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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I have two young sons (ages 6 and 19 months) as well as a 4 y.o. niece. I've been trying to think of books to introduce feminist concepts to them, and wondering what you all think. It consistently boggles my mind how pervasive sex stereotyping is at the youngest ages, even for kids who have never known life without, say, a lawyer mother who works full time.

Unfortunately, my knowledge in this area ends somewhere around The Paper Bag Princess and Free To Be...You And Me (and the wonderful William's Doll story, just perfect for my boys who adore their baby dolls). What's new in feminist stories for kids?

message 2: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I was just wondering if we could start a thread of favorite cookbooks. What are yours? What do you cook from most often?

I really like The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - it has tons of great recipes, and is great for weeknight cooking. It comes in a loose-leaf binder, too, so you can rearrange the pages if you want, or pull the page you're cooking from.

I'm also a fan of the Williams-Sonoma Collection (they have a book on everything from Mexican to breakfast to Christmas food). I've posted recipes here from their Risotto book, their Soup book, and their Cookies book.

What books do you like? Feel free to add them to the group bookshelf.

message 3: by Bree (new)

Bree The Quick Recipe (The Best Recipe Series)
Anything from Cooks Illustrated or Cook's Country (the magazines...which you can get hardbound at the end of the year)
The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook
America's Test Kitchen

message 4: by alicia (new)

alicia grant (shesha34) I love my Rachael Ray cookbooks.Also love my Taste of Home magazines.I get most of my recipes from there.

message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy My total go-to for the basics is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I also love Culinary Artistry for developing my own recipes. This book is a bible for jump-starting culinary creativity. I used it daily throughout culinary school at the CIA; my copy is dog-eared, high-lighted and falling apart, but I love it!

message 6: by Rhonda (last edited Feb 01, 2008 01:47PM) (new)

Rhonda (rahrah) My current favorite is John Folse's Cajun and Creole Encyclopedia. Not only is it filled with historically accurate recipes, it has new introductions to our Louisiana cuisine. I've enjoyed "Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet" by Jeffrey Duguid and Naomi Alford (their Homebaking cookbook is a staple this time of the year). My most dog-earred is Donna Rather's "Pastry Queen" cookbook (her business is "Rather Sweet Bakery" and located in Fredricksburg, TX); she has collected down-home recipes, added a little panache and delivered a cookbook with that "Texas" flare. Gotta go checkout your recommendations. Thanks!

message 7: by Katie (new)

Katie I like Tod Parr books. He seems to be very open to defying gender stereotypes. I have two sons as well and we bought them The Daddy Book (We also have The Feelings Book). It portrays dads in all kinds of ways that challenge gender stereotypes. For example, it talks about dads cooking, singing, working at home, kissing children, being loving and sweet...providing positive examples of men engaging in stereotypically "emotional" or feminine actions.

However, his books would probably be better for your 19 month old than your six year old.

message 8: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Thanks for those suggestions! I might try to find The Daddy Book and have the big one read it to the younger one, so they can both get something out of it.

message 9: by Jessica (new)

Jessica So true, it really does. Of course, then you end up with a kid like my son at age 3 who announces loudly in a restaurant that "mommy is a WOMAN so she has a VUULLLLVVA!"

message 10: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Kathrynn: you should post your recipe if you have a chance and add the cookbook to the shelf :)

message 11: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Maurice: do you know what the cookbook was? (Could it be found on the internet, do you think?)

message 12: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ingenting) That's so cool!

message 13: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Could this have been her, Maurice?:

What a feast! Chef Brian Clafton's menu pays tribute to the best recipes published in the early 1900s from celebrated local cooks in The Berlin Cookbook, Canadian Farm Cookbook and The New Cookbook by the Ladies of Toronto.

Chicken Broth with Golden Drops (Mrs. H.D. McKeller & Miss Kimmel, The Berlin Cookbook)
Brown Bread (Mrs. E. Bricker, The Berlin Cookbook)
Whole Wheat Bread (The Berlin Cookbook)
Maple Baked Ham (The New Cookbook by the Ladies of Toronto)
Gohate - Veal Meatloaf (Mrs. R. Mylius, The Berlin Cookbook)
Pickled Red Cabbage (Vera Mitchell, Canadian Farm Cookbook)
Asparagus Vinaigrette (The New Cookbook by the Ladies of Toronto)
Scalloped Potatoes (Miss K. Mangold, The Berlin Cookbook)
Pound Cake (Miss Zelpha Marr, Canadian Farm Cookbook)
Rhubarb Marmalade (Miss E.C. Smith, Canadian Farm Cookbook)

message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (ingenting) Is that her? That is amazing! I wonder if you could ever get your hands on a copy. Val, how did you find this?

message 15: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I googled her. (I'm pretty good at finding people on the internet :)

message 16: by Kim (new)

Kim (kmdoubleday) shocked and stunned....

message 17: by Valerie (new)

Valerie So, do you think it's her?

message 18: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I've been trying to find a copy, but no luck yet...

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (goosers34) every female in my family has a copy of "Holy Chow," a cookbook published by my church, Eastern Shore Capel (in Va Beach). It is a fabulous go-to in case of the emergency need for an impressive dish!

I also like the My turn around Program cookbook by weight watchers. not a WW myself, but my mom uses this and got me a copy. love it!! every recipe we have tried is quick easy and delish!!

I also just bought the Martha Stewart cookie book. I love baking and can't wait to try out recipes (I could eat the pages the pictures are that tempting.

message 20: by Fiona (last edited Mar 04, 2011 02:39AM) (new)

Fiona (cinereum) Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell is a little treasure!

You might also want to take a look at Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book and Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls: A Coloring Book.

These colouring books are fabulous fun and make a lively little introduction to the concepts of, and issues surrounding feminism, gender sterotyping and subversion, and sexual orientation. Children will love them...and so will the supervising adult! ;)

message 21: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta I love coloring books (Fiona). Great suggestions!

message 22: by Fiona (new)

Fiona (cinereum) Mawgojzeta wrote: "I love coloring books (Fiona). Great suggestions!"

My Goodreads friend Melanie recommended those books to me. I really love her Colouring Outside The Lines zine.

message 23: by Antje (new)

Antje (mrsmahoney) Carly wrote: "Hey,

This is my first time posting here and it is a very exciting topic for me! I have a 17 month old son. We love Todd Parr! You may also want to look at the Barefoot Book company to see wha..."

HI Carly, I know exactly what you're going through! My son is 25 now and when he was born I was determined to offer him "both" viiws, sides, opinios etc to everything,the most important thing was to make sure he can find his way without being pressed in male stereotypes. One result was, that his hair was always very long, he even had ponytails most of the time and he loved dresses.( This was because he loved me wearing a dress and obviously he thought being "chic" means to wear a dress.)The most funny thing happened one day in summer on a playground with lots of children and mums. Ben was in his favourite purplr dress and had 2 ponytails! Because he was blond and had bright blue eyes, he really looked like a lovely little girl. He was just building sand castles with 3 other kids, when suddenly he lifted up his gress, went 2 steps away and had a pee in a bush! You should have seen the faces of the other women at the playground... Hilarious!
Anyway, I did exactly what you did, taught him the right words, always used the female word when there was one,tried to sensibilize him for equality etc.
There wer a lot of people who thought we were crazy, even we would harm our son with such kind of education, but I can say: He is a wonderful man today and he is a real feminist!
Some words about books: I always found it very important to give my daughters books with characters to identify with, but good role models, not female clichees, the helpless and stupid little girl, who needed to be saved by a boy and nonsense like that. 20 years ago, there were not so many good books for girls on the market and what we did, was changing the gender in some books, you know, when the main character was a boy, who experienced the most amazing adventures, I just changed him into a girl and gave him my daughters name. A lot of work, but really helpful. (sorry for every mistakes in language, didn't bother to look in my dictionary this time) ;-)

message 24: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta Antje: I believe that if all little boys could wear dresses and really enjoy nurturing play (such as dolls) without it being belittled, the world would be a much better place.

message 26: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) This is my first posting, in the first new group I've joined in a while. Although I don't read a lot of non-fiction, I have the proud distinction of raising a (now 33) young man who is an example of what a "good" man can be. I did raise him on my own, and although I did my best not to "drown" him my own feminism, I was incredibly proud when he chose to marry an extremely strong young woman, a writer who will shortly be seeing her first short story published in the New American Review.

message 27: by Antje (new)

Antje (mrsmahoney) Bondama wrote: "This is my first posting, in the first new group I've joined in a while. Although I don't read a lot of non-fiction, I have the proud distinction of raising a (now 33) young man who is an example ..."

Hi Bondama, that is another proof that it is well worth to educate your childern in a "feminist style". I did the same and I'm very proud of my daughter and my son, specially when they try to explain a feminist view of life to their mates.(They are 25 and 23 now).
I hope we will hear more of you, now the group is active again! Welcome!

message 28: by Fiona (new)

Fiona (cinereum) Bondama wrote: "This is my first posting, in the first new group I've joined in a while... and although I did my best not to "drown" him my own feminism, I was incredibly proud when he chose to marry an extremely strong young woman, a writer who will shortly be seeing her first short story published in the New American Review. "

Welcome, Bondama!

I am so very pleased that you decided to be part of this Feminism group. Thank you for sharing with us a glimpse of your experiences of motherhood. It is so exciting that a member of your family is going to be published in the New American Review; I would love it if you would contact me when her first short story is printed! I am already wondering about her genre and style...and am quite excited about reading it myself!

message 29: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) Her story is supposed to be printed in either the first quarter or second of this year: Her name is Erin McReynolds Davis (although I'm not quite sure whether she will be publishing under her maiden name or married name.) The story's name is "Viva"--

By way of background, Erin went through one of the most awful situations a human being can. When she was 23, she went over to visit her mother: She found her mother dead, stabbed by her stepfather. It's taken her years to get over this -- and one of the ways she's working through this is by writing. I think, when you read the story, this might make it easier to understand.

message 30: by Fiona (new)

Fiona (cinereum) Bondama wrote: "Her story is supposed to be printed in either the first quarter or second of this year: Her name is Erin McReynolds Davis...By way of background, Erin went through one of the most awful situations a human being can. When she was 23, she went over to visit her mother: She found her mother dead, stabbed by her stepfather. It's taken her years to get over this -- and one of the ways she's working through this is by writing. I think, when you read the story, this might make it easier to understand. "

Speechless. F***ing speechless. Devastated. Angry. Aching. I will search for Erin's story...

message 31: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta Antje wrote: "something cute

That was great. Did you see the "dream job" update?

message 32: by Jessica (new)

Jessica So since I started this thread, I've had another baby - another boy, for a grand total of three! I really love seeing how nurturing my boys are of their younger brother, and they seem to have developed a lot of respect for me as a mother, having observed my pregnancy and how much work it takes to nurse and care for the baby.

Because I work full time outside the home and my husband runs a home-based business and thus does a lot of the daily kid-tending I think we de facto set a useful example for them in terms of sex roles within a family. And yet it blows my mind when they come home saying things like "boys are doctors and girls are nurses." So I don't even need books for them that are explicitly about feminist views of sex roles but ones that offhandedly have the characters going to a female doctor or having a male preschool teacher, etc.

message 33: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta Jessica: From the cover, When I Grow Up looks like a book that you might like. It is categorized (Amazon) as baby/pre-school.

message 34: by Michele (new)

Michele bookloverforever (lovebooks14) My son was 9 when I became a feminist. A lot of times, he came with me whenever I had a speech to give or went to a steering committee meeting for the crises center. I talked to him about so many issues and I taught him that strong women were attractive women because they were not looking for someone to take care of them since they were able to take care of themselves. He learned that women could be anything they wanted to be but that society (patriarchal and hierarchical) tended to keep us "down" and prevented us from advancing. There are still a lot of glass ceilings out there. I taught my son about feminism by being a feminist and teaching him what that was. As a result, he refused to let the opinions of others define who he was. He accepts women and enjoys the company of strong women. His problem is that all the women he meets all want someone to take care of them. The women he meets are looking more at his income than his character.

message 35: by Antje (new)

Antje (mrsmahoney) I don't know where to post this, but I think it is really good, it doesn't really belong here, but it has to do with children ...
I hope some of you will find it interesting!
Born at Home


message 36: by Antje (new)

Antje (mrsmahoney) Complications of Gender in the World of Children’s Books by Uma Krishnaswami

This essay is part of the Women Doing Literary Things blog series. WDLT features weekly essays by women novelists, poets, editors, librarians, journalists, academics, booksellers and more, on the topic of being a woman in theliterary arts. The series is curated by Niranjana Iyer, a freelance writer from Canada.

Uma Krishnaswami was born in India and now lives in northwest New Mexico. She is the author of a retold story collection (The Broken Tusk), picture books (Monsoon, Chachaji’s Cup, and The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story), early readers (Holi, and Yoga Class) and novels for young readers (Naming Maya and The Grand Plan to Fix Everything). In addition to her writing she is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Visit her website at http://www.umakrishnaswami.com/

“In the world of children’s literature the gender divide is alive and well, but it’s not about the representation of women. Go to any children’s writer’s conference and you’ll find rooms full of women, with the occasional man doing his best not to feel like an affirmative action icon. In YA and illustration circles, you’ll find a few more men. Still, all the way from the days of Ursula Nordstrom and Harper Books for Boys and Girls, this has been a field dominated by women. As in elementary school teaching, and for a similar host of complex reasons, droves of male writers don’t seem to be writing for children.

And then there’s the question of who reads and who does not. The common wisdom holds that girls read. Boys don’t. They won’t at any rate read books with girls on the cover, or books with girls as protagonists, or books with girlish themes (whatever those are). Girls on the other hand (still referring to the common wisdom that gets tossed about with no regard for where it came from or where it’s been) are endlessly forgiving, and will read anything regardless of the genders of characters or whether the covers are pink or blue. Judging by the pinkness of some covers, you’d think the publishers were actively trying to discourage those picky boys.

And here is another thing. No one talks about girls who don’t read. Presumably there are some. Why are we not in a stew about them? And why does everyone talk about boys who don’t read as if they were representative of all boys? It seems a little unfair, but then we who are not men and boys have an unfair advantage over them. We know and have known for several hundred years, that fairness as a concept is mightily flawed.

So since I am not a man but only what Ursula Le Guin once called a ”Pretend-a-Him,” I thought I’d go to the source. I asked Greg Leitich Smith, a real live man who writes for real live young readers, for his opinion on this whole complicated muddle of gender in our little universe of children’s books. Here’s Greg’s reply:

“BOYS DON’T READ: As a former boy who read a great deal, I’ve always been somewhat suspicious of this statement. It often seems to me we’re lumping “boys” together in some sort of over-generalized anthropological grouping. (I understand why, sometimes, but still.) It would probably be more accurate to say, “some boys don’t read…” Also, when I hear this statement, I’m not sure it’s including boys who read magazines and nonfiction….

BOYS WON’T READ BOOKS WITH GIRL PROTAGONISTS: I think it depends on the book. If, say, the novel is (a) entirely self-reflection, and (sometimes message-y) emoting or (b) exclusively a romance (in which the entire focus of the plot involves girl A falling in love with both boy B), then perhaps a boy is less likely to pick it up. But a girl protagonist per se is not an absolute veto for a boy reader.


Ha! So there. It’s the book that counts, and doesn’t good story still rule in children’s books? Plot matters. Action matters. Children won’t read in the hope of finding some obscure literary affectation that doesn’t show up until page 300, but that doesn’t mean they’re not smart and can’t make meaningful connections among texts they read and between life and text. As for the gender of the author–really, I don’t give a chin-hair, and I tend to think I’m not alone.”

message 37: by Michele (new)

Michele bookloverforever (lovebooks14) If most of the children writers are women then why are the main characters in children's books so often male? There was a recent article in a major newspaper about the fact that most main characters in children's books are male. why? I remember being very resentful when I was a child that so many books were about boys doing things full of adventure but girls books were few and far between except for Louisa May Alcott and Nancy Drew. How come?

message 38: by Kaion (new)

Kaion (kaionvin) I really resent the common arguments that boys won't read books with girl protagonists, which BLAH.

Michele, I don't doubt the answer the your question is really complicated (and probably is a combination of publishing pressure, plain old tradition, and possibly even internalized sexism). My favorite children's writer is Diana Wynne Jones, and definitely it's been noted by her fans that she writes more male protagonists. I recently read an essay by her (from 1992) about heroes in which she addresses why she did so that I think answers some of your questions, right from the horse's mouth (from the perspective of children's lit author)! Here are some relevant passages: (the bold is me)

"For a long time I couldn’t write a story with a female hero. The identification was too close, and I kept getting caught up in the actual tactile sensations of being a girl – which meant you towered over boys the same age, were forced to wear your hair so that it got in the way, and that your chest flopped embarrassingly – and I knew that in order to see my hero as a real person, I had to be slightly more distant than that. There were other factors here too. First, my own children were all boys, and I knew not only how they felt and behaved, but what they needed in a book as well. Second, at that time – twenty years ago – neither my sons, nor any other boy, would be seen dead reading a book with a female hero. It really was absolute. They would not. But girls – partly out of necessity – didn’t mind a male hero. But I think the third, hidden factor was the most important. According to the psychologist Jung – and I think he is correct – every person has an open, fully-acknowledged personality of the same sex as their own, and a submerged half which has all the characteristics of the opposite sex. Twenty years ago I was still learning how I wanted to do things, and what I wanted to do was to write fantasy that might resonate on all levels, from the deep hidden ones, to the most mundane and everyday. If I chose a male hero, I could go after my own submerged half and so get in touch with all the hidden, mythical, archetypal things that were lurking down there. Over the years I’ve grown to trust this primordial sludge at the bottom of my mind. I know it’s there now, and I know I can get in touch with it as soon I start writing hard enough to forget to eat or to go to bed." (Commentary by me, I'm not sure I buy that third reason.)

(You have to know she starts the essay by comparing a tennis match to heroic narrative.) "There was another kind of double thinking going on at the tennis too, at least among the commentators. If a male player hit the ball into the net when he didn’t need to, they went, 'Oh what an appalling shot to play at this stage in the game!' but if a female player did, it was, 'Oh well, women are expected to make mistakes.' I was pretty indignant about this, until I realised that the women players didn’t actually make many unforced errors. The commentators’ expectations were years out of date. The women’s expectations about themselves had changed. It is one of those many fields in which feminism has made an enormous subtle difference. Exactly the same change has come about in children’s books. About ten years ago, boys started being prepared to read books with a female hero. I found everything had gone much easier without, then, being able to say how or why. Females weren’t expected to behave like wimps and you could make them the centre of the story. By that time anyway, I found the tactile sense of being female stopped bothering me – which may have been part of the same revolution – and it was a real release. I wrote The Spellcoats, told by a girl, and The Time of the Ghost, from the point of view of a female ghost, then – although this one has only just been published – Black Maria, which explores the traditional roles of the sexes. After that, with a feeling that this was the big one, Fire and Hemlock.

"Fire and Hemlock follows a girl, Polly, from the age of ten to nineteen. Such was my sense of release at that time, that the book was written at white heat – I had absolutely no trouble in tapping the deepest, most resonating levels and relating them to normal present-day relationships. The heat of writing pulled in poetry, myth and folktales by the handful. Polly kept flicking from role to role as hero of at least a score of folktales: Cupid and Psyche or its dark obverse, the Wicked Wedding, Tam Lin, Snow white, Thomas Rhymer, Bluebeard, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and many more. It was amazing to me as I wrote to find exactly how many well-known tales have a female protagonist.

"Reviewers – who seem to perform the same function as commentators at tennis matches – did not like this. The chief review of Fire and Hemlock ran, 'This is a girls’ book and I don’t see why I should try to understand it' End review. Last year Black Maria got much the same treatment. Things have not changed that much."

The whole essay is here (and pretty short), if you want the context: http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/her...

message 39: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (rachelsholiday) One of the most memorable stories I heard as a child was in 4th grade when we were in the library. Our (genius) librarian read us "Cinder Edna" in the library. It was the classic Cinderella story, only Edna was a hard worker, happy with her work, self-sufficient, and worked hard with her husband in the end.

Funnily, Cinderella was also in the story as Edna's counterpart. Guess who actually lived "happily ever after"? That's right, it was Edna!

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