My unwavering goal as a teacher is to make sure my students leave my classroom knowing that it’s possible to love a book. Every day we read aloud.
Most recently, we have been reading picture books with the lens of windows and mirrors. My students never cease to surprise me and teach me.
We read Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle. This beautiful picture book poem tells the tale of a Cuban-Chinese girl living in 1930s-Cuba. She wants to play the drums but is not allowed because she is a girl. I expected this to be a mirror for girls who saw this as unfair. Yet it was boys who saw this as a mirror. “My parents say only girls can make slime, not boys, so I can’t,” A– said. The girls saw this story as a window. “That was how it was, but now girls can do anything,” said K–.
While it’s progress, girls have accepted their right to do, I know these same girls know women aren’t being paid equally. Many of the girls who sat on the carpet saying Drum Dream Girl is not a mirror have written about the inequities of women’s soccer player pay. So while it might look like gender inequity solved, it isn’t. It’s a subtle change. This generation of girls is growing up, knowing they have the right to do. That’s the past. They are a part of the next step, equal acknowledgment for what they do.
The strict gender expectations of how boys must operate in the world saddened me. Boys doing something girls do is not ok. An unchanged scenario. This seems a much smaller step than girls crossing cultural and work domains. But apparently, even a hint of a boy doing something a girl might choose to do is not allowed. Insulting and limiting.
Tomorrow we will read Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman. I can’t wait to see what type of reflections and viewpoints this will bring.