We just finished Fairy Dust and The Quest for the Egg, beautifully illustrated and a nice story that didn't play too heavily on its Disney origins.
T was also lucky enough to be given a copy of Bob the Builder and the Elves signed by the author, Emily Rodda, and we are now embarking on that story too (while giving me a great opportunity to bang on about how valuable some books can be).
Of course, the question is, where do we go next? Well, Mothers for Women's Lib to the rescue! They've found the Amelia Bloomer Project which is a US list of books suitable for children, all with a strong female character. Not just any females, though:
We need not just cardboard “feisty” or “spunky” female characters, but tales of girls and women who have broken barriers and fought to change their situations and their environment.
Wheeee! I'm off to start my Amazon shopping list, who's coming?
Why is it that finding books and toys that are gender neutral (not just feminist) is so difficult? T got given a bag of lollies at her birthday party on the weekend, and it contained a chocolate with Batman on the wrapper. Naturally, it was in blues and blacks. She holds it up and says "Look, it's got Batman on it, Mum". I respond with "Cool" or whatever other non-committal monosyllable I chose to employ, since I was busy with the massive cleanup. T, in the meantime, is obviously studying this and pipes up with "why is Batman always wearing black clothes?". Well, good question, I think. I half-heartedly suggest that perhaps Batman should try a brighter outfit sometime. T agrees, adding her opinion that Batman should consider pink and purple. Of course, his crime-fighting potential might be harmed, but would it threaten his masculinity? Naturally, things don't have to be pink to appeal to girls, but this goes further than that. T is a huge fan of the Pixar movie Cars, but have you ever tried to buy a Cars winter jacket in the girls' section at Target? For that matter, have you ever tried to buy a winter jacket in the girls' section at Target that didn't feature faux fur trim? Take my advice, head straight to the boys' department. I'm hoping that by doing so, I'm at least proving to my daughter that there's no rule that says you can't wear 'boys' clothes, or play with 'boys' toys, or - heaven forfend! - use 'boy' colours in your colouring-in.
The moral of the story? Find positive role-models for your little girls, don't fall prey to the gender segregation of consumer culture, and always - always - debrief your children on the way things actually are, not the way the media portrays them to be.