*This is the second of a two part blog post.
It’s not a big secret that diversity in the world of children’s literature could certainly be better. For years now, teachers, parents, and librarians have said that we need more mirror and window books in our schools and homes. “Window” and “mirror” books are those that we can see characters like ourselves (mirror) in but also take a peek into the lives of other genders, races, and ethnicities (window). There are lots of research and articles surrounding this cause and even a campaign entitled #WeNeedDiverseBooks that has launched on the internet and social media. I have a passion for this cause and wrote my graduate thesis on gender roles in award winning children’s lit. And while female characters may have increased slightly, there is still a serious drought for multicultural books. My last post shared 10 new releases to celebrate powerful and strong African-Americans (and most were about women!) but there’s more for you and your students! Let’s break it down.
Taking down the gender stereotype, one book at a time!
I was already a HUGE fan of Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty. Rosie Revere is the story of a young female engineer a la Rosie the Riveter, who inspires young females to follow their passion and their love for creating (the engineering field is also lacking female representation… but that’s another post for another day). But this September, Beaty will do it again with Ada Twist, Scientist, a curious African-American girl who embarks on a fact-finding mission while conducting scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery! “Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie, Ada has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. But, this time, her experiments lead to trouble.”
Not only do I love to see strong female characters in literature, but I also love to see the “typical male” careers being portrayed by young girls! We need more girls in the fields of math, science, and technology and allowing them to read these mirror books will surely plant that seed!
I hope you are familiar with GoldieBlox, the construction sets that allow girls to tap into their spatial skills by giving them the tools to create and invent on their own! “In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math, girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys’ toys.” GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. We aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.” Goldie even has her own collection of children’s lit that aims towards encouraging girls to enter into STEM careers.
GoldieBlox herself is a wild-eyed blonde inventor and engineer who embraces her quirky side, but now she has a new best friend in tow. Ruby Rails is a spirited programmer and software engineer (and prize-winning photographer) who can write code faster than you can say “computer”. She was released in 2015 and is “more than just a sidekick“. She is the strong African-American protagonist that is helping solve the representation problem.
“In the hundreds of action movies that hit theaters every year, we see the same type of person saving the day: a big, buff, scowling man. In movies across the board – G-rated, family films included – male speaking characters outnumber female speaking characters three to one. It’s been almost twenty-five years since we’ve had a top grossing live action film that was led by woman of color. Our girls deserve action heroes with flowing hair and combat boots. Our girls deserve to see themselves onscreen as well as calling the shots behind the scenes. Our girls deserve more. #playlikeahero Click here to watch the full campaign.
Marley Dias is a pretty cool girl (pictured above in red). As an 11 year old, she realized that she was unable to connect with the books that her teacher was giving her to read. She said that most books were about “white boys and their dogs”, and it was extremely frustrating for her. So she started the book drive #1000BlackGirlBooks in order to collect 1,000 books with positive black female protagonists! She then plans to donate them to Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in Jamaica, where her mother grew up. Pretty awesome, huh?
Click here to see her full news segment and to see how you can participate and donate to her cause!
So, there you have it! I hope that this combination of resources and literature will help encourage you to give your students the best opportunities to see all stereotypes squashed and representation of all cultures and genders in your classroom! Your girls need it to start with YOU!