Unhappy with school reading book

(131 Posts)
Kinect Tue 08-Oct-13 08:01:43

DD is in reception & has three reading books a week. We have a little book to fill in with a note of how DD reacted. Yesterday's book was, "a princess & a dragon'. Story went like this princess, dragon, roar, help, prince, prince saves princess, they are happy.

I have written in the notebook that it is against my feminist principles to read the story with DD.

I am very unhappy about material like this being in school.

Should I take this further with the school?
Or is my comment in the notebook sufficient.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 09:51:37

I also recommend The Worst Princess, in which the main character is totally unimpressed with her rescuer, and teams up with a dragon instead.

BuffytheAppleBobber Tue 08-Oct-13 09:54:41

DH bought dd the Worst Princess, she loves that one! I will check out the others, thanks. She's 7 and very into Holly Web and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home books, so animals rather than princesses. But I'd like to find something with more of an adventure in it, with a strong female lead.

BuffytheAppleBobber Tue 08-Oct-13 09:57:02

Um, sorry to be picky and all, but Amazon says:

"One night, young Tom is awoken by noises outside his house. He peeps out of the window and what should he see but PIRATES. And stranger still - they're GIRL PIRATES stealing the front of his house!"

Why would it be stranger sill that they're GIRL pirates? I mean, I know its strange to us because we are adults and get the whole stereotyping. But I'd have thought it would be better not to emphasise that it's weird to have GIRL pirates to young kids, if the point is to go against all the stereotyping.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 09:57:58

I think you can be too serious about these things though. wink

ICameOnTheJitney Tue 08-Oct-13 09:59:47

Buffy I know what you're saying but it goes on to say "Rough tough girl pirates who are brave and strong" or something and it's better than nothing.

Also a child will want it pointed out...my DD loves it and as she's that type, a bit rough and tough I am glad to have some role models in books for her. Children are acutely aware of gender by 5 and are always marking stuff out as "for girls" and "for boys" and a book like this one is good as it spells it out...breaks the rules and shouts out about it.

ICameOnTheJitney Tue 08-Oct-13 10:01:54

It should be remembered that it works both ways and that boys are flooded with stories about how they have to be the strong rescuer. I have one book...can't recall it's title but it's about a little knight who is terrified of having to go off on a mission...his dad makes him go to slay the dragon and all they way he's beset with misery and fear. Then he meets the dragon who is very nice and kind and he brings him home for a pet.

Very good for busting the stereotypes.

kim147 Tue 08-Oct-13 10:05:18

I think I've just seen a whole new potential market of reading books opening up grin

beansmum Tue 08-Oct-13 10:05:21

I thought it was strange because pirates are usually adults - not because they're usually male.

ICameOnTheJitney Tue 08-Oct-13 10:09:06

Bean well yes but it's a book...fantasy! If you applied that logic to children's literature in general you'd be left very confused.

beansmum Tue 08-Oct-13 10:20:49

Fantasy can be logical. Seeing child pirates outside the house is weird, even within the context of the story. It's stranger than seeing adult pirates and it's not merely strange because the children are girls. What am I going on about? I've confused myself now.

tinkerbellvspredator Tue 08-Oct-13 10:29:48

Tough Princess is good, although she is quite violent so I do have to do a bit of talking around that!

Willemdefoeismine Tue 08-Oct-13 10:34:42

If you're concerned with such books just wait until your DD (7) brings home a Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus story for home-reading.....as mine has recently done hmm.

BlackberrySeason Tue 08-Oct-13 10:50:39

Doesn't Ronia the Robber's daughter rescue someone?

BlackberrySeason Tue 08-Oct-13 10:52:37

The worst witch definitely rescues people, but mostly other girls iirc

SooticaTheWitchesCat Tue 08-Oct-13 11:02:25

Are you serious - you complained about a book because the prince rescued the Princess? Aren't most fairy tales like that? Have you never read Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Cinderella to your child?

I love those kind of stories and so do my girls. They know a prince is never going to rescue them in real life but in a story it's fine.

I could think of a lot worse to read...

CailinDana Tue 08-Oct-13 11:03:41

School readers are incredibly badly written (saying this as a former teacher who had to read a lot of the bloody things). All notion of encouraging children to enjoy reading has totally gone out the window it seems - it's all about word repetition and phonics. While they are important teaching children that reading is about trudging through shite about princesses and dragons (I mean talk about old old old hat) that even their teachers and parents can't abide doesn't send a very good message does it. Ironically the one person largely behind all current reading shite dislikes children intensely - shows doesn't it?

IME children love reading stories that relate to their lives. Apart from being totally sexist (agree with you on that one) a story about dragons means nothing much to today's children. It was really striking when I was supply teaching with two year 6 classes - in one we were reading Percy Jackson (fantasy book about characters with abilities based on Greek legend) and a book about a boy constantly in trouble at school (can't remember the name, annoyingly). The class reading PJ just shut down when I took the book out - they used the time to go to sleep. The other class used to literally beg me to read the book and actually asked to stay on during break to hear the next chapter.

Cut the dragons and princesses crap and just write about real children ffs.

DidIMissSomething Tue 08-Oct-13 11:13:43

I agree with you OP - stacks of the reading books are much too gendered BUT as others have said this gives you a fantastic opportunity to talk about perceived gender roles, imbalances and so on with your DD. My concern is for those children that may not get this kind of discussion at home and so just accept these roles.

I remember reading a biff and chip book with a child at school where biff wanted to be a knight instead of a princess (and pulled it off) but the girl reading the book (age 8) thought the idea was ridiculous and that biff should've been happy with her princess role sad

SaggyIsHavingAPinkKitten Tue 08-Oct-13 12:32:29

The kid is 4? I think you need to get a serious grip!

curlew Tue 08-Oct-13 12:35:15

"The kid is 4? I think you need to get a serious grip!"

The kid is learning more than reading. The kid is learning about how girls and boys are viewed in the world, and about herself as a girl. Why not make sure that the images are positive?

DramaQueenofHighCs Tue 08-Oct-13 13:14:10

Oh I'm not wringing my hands about the men but it's all a balance thing: fairytales tend to be set in medieval times (all be it a fantasy version) - men rescued women that's a fact. Yes the princess could have rescued herself and it would've made for a good story, but there are times when you can't rescue yourself. There are more books of 'man rescues woman' but making a fuss doesn't help. If you're that bothered write your own. For that matter, where are the books about gay people, lesbians, transvestites an able bodied person being recued by a disabled person? These groups are still not treated as equally as women are to men. (yes I know it's a 'straw man' argument but I'm just throwing it out there to aid discussion.)

Tbh I grew up with loads and loads of traditional prince rescues princess fairytales and I've come out of it ok - believing in equality. Men and women are different (not just in the obvious ways) and there is nothing wrong with that.

kim147 Tue 08-Oct-13 13:24:42

It's called the Hidden curriculum.

Schools inadvertantly sending out messages about what's "normal" through books, activities, posters on the wall and lessons.

It's so hidden you don't see it unless you look for it. Books represent the typical 2.4 white, straight, married, middle class family.

Maybe that's an extreme example but there are many groups (as dramaqueen points out) who don't see themselves represented at all in schools or who, if they are, are represented in a stereotypical way.

stubbornstains Tue 08-Oct-13 13:26:29

"Princess Smartypants" by Babette Cole is a laugh.

Princess loves her life being mucky and hanging out with her dragons and ponies- the King and Queen invite loads of suitors for her- she manages to chase them all off, and lives happily ever after with her animals smile.

BuffytheAppleBobber Tue 08-Oct-13 13:47:03

All you purveyors of grips, how do you think that all this lazy, negative stereotyping (and I agree completely with dramaqueen that there are also problems with representation of many groups that aren't straight, white men / boys) is really going to be challenged if we shrug and let it pass when it's served up to our children? At what age should they be introduced to the idea that they can think critically about these hidden messages? 12? 16?

scallopsrgreat Tue 08-Oct-13 13:51:10

"you complained about a book because the prince rescued the Princess? Aren't most fairy tales like that?" Precisely. Why should they be mostly like that? Why should we have to put up with these stereotypes still in this day and age?

Mind you I'd like the OP to come back and engage. Perhaps toss a few ideas around as to the types of stories she'd like her child to read. That sort of thing.

Flicktheswitch Tue 08-Oct-13 13:57:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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