Growing up on nine acres surrounded by farmland, creeks, and forests meant one thing for me: I was outside a lot. My siblings and I built forts all over our property, worked on digging holes to China, and made mud pies with duck feathers stuck in them for decoration. If we were feeling adventurous, we would chew on mint leaves or drink water out of the duck pond (no, it wasn't clean, but it didn't kill us either). We'd climb the apple trees, hide under the holly bushes, and pull all the heads off the roses to give to my mom. It was, of course, a moderately dangerous childhood, but it was a good one and we all survived it quite well.
If all goes according to our plans, I'll be moving back to that Family Farm so that Sydney can grow up there too. Really, the number one reason for moving there is because of our girls. We want them to grow up in that environment: outside, playing, adventuring, spying, thrilling, running, daring. Factor in Jason's love of sports and his enthusiasm for teaching the girls to kick and throw a ball, and I think it's safe to say that our girls will grow up hearing that they are strong and smart, individuals who can make a difference in the world. Girls who can make a difference.
In a few years--maybe for her 8th birthday--I'm going to give Sydney a book that I know she'll love and will help foster this spirit of adventure. It's a book about building forts and making friendship bracelets. It instructs girls on the rules of basketball and how to use a pencil to tie up your hair. It has chapters on influential women scientists, as well as slumber party games. In short, it celebrates all sides to being a girl: the smart side, the creative side, the side that plays clapping games with our girl friends. The book? The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.
As a follow-up to The Dangerous Book for Boys, Buchanan and Peskowitz created a book that is sure to be a hit with young girls, probably in the range of 8-14 years old. In fact, as I was reading it, a strong wave of nostalgia washed over me, particularly those grade school years, although many of the chapters such as negotiating a salary, going to Africa, finance, and changing a tire would appeal to any age.
Before I got the book from Parent Bloggers Network I was really curious to see what the authors would deem "Girly Topics," and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they both embraced the stereotypes (playing foursquare, riding horses, writing letters) and went beyond them (paddling a canoe, karate moves, math tricks). Not every chapter is essential--I'm thinking of the one on ouija boards that I didn't much care for--but almost all are entertaining in their own way. I suppose there are topics in the book that boys would find interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it to them. They can get their own book; this glittery blue-covered one is for us girls.
Even though there's a lot of jumping and shouting about how women are the same as men, I think that seriously undercuts the uniqueness of being a girl. The way we interact with our friends, the way we perceive the world, the joy in our adventures--we girls are phenomenal in our own way. This book celebrates being a girl, and has something for every type of girl out there: the athlete, the brain, the outdoorsy, the style-maven. If you're wondering what to get that niece or cousin or neighbor girl for a gift, I think The Daring Book for Girls would be a good one.
It's lead free, better-than-textbook quality, and will provide more hours of entertainment than a Disney movie. It doesn't tell you how to throw a ball overhand, but that's okay because Jason taught Sydney how to do that last night. Some things will just be part of her growing up in our house, and some things she'll get to discover herself. Here's to being daring.