This morning, S and I took a break from school to just read together. We cuddled up in what the kids call the “hot corner” in our living room. (It’s a space between our sofa and love seat where the heating vent is. The kids have it set up with a blanket and a large floor pillow.) We read one of the American Girl books, the first one I’ve read to her. She picked the one about the girl living during the Great Depression.
I have to admit, I think I enjoyed the story as much as she did. We talked about how Kit, the main character, is a bit of a tomboy. She doesn’t like anything pink or frilly, and she loves sports. S told me about the things she has in common with Kit and the ways she is different. We also had the chance to talk about the history, what it was like for many families in the 1930s.
It was such an engaging story that I wanted to find out if there was anything similar for boys. J has read the My America books, but there are only two boy characters, and the stories cover a limited time period. The American Girl books span most of United States history. Sadly, there isn’t anything else like the AG books for boys.
As I pondered what I should do, I realized that I was doing exactly what I’ve said I wouldn’t do. I was creating a literary box for my kids, and placing them in it. I had decided that J needed “boy” books, as he couldn’t possibly read books about girls. Right then, I made a decision.
I said, screw this.
Just why, again, can’t a boy read the AG series? They aren’t especially girly, they just feature female lead characters. But even if they were, why can’t boys enjoy them?
We don’t bat an eye at girls who want to read about Tom Sawyer or Jim Hawkins or Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins. I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and all the Bunnicula books with both my kids, and didn’t concern myself with whether my daughter could relate to the male characters. I even read the Ramona books with J, and we’ve enjoyed other books with strong female characters. The other day, J was looking with interest at The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I told him we could read the series, but if he wanted to, he could read that one. They don’t have to be read in order.
How are the AG books any different? Why shouldn’t J read them?
I can’t think of even one reason not to let him.