As most know, last week was Read Across America! In schools across the country, adults came into classrooms to read to kids (many of them reading Dr. Suess in honor of his birthday). Eduflack actually visited three schools during the celebration, reading to classes of first graders, third graders, and fifth graders in the process.
The beauty of Read Across America is that adults can bring in books that have special meaning them. With my first graders, for instance, I brought in a few books my own kids love, including Duck for President and Pinkalicious (a book I have to read nightly these days).
During one of my stops, a colleague showed me a book that I just could not believe. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, smile or frown, or shake my head in amusement or disgust. It was a book I had never heard of, but this person found, in all places, at an AAUW book sale.
The book is titled, “I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl.” The book was written by Whitney Darrow, Jr. and published by Windmill Books in 1970 (the first printing). At first read, folks seem to think Darrow was a serious author (in part because he father founded Princeton University Press). But in reality, Darrow Jr. was a career cartoonist for the New Yorker. And while this book was quickly pulled from school shelves (and you’ll see why below), it clearly was intended as satire, no?
Here’s the full text of the book:
“Boys have trucks. Girls have dolls.
Boys are Cub Scouts. Girls are Brownies.
Boys are strong. Girls are graceful.
Boys are handsome. Girls are beautiful.
Boys are doctors. Girls are nurses.
Boys are policemen. Girls are metermaids.
Boys are football players. Girls are cheerleaders.
Boys are pilots. Girls are stewardesses.
Boys are heroes. Girls are heroines.
Boys are Presidents. Girls are First Ladies.
Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed.
Boys can eat. Girls can cook.
Boys build houses. Girls keep houses.
Boys are grooms. Girls are brides.
Boys are fathers. Girls are mothers.
I’m glad you’re a girl. I’m glad you’re a boy.
We need each other.”
If you want to see it with full illustrations, check it out here. So the big question, satire or an honest look at 1970s value judgments? And what would a parent say if their elementary school tot brought this home from the school library today?