I am not very good at playing. I so envy adults who get serious pleasure from throwing themselves into child's play. I am very much my father's daughter in this, which doesn't mean I don't know how t0 have fun. I'm just far better at the adult kind. So I've been pumped about parenting ever since Peanut finally got into listening to me read books to him. It's totally our special thing. We've never tried the "cry-it-out" method to get Peanut to sleep, so bedtime has always been a drawn-out affair. And I really don't mind. I work 45-50 hours a week, so this time together is precious.
I have tried seeking out feminist-friendly books for Peanut, but I can't say it's been all that easy. Googling has brought up far more books aimed at older kids. Plus, I don't have access to a well-stocked English language library, nor do I have the funds to order regularly from Amazon. At least I was lucky enough to start Peanut's collection at Another Story book shop on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto when we were there two years ago. The books I bought there are some of the few in our collection that get the Maple Leaf Mamma seal of approval:
- Daddy, Papa and Me by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson is probably my favourite. It's a super sweet and simple book that's great for kids as young as two. I'm dying to add Mommy, Mama and Me by the same authors to our library too.
- It's a George Thing by David Bedford, about a zebra who worries his friends won't understand his love of dancing.
- Man's Work by Annie Kubler, which is purely a picture book showing a man and his son doing various kinds of housework. I always refer to them as Daddy and Peanut's real name.
I later added The Family Book by Todd Parr, which shows how families can come in all shapes and sizes (including with two moms or two dads). I want to collect all of Parr's social-justice-friendly books.
We have the Canadian classic and feminist-friendly-children's-book-list-topper, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, though sadly it's in storage right now. This past Christmas my brother gave Peanut Moose by the same author, which I love for the non-stereotypical gender roles played by all the family members. The Caillou series by Chouette Publishing and based on the Quebecois TV show is great for similar reasons. I love how Caillou accompanies his mom to the office and his dad is the one who plays with him and his sister in the kitchen while making breakfast.
As for the rest of our library, mostly comprising hand-me-downs and gifts, I try to tweak them myself wherever possible as I read. For example by not defaulting to the male sex when referring to animals and monsters. I can't believe what an effort this takes. It's sad how instinctual it is to call them "he" and "him." I also neutralize words, for example by turning policeman into police officer, fireman into firefighter, and "pretty young nurse" into nurse.