Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Boys vs. Girls - Gender Equality in the Stacks

Exhibition is next week.  It's always an exciting time as students demonstrate the deep thinking skills they have been developing throughout the PYP

This year we have a group focusing on Gender Equality, and they have used our Library Media Centre as part of their action.

After asking permission, this group was given one shelf in which they turned around the books lacking what they defined as a strong female character.

The criteria they used were the following three questions:

  • Is there a female main character?
  • Does she have a dream?

They created and hung posters explaining what they did and why.

Originally, participating in dialog was a requirement, but when the girls realized they would have to read EVERY book, they struck that requirement. How might it have changed the results?

I was surprised to see so many books turned around. It was over 80% of this particular shelf. I can't help but wonder if that would be the average for the rest of the shelves?

While I may not agree with every book they turned, it was a more thought provoking action than I expected.  I have always made an effort to purchase and maintain a balanced collection in every library I have worked in. A couple of years ago, I purchased every book available (that we didn't already own) from the Might Girl book lists. I was expecting a result closer to 50/50.

Most importantly, it has also made me examine the books I read with a more critical eye and realize what I have been accepting as "normal".

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Anti-bullying book bashes Girl Scouts

I don't often write book reviews, and as a rule, I only share about books I like, but I just finished one that made me angry for Girl Scouts.

Save me a Seat by Sarah Weeks is about a boy, Ravi, who just arrived in America from India.  It is his story of trying to fit into a new culture, while overcoming obstacles and assumptions.  All in all a good story with a solid message.... until it included a little unchallenged Girl Scout bashing. 

I thought, toward the end, Sarah Weeks would redeem herself by having Dillon, the bully, apologize or having Selena, the Girl Scout, speak up for herself.  But no, it leaves the reader hearing Dillon shout that only dorks stay in Girl Scouts after 5th grade and seeing Selena blush when she admits she is a Girl Scout. No self-confidence, just blushing. 

I was never a Girl Scout, but I've been a Girl Scout mom for five years and a leader for two. I've learned through my daughters how much there is to this organization. And the girls who continue after 5th grade are rock stars! This is when the girls really develop as leaders, impact their communities, and share their skills with others.

I find it unbelievable that a book about assumptions usually being wrong and there being more to people than meets the eye would include a character like Selena and treat her so poorly. Why bother to identify her as a Girl Scout if only to bully her? 

Looking for a book that promotes empathy and discourages stereotypes? Choose something else.