Friday, March 18, 2011

NEWS: Children Colouring Outside the Lines of Gender

There's nothing like opening the pages of a brand new colouring book to make you feel like a kid again. Each page is a blank canvas, completely open to whatever your imagination can dream up. There are no rules, no instructions, and no score to achieve. It's an exercise in pure creativity, limited only by your imagination . . . and by the crayons left in your box. ☺

Having said all that, most colouring books are designed (either intentionally or subconsciously) to teach boys and girls about their 'expected' gender roles and behaviour. Girls wear dresses to play with dolls, while boys wear overalls to play in the dirt; girls get to be ballerinas and princesses, while boys gets to be construction workers and dragon-slaying knights. If you were anything like me, those overalls were often pink, you knew the dirt was really chocolate, the boys were only driving the tractor to help rebuild the dragon's castle . . . and you probably had a teacher to gently correct your 'mistakes.'

Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book (Reach and Teach)Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book (Reach and Teach)Times have certainly changed, and companies like Reach & Teach (the peace and social justice learning company) are leading the way. I first read about their delightful colouring books over at Lee Wind's YA blog, and was fortunate enough to have Craig Wiesner reach out and offer me my very own copies to colour however my heart desires. Ever since then, I've been braving the sight of bills and junk mail every morning, anxious for my slender little manila envelope to arrive in the mail . . . and it's finally here!

Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon comes to us courtesy of Jacinta Bunnell (words) and Nathaniel Kusinitz (pictures) and gives children the power to reinvent the traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Designed to break down rigid gender expectations, it presents kids with fairy tale monsters who who like pretty jewelry, princesses who build rocket ships, and boys who turn their BB guns into brooms. It's cute and very funny.


Girls are not Chicks comes to us courtesy of Jacinta Bunnell (words) and Julie Novak (pictures) that encourages girls to be thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes. This one is designed for anybody who was raised as or identifies as a girl, and asks that they take pride in themselves. It's very sweet and delightfully empowering.


 If I could be a kid again - as if I ever really grew up! - these are the colouring books I would reach for every time. Part of me wants to save them for somebody special, but the other part of me is itching for a box of crayons. I may just have to buy some extras so we can colour together.


  1. Isn't it fascinating how gender views and roles are changing. We've a long way to go, but starting with kids' attitudes is a start. Look how long it has taken with race, and with women's rights. I think the marriage rights acts are going to make big inroads.
    Attitudes about gender are intensely programmed into us. Some are hard wired. But even those can be changed.
    I think transgender issues are harder for people to understand.

    Keep up your good work, it will make a difference.

  2. Oh my god, I absolutely love that Rapunzel one. I'm definitely getting a couple copies of Girls Are Not Chicks. Thanks for the links. :)