As a mom and primary teacher, I loved Vanessa's idea the moment I read it - and I'm sure you will too!
It’s 8:00 p.m. and bedtime routine is in full swing. My daughter brings over her chosen bedtime stories and my husband and I look at each other, knowing exactly what we are about to read for the eleventy-fifth time: her favourite princess books followed by her favourite book about a little boy playing hockey. Same storylines. Same characters. Every night.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with predictability, my family thrives on it in many ways. There is also nothing wrong with my daughter having favourite stories; the fact that my daughter loves reading makes this mama swell with pride. But sometimes…every once in a while…it would be nice to break out of the monotony of defenseless princesses saved by heroic princes; little boys playing sports exclusively with other little boys; and stereotypical nuclear families having perfect, predictable days. These stories are classic and deserve a place on our shelves, but what about adding some variety to the mix? What about adding some stories that have modern heroes, non-traditional storylines, and diverse characters that represent the modern 21st century child and their families?
I am here to share a selection of books that do just that. These books add a little bit of seasoning to traditional children’s picture books.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
This is the story of a crayon whose label reads Red. The problem is that Red cannot actually colour red no matter how hard he tries. Why? Because he’s actually Blue! A great story about ripping off labels and being true to yourself.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen & Heidi E. Y. Stemple
Princesses may wear sparkly crowns, but their interests go far beyond sparkle and shine. They play with soccer balls, wield power tools, plant in the soil, and fight sorcerers. A refreshing take on what it really means to be a ‘princess’.
The Boy with Pink Hair by Perez Hilton
The Boy with Pink Hair stands out from other kids. His pink hair makes him different, and because of this he gets called names and teased by the other children. This is an important story about the power of believing in yourself and finding your own special gifts.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funk
A daughter teaches her royal father about the inner and outer strength and bravery that exist in a petite princess. A wonderful lesson about not underestimating or stereotyping.
The Only Boy in Ballet Class by Denise Gruska
Tucker loves to dance, and he is very good at it. Unfortunately, Tucker’s passion for ballet causes him to be misunderstood by both family and peers at school, until a chance meeting with some boys on the football team gives Tucker an opportunity to let his ballet skills shine in a whole new light. This is an engaging story about opening up your mind to non-traditional gender roles.
The Family Book by Todd Parr
There are many different types of families in the world. Some are small, some are big; some eat the same things, some eat different things. This adorable book highlights all different types of families and the love that exists no matter what kind of family you belong to.
This is a very small sampling of some of the fantastic books that break the mold of typical children’s literature, celebrate the unique differences in every child, and shine a light on the diversity of the 21st century family. The next time you find yourself at your local bookstore or public library, I encourage you to think outside of the pink and blue box and take a chance on one of these great stories!
Thank you so much, Vanessa! For more from Vanessa, visit Like Mother Like Daughter and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Tell her I sent you!