‘The Princess Knight’ – Slaying Gender Stereotypes

IMG_8023The Spring One of a Kind Show is over now – our last big retail show.  It was such a fantastic week – I felt so alive being in nearly a thousand conversations with customers past, present and potential about what Fancy Pants Kids is up to.  You responded to my excitement and passion with your own enthusiasm and great questions that allowed me to refine my plans and clarify what work remains to be done.  I’m really looking forward to bringing my costume collections to your parties, events and classrooms!

IMG_8026Today’s project is working on a new workshop which will combine imaginative costume play, literacy and analysis of gender stereotypes.  This workshop will revolve around my medieval costume collection and be aimed at kids kindergarten through Grade 3.

My reading and research has turned up a whole pile of new books for the Fancy Pants Kids Reading List.  The books I’ll be bringing to you today and in future weeks will all eminate from a ‘castles and dragons’ world – lots of knights, dragons and royalty.

princess knightToday’s pick is ‘the Princess Knight’ by Cornelia Funke with illustrations by Kerstin Meyer.  This book really enchanted me with its depiction of the young daughter of a king who wishes to do what she loves (ride, joust, choose her own friends) instead of dressing ‘like a princess’, doing needlepoint and sitting quietly.

Initially, my seven year old son rejected this book (based on its cover and title alone…about a girl – not of interest) and had me read every other book in the pile first.  However, once we actually started reading it, he was completely entranced by the illustrations which run in long horizontals across the top and bottom of each pair of pages.  He analyzed the facial expressions and reactions of all the characters, celebrated her victories and laughed at the shocked expressions when the princess’ community came to understand who she was and how she was committed to living and being in the world.

While he cannot really fathom the extent of intolerance for what she was about in her medieval world, I see in him still surprise that a girl could be as powerful (more even) than the men around her.  We continue to work against gender stereotyping and children’s literature must play a powerful role in this, as it is much literature that helped reinforce these stereotypes for many years.

I’d love to hear your recommendations for children’s books that encourage equality and empower both boys and girls to be who they are and all they can be.