Me: “Hey Patch, for your reading assignment you need to read a Newbery award book. I think you should read this one.”
Patch: “What’s it called?” he asked turning it over. Then he saw the title, The Princess Academy and paused.
Me: “I know has princess in the title, but I really think you’ll like it.”
Patch: “Okay” sounding doubtful.
Later that evening.
Patch: “I think this should be a read at home book, because I don’t want it to get lost at school.”
Me: “Are you a little embarrassed to take a princess book to school?”
Patch: Long explanation of why he needs to leave the book at home, uses supporting evidence, even though he intends to take a different book to school.
Me: “Also, you’re a little embarrassed to take a princess book to school.”
Patch: Sheepish half-smile. “Yeah.”
Me: “I understand. I don’t really think there are girl books and boy books, just stories. But some people do think that way and I understand if you are worried about getting teased.”
Patch: Nods and begins reading.
The first day, he stuck to his plan. The other book went to school. On the second day, Patch went to his back pack and pulled out the other book.
Patch: Holding up The Princess Academy, “I’m taking this one. It’s really good.”
When I picked him up from school that day he walked slowly to the car because he was reading as he walked. In the car he spun theories about what would happen next and how the mountain folk really should be rich because of all the Linder.
Thus do I begin to teach my son that good stories reside in all sorts of covers. I also begin to teach him that he can identify with a female protagonist and be just as enthralled by her story as by stories which feature boys. And if my son can identify with fictional girls then he can empathize with real life ones. Book by book the world can become a better place.
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