#MicroblogMondays: G is for global

I tried to pedal extra hard but didn’t make it before the light turned red. Somewhat annoyed I turned my head towards the window of the bookstore at the corner. They had a new series in the window, kids books about a monkey called “Peter Pedal”. It looked cute and intrigued me, especially as SB loves books – and we call her little monkey. On the way back I stopped there, and found out that Peter Pedal is none other than Curious George. (Who is not well-known in Germany, so I didn’t recognize the pictures – but at least the name sounds familiar to me now.)
The stories still seemed to be above my language level, so I picked a “word book” for SB. Upon browsing it again at home, I found the page about professions – segregated into traditional gender roles (perhaps not surprising, given that the books have been around for a while), but at least this will be the first of SB’s books in which not everyone is white. Okay, maybe not strictly speaking – she has a book about airports and planes in which there are two non-white passengers. Isn’t that sad? Many of these books were written far more recently than Curious George, and yet they show the “typical” family of mom, dad and 2-3 kids, all white. None of this matches statistics. SB’s daycare group is certainly much more diverse. I’d love for her books to just casually incorporate more diversity, too – with a black female astronaut and a two-daddy family. Does anyone have advice for how to find such books? I’m [currently] not looking for the explicit it’s-okay-to-be-different ones, but rather those where diversity is normal. I’ll ask a bookstore assistant next time I’m in Germany, maybe they have recommendations, but if you have any tips please share!
Of course it’s not just books, it’s often the same with toys. But there is progress – SB recently got a new pack of duplo lego with a lion and a giraffe – and a dark-skinned woman. (No idea what her “job description” is – fortunately kids toys for this age are rather fuzzy about that!) We named her Janine, after my Rwandan friend (who currently happens to be, after a long and difficult journey, expecting a baby via surrogacy).
And lastly, it’s not all about what the toy makers and storytellers want to show. One of the few TV series we were allowed to watch as kids featured a little viking, offspring of the village chief and often abroad the ship with his father and crew. And until adulthood I was convinced that it was a girl. Clearly nobody convinced me hard enough that vikings are boys ;)
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8 thoughts on “#MicroblogMondays: G is for global

  1. Things will change and there will come a time when two dads and two mums will make families. Where skin color mismatch wouldn’t matter and then such books will become the norm.

  2. I don’t know what language you speak with SB but if you’re interested in English books, they have an amazing collection here: http://www.amightygirl.com/
    And i would assume some of their titles are translated to other languages.

    I like your conclusion and you’re right that children might not see quite the same things we do when they look at toys and books. But I think it’s important to seek more diverse toys also because it makes it clear to the companies that produce and sell them that it’s not ok to offer only all-white hetero-2-kids-and-a-dog families.

  3. There’s an English book called Strictly No Elephants that has diverse children (and pets); it’s a cute book to boot. I haven’t read it, but have been seeing a book called Last Stop on Market Street and it just won the Newberry Award. Those are the two books that jump out at me with a diverse cast of people characters. We’re not at the age where we have people toys, but we don’t plan to limit access to dolls, play kitchens, sparkles, just because we have a boy!

    1. German would be awesome, of course, but if you have some in English I’d still consider them. At this point SB isn’t reading anyway, so we can just tell a story around the pictures, it doesn’t matter if the text is different. And sooner or later she’ll be learning English anyway. Thanks :)

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