Tag Archives: Children’s Literature

Intriguing article on gender and reading

20 Aug

I came across this article via one of my PhD supervisors. It’s about gender and reading: the challenges children face when choosing which books they want to read, socialisation, and books as bibliotherapy for transgender children. Also includes a huge list of gender-diverse books for children.

Review: ‘You, me and the breast’ by Monica Calaf and Mikel Fuentes; London: Pinter and Martin, RRP £6.99

1 May

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It’s time for another book review!

You, me and the breast by Monica Calaf (text) and Mikel Fuentes (illustration) is a beautifully illustrated book. The pages are bold and colourful, and very engaging. One aspect I thought was great was that the illustrations of the characters (Mum, Dad, non-gendered baby) are so over the top (in a good way!) that it is difficult to tell their exact ethnicity, which means children and parents of most, if not all, origins are hopefully able to recognise themselves in the different scenarios.

The story covers most aspects of breastfeeding, from birth, via co-sleeping, babywearing, coffee mornings, feeding in public, to teething and finally weaning. It’s great for a gentle playful overview of how convenient breastfeeding is – you can do it while swimming, gardening, cooking, even exercising! – and how it contributes to a close bond. One thing I wasn’t sure about was the sudden change in register on the third page: the sentence “My nipple darkened so you could see it better and gave off a rich smell, so that you could find it with your tiny nose”, while obviously admirably accurate for a children’s book, also seems slightly too technical for a child, and also, to be honest, perhaps a bit too cringe-inducing for me to read to my daughter in public places. Other people might have more courage when it comes to reading about bodily matters out loud.

The book provides lots of talking points: while my daughter seemed non-plussed by the idea of babies coming out of their mummies’ tummies, she was more inquisitive about why the Mummy in the book has flowers in her hair (umm, quick, think of an answer that doesn’t make her think she has to make herself look pretty all the time! Perhaps that they smell nice and that makes her happy?!), and greatly concerned by why the Daddy has hurt his arms (he hasn’t really, it’s just that his arms have a sort of texture to them).

Another lovely aspect of the book is that it presents attachment parenting as a completely normal way of life: parents and baby snuggle up together at night, baby is carried in a sling, and it’s also nice to see an image of Dad feeding Mum while she is feeding the baby, to show that he is also caring for someone.

I think it’s great to have a book especially dedicated to breastfeeding. Books are usually very useful when it comes to specific life events (books about moving house, getting a new sibling, going on holiday etc etc) in order to explain things to children in a way they will understand and provide them with an opportunity to think about events and ask questions. Breastfeeding is something my daughter has been doing every day (and night!) for three years so far, so it’s about time we had a book about it!

Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free by the publisher as part of their reviewers’ book club.