. Gorgeously illustrated by Way-yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, it tells the story of Miu Lan. “Born when both the moon and the sun were in the sky”, Miu Lan “couldn’t decide what to be.” Supported and loved by their mother, Miu Lan is a “strange, magical child” with the ability to adopt various animal characteristics. This empowering home environment is contrasted with Miu Lan’s experience at school, where the other students are all “either boys or girls”. Challenging gendered expectations, Miu Lan must discover how to express their truth fully and without fear.


Jack Not Jackie

Written by: Erica Silverman

Illustrated by: Holly Hatam

For ages: 4-8 years

 When the two kids’ mom gives them haircuts, Susan goes first.  She wants her hair long, but Jackie urges their mother to keep cutting more and more hair off until Susan yells that Jackie looks like a boy.  “I am a boy!” says Jackie, and their mother is quiet, finally recognizing that Jackie has been telling them something important for a long time.  Jackie asks Susan to call him Jack, and Susan begins to cry, saying she doesn’t want a brother, she wants a sister.  Susan goes to sit alone in her tent to think things over, and brings art supplies with her.  She draw two pictures-one of Jackie and one of Jack. Susan notices that both pictures have the same eyes and the same smile. 


I Am Jazz

Written by: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas

For Ages: 4-8 years

This book is great for readers of any age, introducing the real-life experiences of of trans youth in a thoughtful, understandable way.  The prevailing notion of living your own personal truth has been a very strong narrative most recently, and Jazz’s story adds her valuable experience. She says that she feels good when she does things like play on the girls soccer team, and ignores kids in her school that make fun of her.  The book closes with Jazz saying she doesn’t mind being different, because she is special and proud to be who she is!


George

Written by: Alex Gino

For Ages: 8-12 years (chapter book)

George wants to be Charlotte in the school play, but the role is only for a girl.  She secretly looks at beauty magazines and wishes she were friends with the glossy images.  These characters are beautifully developed for a young adult novel, and have very believable reactions and dialogue with each other. This book is beautiful, and the unexpected twists and turns make it hard to put down.  The plot explores a young mind from that believable perspective-unsure yet sure at the same time, nervous but yearning to break free.  Character development and tender exchanges between George and Scott were unexpected and welcomed, as Scott accepts George immediately, and subverts the “older brother is a bigoted jock” narrative that is common in a lot of LGBTQ media!

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Written & Illustrated by: Jen Wang

For ages: Young Adults and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Expression, Growing Up, Love, Family, Acceptance, Friendship.

Summary: Prince Sebastian doesn’t particularly want to get married, but his parents are desperate for him to find a mate.  All Sebastian really wants to do is blow off steam and wear fabulous dresses as a disguise while out on the town.  He comes across Frances, a talented young seamstress and hires her to live in the castle and create one of a kind looks for him.  Frances begins to accompany him out on the town and the pair become best friends.  Frances is only one of two people that know the prince likes to wear dresses.  When the prince’s alter-ego Lady Crystallina begins to be recognized, and her fashions desired, the two reach an impasse because Frances getting recognized as the creator of these dresses could also mean the cover is blown for Sebastian.  This is a fabulous graphic novel about friendship, acceptance, and personal expression.  Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys fashion design, or who wears anything unique and might get teased for it.

Reflection Questions:

  • How would you feel if you were Frances in the story, not being recognized for her work?
  • How do you think Sebastian feels, not being able to let people know his “secret”?
  • Who are the people in your life that you trust with your secrets?
  • How are you a good friend when someone tells you a secret?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design your own perfect outfit-what makes you feel most comfortable?  Sebastian liked wearing pants and shirts as much as he liked wearing fancy dresses, and you can too!  But what matters most is that you’re dressing the way that makes you feel most comfortable.
  • Draw your own comic!  The land that Frances and Sebastian live in is fictitious, you can imagine a new place or write about one that already exists!
  • Think about what it means to be a good friend.  What is important to you in a friend, and how can you embody those characteristics for your friends as well? If it’s helpful, you can make a list or collaborate with someone.

About the Author & Illustrator:

2477793-jen_wangJen Wang is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Jen is also a co-founder and organizer for Los Angeles based comics festival Comic Arts LA.

A Lady Has the Floor

Written by: Kate Hannigan

Illustrated by: Allison Jay

For ages: 7-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Women’s Rights, Activism, Trailblazers, Women in Politics.

Summary: Belva was smart and wild, unafraid of everything.  When she was 14, she became the head teacher in the one-room schoolhouse in her hometown in New York.  On her first payday, Belva was appalled to find out she only made half the salary of the male teachers!  Against her father’s wishes, Belva enrolled in college and took classes that typically only men were allowed to take.  Science, math, politics, Belva took them all and excelled!  In 1857, she graduated with honors.  Belva began teaching again, all around New York.  Everywhere she went, girls were not allowed to do all sorts of things like speak in front of the school or play sports.  Belva started all-girls physical activity classes where she taught, demanding equality for her students.  Wanting more, Belva moved to Washington DC and applied to law school.  After finally finding one that would accept women, she found that they still wouldn’t let female students attend lectures or study with the men.  Even during graduation, the men refused to sit next to them! When the school refused to give her a diploma, she wrote to Ulysses S Grant and demanded she receive one.  Belva became an attorney and began to help freed slaves, veterans, and widows.  Unfortunately, some courts would not allow women lawyers so Belva protested at the Supreme Court for equal rights.  It took her five years, but Belva won!  She also became the first woman to ride a bicycle in Washington DC, and fought for women’s suffrage.  Belva and her friend Marietta even decided to run in a presidential election!  She could not vote, but she could be voted for.  In the end, she received over 4,000 votes, but it was not enough to beat Grover Cleveland.  Belva worked tirelessly to help those marginalized communities in our nation and should be remembered as the strong activist she was.

In the back of the book, there is an Author’s Note, timeline of events in Belva’s life, and bibliography.  Especially in a time when women of color and freed slaves were not viewed as human, Belva’s determination to help these populations is refreshing.  This is a great book for a young elementary student learning about government as well as women’s suffrage.  Belva Lockwood is a great role model for young women, aspiring lawyers, or activists!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you think would be the hardest achievement that Belva managed?
  • How would you like to help people like Belva did?
  • Do you think you would like to run for president some day?
  • How do you think Belva felt when she lost the presidential race?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn about how to run for office.  What do you have to be good at, and work for?  What are some of the responsibilities once elected?  How is holding a government office helpful for the communities you wish to help?
  • Find a lawyer to visit your classroom.  What are some things they do everyday?  Have they heard of Belva Lockwood? Why did they decide to become a lawyer, and what do they do to help people?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

img_0668Kate Hannigan is the author of the Cupcake Cousins series. She is a former journalist and lives in Chicago with her family!

 

 

 

 

 

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Alison Jay is well known for her children’s books, including ABC: A Child’s First Alphabet, Picture This . . . , and Welcome to the Zoo. Her book William and the Night Train was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and won the Transworld Children’s Book Award.

Gloria’s Voice

Written and Illustrated by: Aura Lewis

For ages: 4-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Activism, Feminism, Historical Figures, 

Summary: Gloria is a little girl that dreams of being famous for helping others. Gloria’s mother always wanted to be a journalist in New York City, but has to stay home and take care of her house. Gloria thinks this is very unfair, and it makes her sad. When she is ten, her parents separate. Gloria’s mom gets very ill and can’t look after Gloria anymore. When she is grown, Gloria begins to travel and see the world. When she goes to India, she joins an aid coalition to help those in need. After two years, she leaves India and becomes a journalist in NYC, wanting to continue helping people. Instead, she is only given fluff pieces to write about. Gloria is angry, and demands to be heard! One day her friend asks her to cover the women’s liberation movement, and Gloria becomes inspired. She has found her cause. Gloria and her friend Dorothy begin to travel and speak about this movement, and start Ms. magazine! Gloria became a key voice in feminism, and continues to support all women’s voices to this day.

This book is a great introduction to the history of second-wave feminism. The illustrations are beautiful, and there is a plethora of information at the back of the book including a more descriptive history of Steinem’s life as well as page by page notes.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of Gloria Steinem before this book?
  • Why is it important that all people are treated equally?
  • What can you do to help ensure that people in your community are treated fairly?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the feminist movement and what it’s doing today. How are people in your community helping marginalized populations? How can you join in their efforts?
  • Learn more about activism in your area, and choose a project as a class. Have a clothing drive, write letters to your local government, or stand up for something you feel is right! Gloria saw inequality as something that can be fixed with hard work, and you can be part of that!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Aura Lewis is an author-illustrator based in New York City. She has an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. Aura’s debut picture book, Gloria’s Voice, was published in March 2018 with Sterling Publishing, and is available online and in bookstores! Her second book, The Illustrated Feminist, will be published in 2020 with Abrams.