Books, Toys, Movies,Â Clothing, Resources, Ideas, Suggestions, Recommendations That You Can Say YES To!
This is a work in progress, badly organized and yes, I know it is largely product-based. Obviously your girl should engage in outdoor activities and sports; pursue arts, music, science and culture; play with gender-neutral toys and toys that challenge notions of gender; do all kinds of things. But to specifically counter the hyper-feminized consumer culture, to find things you can say â€œyesâ€ to that feel equal rather than compensatory to “girlie” products, Â try some of the following. And PLEASE email me your thoughts and ideas so I can include them! (Most of these suggestions are for girls approximately ages 3-9. Books are listed first, but scroll down–way down–for other things)
Also: don’t forget to read books, watch movies, play games with strong female characters to boys–they need those images too.
One more note: I’ve linked to Amazon a lot. Not because I endorse Amazon, but because I’m lazy. Since I began this project there is a new site called A Mighty Girl that sells books and movies about girls of courage, wisdom and spirit. Please patronize them!
Oh, and another: there are, indeed, a lot of books about princesses here. That’s because a lot of wonderful classic (and not-so-classic) books for kids really are about royalty. I highly recommend a good Grimm Brothers book to adults. Stories like “The Girl Without Hands” and “The Robber Bridegroom” and “Fitcher’s Bird” Â are archetypal and feature strong female characters. They are also way, way, WAY too bloody for little kids.
And one more: Here are some general lists, compiled by others, of “anti-princess” books. I can’t vouch for this one, having not read them all (let me know if you have), though it is extensive.
This one,Â Â from Â NYT’s “The Motherlode,” is more of an “anti-princess princess” reading list (lots of other great ideas in the reader comments, too!)
And The Diamond in the Window blog has great discussions of kids’ lit. If you email her, she’ll even offer recommendations tailored to your child.
PICTURE BOOKS (Power Princesses and non-Princess; emphasis on fantasy, myth):
Hush Little Baby
Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to show you a hummingbird. If that hummingbird should fly, Mama’s going to show you the evening sky.
The old house in Paris still stands…
Picture book versions of some of the storeis from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
How courage, talent and teamwork help seven sisters save one another from being eaten by a hungry, red dragon.
Just saying it makes me happy. Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum! CHRYSANTHEMUM!!!
I love all the Frances books. They are so dear.
This story about an outdoorsy little girl and her seemingly delicate doll has a great twist…
Choose your version, but what could be braver than a girl who stands up to a wolf?
“Fee Fi, Fo, Fum’un / I smell the blood of an Englishwoman!” A witty re-working of the traditional tale.
Starting with the fact that the little princess has brown hair and brown eyes, this is a different kind of princess tale…..Oh, and sheÂ floats.
What happens when the queen invites Emily’s bunny to tea?
Age 4+ What will three good friends do when faced with single-sex clubs? The answer is not at all spinachy and beautifully realistic.
Age 4+ Greek Goddesses are a great counterbalance to princesses–they are full, complex characters with fun costumes, to boot.
Ages 4+. These books are all by Cornelia Funke and they are great. One quibble: I wish the princess in Princess KnightÂ didn’t reject needlework and other traditional women’s crafts as unworthy of her. And, for those who are sensitive about such things, the princess knight’s mother dies in childbirth.
Zog is the keenest dragon in school. He’s also the most accident-prone. Luckily, a mysterious little girl always comes by and patches up his bumps and bruises. But will she be able to help him with his toughest test: capturing a princess?
Age 4+. This miller’s daughter is one brave Mama.
Ages 4+. Gretel saves the day â€” and big brother Hansel. Why isn’t this story on the top of everyone’s lists?
Ages 4+. What I love about the traditional Rapunzel is that she and the prince saveÂ each other–she has to save him before he can save her. And, by the way, she is not royal by blood–her parents are quite ordinary, except for the part about trading their baby for a bowl of lettuce.
Ages 4 to infinity. This is a Hans Christian Andersen classic. I haven’t read this version, but it looks good. I found the version we read to be Â a little heavy on religious moralism, so ended up rewriting it myself because I loved it so much! Why not, right? Little Gerda is one of the great girl characters in literature.
Ages 4+. This is a great “Cinderella” variant in which the girl is very active in her fate.
Ages 4+. Another “Cinderella” variant, this one Native American.
Ages 4+. Another Andersen tale â€” there’s a Grimm’s version too â€” about a brave princess who saves her brothers who have been turned into swans. Sometimes gory (depends on the version) so pre-read.
Ages 4+. I love Wolkstein’s retelling of this classic: it puts the girl at the center of her own story.
Ages 4+. Not a bad one to revisit in this age of materialism….
I love William Steig’s book about a girl who weathers a snowstorm to help her ailing mother.
Ages 4+. The classic alt-princess book.
4+ Another one in which our heroine dumps the prince (for pizza!)
Age 4+.Â Paper Bag Princess gets all the press, but I actually like this latter-day feminist-tinged fairy tale better.
Age 4+. Classic story of a real woman who travelled the world, then, as an artist, set out to make it a more beautiful place.
Ages 4+. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a story about a girl who defies convention to achieve her dreams.
Ages 4+. This picture book version of the classic (Lucy and Susan are queensÂ not princesses!!) preps them for the real thing.
Ages 4+. Another wonderful latter-day fairy tale (brought to my attention by my daughter) that you can find in the library or used.
Ages 4+. There’s been a terrible mix-up in the nursery–the King and Queen are sure that a newborn piglet is their baby girl!
Ages 3+. Speaking of pigs, Olivia is having an identity crisis.Â When allÂ the girls are princesses she no longer feels unique! A great exploration of true individuality. One of my favorite anti-princess princess books.
Ages 4 to infinity. Wonderful, multi-cultural legends from around the world. Some are gory, so beware!
Ages 4 to infinity. Also a wonderful book of legends and tales from around the world. Here, too, proceed with caution among the littlest ones.
Ages 4 to infinity. No Sleeping Beauties in Alison Lurie’s classic collection.
100 stories from around the world, arranged geographically. Try learning a few and telling them Â (rather than reading them) to your daughter!
Ages 4+. another smart, strong girl-centered fairy tale collection.
Ages 4+. Picture Paul Bunyan but female. And in Alaska.
Age 4+ Another tall tale, Bunyan-style, but this of a girl in Tennessee.
Ages 4+. Robert Sans Souci’s wonderful story of an Irish lass who seeks her fortune, slays the dragon and saves the prince.
Ages 4+. This beautifully-illustrated story of how a quilt maker schools a king is one of Daisy’s favorites.
Ages 4+. Ruby has to learn to be herself.
Age 4+ Katie goes inside the great painters’ work. Don’t you wish you could?
Ages 4+. Suki wants to wear the kimono her grandmother bought on the first day of school–no matter what anyone says.
Ages 4+. When Unhei moves to the U.S. from Korea no one can pronounce her name. Maybe she should just find a new one?
Bonus points if you can read these wonderful stories in an Italian accent (mine comes out sounding like Dracula….)
A deft anti-bullying story with a satisfying conclusion.
Daisy began asking for this series at age 4 because a friend had them. I would not have guessed it. She liked to pretend to be Phoebe. For little ones, just read the story. You can add the endless (really, ENDLESS) detail as they get older. She is still reading them in second grade. I credit Ms. Frizzle (andÂ Lawrence Hall of Science) with Daisy’s abiding love of science.
Ages 5+. Daisy introduced me to this one… Clever heroine, great folktale PLUS a math lesson? She knew I’d be all over it.
Ages 7 to infinity. Jane Yolen’s book began as an “open letter” to her daughter and granddaughters. Again, some gore so read them yourself first and decide.
Ages 5+. The True story of the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Ages 5+. Daisy loves this and says I should include it because it lets you invent your own holiday, which maybe can have a girl theme. I haven’t read it (she got it from the school library) but looks good.
There are so many fabulous Chapter Books for girls, where to start? Remember: even if girls arenâ€™t old enough to read these, you can read TO them. Also, books on CD are GREAT for pre-readers.
Long live Ramona!! Kindergarten and up.
Ages 4+. Daisy started reading about Annie & Jack when she was 4. As she grew, the books got more complicated. While they’re not great literature, we both learned a lot and Annie is formidable. We have read them ALL! 4-8 years old.
Ages 4+. Great literature it ain’t. But it’s Wonder Woman and she can read it herself! The character is a good motivator for an emerging reader.
Ages 6+. Daisy Â also likedÂ Cam Jansen, though not as well. And I’m still partial to Sally in theÂ Encylopedia BrownÂ books, though she is strictly secondary, sort of like Hermione inÂ Harry Potter.
Ages 6+. And long live Pippi!
Ages 8+. Another Astrid Lindgren book. Recommended by a reader who says it’s better than Pippi! Could it be?
Ages 6+ as a read-aloud. This classic series is like the Little House books only instead of Norwegians on the prairie, it’s Jews on the Lower East Side.
Ages 6+ as a read-aloud. P.L. Travers’ books are so much tarter than the Disney version (which, incidentally, she hated). Though, that said, I will always love the movie on its own merits.
Age 6 as a read-aloud.Â Need I even say this? I mean, please, the last line is:Â “It is not often that someone comes along who is a trueÂ friendÂ and a goodÂ writer. Charlotte was both.”
Ages 7+. All of Daisy’s friends are reading this.
Ages 6+. Slight ambivalence here. I loveÂ Matilda. I love Roald Dahl. BUT he has that problem of equating ugly and/or fat with evil, pretty and/or thin with good. We read it, but we discuss those issues. Teachable moments…Sigh.
Ages 6+. Another Roald Dahl story. Sophie is the most wonderful character, an 8-year-old who is kidnapped by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and who, with his help and the Queen of England’s, saves the world! Daisy also likesÂ The Magic Finger, which features another omnipotent Dahl girl, but the story is a little peculiar….
Ages 6 as a read-aloud. Polly is a great character in this CS Lewis classic. There is tons of geeky-scholarly debate as to whether to read this first in the series (when it happened) or read it later, in the order published. I am agnostic.
Ages 6+ as a read-aloud. Susan and Lucy! Hooray! And they become QUEENS, not princesses. First grade and up. There’s aÂ picture book version, too.
Ages 7+ as a read-aloud. Sarah Crewe shows girls what it REALLY means to be a princess. In the best sense. The original book can be slow going for younger girls. Barnes & Noble has a very nice abridged versions in more modern language that makes a good read aloud. Same goes forÂ Secret Garden, another longtime favorite. Both books have been made into decentÂ movies, including the inimitableÂ Shirley Temple versionÂ of A Little Princess. But I like to read books before watching films. That’s just me, though…
Ages 7+ as a read-aloud. Fairy tales for a new era–out of print, but you can Â get it at the library.
Ages 7+ as a read-aloud. Didn’tÂ youÂ love it?
Ages 7+. The movie is great, so we’re going to get the books. Sort of likeÂ My Side of the MountainÂ but for girls. And set at sea. With email. (FYI: Dead mother alert)
Ages 7+. as a read-aloud What if a fairy lost her wings?
Ages 7+. And long live Laura! One of the things I love about this first installment is it focuses on the traditional household work women did during the pioneer era. While reading the book, we made our own melt-and-pour soap, hand-sewed little pillows, began a finger knitting project and learned some other traditional crafts associated with women of the past. Â Also, Laura (who never plays princess, by the way) has but one doll–a corncob wrapped in some cloth. Imagine that! A little anti-materialism and imagination never hurt anyone…
Ages 7+. as a read-aloud. Not just The Wizard of Oz, but some of the others as well! It’s not all Judy Garland (though the movie, if your daughter can deal with the flying monkeys, is still one of the all-time best).
Ages 7+. as a read-aloud. Eleanor Estes classic anti-bullying story from the 1940s still makes me cry each time I read it. Second grade and up.
Ages 7+. Shakespeare had a way with women characters and Orchard has made them not only accessible but riveting to children. Great illustrations, timeless stories, it’s brilliant. We especially likedÂ The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Age 7+ as a read-aloud. This retelling of “the Twelve Dancing Princesses” turns the 13th princess, who is a kitchen servant, into the hero.
Age 7+ as a read-aloud. I had mixed feelings, but Daisy loved this story of a girl who, on her birth, is given the “gift” of obedience.
Age 7+ as a read-aloud More Cornelia Funke. Kids can listen to this on CD at about 4-5, or make it a read-aloud. Princess Igraine longs to be a squire; follow her journey as, with the help of talking books and a sorrowful knight she saves her parents (who have been turned into pigs!).
Age 8+ as a read-aloud, Another recommendation from Daisy. Satirizes fairy-tale conventions in a way kids can understand.
Ages 8+. Again I have somewhat mixed feelings about this series. I’d like to see a series of great role-model type books about girls/women who WEREN’T princesses. Then again, if you’re talking about the history of governance, royal lineage was what gave women power. And I respect that the woman who wrote them was trying to combat her niece’s obsession with Disney Ps. I also don’t especially like the idea of “thinking girl” because it implicitly puts down other girls as not thinking and I don’t like that divisiveness. And it also indicates boys wouldn’t want to read about princesses or strong women. Uncool. All that said, it’s a fun, thoughtful, interesting series. (If you search for the term on Amazon, BTW, you get an ad for the Disney Princesses!!!). And check out,the same company’s series, “The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames.”
Ages 8+. Four sisters and a new friend. Rollicking and funny! Plus the series (as it is becoming) is an overt homage to Edward Eager, Noel Streatfeld and Sydney Taylor (the author of theÂ All-of-a-KindÂ books). Be still my heart! Second grade and up.
Ages 8+.Â These Noel Streatfield classics are back in print. What’s fascinating about them is that they don’t treat performance as a vehicle to fame or fame as an inherent good.
Ages 8+. Â Godmother grants an unusual gift to a newborn princess.
Ages 8+. Edward Eager’s books about girls and boys on magic adventures never go out of style. They girls and the boys are all fabulous (occasional sexism or racial stereotyping so read through first and be ready to discuss).
Ages 8+. Daisy and I have been listening to the audio version of this book, which beautifully fleshes outÂ the Grimm story about a princess who loses her crown and finds herself. Highly recommended.
Age 8+ Sisters Sabrina and Daphne’s parents disappeared two years ago. Since then they’ve bounced among foster homes and now have been sent to live with a grandmother they never knew they had–Mrs. Grimm. And they find themselves in the middle of a mystery–and a family legacy–that makes real life look like a fairy tale. Second grade and up.
Age 8+ Fictional diaries of ordinary American girls in history.
Age 8+ as a read-aloud. Again, maybe a little old for this grouping.
See above. Remember: Beth dies (spoiler?) so your daughter has to be ready to handle that.
Ages 9+. A classic. Again, probably a read aloud for kids in the early grades, but one of my all time favorites.
Ages 9+. See above (i.e., description ofÂ Mixed Up Files…) A reader also recommends a lesser-known book by the same author:Â Nobody’s Family is Going to Change
Ages 9+. Another read-aloud or read-alone for advanced readers. (see below for film version)
Ages 9 or 10+.Â I love it so…
The King’s Equal
Sisters in Strength: American Women Who Made a Difference (non-fiction)
Heroines of the American Revolution (non-fiction)
Boston Jane: An Adventure
The Wide Awake Princess
The Saddle Club
Island of the Aunts
Shakespeare’s Secret (9 and up)
Ivy & Bean
The True Meaning of Smekday
The Great Good Thing
Trailer Park Princesses
Handy Girls Can Fix It
BOOKS OF BOOK LISTS (FOR GIRLS–AND BOYS TOO!)
I mean it about boys â€” they need to read books and hear stories about adventurous, strong, competent, heroic girls and women too!
Let’s Hear it for the Girls
Once Upon a Heroine
Great Books for Girls
Amelia Bloomer ListÂ (not a book–a list on the web)
Outside the (Toy) BoxÂ (also a list on the web–of “non-sexist children’s books”)
A Mighty Girl (also a web list)
Movies and TV
Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind
Castle in the Sky
These movies by Hiyao Miyazaki are the best animation ever. You will love them as much as your daughter (or your son). I cannot say enough about them–plus the main characters just happen to be girls without having the least whiff of “girls can do it to” agenda. TotoroÂ is suitable for the very youngest viewers.
Age 3+ Eliza has the mystical power to talk to animals which leads her on a funny, touching romp through England and Africa.
See? I don’t TOTALLY hate Disney….
Age 3+ Mulan is a great character with a great story. And there are no 21-piece Mulan mega-cosmetics kits to ruin it. Check out the songÂ Like Other GirlsÂ fromÂ Mulan II.Â Listening to it (and watching the movie) led to some great discussions about princesses in our house!
Age 3+ Although the story is really about the guy monsters, Boo is a terrific character. Daisy LOVED Boo when she was 3-4, slept with her Boo doll because Boo “looks like me, Mama.” SheÂ isÂ sort of racially ambiguous and quite possibly hapa!
Age 4+ or maybe younger. Fiona may not be the main character, but she is a fabulous one (sensing a trend here???). This series (especially 1 & 2, though I loved the Princess parody in 3) was a Godsend to us during the princess years.
The classic Depression-era-themed feel-good movie still feels good. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the 1999 version, which is more faithful to the play. The adult actors include Kathy Bates, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth and, bless my soul, Andrea McArdle. But if you’re more into the 1982 version with Carol Burnett, that’s okay too.
Ages 5+ I wish the main character’s waist was a few pixels wider and that she was a little less Barbie-looking and the movie still fits the only 1 in three speaking characters is female formula, but it’s still a great story.
This feminist spin on Cinderella, starring Drew Barrymore, was actually written by my dear friend and former roommate, Susannah Grant, who also penned Erin Brockovich and Pocahontas. Â And The Soloist. And Charlotte’s Web. Oh, and speaking of Charlotte’s Web:
Yes, the book is better, but this is a pretty faithful rendering (or is it insensitive of me, in this case, to use the word “rendering?”).
Age 6+ Daisy hated this at three but adored it at seven.
Age 7+ A beautiful story about fantasy, empathy and self-expression. Warnings: a child dies in the film. Also, it may be too scary for preschoolers.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
Not for the little ones–maybe 8 or 9 on up?–but one of the great girl power movies of all time.
A 10-year-old girl and her dog heal a town–and her troubled relationship with her dad. Age 9+
A first grade girl makes Civil Rights history. Age 8+
Against all odds, 11-year-old Akeelah makes it to the National Spelling Bee. Age 7+
John Sayles’ fantasy of a 10-year-old girl and a selkie. 9+. Maybe 8.
A 13-year-old girl adopts a flock of orphaned goslings and teaches them to migrate.
Martha SpeaksÂ (available on itunes, or at pbskids.org)
Age 3+ A dog eats alphabet soup and magically learns to talk.
Word GirlÂ (available on itunes, or at pbskids.org)
Age 4+ A superhero who fights crime with her excellent vocabulary? What’s not to love?
Was She-Ra actually a great show or is that just my 1980s nostalgia speaking? I’m afraid to watch and find out, so let me know.
Japanese Anime about a girl who becomes a superhero. It’s a little odd (from an American perspective), mannered and high on the pretty/skinny scale but, well, it’s otherwise ok. At least I’ve decided it is. I may be wrong.
Lisa Ray who pens the blog “A Magical Year Without Disney” makes these suggestions for “turing off the Disney default.”
Cute aspirational, inspirational t-shirts for girls, infant on up!
Seriously cute line from England for kids 0-5, their web site states: “The world is filled with colour…and we donâ€™t intend to make that world smaller by putting our fearless adventurers into a sea of pinks and blues, clothes that look like they were meant for adults or slogans they canâ€™t yet read!”
Handsome in Pink
Comfy and well-fitting t-shirts. And not all pink.
Daisy likes the one with the lemonade stand that says “Entrepreneur.” I like the bamboo that says “one.”
Tee Party from Shaping Youth
Our friends at Shaping Youth compiled their own list of great t-shirts for little girls. Some of the links no longer work, but lots do. Plus, you can find out all about the wonderful Shaping Youth site and blog!
Polarn O. Pyret (P.O.P.)
The most popular children’s clothing line in Sweden has made its US debut. Clothes are cute, functional and in addition to a “girl” line (which is way less frou-frou than anything you’d see here anyway, yet plenty cute with bright colors and fun patterns) there is a unisex line. With a manifesto Â that will bring tears to your eyes. Â Swedes. Gotta love ’em. Infants-Age 11. A little pricey, but great sales.
Idea: If youâ€™re tired of pink for your little girl, have a party to dye for: get a bunch of cheap white cotton t-shirts, some washing-machine friendly dye and make a batch of shirts in whatever color youâ€™d like. You can do a little tie dye or just dye them plain. Have your daughter help and she will have wearable art! The shirts can become her trademark, all the cooler since she made them herself….
Idea: Invest non-pink items with lots of fun, excitement and specialness. Vanâ€™s slip-on sneakers with flames on them, for instance, or color crayons can become another trademark, something that confers rather than flattens identity…..
TOYS AND DOLLS
Check out the Bindi Irwin line of dolls (hereâ€™s one)
The Lovely Lennon Sisters, of Lawrence Welk fame, have recreated the Best Pals Â rag dolls of their youth and they are fabulous. I wrote a whole post about them on the blog. They even haveÂ multi-cultural lines, and a doll for boys.
Little ones 3+ are fascinated byÂ Woodkins and there are lots Â who look like regular girls (as well as the inevitable fairies and princesses)….Boys too!
Papo and Schleich both make great inexpensive little figurinesâ€”royal figures, fantasy and mythical figures, animals, Maid Marion, Joan of Arc, Pirates, Wild West…..And they arenâ€™t being cross-marketed as clothing, room dÃ©cor, breakfast cereal etc so it keeps play unscripted!Â For instance see, Enchantress or Schleich Sera.
Along with (or instead of) princess costumes try Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider Girl, etc. (they make action figures of these dolls as well, and some are even Barbies, though God knows what message a superhero with Barbie boobs sends….). Or Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz.
If you’ve got lots of money to burn (I don’t) or lots of kids and need durability (I don’t) Â take a look at this costume company
Sarah’s Silks has flowing, multi-colored big silk squares that can be used imaginatively to make costumes of all kinds
I don’t know if this counts as being “for girls” or about femininity exactly but my college housemate, who was in the fashion industry, gave Daisy a stack of fabric remnants when she was around 3 or 4. They were each roughly Â 4×4″ and were all different weights, colors, patterns, textures. They have, quite possibly, been the most well-used “toy” of her childhood. She has found zillions of creative uses for them over the years and still plays with them all the time. I never would have guessed.
Discovery ToysÂ has wonderful, bright-colored toys for both sexes. Their catalog and web site are gender-fair, showing both sexes playing with a range of non-color coded items.
Check out the new building toy, RoominateÂ whose tag line is “because every young girl is an artist, architect, engineer and visionary!” It’s pricey, but worth it not only to encourage those all important building skills but to support young, female entrepreneurs and show the toy companies that we WANT THIS STUFF!
For a less expensive option, check out Â Goldieblox books and engineering toys for girls 5-9. Â Not on the market yet as of this writing, but you can pre-order.
Melissa Wardy, founder of pigtailpals.com has a fabulous page of toy shopping tips.
Michele Yulo, founder of Â Princess Free Zone Inc.Â suggests having your daughter make up her own unique super hero. She can name it and create a costume with a mask of sorts and you can get some fabric and help her make a cape with glitter, glue, iron-on letters for the name…Check out her Super Tool LulaÂ and friends, who have stories, activities, and a chapter book for girls 6-8. Lula (and Michele) encourage girls to get their own tool belts and toolsÂ Â (play plastic ones or, if they’re older, real ones). Get one for yourself, too, and BUILD!
The Daring Book for Girls
So many activities, so little time!
Here Comes ScienceÂ (They Might Be Giants)
Classical Kids: Mr. Bach Comes to Call and Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery Song of the Unicorn
I adore this whole series of fictional stories that integrate composer, music and children. Performed by marvelous actors, too. These three, in addition to that, have fab girl characters! An absolute must, especially if your child is at all musical. They also have an ipad app, though I haven’t checked it out
Daisy’s two favorite “girl power” songs are the Dixie Chicks’ “The Long Way Around” and “Not Ready To Make Nice.” They are a little bit PG-13 (references to smoking, kissing ass etc) but so great I let that slide. Plus, they are both co-written by one of my dearest high school friends, Dan Wilson.
Here’s a fun cover of “I Am a Scientist” to watch:
A friend of mine recently needed to apply a coat of clear resin to the hull of a boat. Before he began, he pasted on Â pictures of women and men, historical and contemporary, whom he admired. His kids asked about the pictures and, as they worked, he told their stories. Who floats your boat? You could do this on a wall, on a table, on a piece of cardboard…the possibilities are endless. Get some modge-podge, some magazines and snapshots and let your imagination set sail!
Physical activity and girliness: Girls want to do ballet in preschool. And that can be fine. But most of them won’t want to do it anymore once it gets “real”–and given the body image concerns about ballet, most of us don’t want our daughters pursuing it anyway (I don’t mean to put a knock on ballet, which I respect, or certainly any other form of dance, I’m just saying the world of ballet can be very tough. I’ve seen “Black Swan….”). Anyway, in addition to, or instead of, ballet how about kids’ yoga? It’s graceful, you can wear a leotard if you want, and it’s something that can actually be the building block of a lifelong healthy practice that promotes POSITIVE body image, confidence, competence and inner strength. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Check at your local studios for kids’ classes…We started out when Daisy was tiny with the booksÂ Babar’s Yoga for Elephants and Yoga Bear.Â There are also some good DVDs. for 3-6 year olds try YogaKids and YogaKids ABCs (we were less pleased with YogaKids Silly to Calm). We haven’t tried Storyland Yoga for 3-8 year olds, but for older kids (and their parents) we like Rodney Yee’s Family Yoga. And if anyone else knows other fun DVDs PLEASE let me know (for the list AND for myself!
Another suggestion: Martial arts. Probably more for 4 or 5+, I think, but Daisy took karate in kindergarten and adored it. Made her feel strong and great in her body, excellent for coordination and awareness. Plus she enjoyed the “dress up” aspect of wearing the gi (even went to Halloween one year as a “martial arts girl”). Why is she not in it any more you may ask? Long and tedious story. But it’s not for lack of interest…..
Someone just told me about Girls on the Run. I don’t really know anything about it, but it looks like a great confidence-building non-competitive athletic program for grade school girls.
FURTHER READING FOR PARENTS
Venus in Blue Jeans
Talking to your daughter about sex
Iâ€™m, Like, So Fat
She’s going to say it; here’s how to deal with it.
You’re Amazing: A No Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self
Inspired by Â the Girls inc‘sÂ The Supergirl DilemmaÂ report, in which more than 1,000 girls shared their stories of feeling pressure to be perfect. For girls 9-12.
The Body Project
Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s book is one of my all-time favorites. It has had a huge influence in my thinking and writing about girls. She looks at the history of how girls came to define themselves more by the color of their lip gloss than the content of their characters….
So Sexy So Soon
More on the sexualization of childhood
Born to Buy
How preschoolers are turned into voracious consumers
Reality Bites Back
A look at the impact of reality TV on young viewers.
Little Girls Can Be Mean
Four steps to bully-proofing girls, starting in kindergarten
Girls Leadership Institute
Hardy Girls, Healthy Women
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
Powered By Girl
The Healthy Media for Youth Act
Girl Scouts Research Institute
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Healthy Media Choices
Common Sense Media
Serious Play for Serious Girls
True Child’s “Cheat Sheet” on the Â impact of the media’s gender stereotypes on kids–and how to combat them
The Alliance for Childhood
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