Pram Jam with Beth – Celebrating Girls

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day and I was fortunate to be asked to attend a fundraising/awareness raising event hosted by the Women’s Council for Domestic & Family Violence Services – WA. It was a wonderful opportunity to join with other passionate women and men and rally for the cause. And what exactly is the cause? Equality, safety, just recognition for the contribution that women make to our society! In a world where I see even other women damaging the progress that has been made in our communities and workplaces, I am heartened to hear calls to action from inspiring women like Sally McManus and Meredith Hammat, women who remind us to be conscious in our actions and expectations, identify inequalities and speak up bravely.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 was Balance for Better. I LOVED this theme. It really struck a chord with me.

Image source:  Women’s Day Twitter update

For those of us raising girls, I imagine that finding books which encourage our little ones to aspire to great heights may be a frustrating challenge. It is well documented that it’s easier to find stories where the main characters are teddy bears or animals than it is to find books showing strong female characters. Even as a mother of sons, I want to show a wide range of strong women’s roles to my boys – not princesses and mothers alone.

So, I’ve pulled together a few suggestion – including some with princesses to show that the stereotypes can be challenged! – which may help when wading through the Picture Book boxes. We try hard to select a great balance of titles when purchasing new stock for each library but please do request any titles which you feel we are missing. In particular, I know that some of the British and American titles don’t necessarily get released here in Australia so browsing on Amazon or Book Depository is a great way to broaden the selection.

Books that Celebrate our Girls at Cockburn Library

The paper bag princess / story, Robert N. Munsch ; illustrations, Michael Martchenko.

The classic self-determination story! Princess Elizabeth heads out to rescue her prince after the dragon destroys her castle and possessions. She not only outsmarts the dragon but also comes to some pretty deep realisations about the direction that she wants her life to take. 

Cover image for : The paper bag princess / story, Robert N. Munsch ; illustrations, Michael Martchenko.
Cover image for Fantastically great women who made history / Kate Pankhurst.

Fantastically great women who made history / Kate Pankhurst.

I know that this title is aimed at slightly older children than I usually make suggestions for, but the illustrations and layout of this book make it an awesome choice for all ages in my opinion. There’s no rule that says you need to read every word on every page, and this title and the earlier Kate Pankhurst title: Fantastically great women who changed the world are both excellent introductions to non-fiction feminist titles.

 

Zog / by Julia Donaldson ; illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

Yes, sorry, this is another princess and dragon book, but it is very different to The paper bag princess. Julia Donaldson is one of my favourite children’s authors and this lovely story about a young dragon and a caring princess really does inspire children to aim high and follow their passions. Princess Pearl is drawn to become a Doctor and nothing will sway her mind!

Cover Image for Zog / by Julia Donaldson ; illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
Cover Image for All the ways to be smart / Davina Bell & [illustrated by] Allison Colpoys

All the ways to be smart / Davina Bell & [illustrated by] Allison Colpoys.

Oh how I love Davina Bell!  All of her books to date have inspired me and this latest one is no disappointment. Nominated for the 2019 Children’s Book Council awards, Davina and Allison have teamed up to create a gorgeous book about all of our different abilities and qualities, and how many different versions of ‘smart’ there truly are.

This little trailblazer : a girl power primer / Joan Holub, Daniel Roode.

For our littlest babies, a simple introduction to trailblazing feminists. A great title to accompany A is for Awesome / Eva Chen and Baby feminists : a lift-the-flap book / Libby Babbott-Klein. In board book format, these three can be shared with the youngest members of the family with confidence (though mind the flaps in Baby feminists!).

Cover Image for This little trailblazer : a girl power primer / Joan Holub, Daniel Roode.

A story extension through song

So if you are sick of books and children’s TV shows which depict uninspired, stereotypical family roles, with no true to life understanding of how dynamic our day to day lives really are, please make some suggestions for alternatives! I know that I’ve been absolutely captivated by the new Australian children’s TV offering in the ABC for Kids show: Bluey and the honest and upfront version of parenting that it portrays. Bluey (a 6 year old Blue Healer dog) and her little sister are most often shown with their Dad as the primary caregiver and I know that this matches our family’s experiences perfectly. I am absolutely hanging out for the next batch of episodes to be released (psst, rumour is, keep an eye on iView on April 1st!).

I hope that you were able to observe International Women’s Day last Friday in some small way, and that the theme for this year of Balance for Better resonated with you in a positive sense, or at least gave you a reason to pause for thought. I will try to introduce some of these strong female characters into our Pram Jam sessions in the future.