Strong Female Characters – Not Just for Girls

Tome Reader

Photo by QQ Li

Children’s  literature abounds with books full of strong males, so much so that I actually get excited when a new book comes out showcasing a strong female just for the fact that there s a strong female in the book. It shouldn’t be that way. Our species has a general 1:1 gender ratio, changing a bit through various ages. In the old adage that art imitates life (or life imitates art), we should see a much larger number of female characters in books. We don’t. Of those female characters we do meet, most are secondary at best or portrayed as a weak character.

The idea of reading books with our daughters that showcase some of the stronger female characters isn’t new. I’m happy to say that most of the parents I know seek out books with strong female leads to share with their daughters. It’s an exciting thing to share good literature with someone you love, and while I would love to cheer this fact on, I’m left with an incomplete feeling: Why are they only sharing these books with their daughters?

Reality shows me that those parents of daughters looking for strong female leads for their daughters aren’t looking for those same books for their sons. The parents of only sons or of children whose daughters aren’t old enough for the more involved chapter books aren’t even looking (generalization, yes, but you see my point). There is a giant disparity here.

Books with strong female characters are not just for our daughters; they are also for our sons. Good books are good books, and given the opportunity, our sons enjoy books with strong female leads just as much as our daughters. Some of my ten year old son’s favorite books have strong female characters and female leads. A good book is a good book.

So why do parents search out to equalize the characters in books for their daughters but not their sons?  Those books with strong female characters show strength for our daughters but seem to be lacking for our sons. In other words, it is fine for girls to identify with male characters, but female characters are lacking when it comes to boys. It’s sexism in literature, and the majority of parents are unintentionally  perpetuating this concept with their children.

What can be done about it? Share good books, including those with strong female leads with your children, regardless of gender. Discuss books with your kids. Point out disparities, listen to their ideas, share your thoughts, and make a difference.

5 Ways to Kill Your Child’s Love of Reading

Please note that this public service announcement is brought to you by Bibliophilic Satire.

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Who Needs Books?

Photo by Nate Bolt

I’d like to take a moment to discuss an issue that is pertinent to every parent out there. Children and books. There. I said it. I know. We try to avoid such topics, but the fact of the matter is that every child is born with an inherent love of stories and books. Without proper intervention, you may find yourself in the position of a parent who has a child who…..reads. Yes. The big elephant in the room is out there for all to see. However, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to put a stop to this habit before it really takes a hold. Here are a few suggestions to save your child from a life time of reading:

 

 

  1. You may decide to go with the method that “gets  it out of their system.” If this is your preferred strategy, force your child to read in a controlled setting. If they are going to be reading, make certain they are reading on your terms. Take away their choices.
  2. Make them read what you choose. Sure, they are going to hear about books from someone, but if you can make it seem like books aren’t enjoyable, you lessen the likelihood that they will become readers. As part of this method, you may find it beneficial to pick out the most boring books you can find. If your child begs and pleads not to read them because because he “doesn’t like those books,” stick with them. If there happens to be someone nearby (such as…..another mother) who is in the vicinity when you force your child to read the really boring book, it’s okay. Any adult should be willing  to make the sacrifice to listen to a horribly written book read haltingly by a child in tears. After all, we’re here for the kids. This public display will also help re-enforce the lesson to any other children in the area that reading should, under no circumstances, be enjoyed.
  3. Negative re-enforcement. When you catch your child in the act of reading, do something negative. You want them to associate the very act of reading with an unpleasant experience. Tell them they aren’t doing it correctly. Ridicule them. Yell. Make other loud sounds such as monster noises or sound like an alien laser. Whatever you do, do not let them enjoy the experience.
  4. Time limits. Whether you are trying to gently wean your child off of this habit by placing arbitrarily short maximum time limits on enjoyable reading sources or placing large time limit minimums on the boring pieces (see above reference), you should control the amount of time your child is exposed to such potentially harmful substances.
  5. When it comes down to it, you need to do what you have to in order to prevent this habit from escalating. Threaten to take away something your child loves if she doesn’t follow your strict guidelines. Already at gymnastics but she isn’t reading your prescribed reading material? Threaten to take away her gymnastics class. Sure, you’ve paid for the gas to get there. You will be paying for the class whether she participates or not. Gymnastics has nothing to do with reading, but it strikes deep. It shows your child that you are serious about not letting her waste her life away in a book.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Board books lead to picture books, which lead to chapter books. If you don’t do something about your child’s love of books right away, you may be facing a child who is carrying around a 3 inch thick book, laughing and giggling, and enjoying herself to no end. Books are dangerous. They lead to information, independent thinking, creativity, and even worse….knowledge and wisdom.

 

Golden Snitch Giveaway, 2 winners!

This is a joint giveaway between Living Peacefully with Children and Novel Obsession. You may enter from one site.

My family, like so many other families, has been entranced by the Harry Potter series. From magic wands to golden snitches, our home is filled with the magical wonder of Harry Potter and imagination. To share that with you, I am offering hand knitted golden snitches. Each snitch is handmade by me, made of durable acrylic yarn, and naturally weighted. Two winners will be chosen (sorry, US and Canada only). All you have to do is follow the easy rafflecopter to enter before November 25, 2012. Winners will be e-mailed within 48 hours. If you would like to make your own knitted snitches, check out the great pattern at Knitted Toy Box.

This is an honest give away. Please be honest in your rafflecopter answers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tankborn

Tankborn

After fleeing a dying Earth, humans were divided into two classes: trueborns, who had money to buy passage on the ship to the new world, and lowborns, who had to work for their passage. In order to elevate the classes and create a working force, tankborns were created. Tankborns, genetically engineered non-humans (GENs), are created with specific skill sets (skets) to serve those who deem them inferior, virtual slaves with no rights. But what makes a human?

Karen Sandler’s Tankborn addresses topics of racism, classism, friendship, humanity, and more in this non-traditional dystopian novel for middle grade/young adults. Tankborn is science fiction for the next generation.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

2012 Topical Reading Challenges

With all of the great reading genres available, it’s easy to skip over some of them. Check out these great topical reading challenges for 2012. Perhaps you’ll join me for some.
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

When Melissa at Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf didn’t see any witchy reading challenges for 2012, she decided to make her own.  The 2012 Witches and Witchcraft Reading challenge is for all books witchy, whether fiction or non-fiction. Anyone can read just one book, and all particpants will be entered to win a $10 gift certificate to The Book Depository! I’m starting with one and will see if I don’t bump up a level.


Do you like mystery and suspense? Join in Book City Chick’s 2012 Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge. There are so many sub-genres in the larger mystery category that I don’t think I will have any difficulty reading 12 novels for this challenge.

Feeling romantic? Check oy the Harlequin Silhouette 2012 Reading Challenge hosted Islandgirl Reads Romance. This challenge requires that you read one Harlequin book in each of 6 categories. This will probably be my most difficult challenge.

With books you can travel through time. Join Library of Clean Reads with the 2012 Time Travel Reading Challenge. I’m keeping it simple with a Surprise Trip (minimum of 1-3 books) and will see what else I read from there.

Do you have any earth based leanings or just want to learn more about earth-centered celebrations or history? Check out the 2012 Pagan Reading Challenge hosted by The Domestic Pagan. Just by celebrating the scientifically-based changes in our world during the year, our family reads several pagan books every year. You don’t have to be pagan to read pagan books or appreciate a large part of our history.

Looking toward the future, you could join The Dystopia 2012 Challenge at Bookish Ardour. Admittedly, this hasn’t been my favorite genre, but I was pleasantly surpirsed by some of the dystopian novels I read last year, stretching myself just a bit.

Finally, for those of you who love cogs and clocks, head over to Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for the Cogs, Clocks, and Mechanisms Reading Challenge 2012. Haven’t tried steampunk? Challenge yourself!

2012 Reading Challenges for Children and Young Adults

Reading is a very important part of our lives. We are well known at our library, review books for various authors and publishers, and then pick up some more books in our spare time. I’d like to share with you some great reading challenges for children and young adults coming up in 2012.

 An Illustrated Year: 2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge, hosted by An Abundance of Books, is a wonderful challenge for any family with young children or anyone else who loves a beautiful picture book.

All you have to do is sign up, put the badge in your blog sidebar, and write a post about your participation to link back to the challenge. Then you are all ready to read and review some of your favorite books.

There are three levels of participation, but the top level is only 24 books. We check out more picture books than that in one trip to the library. I have no doubt that we can find 24 picture books to review during the year.

The Award Winning Reads Challenge co-hosted at Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing and The Reading Housewives is one of my favorites. Whenever I’ve been at a loss as to which book I should read with my children, I’ve never gone wrong by picking up an award winner. You don’t have to have a blog to participate in this challenge, and you get to set your own goal. Anyone can do this. If you aren’t certain, I personally challenge you to read one of these wonderful books with your children and let me know how you liked it. Both award winners and honoree books from the Newberrry and Printz lists from any year count.

If you are at a loss to what books you might enjoy reading with your children in the upcoming year, check out the Excellence is Reading: 2012 Challenge hosted by the Super Readers Book Club. There you will find a list of books for the challenge, including many of our favorite books.

Erica at The Book Cellar is hosting the YA/MG Fantasy Chalenge 2012, challenging readers to dive into 10 YA/MG books published in 2012. She has even provided a list of some of the new books coming out. I loved last year’s YA challenge and am looking forward to reading more great new books again this year.

Truly Bookish and One Page at a Time are co-hosting the 2012 Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. Can you read and review one YA book a month? Join in! This is such a fun way to explore new cultures on your own or with your children. Reading multi-cultural fiction has heigthened my children’s curiosity about many different cultures, begging us to explore facts about the cultures in depth.

Don’t forget the 2012 Just Contemporary Reading Challenge hosted by Basically Amazing Books. Young adult books are often overlooked by adults. However, there are a lot of really great stories just waiting for someone. Not all of the details are available for this challenge yet, so I can’t wait to hear more.

2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge

We are a family of bibliophiles. We love books. I was an exceptionally early reader and have been reading ever since. It was naturally something I wanted to share with my children. So, we are entering For the Love of YA’s 2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge. Is it considered a challenge if we would be reading the books anyway?

celebrating Halloween with less consumerism…

As with many other holidays, companies have managed to turn Halloween into a consumerist
Photo by Yaxzone

 product. Emphasis is placed on the purchase and distribution of mass amounts of candy, over-priced cheaply made costumes, and non-environmentally friendly packaging.

 
When we celebrate Halloween by taking our children trick-or-treating, it’s easy to fall into this mindset. In an attempt to place emphasis on other aspects of the holiday, many parents attempt to de-emphasize the candy. While it may seem that by donating a candy stash or trading in candy for other items we are avoiding mass consumerism, that is untrue. 
 
When we take our children trick-or-treating and then trade the candy or throw it away, we are not only supporting consumerism in a marketing sense, but we are also setting an example of consumerist living to our children. It shows them that it is acceptable to solicit items with no intent to use them. It can produce a “give me” attitude of entitlement. Throwing food in the trash, regardless of nutritional value, shows acceptability of wasting resources. Sending candy to charities can send the message that those who benefit from charity are only worthy of unwanted items. Accepting candy produced by companies with questionable ethics still supports those companies.
 
Our family trick-or-treats. Our children have complete control over their trick-or-treating. Not only do we not take away their candy or exert control over what they do with it, we also don’t limit how much they can collect. While other children are out from start to finish, gathering as much candy as they can, our children trick-or-treat for a little while, before telling us they are finished and asking us to drive them home. 
 
Instead, our focus on Halloween is not consumerism – paying exhorbitant amounts for cheaply made costumes or collecting mass amounts of candy for trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating on Halloween night is only one small way we celebrate.
 
  • Each October, we head to a local old-fashioned pumpkin patch. While the local custom is to go to a pumpkin themed attempt at an amusement park (consumerism once again), we go to a family run pumpkin patch that has pumpkins and some bales of hay for kids to jump in.  We make a day of it, buying reasonably priced pumpkins and supporting a family run business. We buy some pumpkins for carving and stock up on pie pumpkins. Later in the month, we roast and puree the pie pumpkins, freezing some for later use and making various pumpkin recipes.
  • We decorate our home. We have a few items we pull out each year, but we make the rest, focusing on inexpensive handmade items, and giving a purpose to some of the many, many wonderful art projects created by our children. We pull many of our decorations from nature or nature inspired crafts.
  • We make costumes. My children spend quit a bit of time contemplating what they want to dress up as. We work together to design and make their costumes.
  •  We attend Halloween and Fall themed programs. Many of our local libraries have free programs, including music concerts, story times, craft activities, and more. Nature centers not only have Fall and themed programs but also jack-o’lantern lit walks, hayrides, and more. Any fees support the center and educational programs rather than executives in corporate America. Historical centers offer old-fashioned Halloween fun with requests of canned goods to support local charities.
  • We celebrate with friends with parties, pumpkin carving, homemade trunk-or-treats, and costume wearing get-togethers.
  • We read books, pulling out some of our favorites and checking out others from the library. We read and tell scary stories by candlelight while sipping hot cocoa or apple cider.
  • We prepare for winter and discuss the true meaning of Samhain.

And then, as a culmination of all of our Halloween celebrations, as opposed to a commercially focused one day celebration, we take the kids trick-or-treating.