Recently S had an experience which made me realise how we as adults unwittingly condition our kids into gender roles. It all began with S innocently saying, “but mumma that requires strength and girls are not strong”. For a mom who has never ever said girls are not strong to him, I was shocked. I asked him why he said that and he had a story to tell, of friends who were fighting and eventually the boys being told not to trouble the girls because the girls are weak and don’t have strength. Now while I am sure that while these were not the exact words spoken while explaining to the kids to play fairly, the essence that S took away from it was that girls are weaker than boys.
Of course I told him that strength & weakness, success & failure, ability & inability is all decided by aptitude, attitude and competence and not by the fact that you are a girl or a boy. Everyday I used to remind him of this in little ways. But still it wasn’t enough. Yes I told him about famous stories of famous women, but all the examples I gave him were mere exceptions rather than the norm. That is when I came across the book, The Girl Who Went to the Stars: and Other Extraordinary Lives by Ishita Jain and Naomi Kundu and I knew that I found the perfect way to explain to S what I was trying to say.
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published January 16th 2019 by Puffin
ISBN0143442627 (ISBN13: 9780143442622)
We were both excited to read the book and the stories of extraordinary women who achieved greatness, some with their aptitude, some with their bravery and some with their sheer talent. All different but all with the same powerful attitude to achieve what they set out to do. S was amazed reading every story, and about every achiever. And I was happy and excited that he was reading them, he was amazed at the strength and the bravery of Kiran Bedi, or the talent of Lata Mangeshkar, the passion of Kalpana Chawla or the fortitude of Amrit Kaur and Capt Lakshmi Sahgal,
the power of the words of Amrita Pritam, the perseverance and hardwork of Mary Kom and so many other extraordinary women.
This is such an important book because it gives so many women role models, in every field to our kids, but also teaches them an important lesson that patience and perseverance, hard work and talent are all important to achieve success whatever your definition of success maybe. The stories of their lives, told in a single page are an inspiration for boys and girls alike. We need more such stories not just of women achievers to inspire and to teach kids what matters most.
Note: The book has been given to me for review. No payment was taken, and my opinions are honest and unbiased.