What I’ve Been Reading

Photo: A fake banana tree made out of pineapples on a green tray

Yes, it’s a banana tree made out of pineapples. It made adorable sense for a monkey-themed birthday party. Although we have a zillion extra bananas now.

We have entered the wonderful world of one-year-olds again! Little Bird has been exceedingly adorable lately and even slept through the night recently. He hasn’t repeated that feat again since, but I’m looking forward to it being a trend. While he still isn’t fond of the “s” word, he’s much less resistant to sleeping at this age than his brother was.

And now for our badass parenting links for the week, from parenting strong-willed kids to woke Teen Vogue to solving the play deficit.

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Seven Ways I’m Teaching My Young Sons to be Feminists

Photo: Toy kitchen from Little Tikes with a stove, cutting board, microwave and knife block. Text: "7 Ways I'm Teaching My Young Sons to be Feminists / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

When I was pregnant, I imagined what life might be like if I had a little girl. I envisioned teaching her to stand up for herself, buying her dresses with science symbols, letting her get dirty, and being an example of a strong woman for her. I wasn’t going to stereotype her or allow anyone else to, thank you very much. In short, I considered how to teach her to be a feminist.

But I turned out to have two sons.

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On Little Bird’s First Birthday

Photo: Baby lying next to a swaddled teddy bear; Text: "On Little Bird's First Birthday / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

“Ah ah, come back here!” I yelp as my baby once again arches his back, flips over and stands up on his changing table. Somewhere between wrestling and tickling him, I finally manage to get a fresh diaper on. But that’s Little Bird at one year old – high energy and big emotions.

When he was first born, he was a touch over five pounds. He was just bigger than his teddy bear, swaddled in thin blankets. Still convinced that he belonged in the womb, he dozed in the pack-and-play even when his brother was sing-yelling next to him. At first, it seemed like he was going to be adorably sleepy and quiet.

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Nine Awesome Picture Books with Girls as Main Characters

Photo: Covers of the books Lola Loves Stories (girl and her dad reading a book), Ada Twist, Scientist (a girl with lab goggles and boy below her), One Hot Summer Day (a girl looking up at a city apartment) and The Paper Bag Princess (a girl in a paper bag facing a dragon). Text: "Nine Awesome Picture Books with Girls as Main Characters / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

The girls are missing.

Children’s literature is remarkably devoid of female main characters. As a recent video illustrates so drastically, in a study of more than 500 children’s books, 25% had zero female characters. Even though there are loads of animals that could easily be female, they’re almost always identified as male.

Even when there are female characters, they’re often relegated to a stereotypical role, like the stick-in-the-mud, the mom, or “the vain one.” In children’s media, just under 20% of female characters had jobs or specific aspirations.

Just like in the broader popular culture, boys in picture books get to go on adventures, solve problems, and save the day. These stories teach our children that either girls don’t get to do fun things or have to stay in society’s prescribed roles.

In contrast, both little girls and boys need female characters in books! While little girls need to see themselves represented, boys need need to know that the story isn’t always about them – and that it’s a good thing.

Bringing down the patriarchy can start at your child’s bookshelf. Here are some of my family’s favorite books featuring girls as main characters. In addition, a number of these books feature girls of color, which are even harder to find.

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Pajamas of Days Gone By

Photo: Baby sleeping in footie pajamas covered in green dinosaurs. Text: "Pajamas of Days Gone By / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

A pair of pajamas can make me choke up these days. Not just any pajamas, of course. Just the panda onesie. Or the fleece pajamas with the rocket ships. Or the ones that say “Out of this world!” Looking at them, I breathe deep and stare off into the distance, as if my younger son’s infancy was years ago instead of weeks.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Photo: Man in blue polo shirt and baseball cap in front of a river holding up a sharp rock

My dad, passing on the fine tradition to my children of pretending random rocks are priceless arrowheads.

We’re on the edge of a big transition in our house – Little Bird’s first birthday is next week! We’re getting ready for it now, but in the meantime, here are some great articles. Our links this week cover the struggles of getting kids to bed at a “reasonable” time, the challenges of second kids, avoiding burnout in young idealists, and when to bring your baby to the emergency room.

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When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act

Photo:  Man with a guitar in front of a mural and a kid behind him dancing. Text: "When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

In these troubled times, it’s easy to ask, “What can I possibly do as a mom / dad?” This past weekend, my family attended one rocking answer to that question.

Welcoming immigrants and refugees to America is one of my core political values. More than one of my family stories revolves around immigration and I’m a better person for knowing the many immigrants in my life. I strongly believe in providing opportunities for people who just want to build a better life for their children.

So when I saw that the Takoma Parents Action Coalition  was putting on a “Toddler Dance Party” to benefit the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, I knew this event was our jam.

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