When I wrote my book, Pink is Just a Color and so is
Blue, it was with my younger son in mind. He is now starting to like Ninjago,
Beyblades, Pokemon and other "boy" things but still has an affinity for
the pink and purpley things too.
After the publication of the book, I was really
excited about going into his school and reading the book to his class.It was these
kids that I really wanted to reach with the message of the book. After all,
they were my son’s classmates and friends who interacted with him on a daily
basis.A few of them have had play dates
with my son and I recall one child saying, “He has girl’s toys.”This would be grassroots effort to teach
stereotypes, not being judgmental and keeping an open mind.
I asked my son’s teacher if I could come and read
the book to the class. I had developed a whole lesson around the book and
was eager to go and speak to the kids. She was also excited but needed approval from the
principal. To my disappointment, I was told by the principal that the school
does not promote any authors and so I could not come read to the kids. Mind
you, I had not asked for a letter to go home announcing my visit or asking
parents to buy my book for the occasion.
At first I was upset but decided to approach it
differently. The point was to have the message
reach the children. I decided to send the teacher a copy of Pink is Just a
Color and so is Blue and she couldread
it to the class at her own convenience. Instead of just putting the book into my son’s
folder, I gave a copy to the office to be delivered to the teacher.After inquiring about it, I received a call back
from the principal.This time she had the school counselor on the line with her,
as a witness apparently.I was told that as aschool policy not even the teacher would be
allowed to read my book to the class!!
I taught preschool and kindergarten for many years before I became a mom. Many
preschools and kindergartens invite parents to come read to the kids, or talk
about different things.The community sometimes is full of free
teaching resources.Yes, sometimes they
get a little advertising for their businesses too such as a dentist coming in to discuss oral heath.But these outside, real life resources are a
great, valuable learning tool for kids at a young age.
Visits by community resources outweigh the value of any worksheetor lecture. These are tangible experiences that the kids
will remember for a long time to come.For me,
going to read at my son’s school was not about selling books.It was about spreading a message about gender stereotypes, not making judgments and learning to appreciate individual differences.
Interestingly, last year I was told by the same principal that it is school
policy that they do not discuss or talk about different cultures in school!What better way for diverse group of people to
gain cultural understanding of ideas, thoughts and ways than by learning from their peers who represent different cultures. To me, culturally diverse is not the same as culturally
aware. Though we may live in a culturally
diverse surrounding, understanding and appreciation comes from knowing. In fact there should be a week set aside every year when parents and students of all
backgrounds can talk about the various cultures represented in a school. I realize schools have international days but
this would be more informative than entertaining. What a wonderful way to learn about the new, global world we live in!
Whether about books or about
cultures, closed minded policies create an atmosphere of intolerance and
segregation. My first introduction into our school was a child yelling out from
the bus window, “Hey you brown lady!” Now I understand. There are kids being
bullied or teased for wearing turbans,
having “funny” accents, eating a “weird” food or just appearing to be different
. Then there kids being harassed for being too “tomboyish”... or not boyish
I can only hope that my children will fare well
and not be hurt by the ignorance and intolerance of others. I hope that my
son’s friends will somehow come to learn and understand that the colors you
like and what toys you play with do not mean much. After all…. pink is just a
color and so is blue….what truly matters is what’s deep inside of you! I hope
they will come to appreciate that we can
all be different but our differences are our uniqueness and they make us
As for our principal and her narrow minded policies, some things
are just better left unsaid.....