Our Children’s Book 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.
Advisory Team convenes
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!
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
- Invite MERGE for Equality to offer a school or community based program about health masculinity and gender equality
- 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’
- 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
Current Book Highlight:
Made 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
When the script for ‘Raffi’ arrived in my studio, I had no idea what a future stir it would cause among parents and educationalists. I felt very comfortable with the concept and didn't really appreciate that it was unusual. You see I am an artist, like Raffi, and although I am female, I had similar experiences when I was at school and growing up. I loved the fact that he fell in love with knitting at an early age, as I did too!
Unexpectedly though in the UK in the 1950s, boys and girls learned to knit at school and my brother was good at it, and it wasn't considered strange.However, I realise that today it has become unusual, and girls and boys - and their interests - have been divided up from babyhood. I do hope this book helps to make it ok for everyone to be creative and that it is equally acceptable to be un-sporty and un-competitive and prefer to be quiet and introverted. —Margaret Chamberlain, illustrator
Discussion Prompts for Made by Raffi
1. What ideas did Raffi struggle with in the beginning of the story?
2. How did the adults in the story support Raffi?
3. What helped the children change their behavior toward Raffi?
4. How do you think Raffi felt at the end of the story?
5. How might this story be helpful for your friends and family?