Children’s books make a great Christmas gift and stocking stuffer, but the odds are strong that your child already has dozens of books with stereotypical gender messages. Even a quick Amazon search of the most popular children’s books this Christmas will show plenty of trucks for boys and princesses for girls.
Hopefully, what you will soon find alongside these bestseller pink and blue books for girls and boys is Made by Raffi, written by Craig Pomranz. At first glance, this nondescript children’s book seems just like any other — with colorful illustrations and a cute story line.
But as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Made by Raffi is a revolutionary children’s book about a shy young boy who prefers knitting and sewing. As you may guess, Raffi endures teasing from other kids because of his non-traditional male preferences.
The point of the book is very simple and one we should be telling our kids each and every day, regardless of gender. Different people like different things. Some boys like girl things, and some girls like boy things. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I didn’t realize how much gender came into play until my sister sent me a message about her Christmas gift for my two toddler sons. She planned to buy them an ever-popular LeapPad, but as luck would have it, Walmart had reserved a pink toy for her, and it was the last one in stock.
Did I mind that one of my sons would get a pink toy for Christmas? Maybe a few years ago, I would have felt a little more conflicted, though never ungrateful. This year, I thought that the accidental pink toy was a wonderful twist of fate. I’m excited that my sons will get to play with a girly version of their favorite toy because, even at a young age, I want them to know that color preference doesn’t make one bit of difference.
Made by Raffi author Pomranz explains that the book was inspired by his godson who considered himself a “tomgirl.” Pomranz says, “Of course there really is no word but it immediately hit me that he was on to something. Today, the idea of a tomboy is celebrated — she’s strong and independent. But the idea of a tomgirl carries a negative connotation; boys are judged harshly for being ‘girly.'”
It may be hard to break the pink and blue, girl and boy stereotypes that have haunted us for decades, but today’s generation of parents is doing it one step at a time. This book especially is a wonderful step in the right direction. Your kids need to read a book like this so that they don’t feel alone in their differences. At the very least, your kids need to read a book like this so that they can accept and not bully other kids who are different.
Pomranz leaves parents and teachers with his excellent advice, “We all have a conventional and unconventional side, and we should we be permitted to try them on as we grow up.”