Yesterday I asked my 3 – 1/2-year-old daughter if she wanted to be an engineer and her response was, “I’m not a boy.” I almost fell out of my chair. If MY daughter thinks this, is there just NO hope? Can we not fix this?
I replied, “Don’t say that. What is Mommy? (wait, don’t answer that..) Mommy is an Engineer. Girls can be engineers, sports announcers, air traffic controllers, scientists, anything.”
So then I tried it again 5 minutes later (because I obviously can’t let this go…I’m a perfect match for a toddler conversation)
“Do you want to be an engineer?”
“Um, I want to be a Princess Engineer.”
“A Princess Engineer? Hmm. I’m okay with that. That position has not yet been filled.”
I don’t intend to force engineering on her. I want her to be HER, whatever that may be. But still, she needs to be exposed to these options early on and to know that these occupations are realistic and possible. I want her to respect the profession and I want to erase the phantom gender boundaries and limits that are built when we aren’t paying attention. Furthermore, I want my son to hear these conversations and register my messages as well.
Just say “Kid lit”
These are the books I have loved reading to my kids (3-1/2 year old boy-girl twins), and I hope you enjoy sharing this rich kid literature with the little ones in your life (just say “kid lit”…you sound cooler).
1. Tool School by Joan Holub
2. Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood
My daughter LOVES this book. The covers are lined with a display of Cinderella’s tools and my daughter loves identifying them. She wants to read it every night and the ending has a bit of a surprising twist!
3. Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe by Katey Howes
This book is so adorable and the character sketch is very credible. A little girl who loves science and inventions, and problem-solving encounters a dilemma that has nothing to do with technology or inventing, but she uses her skills to overcome it. Also peppered through this book are themes of family, humor, feelings, etc.
4. Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This is soooo the book I needed to read in my childhood. If you could write letters to your younger self and compile it into a book, this would be the result. This book will encourage girls to be confident, to accept themselves, and to remain curious and adaptable.
5. Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie
This book is NOT about boycotting dresses. This book is about choosing the appropriate attire for the right task or occasion, but you can still exercise some style. I love that this thoughtfully addresses PURPOSE in what we wear and what we do. It encourages a child to think about WHY we choose to wear certain articles as opposed to ‘blind loyalty’ of their favorites.
6. Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Although this has ‘boy’ appeal, I would try to sneak this one into your library. I love how my daughter gets immersed in the story. The illustrations are beautiful (I think they used colored pencils and shading?) and the descriptions and rhymes of each construction vehicle have a fun cadence to them. The author doesn’t compromise on content; you’ll find a wealth of construction vocabulary.
7. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Every engineer and designer can relate to this book. It’s sweet and will remind you of all of your failed projects and designs and the frustrations you felt as you were designing and re-designing. The messaging of this book is to try and try and not give up. It’s is so important!
8. When I Build With Blocks by Niki Alling
9. Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
Violet marches to her own beat and has big lofty dreams. The ending will be a treat for all.
10. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Heidi E. Y. Stemple
This book does what I want every book to do: take down the barriers but also embrace the girly-girl too. You don’t have to choose one or the other.