Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Truth or Dare?

I Heart The Daring Book For Girls

I was sitting in a suburban chain coffee shop - the one near the train station near my family's home - waiting for my mom to pick me up (nothing makes me feel more grown up when visiting the fam, let me tell you). I was engrossed in my first read through The Daring Book for Girls. Two moms getting their caffeine fix noticed my reading material and struck up a conversation. It went something like -

Oh! I just got that book for my daughter! Don't you love it?
Yeah! I can't put it down!
Really? I noticed it at the bookstore because of the sparkly cover and I wondered if my tween would like it.
Oh! It's soooo good. All the stuff we used to do when we were kids. My daughter stayed up all night paging through it when we bought it; she even missed her favorite TV show. We talked about it in the morning and I was like, I used to do that!
It's kind of like a magazine, but way cooler.
Yeah? That's neat. I know my daughter loves mags, but I wish I could get her something a little more...girl positive?
And it has instructions for making bubble gum wrapper chains...Do you remember those?
And Bloody Mary! Remember doing that at sleepovers?
I totally did! And - and it has this list of female pirates...
Also, the reading list! All those books I read and want my daughter to read, but that I'm not "cool" enough to recommend.
What about the science projects and math tricks...
Four square rules and women spies...
I had totally forgotten those campfire songs...

Basically, our threesome devolved into talking over each other in excitement. I half expected us to end up in estatic squeals and joyful jumping, but our fancy coffee drinks (and fear of spillage) kept us in check. In discussing The Daring Book for Girls three grown women - and total strangers - ended up tapping into our inner girl and having quite a girl-y moment. You might say this wide ranging collection of "possibilities for filling a day with adventure, imagination - and fun" is both kid tested (chronological and inner children alike) and mother approved because of its GIRL POWER.

Of course, you could argue that this book is a bit of a throw back and that it would be appeal more to moms than the "girls of the twenty-first century" with their "email accounts, digital cable, iPods, and complex video games" - and many of the early reviewers of The Daring Book have. But I'd like to hope that this book's fresh style as well as the authors' empathy for girlhood today will at least entice its intended audience to give it a second glance before they decide to say "cu ltr kthanx bye" to these printed pages and the girl-lore passed down from their mothers' generations. (And there is a website, too.)

Because the intergenerational rifts between women, as so poignantly illustrated on the feminist scene, is real and, sometimes, painful. But I'd like to think that books like this dare to get to the truth of the matter by reaching across childhoods to create connections. It's not easy to be a girl growing up today and it wasn't easy in decades past. Efforts like The Daring Book for Girls strike me as opportunities to build stronger support networks of mentorship among women - starting from girlhood and the shared struggles this life stage presents.

Plus, it's just cool.

(And maybe one day in the future we'll even be able to have a Daring Book for Kids - because boys and girls will be playing equitably on the same team.)

Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

1 comment:

  1. You should compare the Daring Book for Girls to the Glorious Book for Girls. The titles really say it all, but in particular, the Glorious Book's section on boys compared to the Daring Book's section is just precious.


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