Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Dangerous Title For a Book For KIDS

There is apparently a fair amount of anxiety in the air in regard to raising boys. See, The Myth About Boys in TIME.

"...By the time our boy was headed to third grade, magazine editors were grinding out cover headlines like BOY TROUBLE and THE BOY CRISIS, and I was getting worried. The voyage to manhood had come to seem as perilous and flummoxing as the future of Iraq.

It's enough to make people long for the good old days. Sure enough, one of the hot books of the summer is a zestfully nostalgic celebration of boyhood past. The Dangerous Book for Boys, by brothers Hal and Conn Iggulden, flits from fossils to tree houses, from secret codes to go-carts, from the Battle of Gettysburg to the last voyage of Robert Falcon Scott. A sensation last year in Britain, the book has been at or near the top of the New York Times best-seller list since late spring.

The Dangerous Book, bound in an Edwardian red cover with marbled endpapers, has many of the timeless qualities of an ideal young man: curiosity, bravery and respectfulness; just enough rogue to leaven the stoic; an appetite for any challenge, from hunting small game to mastering the rules of grammar. It celebrates trial and error, vindicates the noble failure."

Hmmm... so, the abovementioned qualities of an ideal young man are not applicable to girls?

I've seen the book (The Dangerous Book for Boys) discussed in the article. After flicking through it, I quickly came to the conclusion that it has an asinine title. Yes, there's great, fun stuff in there, but it's not just for boys; I too would have pored over the book as a young girl, had I been given a book with that kind of content when I was a kid. What's with the idea that girls wouldn't be into all that cool content?

Perhaps the author figured he would sell more books with the sensationalist title. Well, I hope the discussion generated as a result will point people to alternatives such as Kids America (discussed below).

Maybe I haven't had children so I haven't closely observed first-hand the idea of inherent differences between boys and girls that is often bandied about. But, I'm not so sure about the 'inherent' part of that idea after observing the children I have come across in life by way of nieces, nephews and friends' kids. They are all balls of energy and curiosity while they're little and usually get streamlined into different types of play/toys/behaviour by adults around them, and later, by the other kids in playgroups/school around them, who in turn have been influenced by adults with fixed notions of what constitutes girl/boy preferences/behaviour.

Do boys and girls engage in different types of play, and display certain behaviour due to an inherent preference for certain types of play and an inherent propensity towards certain behaviour, or are differences due to influence by unenlightened adults? If we are raising boys and girls differently, how does that impact upon what they become in adulthood and in turn, how society operates? There must be plenty of research out there that I just haven't come across. Guess I'll have to investigate good books on this topic. So many books, so little time.

I just hope we're not regressing to a "boys will be boys" style of guiding boys displaying unacceptable behaviour, which breeds idiot men *grrrrrrr*

I've just had a quick look-see at commentary in regard to the book and came across this gem. Check out the comments in this blog, which in turn points to a non-sexist book in the same vein, Kids' America. I especially love this review for the book,

"I was a little girl growing up in Japan, and took this book out of our school library every week for about three years. I pored over the stories, crafts and fun and loved every minute of it. I hope you love it as much as I did. I was eventually given a copy by a librarian friend of mine, and although it's in rough shape I treasure it!"

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