5 Big Takeaways From Creating Change
BY Daniel Villarreal
January 27 2013 11:27 PM ET
5) Eight Gender-bending Children's Books for People of all Ages
Atlanta's independent feminist bookstore, Charis Books and more, had a nifty table set up with slews of LGBT titles including a handful of children's books, including Perez Hilton's The Boy With Pink Hair and The Boy Who Cried Fabulous.
You've probably heard of the author of The Boy Who Cried Fabulous — it's Lesléa Newman, the woman who also wrote "the first lesbian-themed children's book ever published," Heather Has Two Mommies.
She gave a talk during the conference entitled, "The Gender Dance: Smashing Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Literature," in which she recounted a handful of books that challenge traditional gender roles.
Here's her top eight below:
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (1936) - While some have derided this pre-Spanish Civil War book as an endorsement of pacifism, the story of a bull who prefers flowers to fighting still manages to charm with its illustrations and message. And did we mention that it was also turned into an Academy Award winning Disney cartoon?
The Story of X by Lois Gould (1972) - Originally published in Ms. Magazine, Gould's tale shows just how bent out of shape most adults get when one couple decides to raise their child as a genderless "X." While the repeated reference to "X" as an "it" begins to grate, it still makes a delightful satire.
William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow (1972) - Although heteronormative stereotypes justify the end of this book, young William's desire to care for a doll will resonate with any readers who ever longed to play with "opposite-gendered" toys like, for instance, an Easy Bake Oven.
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole (1997) - Basically, imagine what would happen if you turned Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and the Grimm brothers fairy tale The Frog Prince into a Sesame Street sketch with a wickedly wonderful twist ending. You'll love watching Princess Smartypants outwit her ridiculously named male suitors — like Prince Swimbladder — in pursuit of a single life, happily ever after.
Pugdog by Andrea U'Ren (2001) - When the owner of an adorable puppy realizes that his "good boy" is actually a girl, he subjects the rough-and-tumble pup to a miserable regimen of grooming and acting "like a lady." Luckily, Pugdog ends up teaching her owner a thing or two about silly gender stereotypes and what makes her so special.
King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland (2002) - This picture book, which originated in the Netherlands, became the bane of marriage equality advocates when a schoolgirl in a "Yes on 8" ad came home clutching the book and told her mom that she was going to marry a princess. But it's still a lovely book where even the prince's rejected female suitors still snag an invite to the wedding.
A Fire Engine for Ruthie by Lesléa Newman (2004) - Written as a direct response to Charlotte Zolotow's book William's Doll, Newman's book features Ruthie, a young girl who would rather play with trains and automobiles than dress up and have a tea party with her grandma. Luckily, grandma eventually lets her hair down and accepts that playtime is for everyone, no matter your gender.
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert (2008) - Perhaps the most surprising of the lot, 10,000 Dresses follows Bailey, a young girl who wants to wear the wondrous dresses she sees in her dreams. The only problem — her family can't understand why a boy would possibly want a dress. Ewert's book has a great ending that is both encouraging and yet realistic.