Like most teachers, I'm a big fan of Scholastic. I have fond memories of poring over Book Clubs forms as a child, I may or may not have spent over $50 during their recent Dollar Days sale, and as a new teacher, they have helped immensely to build my classroom library. Scholastic does a better job than any publication company I know of getting books into children's hands for a low cost, whether it be through my classroom library, book orders sent home, or a book fair.
So I was understandably disappointed to hear about these two books they published recently:
Boys Only: How to Survive Anything!
Table of Contents:
- How to Survive a Shark Attack
- How to Survive in a Forest
- How to Survive Frostbite
- How to Survive a Plane Crash
- How to Survive in the Desert
- How to Survive a Polar Bear Attack
- How to Survive a Flash Flood
- How to Survive a Broken Leg
- How to Survive an Earthquake
- How to Survive a Forest Fire
- How to Survive in a Whiteout
- How to Survive a Zombie Invasion
- How to Survive a Snakebite
- How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails
- How to Survive a Croc Attack
- How to Survive a Lightning Strike
- How to Survive a T-Rex
- How to Survive Whitewater Rapids
- How to Survive a Sinking Ship
- How to Survive a Vampire Attack
- How to Survive an Avalanche
- How to Survive a Tornado
- How to Survive Quicksand
- How to Survive a Fall
- How to Survive a Swarm of Bees
- How to Survive in Space
The other book:
Girls Only: How to Survive Anything!
Table of Contents:
- How to Survive a BFF Fight
- How to Survive Soccer Tryouts
- How to Survive a Breakout
- How to Show You're Sorry
- How to Have the Best Sleepover Ever
- How to Take the Perfect School Photo
- How to Survive Brothers
- Scary Survival Dos and Don'ts
- How to Handle Becoming Rich
- How to Keep Stuff Secret
- How to Survive Tests
- How to Survive Shyness
- How to Handle Sudden Stardom
- More Stardom Survival Tips
- How to Survive a Camping Trip
- How to Survive a Fashion Disaster
- How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
- How to Turn a No Into a Yes
- Top Tips for Speechmaking
- How to Survive Embarrassment
- How to Be a Mind Reader
- How to Survive a Crush
- Seaside Survival
- How to Soothe Sunburn
- How to Pick Perfect Sunglasses
- Surviving a Zombie Attack
- How to Spot a Frenemy
- Brilliant Boredom Busters
- How to Survive Truth or Dare
- How to Beat Bullies
- How to be an Amazing Babysitter
I made a point of teaching my students this year that there are no such things as "girl" things and "boy" things. Case in point? Their teacher, a female, LOVES football- and they knew it. I explained to them in no uncertain terms that football is not a "boy" thing to like- it's a "me" thing, because I like it, and that's all that should matter.
We talked about this at length- boy colors or girl colors? No! You can like whatever you want, and it's a "you" color. Boy books or girl books? No way! They knew one of the girls in the class and I both love reading about frogs and snakes! Boy movies or girl movies? Um, your teacher can talk Star Wars right along with you, so there goes that theory.
I told them how I liked a range of things from singing, to football, to ballet, to fishing, to acting... and to me, if they are things I enjoy doing, that's all that matters.
I also made clear that I would tolerate no mention of "boy things" or "girl things" in my classroom, because we are all individuals and it only matters if it's a "you" thing.
It took a couple of days.
And then one of my "leader" boys picked up a Rainbow Magic Fairies book. And a couple of the other boys laughed, but he shrugged and kept reading.
One of the boys who laughed was curious, and later that day, I caught him flipping through a book in the series.
Somehow, over a few days, it became "cool" for the boys to read what they had previously thought of as "girl" books.
And even better, sometime down the road, no one seemed to notice either way. It wasn't cool or uncool. It was just normal- people reading books they wanted to read.
Now I know this may not happen every year, because I don't know that it would've happened without that extraordinary boy in my room who had the courage to sit down with a hot pink sparkly book in full view of the class. But I do know that it was amazing when I read my teacher report cards at the end of the year, and one of the boys wrote:
"I learned it's okay to like pink."
I want children- not just those in my class, but all children- to learn that it's okay to be themselves, and that they shouldn't hold themselves or anyone else to stereotypes.
And that's why I'm disappointed that Scholastic is choosing to pull these products, but never offered an apology for them being published in the first place!
"Many readers have expressed concerns about our How to Survive Anything titles, and we want to thank you for your passionate responses. The two titles have had very limited distribution to date, and no further copies will be made available.As I said, no other publishing company does a better job of getting books into children's hands for a low cost than Scholastic, and that's probably why it bothers me so much that they have published books so clearly promoting gender stereotypes- and don't even apologize for their error.
Please check out the many other titles kids can discover this summer on our summer reading booklists, available on our Summer Challenge page and our Pinterest boards.
Again, we thank you for your feedback."
We all make mistakes, but it's important to fess up and fix it when we do.