26 June 2009

Ladybug Girl to the Rescue

Isaac’s choices surprise me sometimes. I try to be very conscious about picking out books on topics that interest him. I don’t want him to become uninterested in books or not want to read because his librarian mom is always trying to read a “nice” or a “sweet” story to him. So my choices are heavy on the cars, trucks, robots and scary or slimy animals that he likes. When we go to the library I encourage him to find books that he wants to bring home, though most of the time he plays in the tree house in the children’s section of our local branch while I fill our bag with books I think he will like.

Then there are the occasions he does choose books, and I ask him two or three times if he is sure he wants THAT one as we narrow down our choices. This last visit to the library was one of those occasions. He picked out a book called Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman. Now don’t misunderstand, I do read him books with female characters and I want him to be exposed to many different types of books to broaden his appreciation and enhance his reading experiences. I just don’t expect my car-loving, lightsaber-wielding boy to pick a book with a girl in a ladybug outfit, complete with a red tutu, on the cover.

But Isaac intuited something I did not and it was one of the favorites from our last library visit. Lulu, or Ladybug Girl, is told she is too small to play with her older brother, so she sets out to find her own fun and proceeds to rescue ants, scramble over fallen trees and splash in lake-sized puddles. In the end, while watching her brother argue with his buddies over their baseball game from her perch in a tree, she decides she is not too small after all.

This book speaks to all children and their frustrations with being told they are too small or too young. It also appeals to a child’s sense of playfulness and adventure. Would most boys pull this off the shelf and want to read it? Probably not. Boys, more so than girls, tend to want to read about their own gender, especially as they get older. But they should be encouraged to read good books with strong female characters. While the character in this book is dressed up in a tutu with wings on her back, she is a role-model for every young boy and girl trying to find their sense of place in a “you’re-too-small” world.

If you can’t get your boy interested, tell him she is a child-superhero. That may get his attention long enough to get him interested in the story. If he doesn’t love it, at least he gave it a try.

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