Real kids and real dads spending time together…the message being sent is, I love you. I enjoy time with you. I care.
I often talk about the messages that children’s book send to kids.
I work with five-year-olds but the message we are sending them, and have been sending them forever is really awful. We all know about the turtle and the hare. Kids are given a choice between being the talent but erratic hare and the plodding but steady tortoise. Nobody really wants to be the tortoise! We all just want to be a less foolish hare. This book tries to put forward the power of effort but it gives the effort a bad name. It reinforces the image that effort is for plodders and suggests that in rare instances when talented people drop the ball, the plodder can sneak through.
Or this book! The engine that could. First of all, very few kids relate to a machine! They can identify with a lot of things but not little engines, or saggy baggy elephants or scruffy little tugboats. The message is if you are unfortunate enough to be the runt of the litter, if you lack endowment, you don’t have to be a failure. You can be a sweet, adorable little slogger and maybe if you work hard enough and can withstand all the scornful onlookers – you can be a success.
The problem with these stories – they are an either-or- thought process.
One parent stopped by my office and told me that her baby seemed to have an either-or approach to parents. She would go for the longest time demanding just mom and then out of the blue, Dad would become the favorite. The mom wondered if this was normal. Even with years and years of experience working with this age group, I have trouble seeing anything that is ‘not normal’. If your child does it, it is normal for them.
I wondered if your children’s books picture Mom and Dad equally.
I know children’s book do not yet show enough non-traditional households but how do they show families in general?
Then I started looking at how we see Dad’s in our children’s books. It is amazing how we see Dads! With 200 books not a single time did a father hug, kiss or care for a kid.…what is going on with our children’s story writers and illustrators?
I want you to think about the fathers in your child’s life. Is there anything you can do to change your child’s perception of fathers?
Please let me know if you have a good child’s book that shows the fathers role in a positive manner. I would love to start a collection of these books.