Children’s Books Campaign

MERGE believes that all boys – and all children – are born loving, caring and sensitive. We believe children learn about gender from many sources including books, media, teachers, and family.  And, we believe children are often limited and harmed by gender norms and stereotypes. Books in this campaign are selected to help children and adults learn about and appreciate gender equality, together.

 

Current Books in the Campaign:

Be Boy Buzz 
by bell hooks & Chris Raschka

Famed author bell hooks brings us a tight, exuberant story that captures the essence and energy of what it means to be a boy. Chris Raschka’s soulful illustrations buzz with a force that is the perfect match for these powerful words.      --Disney Books

      
Read and discuss Be Boy Buzz with a young child:

  1. What ideas about boys’ feelings and actions are presented in this story? How do words and pictures communicate these ideas?
  2. Do boys you know show similar feelings and actions? What are some examples?
  3. How many times does the author use the word All in this story? What message do you think the author communicating by using the word All so many times?
  4. What do you think the author means with her closing words, “In love with being a boy.”?
  5. How might this story help your friends and family reconsider gender norms (ideas about how people should behave based on whether others see them as boys or girls)?

Sparkle Boy
by Lesléa Newman & Maria Mola

Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, and he also loves things that shimmer, glitter, and sparkle. Casey’s older sister, Jessie, thinks this is weird. Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are only for girls, right?

When Casey and Jessie head to the library for story time, Casey proudly wears his shimmery skirt and sparkly bracelet. His nails glitter in the light. Jessie insists that Casey looks silly. It’s one thing to dress like this around the house, but going outside as a “sparkle boy” is another thing entirely. What will happen when the other kids see him? This sweet and refreshing story speaks to us all about acceptance, respect, and the simple freedom to be yourself.  Shimmery, glittery, sparkly things are fun—for everyone!  --Lesléa Newman

 

Read and discuss Sparkle Boy with a young child:

  1. What type of toys, activities and clothing does Casey enjoy? How do words and pictures communicate these ideas?
  2. How does Casey’s family feel about Casey’s dress up interests? How do words and pictures communicate these ideas?
  3. What do the boys at the library think about Casey’s dress up choices? How do you think the boys came to believe these gender norms (ideas about what boys should and should not wear)?
  4. What new idea does sister Jessie realize about gender norms at the end of the story? How do words and pictures communicate this idea?
  5. How might this story help your friends and family reconsider gender norms (ideas about how people should behave based on whether others see them as boys or girls)?

 

Made by Raffi bookMade by Raffi
by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain

“I am delighted that Made by Raffi has been selected as the first book for the MERGE for Equality Children’s Book Campaign.  I was inspired to write this book by the experience of my godson, who felt “different” because he didn’t love sports and liked to sew and knit – one day he asked his mother if there is such a thing as a tomgirl.   His question reminds us of how society creates labels and boundaries.  How much misery and wasted talent is caused by these outdated notions of gender norms and stereotypes?

I hoped to share a message of inclusiveness and creativity as well as offer the notion that everyone has limitless opportunities to try on different identities.  I have been deeply gratified that the book, which has been translated into eight languages in 11 countries, has resonated across many cultures.

Thank you, MERGE for Equality, for keeping the conversation going and for the work you do to open minds and improve the world!       —Craig Pomranz, author

Read and discuss Sparkle Boy with a young child:

  1. What ideas about gender norms (ideas about how people should behave based on whether others see them as boys or girls) does Raffi struggle with early in the story? How do words and pictures communicate these ideas and his struggle with them?
  2. How do the adults in the story support Raffi? How do words and pictures communicate that support?
  3. What helps the children change their behavior toward Raffi? How do words and pictures communicate those changes?
  4. How do you think Raffi and the other children feel at the end of the story? How do words and pictures make you think this?
  5. How might this story help your friends and family reconsider gender norms (ideas about how people should behave based on whether others see them as boys or girls)?

Recommended uses of books in our children’s campaign:

  • Read and discuss with a child
  • Gift to a family with young children
  • Gift to a classroom, children’s program or library

 

Campaign Goals

  • To advance the MERGE mission by promoting literacy and adult-child connection through children’s books which highlight themes of positive masculinity and gender equality
  • Increase literacy and adult-child connection through reading and discussion
  • Expand partnerships with early childhood serving programs and agencies

 

Book Campaign Timeline

  • June 2017: Campaign launch
  • Summer 2017:  Form Advisory Committee of childhood practitioners and educators from throughout MA and CT
  • Fall 2017: Identify book selection criteria and engagement strategies
  • Present – June 2018: Highlight 4-6 books in the campaign
  • Present – June 2018: Distribute books at MERGE events and to participating partners
  • 2018: Capture and share ‘Stories of Impact’

 

Take Action

  • Make a tax deductible donation in support of the MERGE for Equality Children’s Book Campaign by clicking the orange Donate button to the right
  • Nominate someone for the Children’s Book Campaign Advisory Committee by sending an email using the orange Contact button to the right
  • Contact the MERGE for Equality office to learn more by sending an email using the orange Contact button to the right

Advisory Team

On September 17th, a dedicated team of volunteer advisors met at the Springfield City Library to read and discuss 18 children's books and their possible selection for the MERGE for Equality Children's Book List.  Keeping in mind the MERGE mission of gender equality and healthy boys, as well as a commitment to diversity, this enthusiastic group began the challenging process of identifying 5 titles that exemplify our campaign goals and provide excellent tools for teachers, families and caregivers.

Thank you to Megan Dowd Lambert for her leadership and our volunteers (as pictured above): Lori Chaves of Head Start, Ashley Kerekes of Square One, Sumanth Prabhaker of Pioneer Valley Books, Kathie Lange of Head Start, Maria Bedard of Square One, Kieran Slattery of Northampton Public Schools, Andrew Grant-Thomas of EmbraceRace, Megan Dowd Lambert of Simmons College, Maria Garcia of Northampton Public Schools, James Arana of MERGE for Equality, and Jean Canosa Albano of the Springfield City Library.

Stay tuned for the final book list, which will be announced here in the Fall of 2017!