The Mysterious Case Of The Kid On The Bus Who Told My Daughter ‘Girly Girls Don’t Read’
My daughter is super excited this week. She has been invited to a birthday party. Like any other 8-year-old, she has been spending a large amount of time discussing this birthday party, what they will do, what she will wear, what other friends have been invited, and most importantly, what she would like to bring as a gift for the birthday girl. Getting invited to a party for a kid this age is a big deal, or at least it is to my kid. She has been wandering around the house like she is the best actress nominee and is considering her Oscar dress and planning her acceptance speech in her head. It doesn’t matter how many parties she is invited to, she gets very excited.
She has been carrying the invitation around with her ever since she received it.
When my children attend parties, when I don’t have a specific wish list from the birthday child, I like to make a present of books. I include a nice set of books geared to their age range, usually with some small treats to accompany, candy or a backpack fob or those little smelly hand sanitizers that fit into brightly colored animal holders that are all the rage with the grade school set these days. Most kids receive a lot of toys, and books are easy to return. My daughter and I had discussed getting the birthday girl a set of one of my (and her!) all time favorites, a Nancy Drew collection.
Until my daughter arrived home yesterday, shoulders all slumped, sighing heavily and dumping her backpack on the floor. She had been discussing her gifting plans with another little girl on the bus (A girl I am told is quite good friends with the birthday recipient) and when my child told her what she had planned on getting for a gift, the other little girl informed her:
I do not think that’s cool. ______ doesn’t like books. She isn’t into reading. She is more of a girly-girl.
Now, I know kids say dumb or goofy things all the time, and granted this was not what the birthday girl expressed, but even the idea of any child spouting off nonsense like this is enough to make me all frowny face. Plus, my own daughter adores reading! I hate the idea of any of her peers ever suggesting it is “not cool” or not something “girls” enjoy.
I think my own kid understands why this is a fallacy. My husband and I had a long talk with her all about reading and how all sorts of people and all sexes of people love reading and how many “girly girls” enjoy reading. But part of me felt like being my own Nancy Drew and investigating this other child’s phone number and calling her mom and telling her what her child had said. It makes me so sad! Not only that my own kid was subjected to a quip like this, but that another child may possibly believe this.
Growing up, I had so many friends, friends I still love to this day. Nancy Drew and Ramona Quimby, Peter Hatcher, The Pevensies, Mary Lennox, Pippi Longstocking, Sheila Tubman. I can’t imagine any child not spending long hours immersed in the amazing worlds of these characters. All because they think that girly girls don’t read.
My daughter no longer wants to get her friend books. She is worried that the gift won’t be appreciated, so will attend this party with a gift card to a department store. I’ll continue encouraging my own girl to read, and hopefully she will continue enjoying it no matter what some other kid tells her. But for the love of Judy Blume, I really hope that one kid knows how fictional the nonsense she told my kid is.