**Caution: Strong language!**
I immediately started thinking of all the books I've collected over the years that reinforce this message. Not all, as a matter of fact, most, are not girl specific they're simply books with the message of 'loving and being who you are'.
First up are two more amazing books from my all time favorite publisher Illumination Arts. (You've met them before here when I blogged about the book Cassandra's Angel and that book would fit beautifully in this blog, too!)
First up is one of Janan's all time favorites. We read this book so often I had it memorized! It's called Little Squarehead. Written by Peggy O'Neill, a 3'8" "little person", this book reinforces the message that no matter how different you are on the outside, it's who you are on the inside that makes you more beautiful than you can imagine.
As Rosa, the main character, walks through town each day with her head hung low, she's taunted by the town's people with, "There goes Rosa Redhead. She's a Little Squarehead."
The story teaches the importance of courage, confidence and compassion. Showing that if you love who you are, others will love you.
The second published by Illumination Arts is called All I See Is Part of Me by Chara M. Curtis. When a little boy asks the sun, "Who are you?" The sun beams back, "We are one." From there, the sun goes on to tell the little boy that he's also part of Sister Star who, in turn, shows him how he is interconnected with everything in the Universe and more than just the body in which he currently resides.
Really, how can a child who discovers they are part of all believe they are less?
This book is written all in rhyme, so even the youngest children will love it. It even affirms they are, "...found in candy bars!"
The next two books I found before Janan even came home from Guatemala.
The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem by Diane Loomans I found at a used book store and immediately fell in love with. The beautiful watercolor-like pictures of animals jump right off the page. On each page a different animal affirms they are "lovable", "courageous", "capable', and so much more!
Each affirmation is written in short rhymes children can quickly memorize and recite along with you.
The Twelve Gifts of Birth by Charlene Costanzo tells the story of how all princes and princesses (children) are granted twelve gifts upon their birth by their fairy godmothers. Gifts such as Strength, Beauty, Courage, and Compassion are simply reinforced with a statement like: "May you speak and act with confidence and use courage to follow your own path." Each statement also has a full-color photograph to go along.
Another used bookstore find was All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka. This simple picture book shows how children come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
"For love comes in cinnamon, walnut, and wheat,
Love is amber and ivory and ginger and sweet
Like caramel, and chocolate, and the honey of bees.
Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea."
I love the imagery the words create in this book.
Now here is not only an old favorite, but one we STILL pull off the shelf sometimes. The Lion Who Wanted to Love by Giles Andreae is about a vegetarian lion who is kicked out of his pride for refusing to eat meat.
As vegetarians, this book was often called upon to help reaffirm our lifestyle choice. Of course, in the end, he is welcomed back into the pride (still as a vegetarian!) because he goes out into the world and does many brave and loving things.
The book, The Witch Who Wanted to Be a Princess by Lois G. Grambling tells the story of a witch who, duh, wants to be a princess. However every time she tries the spell, "...her wand went limp, or sputtered. Once it even started to hiccup." She then discovers (after consulting her computer), "Due to sharply declining numbers, witches have been declared an endangered species by the grand wizard. No witch (not even you, Bella) is allowed to change herself into anything. Especially a princess. That's final! Have a nice day. :)"
After reading a personal ad about a handsome prince seeking a beautiful damsel, Bella decides she's beautiful (warts and all) and, upon meeting the "handsome" prince (he looks a lot like Frankenstein) they fall in love and get married. Of course, since he IS a prince she finally becomes the princess she always wanted to be.
Now, for me, this book is a bit of a double-edged sword. I'm not a fan of the love-at-first-sight-marry-a-prince-and-all-your-dreams-come-true story. In many ways it degrades the value of young girls and reaffirms the societal message that she's not "complete" without a husband.
So, you have to make that call for yourself and your child. I always found these types of "personal dilemmas" created a great dialogue between my daughter and I. Being open about the fact that I didn't like the underlying message of this book brought it into the light of day, so to speak, and gave her something to think about without just accepting.
Finally, the book Extraordinary Girls by Maya Ajmera, Olateju Omolodun, and Sarah Strunk is a beautiful book about girls from all over the world who have done something extraordinary. For example, there's a piece about Beth Peres, of the United States, who discovered boys allowances averaged higher than girls - DESPITE the girls reporting they did "four times as many chores" - so she wrote about it and was published "in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers."
This book also reaffirms different traditions, religions and alternative perceptions regarding physical beauty. This is a MUST have for all girls!
WHEW! That's a lot of books for one posting, but I just couldn't leave any of these out (and believe me, I have more that I DID leave out!).