Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Dangerous Book For Boys

The Dangerous Book For Boys, a nostalgic guide / tribute to old fashioned boyhoods is getting a ton of press lately. After hearing the authors interviewed on NPR, it sounds like the title should really be "The Lost Art of How To Be a Boy." It's trying to define boyness for a new generation, it's not "the dangerous book for kids" or "the dangerous book for boys and girls."

Boys are supposed to be risk takers, action adventurers, inventors, clever problem solvers. By embracing retro boyness, does the book also embrace old school gender stereotypes? I haven't read it, so I can't say for certain, but it looks like they're going in the girls are equal but separate direction. In the section "Advice About Girls" they preface their recommendations, which seem sound and not at all sexist for the most part (although if you see a girl in need of help, unable to lift something sounds like a stereotype to me) with:

You may already have noticed that girls are quite different from you. By this, we do not mean the physical differences, more the fact that they remain unimpressed by your mastery of a game involving wizards, or your understanding of Morse code. Some will be impressed, of course, but as a general rule, girls do not get quite as excited by the use of urine as a secret ink as boys do.

Elliot is too young for this book, but I can't see our family taking on any of these ambitious projects anyway, we have trouble making dinner, how can we build a go-cart? Maybe some day.

From the NPR Story:

Boys can learn how to build a go-cart, make an electromagnet, grow a crystal and make secret ink. Dads and their sons can bond over the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme. The Igguldens even include the long-lost art of tanning a skin and wrapping packages in brown paper and string.

The idea, the authors say, is that courage, risk-taking and a sense of adventure is what being a kid is all about. As for danger, sections on hunting and cooking rabbits and making cloth fireproof may hold more risk than most chapters (including one on how to treat girls), but the overall premise is that learning new skills — and taking a few risks — can be fun.


Bob said...

Some kids may it be boy or girl have the same interests. But we know that there are things like risk takers which separates boys from girls, unless the kid is destined to be the opposite of their personality.

Danni said...

Boys are indeed boys. There is a fine line that separates them from girls and we can't deny the fact that even kids have different characteristics based on gender.