Category Archives: Stuff for Girls

Insert witty title here…

Just a few observations from my day;  big props to the Children’s Place for having the space commander costume right next to all the other costumes for little girls at the store.

Space Commander!

Massive fail to WalMart and Monster High for having this costume in a size 4-6.   (Any size really, but seriously!)

A mixed review for “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” by Kevin Henkes.  I really loved how her career options included surgeon or ambulance driver, but my face did this when the options were “surgeon, ambulance driver, diva.”

Just to make sure we understand that little girls can aspire to be “divas,” he says it again at the end.  “She really did want to be a teacher when she grew up.  That is, when she didn’t want to be a dancer or a surgeon or an ambulance driver or a diva or a pilot or a hairdresser or a scuba diver…”

One of those is not like the others.  Diva is not a career choice.  Not for little girls.  Not for little boys.  Not for anyone.

Gender Disparity in Children’s Books

Well this sure doesn’t come as a surprise to any mom of girls who has looked for strong female leads in children’s books, but Science Daily is reporting on a study that shows that from 1900 to 2000 the gender disparity in books (heavily favoring males) did not change.  Except to get worse in the 50’s.  Great.

Why does this matter?

Since children’s books are a “dominant blueprint of shared cultural values, meanings, and expectations,” the authors say the disparity between male and female characters is sending children a message that “women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys.” Books contribute to how children understand what is expected of women and men, and shape the way children will think about their own place in the world

On that note, I just found this really sweet book called Kiki’s Blankie at the local library.  In this book Kiki is a little monkey who loves her blue blankie so much that she rescues it from a very scary situation.   I was reading this to my daughter and some friends at the library and one little girl kept arguing with me that Kiki is a boy monkey.  She is not obviously a girl (ie: long hair, bedecked in pink) so she MUST be a boy, right?

Book Review: My Name is Not Isabella

My Name is not Isabella

Super cute illustrations!

I saw this book and bought it on impulse, which I am *trying* not to do because we have literally a zillion or so books and I just am flatly unable to ever rehome books.  They are BOOKS.  We’ve been doing a lot at the library lately which is great!  This one grabbed me at the bookstore though, with its subtitle of “Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?”

The one thing that bugged me when I picked it up is that it was shelved with the “boy” equivalent book, except the subtitle of the boy version is “Just how big can a little KID dream.”  Girls are kids too!  (I know, nitpicky, but I’m a nitpicky person dammit.)

The book has a really cute concept where a little girl pretends to be several different female heroines;  Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie are a few of them.  I love that, and I love how at the end of the book there is a quick paragraph about each of these amazing women and what they were famous for.

I don’t love that there is actually no *story* here.  There is no real conflict or problem to be resolved;  just a little girl pretending, so for me it gets a bit repetitive.   Not repetitive in a lovely lyrical way that is fun to read, but repetitive in the… *yawwwwn* way.

To sum up, I’d say get this one from the library.  I’m just bummed because I impulse-bought it.   And paid full price.  Hmph.

Animal Boogie

You know you are sick of the same old same old Old MacDonald and whatever.  (Does any other mom of a girl make Old Macdonald a female farmer?  I do.  I may be crazy, but I hate how everything is always boysboysboys all the damned time.)

Try something different, f’goodness sakes, and add a little boogie to your life.  Boogie, plus girls climbing trees, plus… can you believe it?  Different skin tones!  Even a child using a wheelchair!  It’s just so nice to see a book with people who are not all cookie cutters white with blond hair for a change!

This is the video featuring illustrations that go along with the book, as well as the song.  These books are so much fun, not only for the singing and dancing but you can use them as a “seek and find” to find different animals on the pages.  Plus they are just gorgeous and so much fun to read.  I am super picky about the things I read to Bella, but these I love.  And 2 year old Bella at the kitchen counter reading along and singing along to the CD was just about too cute to bear!

After you watch the video click here to visit my Barefoot Books marketplace.  There is a book, puzzle, and even an activity book that all go together.  Another favorite (actually the truth is I love it a little bit more) is Walking Through the Jungle, which features a little girl using her imagination to go on adventures with all kinds of animals.

Girly stuff

Feminist mama bear that I am, sometimes I’m tired of feminizing all our favorite books and want some books about actual real live GIRLS.  Who are not, necessarily, princesses or dressed in pink.  Whose primary function in life goes above and beyond being “cute.”  Having searched high and low for the ones we love, here are a few of our favorites.

The Paper Princess:  This book is just incredible, wonderful, and a must-read.
Amazing Grace:  A little girl learns that beauty is not always pink and sparkly.  Wonderful story!
Stellaluna:  Don’t know how I missed this one for so long.  It is lovely, and the illustrations are adorable, sweet and funny.
The Sea Serpent and Me:  This book is simply wonderful.  A little girl is surprised by a tiny sea serpent in her bathtub.  The two become friends and … well I don’t want to give away the ending but it really speaks to me and the illustrations are so lovely!
The Night Pirates:  Rough, tough, little girl pirates who let a little boy join their pirate adventures!
Ladybug Girl:  Adventurous, brave, sweet Ladybug Girl!
Blue Kangaroo:  This is a series of books (out of print, of course) about a little girl (who is NOT blonde for a change) and her kangaroo.  They are very sweet and fun to read aloud.
The Little Old Lady Who Is Not Afraid of Anything:  Great to bust out in October!
Jeanette Claus Saves Christmas:  Santa’s daughter saves the day by being kind to animals.  Wonderful story.
Violet the Pilot:  Super smart Violet invents her own planes and teaches herself to fly, then saves the day!
I Am Wonder Woman:  OK, so she is still large breasted and wearing a bathing suit, but at least the reasons given for that are being an Amazon princess.  And she saves the day.   Without guns or violence!
To the Moon:  A little girl dreams about being an astronaut.
Firehouse:  Written and illustrated by Mark Teague, the same artist behind the “How does a dinosaur” illustrations.  The cool part about this book is that the fire chief is a girl dog, and many of the firefighters are also girls.  It’s *hard* to find firefighter stuff that shows even a hint of girls!
One Dog Canoe:  An intrepid girl takes off alone in her canoe with just her dog, and has some fun wildlife encounters.
The Tiniest Mermaid:  Sweet book about the friendship between a little girl and a mermaid.  The mermaid talks about helping lost sailors, and the little girl saves the mermaid when she is hurt.
Millie Waits for the Mail:  Ok, it’s about a cow.  But this book is *so* funny and fun to read, and it’s all about Millie expanding her bovine horizons!
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink:  I actually have mixed feelings about this one.  LOVE the imagery of little girls getting dirty, playing sports, fixing stuff.  But argh, with the “In a sparkly princess crown” line on every single page.  We just don’t read that line but this won’t work once she is really reading.  Also the writing is not so great and the rhymes are kind of annoying.   “Some princesses like to pedal wearing lots of shiny metal: helmet on head, and body armor, so that nothing bad can harm her… or her sparkly crown.”  Blech!  But the illustrations are wonderful.  So, ymmv!
Penelope and the Humongous Burp:  This book is awesome on so many levels!  First we have a multi-cultural family with a sweet little girl who looks like a normal little girl.  She chugs down a ton of soda (leading us to talk about how water would have been a healthier choice), and then has huge burps.  Female firefighters, doctors, and police officers arrive to “save” the day.  So nice to see female doctors!  Female firefighters!  Female police officers!  Plus this book is funny and my daughter laughs and laughs when we read it.
Brontorina:  A lovely dinosaur dying to dance!  She is willing to do anything to dance, and her dance teacher comes to the conclusion that her dance school is simply too small for Brontorina… so she opens a new, outdoor school where dinosaurs of ALL sizes can come dance!
Kiki’s Blankie:  A brave little monkey saves the day!

Chapter Books for Girls
Frannie K. Stein: a little girl learns that she is different and it is awesome!
Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa: Kate is a cowgirl from the tip of her boots to the top of her hat!
Katie Kazoo: I haven’t read these yet but they look wonderful!
Strawberry Girl: one of my favorites from when I was a little girl!
Twig: I haven’t read this one yet but it looks amazing.  About a little girl in the 40’s.
Ivy and Bean: haven’t read these yet either, but they are on my to-do list!
The Sisters Grimm: two little girls learning how to be fairy tale detectives.  Fun!
The Three Little Pirates:  Three little girl pirates save the day!  The audiobook of this is wonderful!  This author has also written “The Three Little Witches,” and “The Three Little Princesses.”

Chapter Books for Older Girls
Clover Twig:  haven’t read it, but it looks wonderful!
Just Grace:  These look lovely, as well as Just Clementine.
Gooney Bird Greene:  Haven’t read these but they look adorable, and I love Lois Lowry.

These aren’t books, but other assorted goodies that are worth mentioning! iPhone/iPad apps:
Little Bella’s I Close My Eyes:  Bella imagines herself to be a giant, to be reading a book in space, and more!
Violet’s The Night Before Christmas:  Little girl Violet solves mysteries using her super powers of observation!
Math Girl Games: Math, flowers, nice music!

Beleduc “Your Body” Puzzle:   I love this puzzle not only for the science, but for the real girls body for our girls to look at.  This child *looks* like a little girl.  There is also a puzzle for boys.

Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Totoro, basically all the Miyazaki movies.  Finally fun movies with strong female leads.  Ponyo does involve a kind of love story but it’s not really what you’d expect, and you have to love the mother goddess character!   I have not seen all his movies;  I think some of them (like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Princess of Nausicaa) are really more for older kids and might be a bit scary for the younger set.  Make sure you read reviews on amazon or somewhere first.

I’ll be updating this list as I think of other awesome girl-positive stuff, not just books!