This week’s inter-library loan pick-up: The Heart of a Boy by Kate T. Parker, her follow up to Strong is the New Pretty. This is such a sweet, beautiful book and I encourage you to share it both with your boys and girls.
It’s like HONY but for a younger audience in mind. Parker, the photographer and author, organized the book around character traits: curious, expressive, and vulnerable are a few of the chapter titles. Many of these traits haven’t traditionally been associated with boyhood but that’s exactly the point: when a child, boy or girl, expresses love, acceptance, and empathy they are demonstrating strength, not weakness. And this book is jam-packed with strong boys. Some of them love sports. Some have suffered accidents and trauma. Some love the feeling of getting someone to laugh. We see big boys, small boys, black boys, white boys, children with disabilities and children without disabilities express what it’s like to live as they do:
“Sometimes I let my best friend win in a race to make him feel better, but only by an inch,” says Baylor, age 7.
“Music makes me calm,” says Nathan, age 12.
“Outside is where the adventures always happen,” says Brooks, age 9.
“It’s not easy to stand up for yourself and others, but doing it is its own reward,” says Eli, age 10.
My children, especially my son, enjoyed poring over these glimpses of boys’ lives. A couple of times, my kids pointed to a photo of one of the photos and said, “that’s a girl” which got us talking about why they might think that, and who gets to decide who is what gender. (We decided that everyone is expert on their own gender and we should listen to how they describe themselves.) I wonder if, with these two books, there are some readers who don’t identify with either girl or boy. Maybe The Heart of Them or Strong Like Them will be the third installment in this wonderful series?! Let’s hope!