Blowing Minds about Gender Differences

I’m the official Bear den leader for Tornado E’s pack.  And I blow the parents’ minds.

My acting-pack leader loved me.  She gushed how well I handle the boys.  Five rowdy, loud boys “quietly” doing the project or discussing the topic.  When the boys are done and doing what kids do when done and unsupervised, I jumped in and started a game or two.  Whatever she needed, I did.  She wrote me amazing teacher recommendation letters and promised to write more.

The parents are astonished by me.  I handle the boys with little help.  They’re not much bigger or rowdier than my own brood.  Then I dared to teach them wrestling.  I was pretty strict with the boys that day.  “If I see you become too aggressive, try to hurt someone, and/or intentionally hurt someone, I will pull you out, you will sit to the side, and you will not get this achievement.  Do you understand?”

The last meeting of the year, a mother asked me about the school the boys attend.  I gave her my opinion as well as the criticisms I heard.   I asked her why, and she told me her displeasure with her son’s teacher.  A teacher who believed in the power of Ritalin.  Christ.

The mother complained about the teacher’s poor classroom management, and I nodded, thinking, “here’s the teacher’s problem.”  Then the mother talked about how the teacher was reading out loud in a monotone voice (bad) and ignoring kids’ little outbursts (bad) and the book was about a girl (ba-). Wait.  What?  Because apparently boys aren’t interested about girls, so why would they pay attention?  Because boys are so much more interesting than girls?

“Well, I’m sure the teacher wants to expose the class to all sorts of protagonists.  Literature, and children’s literature especially, has appallingly few female protagonists.  About 30% of all children’s literature have female protagonists.  And of those, most of them aren’t very good.  I want my boys exposed to all sorts of protagonists.  I’m on the hunt for good books with girl heroes.  They need to be exposed to that.  I hated reading as a little girl because none of the good books were about girls.  It was annoying.”

Oh.  Um, 30%?  Really?

“Yes.  That’s with an increase over the last decade or so.  Think of all the ‘good’ books out there.  They’re all about boys.  Is it fair that the girls have to always listen to books about boys?”

Well, I guess I never thought of it like that.

“It’s a shame our children are exposed to gender roles so early.  Harmful gender roles.  Girls can adventure and be smart and active and cunning.  Boys can be gentle and kind and caring and like pink.  Kids can learn a lot from each other.”

Well, yes.

And that is what a blown-mind looks like.

Any one have suggestions of good books about awesome female protagonists?


2 Responses to “Blowing Minds about Gender Differences”

  1. itneverrainsinseattle Says:

    The Gustav Gloom series (three books out so far, book four is due this summer) by Adam Troy Castro features two main protagonists: Gustav Gloom (a boy) and Fernie What (a girl). While Gustav is the riddle character that these spooky adventure stories are supposedly “about”, Fernie is the point of view character from the “real world”, and she is an awesome kid. Both children make decisions, behave heroically, become afraid, solve problems, and confront dangers with varying degrees of cleverness, bravery, and also trepidation. The stories also feature a competent dad (a rarity in children’s lit), a heroic little sister, and a cast of side characters who are wonderfully different in tone and strengths and characterization. I just finished reading one of the books to my boys, and both the oldest (11) and the youngest (5) are clamoring for me to get the next book in the series.

    Adam Troy Castro has written some amazing adult science fiction, horror, and fantasy. His YA stuff doesn’t pander to the audience, is very engaging, and manages to convey scary moments without freaking the kids out. Highly recommended.

  2. Wendy Says:

    Igraine the Brave

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