Published on July 22nd, 2014 | by Craig Pomranz1
Craig Pomranz on MADE BY RAFFI
Made By Raffi, my children’s book with illustrator Margaret Chamberlain, was inspired by a true-life incident. It is the story of a little boy who doesn’t care for sports but likes to knit and sew — at first he is teased for his hobby, but in the end he becomes a hero to his grade-school class. I wrote the book to support young boys and girls who are perceived as “different” because of their appearance or hobbies. It is a funny, colorful book with a serious message and will interest those who care about promoting diversity and embracing our differences, as well as all children seeking to fit in.
I have always been interested in the idea of how we tell our kids what is appropriate activity based on gender. Perhaps it is because I liked to sing and dance when I was young, while my older brothers were preoccupied by sports. Most of the parents of young kids I know are trying on one hand to let their kids follow their own interests, but on the other to help them fit in and avoid being teased. As a result, atypical hobbies and behaviors are only encouraged so far.
How much misery and wasted talent is caused by these artificial ideas about what are appropriate activities for boys and girls? Being considered a tomboy is not such a bad thing in our male-centered society, but if a boy participates in an activity that is considered “feminine” – horrors! The new “Like A Girl” campaign linked here demonstrates that children have to be taught gender behavior – it is not inherent.
When my godson started knitting as a way to help him focus, he was teased, but eventually his classmates came to respect him for his talent. He also gave me a starting point for Made By Raffi.
Exploring many interests is the best way to find oneself and become a whole person. I hope kids will discover that being a boy or girl is not a sharply defined role, but can encompass many activities. Sadly, in recent years there seems to be a need to attach a sexual orientation to young children. One unfortunate unintended consequence of a healthy openness about sexuality is that very young kids doing any kind of exploration are assumed to be gay. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for all children to explore and discover as many facets of their lives as possible? Wouldn’t this help educate them and make them more well-rounded, whole men and women? How tragic that in the 21st century our spectrum of tolerated behavior has shrunk rather than expanded!
I hope the book shows that it is perfectly natural for boys and girls to be interested in many things.