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The Mamafesto: Superhero gift ideas for kids that defy stereotypes

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine,,...

Super gift ideas for action-loving kids that go outside the stereotypical box

My almost 9-year-old loves superheroes. From toys, movies, TV shows, books and more, if it involves superheroes, he's all in. But the mom in me isn't so keen on pushing a lot of the negative stereotypes that many traditional superhero worlds possess (that is, ladies in distress, macho men, excessive violence, etc.). With the holidays coming up, how can I balance my son's love of all things superhero with my own feminist feelings?

Fortunately there are actually a ton of awesome options out there for parents who are looking for awesome superhero-inspired gifts.

Books! Books are always a favorite, and there are so many fabulous superhero books for all ages. For the little-kid set, there's Ten Rules of Being a Superhero, a cute book that includes some important life lessons woven into an exciting story. If we didn't already own a copy of Michael Chabon's The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man, it would definitely be on my holiday gift list. It's well written, awesomely illustrated and includes a super surprise at the end! In addition to reading books, those that make you do stuff are big hits here, so I have a feeling that a certain third-grader is going to be super stoked to find a Superhero Comic Kit beneath the menorah this year. And while it's not specifically a reading book, I love this pack of Paper Superhero Sticker Scenes. The characters look like children, and it includes both boys and girls as well as different ethnicities, allowing every child to see themselves as a superhero.

Toys! Sure, you can go with the usual action figures that will probably be on sale at Target for the next month, or you can introduce your kids to something new and outside the box. Why not try some real-life superheroes and buy either the Amelia Earhart or Rosie the Riveter action figure? For younger kids who want in on the action, why not check out the superhero style of Wonder Crew that "bring adventure through friendship"? The company, which focuses on creating dolls specifically geared toward boys (but are perfect for both boys and girls), has an adorable Superhero Adventure Crewmate just ready to take your toddler on some super adventures.

Etsy! Etsy has a treasure trove of superhero-related gifts for those who want to venture outside the branded box. It can be difficult to find anything in mainstream stores that isn't connected to Marvel or Disney, so Etsy provides a bit of respite. Parents who want to infuse a little superhero spirit without buying into all the marketing will love some of the options, like cute T-shirts and cape and mask sets. And OK, Etsy does offer some awesome choices for Marvel fans as well.

And if you absolutely, positively have to go with something from the Marvel Universe, check out ThinkGeek for some super-creative ideas.

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