Christmas sale! $50 OFF every $200 you spend. Use code XMASPRIDE

Made by Raffi: A Children’s Book About Gender Stereotypes and a Boy Who Knits

by Amber Leventry April 07, 2015

By: Amber Leventry

Made By Raffi Cover

Raffi is a schoolboy who doesn’t like rough and rowdy play. He likes calm and quiet; he dresses a bit differently than the other boys; he feels different. Like most kids, Raffi isn’t sure what that means, but then he finds his passion when a teacher teaches him how to knit. Raffi suddenly realizes the struggle—and importance—of what it means to be himself.

Made by Raffi, written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, is a children’s book that tackles the issue of gender stereotypes. The struggle for Raffi is a common one many school age kids, specifically boys, deal with every day. Our children are being bombarded with images and messages of what it “means” to be a boy or girl.

In a brilliant project done by SheKnows and Common Sense Media, boys were asked what it meant to be manly. The answers ranged from comparing manly to being emotionless to manly being the opposite of being girly; the boys understood that both meanings carried negative connotations, yet still defined the word the way they commonly hear it described.

This particular set of boys didn’t agree with those definitions, though. They know what society thinks, but they also think manly is being yourself. That is usually easier said than done. Kids can be cruel, and bullying to the point of making someone feel miserable happens daily at school and online.

Pomranz wrote Made by Raffi to let kids know that it is okay to follow their interests and to experiment with different styles even when they go against the grain of gender stereotypes. When I asked Pomranz what motivated him to write a book on this topic he told me, “I hope the book will be a comfort to kids who feel different from others and to remind everyone to be kind when they see another kid who is nonconformist.” He also wants to start conversations that lead to understanding and appreciation.

When Raffi starts to knit at school, he is teased. Later that night he asks his mother if knitting makes him weird or girly. His mother replies, “No, Raffi. I think you are very…Raffi.” His parents’ support gives Raffi confidence. Despite being teased, Raffi keeps knitting and surprises his classmates by sewing a cape for a prince costume in an upcoming school play. Raffi’s talent fulfills a need and he goes from zero to hero.

Raffi in Yarn Shop

Most stories don’t have such open-minded parents or classmates so quick to embrace someone’s differences, but the book’s message is a valuable one. It can be hard to be yourself when who you are is different than what your peers consider to be normal. But with a little confidence your differences just might save the day.

Made by Raffi is for written for ages 5-9, but my four year old daughter not only understood and loved the message, but needed the reminder. Even with two mamas who are constantly challenging gender stereotypes, opinions of her preschool classmates can be more influential. Definitions of what it means to be a girl or boy are determined at a very early age through toys and books. We need more books like Made by Raffi to send our children a more open and accepting definition of what it means to happily be you.

The post Made by Raffi: A Children’s Book About Gender Stereotypes and a Boy Who Knits appeared first on The Next Family.




Amber Leventry
Amber Leventry

Author


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Parenting

Modern Fitness For the Modern Parent

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

e13db90f29f21c3e81584d04ee44408be273e7d61cb710479cf7_640_fitness-300x214@2x

Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian

By Laura King

Life can get busy. With work, kids, family commitments, friends, chores, and the general chaos of everyday life, it can be near impossible at times to sit down for a cup of tea, let alone squeeze in an hour of exercise regularly. However, all things are possible if you set your mind to them. Those that prioritize their fitness nearly...

Continue Reading →

Estate Planning: The Basics For LGBT Families

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

With the passage of marriage equality last year, laws have been quickly changing across the United States. LGBT couples with or without children weren’t just given the right of marriage, they were provided new protections and benefits within their families. All of a sudden, LGBT couples and families had to figure out how to file jointly when it came to taxes, how to add...

Continue Reading →

Representation of Modern Families in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

by The Next Family March 24, 2016 1 Comment

SidsFamily

By Alex Temblador

I recently wrote an article for The Next Family called, “Family-Friendly Films That Feature Adoption and Foster Care,” that shared wonderful family films with adoption or foster care story lines. My reasoning behind doing so was because every family deserves a chance to see similar families like theirs represented in various forms of entertainment.

The same can be said of other...

Continue Reading →