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News From Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop

not-for-profit - a workers'co-op - committed to social justice | 96 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4HY - 0151 708 7270

What are You Playing At?

by Marie-Sabine Roger - £12.99  Alanna Books (2013)
hardback    ISBN 13: 9781907825026 | ISBN 10: 1907825029

A challenging and provocative book which asserts the rights of children to be allowed to play in ways that are not circumscribed by their gender.
Everyone knows that boys don’t play kitchens - that would just be silly!
But open the flaps and the pictures tell a different story!
Inside we see a grown man working as a chef in a kitchen – and behind the other flaps men are dancing, cooking, skipping, feeding a baby; and women are driving cars and rockets, building boats and playing physical sports…
The prescriptive tone of a text which would limit children’s play based on gender stereotypes is challenged by the clever juxtaposition of stunning photos which undermine the dismissive tone each time. The photo of the chef counters the argument that boys shouldn’t play ‘kitchens’ more powerfully than any words - there’s no need for explanations!
Play for children is a rehersal and exploration of real life – so limiting their play limits what they can imagine is possible. Children understand this and these photos will encourage interesting discusions about what boys and girls, men and women can do and be. The simple, positive message is that if we want children to grow into well-rounded adults – who can be both strong and emotional, clever and caring – we need to encourage them to play at those roles and not limit their imaginations or aspirations.
The publication of this clever and provocative book is timely – the voices opposing the increasingly gendered marketing of children’s books and toys are reaching a crecendo. With the campaigns of Let Toys be Toys, Brave Girls Want, Pink Stinks and the like gathering momentum, this book creates a space for children themselves to debate the issues and challenges the voices who would limit their play and dreams of what is possible.

(Price & availability last checked: November 2015)

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