Girls Want Adventure; We're Stuck With Friendship

Jeanne Sager

Amazon; $9.99
The Girls' Book of Friendship is tearing me in two. 

On the one hand, I feel like I'm supposed to hate the new book for the tween set. After all, the girls get friendship. The boys get The Boys' Book of Adventure.

My daughter thirsts for adventure with the best of them. So there. Harumph.

But for all my feminist righteous indignation, my husband -- always ready to fight an injustice that stands in the way of his female offspring -- piped up with a bit of frank wisdom last week.

"Boys," he told me, "aren't going to read a book about friendship. Really, honey, I wouldn't have."

He got me there. Because as a tween, I can tell you exactly what I was doing -- folding paper for origami "fortune tellers" with a half a heart strung round my neck, the other half round the neck of my friend T.

I was once the demographic who would snap up The Girls' Book of Friendship (Best at Everything) because it has tips on how to make one of those fortune tellers and recipes for friendship cookies.

And once my prickly feminist side lets down its guard, I can even admit there are some good old-fashioned values to be found in this book -- especially chapters on what makes a true friend that empower girls to ignore the mean ones in favor of the tried and true kids.

There's indeed merit to some gender-ized lessons. Girls treat each other differently than boys do, especially in the tweens years. Ignoring their basic scientific difference in favor of idealism is responsible.

So I admit I'll be hanging on to this book for my daughter when she hits that age, along with the adventure book for the boys -- in a "let's take a walk in someone else's shoes" approach.

If anything, I wish Scholastic would've published this, plus an adventure book for girls, plus the adventure book for boys. Perhaps then the mothers of boys would be decrying the heavy focus on titles for boys, I don't know.

Do you get your hackles up at gendered approaches to kids?

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