Declaration of the Rights of Boys and Girls (Élisabeth Brami & Estelle Billon-Spagnol)

Hello friends, and Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate this holiday dedicated in part to embracing gender equality, our book today is Declaration of the Rights of Boys and Girls by Élisabeth Brami and Estelle Billon-Spagnol, a 2-in-1 title that explains the basics of gender neutrality and fairness.

Boy and girls are equal; in importance, in value, and in potential. So it’s important to know that from the start, boys and girls have an equal right to do the things they want to do. In The Rights of Girls, readers are reminded that girls are allowed to get dirty, have short hair, wear whatever fashions suit them, and play any sport that excites them. Flip the book over, and The Rights of Boys remind readers that it’s perfectly okay for boys to cry, dance, have tender or nurturing feelings, and learn how to cook and clean. And for either gender, readers are assured that whomever they grow up to love – no matter that partner’s gender – they have that right as well.

Flawed but well-intentioned. With the original French version of this book being printed nearly ten years ago, there are some elements that have not aged well: an emphasis on the gender binary, a lack of diversity in skintone/ability/body shape, and several Asian-coded characters with yellowish skin. However, what the book does get right is a simple and plain-spoken assurance of children’s right to buck gender norms, including several that other books on the subject often leave out, such as the fact that it is normal for some girls (and women) to not have maternal feelings towards babies, or that it’s okay for boys not to feel aggression or competitiveness. For JJ, a scene in which a young girl has a mohawk buzz-cut into her hair was a joy to behold, and she rarely sees other girls – in real life or in media – with very short hair like her. The length is great, and both books can be covered in a single sitting. So while there are definitely some imperfections here, the core concept is solid, and would make for a great jumping-off point on gender equality for young readers. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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