Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “William's Doll” as Want to Read:
William's Doll
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

William's Doll

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  705 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
More than anything, William wants a doll. "Don't be a creep," says his brother. "Sissy, sissy," chants the boy next door. Then one day someone really understands William's wish, and makes it easy for others to understand, too.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published May 1st 1985 by HarperCollins (first published May 10th 1972)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about William's Doll, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about William's Doll

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 23, 2007 Gina rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, wrong
Weird in a Dare Wright way. What Southerners would call "sweet"--and not in a nice way.
Rad kids' book about a (white) boy who is teased for and distracted from (unsuccessfully) wanting a doll. When I read this to my kids, I was a little uncomfortable with William being teased- I would have preferred a more positive storyline so the kids don't get any ideas, but it was written in an age where this was the norm. Great for someone being teased for stepping out of their assigned gender roles. In the end, William's grandmother buys him a doll,"so he'll know how to take care of his baby ...more
Skylar Burris
Jan 05, 2009 Skylar Burris rated it did not like it
Shelves: childrens
I don't much care for children's stories that preach to parents rather than simply telling a good story to the kids. This is one. It rather assumes the reading parent needs to be educated about allowing a boy child to play with a doll. It did not hold my daughter's interest, and I haven't dug it back out to read to my son, who is, at this age at least, under no threat of being called a sissy for playing with dolls.

I suppose if you have one of the rare 0.5% of boys who, given an undirected choic
Ryan Treaster
Nov 19, 2008 Ryan Treaster rated it really liked it
William really wants a doll that he an hug and take care of. His dad tries to get him off the idea of a doll by buying him a basketball and other things. Although William enjoys these things alot, he does not stop wanting this doll. This is a great book for teaching children to not try and change people and reinforcing that it is not weird to want something like a dull.

Reading Level- Early
Curricular Uses- Independent reading or read aloud
Social Issues- Teaches people to not try and change people
Jul 11, 2010 Kimberly rated it it was ok
Shelves: everybody-books
This book is about a boy who wants a doll, but is discouraged by peers and father.
Themes -- gender roles, acceptance
I wouldn't use this book with children, it is preachy towards parents with a dull story line.
Shannon Kitchen
Dec 04, 2010 Shannon Kitchen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens, gender
My heart literally hurt while I was reading this. I almost started crying. It reminds me so much of the story I've heard about my husband and his doll. I wish so many more people would read this book. Boys need to learn to be nurturers too!
Jan 12, 2011 Ckrippner rated it really liked it
William WANTS a doll but his brother and friend makes fun of him. His dad buys him a basketball and a train set which he plays with but he STILL wants a doll! Wait till Grandmother comes to visit and see what SHE does... This is an excellent book for kids AND adults! Very simple but to the point.
Katie Fitzgerald
The illustrations look a tad on the dated side - the style of clothing, especially, is very 1970's, and the thin blue border around each page reminded of me an elementary school basal reader. But the message still stands strong - being who you are, whoever that is, and liking what you like, whatever that is, is a good thing.

I think the world is a lot more progressive these days, so maybe there aren't as many dads worrying about their sons playing with dolls, but I have no doubt there are still
First published in 1972, this one has held its place in the canon of children's literature. For better or worse (probably worse) there continue to be few books in which boys resist social expectations surrounding 'appropriately' gendered ways to be nurturing. This simple text tackles several ideas, including teasing and bullying (as it comes from peers and family members) and gender stereotyping. I appreciate the way that book stresses that having a doll and being nurturing doesn't supersede or ...more
Jun 29, 2011 Jill rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-level
Published- New York, Harper & Row [1972]
ISBN- 0-06-027048-9
Illustrated by William Pène Du Bois
Reading Level- 2nd-3rd grade
Genre- Fable

This is a great story when trying to teach children about how it's important to fight for what you want. A young boy named William wants a doll, but his father along with this brother and friends think he'll be a sissy if he has a doll. His father keeps buying him other things he thinks are more appropriate toys for boys to play with like a basketball and tr
Nov 28, 2015 Josephine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
A touching book from (surprisingly) 1970: William wants a doll. He wants to pet it and love it and dress it and take it for walks in the park and put it to bed, wake it in the morning and repeat again. His brother laughs at him. His brother's friend mocks him. His father gives him boy toys, and William dutifully plays with and even enjoys the train set and basketball hoop, but still William longs for a doll. Only his grandmother (his father's mother) understands; she not only buys William a doll ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Sonlight
Shelves: homeschool
William's Doll is about just that. A doll. Simple and sweet and used to be quite the inspiration of the day back in the early 70's. But it is more common now-a-days to allow children to explore both sides of the coin (so to speak) so this book seems to have less impact.
I never read this as a child but had seen the film "Free to be You and Me" where there is a cartoon with this very story. Apparently this book inspired the TV special that was then shown in schools to encourage toleration of diffe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2012 Callie added it
Grade/interest level: Primary (K-2)
Reading level: Fountas-Pinnell L/Lexile 840L
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Picture book

Main Characters: William, his family (dad, brother, grandma)
Setting: William’s Home
POV: Third Person

This is a story of a little boy who wants a doll for a toy. His father does not like the idea of him having a doll and tries to persuade him to play with other toys that society would consider more appropriate for a boy to play with, such as a basketball or train set. William
Jun 29, 2013 Trease rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ltcy504
Did you ever want a toy that noone else seemed to like? What about having toys that maybe your brother called you a baby for having or wanting? How about if you are a girl and you want a firetruck or if you are a boy and you like to watch the show Power Puff girls?

This book is about a boy, William. He wants a doll to play with for many reasons that he gives in the book. His dad keeps buying him toys for boys like trucks and train sets. William likes playing with these toys that his Dad buys but
Dec 08, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely little book. I know this story myself because of Free to be... You and Me, in which a beautiful musical version of the story is presented. That version is a little different from the original, so don't expect exactly the same words. The musical version rhymes and the book doesn't, but the story and sentiment and message are exactly the same, which is why I think this is such a wonderful book. I think it's important for young boys to grow up to be good fathers (even if that's not ...more
Linda Lipko
Jan 15, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
Written in 1972, this book was daring for the time.

I'd like to think that society is much more accepting of little boys who don't want to play rough and tumble sports, who don't care for basketball (even if they are good at it) and who want to play with a doll.

William longs for a doll to play with. All the taunting and teasing by his brother and neighborhood boy, naturally called names like sissy and creepy, did not take away the desire William had to possess a doll.

His grandmother understood hi
Robert Moushon
Zolotow, C. (1972). William’s doll (W. Péne Du Bois, Illustrator). China : HarperCollins Publishers.

Characters: The titular William, a young white boy with blond hair. His brother and his neighbor, a pair of tennis-playing tormentors. William’s father, a faceless entity in the story providing William with masculine gifts. William’s grandmother, who sees why William really yearns for a doll.

Setting: In and around a 1970s American home.

Themes: Bullying, Genders, Stereotypes, Communication

Genre: CS
Eileen Goedert
Jun 08, 2014 Eileen Goedert rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender
William’s Doll is a great jumping off point for class discussions about gender and gender roles; teasing and bullying; and even family communication. With its mop-top boy-hero, this book looks somewhat dated, but the writing and emotion remains authentic and engaging. School-age William longs for a baby doll to take to the park and swing and to hug “just as though he were its father and it were his child.” William’s father ignores his request and buys him toys more typically associated with boys ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature-class
Although this is an old book, it is still relevant today. The protagonist William wants a doll. In American culture, people still look down upon boys that want to play with dolls. This book breaks down that stereotype when William learns that there is nothing wrong with the fact that he wants to play with a doll. This is a great read for boys that are struggling with being bullied because they like "girl activities." This book is also a great selection for Early Childhood educators to share with ...more
Jaymie Christensen
Dec 09, 2014 Jaymie Christensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book tells the story of a little boy who wants a doll like the little neighbor girl’s. When William says so, his brother calls him a creep, and the neighbor boy calls him a sissy. His father simply starts bringing him “boy toys.” He buys him a basketball and hoop, a train set, and a tool bench, and William likes them, but still wants a doll. When William’s grandmother comes to visit he shows her his toys, but explains that what he really wants is a doll. His grandmother thinks that is wonde ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book, poetry
I didn't love this book for a few reasons. First, I thought the message of William being teased so much was entirely too strong. I would not want my children to be afraid of their parents' suggestions and guidance in their life. I also don't love how preachy it was about gender roles. However, the end of the book does make a sweet point that all parents should be sensitive too. Just because a little boy wants to play with a doll, you shouldn't necessarily cut him off. Children grow into boys, wh ...more
Charlotte Zolotow. William's Doll (1972). A young boy wants a baby doll but is discouraged by his father and teased by his brother and neighbor. While the father tries to encourage more masculine toys, William still longs for a doll. William struggles with this until the end when his grandmother encourages his nurturing feelings and buys him a doll. It was a sweet story about exploring gender stereotypes, toys, and notions of masculinity. The illustrations are a bit dated (very 1970s fashions) b ...more
Kelly Powell
This is definitely one of the best and most touching books that I have read this semester. The idea that boys can’t play with dolls and that girls can’t play with cars is ridiculous. Everyone is different and can have different interests. Just because someone wants to play with a toy you may have not picked out for them doesn’t mean that its wrong or that you are pushing something on the child. Sexual preference is a major topic now a days and teacher as well as parents need to realize that chil ...more
Johnny Nguyen
Oct 09, 2015 Johnny Nguyen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-identity
William’s Doll is an older book, a couple years older than Oliver Button is a Sissy in fact. The story is about a boy named William who asks his father for a doll. Instead of giving him what he wants, his father gives him other toys that are considered more “appropriate” for boys his age. The storyline of this book allows children many chances to stop and wonder if what William’s dad did is right or wrong. The language is simple and easy to read for most young readers since each page is mostly a ...more
Chris Shue
Feb 01, 2016 Chris Shue rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sadie Tucker
Recommended age range: K – grade 2

William wants a doll to cuddle and care for more than anything. His brother and brother’s friend call him names and William’s father keeps giving him toys that are not dolls. It is not until his grandmother comes to visit that William has a chance to have his heart’s true desire.

Repetition is used with a deft, light hand in this book, helping to provide a sense of rhythm and structure to the story. The prose is emotionally evocative; the narrator’s description
Mckenzie Telford
William's Doll, by Charlotte Zolotow is an excellent children's book that discusses a critical issue- gender. William is a little boy who wants a doll, but his dad brings him other toys, like a train and a basketball, because he is a boy. His brother said he was a "creep" for wanting a doll and his neighbor friend said it made him a sissy. When William's grandmother comes to visit he expresses his want for a doll and right away she buys one for him. His father gets angry, and the grandmother exp ...more
Payton Hiscok
Mar 31, 2016 Payton Hiscok rated it really liked it
All William wants is a cute doll to love and take care of. However, the other boys made fun of him for this and his father only bought him boys toys to play with such as trains and basketballs. William enjoyed these toys, but nothing would ever compare to a doll. Would anyone ever understand him?

This is a great book for early readers because of the simplicity of the text and illustrations. Yet even though the words are simple does not mean the content is. Many children will be able to relate to
Oct 18, 2016 Tdeese rated it really liked it
This book talks about how William is dying for a baby doll. He tries to play with many other toys but none of those make him happy. His brothers make fun of him for wanting a doll but he still wants the doll badly. His grandmother eventually buys him the doll after expresses so much interest. The book expresses feelings that many kids have these days therefore, making the book extremely interesting. This relates to my topic in the way that, the grandmother buys him the doll despite of his gender ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Oliver Button Is a Sissy
  • Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle
  • 10,000 Dresses
  • Letting Swift River Go
  • My Princess Boy
  • Fred Stays With Me!
  • The Sissy Duckling
  • Elena's Serenade
  • Big Red Lollipop
  • The Quilt Story
  • The Boy Who Cried Fabulous
  • Molly's Family
  • Daddy's Roommate
  • Here Comes the Garbage Barge!
  • Aaaarrgghh! Spider!
  • Ruby The Copycat
  • In Our Mothers' House
  • George Shrinks
Charlotte Zolotow (born Charlotte Gertrude Shapiro) was an American author, poet, editor, and publisher of many books for children.
She was published by more than 20 different houses (many of which she has outlasted). She was an editor, and later publisher, at Harper & Row, which was called Harper & Brothers when she began to work there and is now known as HarperCollins.
Among the many write
More about Charlotte Zolotow...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »