A Mighty Girl Blog

  • “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

    "Never play the princess when you can be the queen: rule the kingdom, swing a scepter, wear a crown of gold. Don't dance in glass slippers, crystal carving up your toes -- be a barefoot Amazon instead, for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet."

    We posted this fabulous poem on Facebook last week and it generated such a tremendous response that the author has given us permission to reprint it here.

    "For My Daugher" is written by Sarah McMane, a poet and English teacher in upstate New York with a two-year old daughter. Clementine Paddleford, who is quoted in the poem, was an American food writer and journalist active in the early 20th century.

     

    For My Daughter

    By Sarah McMane

    “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” – Clementine Paddleford

    Never play the princess when you can
    be the queen:
    rule the kingdom, swing a scepter,
    wear a crown of gold.
    Don’t dance in glass slippers,
    crystal carving up your toes --
    be a barefoot Amazon instead,
    for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

    Never wear only pink
    when you can strut in crimson red,
    sweat in heather grey, and
    shimmer in sky blue,
    claim the golden sun upon your hair.
    Colors are for everyone,
    boys and girls, men and women --
    be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,
    not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.

    Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies,
    fierce and fiery toothy monsters,
    not merely lazy butterflies,
    sweet and slow on summer days.
    For you can tame the most brutish beasts
    with your wily wits and charm,
    and lizard scales feel just as smooth
    as gossamer insect wings.

    Tramp muddy through the house in
    a purple tutu and cowboy boots.
    Have a tea party in your overalls.
    Build a fort of birch branches,
    a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of
    Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,
    first stop on the moon.

    Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,
    bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,
    not Barbie on the runway or
    Disney damsels in distress --
    you are much too strong to play
    the simpering waif.

    Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,
    paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.
    Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.
    For the ground beneath will hold you, dear --
    know that you are free.
    And never grow a wishbone, daughter,
    where your backbone ought to be.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Related Reading

    Our favorite picture book that similarly conveys a parent's wishes and dreams for his or her Mighty Girl in such an inspirational manner is Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl, a beautifully illustrated poetic tribute to courageous and adventurous girls. Gaiman wrote it for friend, singer Tori Amos, who was about to become the mother of a little girl, and it's a lovely book for inspiring girls undertaking any life transitions or to welcome new babies. For more inspiration picture books perfect for celebrating special moments in the life of your Mighty Girl, visit our collection of Mighty Girl Books for Graduates.

    For stories of girls who defy convention, visit our Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess which features dozens of stories of princesses who are smart, daring, and aren't waiting around to be rescued!

    The photos above are used according to the Creative Commons license and are the works, in order, of Wonderlane, Mike Baird, and Fairyheart.

  • A Mighty Girl Top Pick: "My Name Is Not Isabella"

    In honor of Mother's Day this coming weekend, we've selected My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry as this week's A Mighty Girl's top book pick. This beautifully illustrated picture book follows young Isabella as she spends the day imagining herself as different "women who changed the world."

    Through the course of one day, with her mother's encouragement, Isabella imagines herself as Sally Ride, the astronaut; Annie Oakley, the Old West sharpshooter, Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist; Marie Curie, the scientist; and, of course, the most influential woman in her life, her own mother. At bedtime, Isabella discovers that she possesses many of the qualities that made these women great and decides that she is perfect just as she is -- a terrific affirmation of the value of being yourself.

    "My Name Is Not Isabella" delivers a strong empowerment message while providing a wonderful introduction to women's history complete with short biographies in the back of the book. These qualities, along with the depiction of her loving and supportive mother and an emphasis on the importance of imagination, make this book is an all-around winner. Highly recommended for readers 4 to 8.

    For more great books on women role models throughout history, visit A Mighty Girl's role model section.

    A Mighty Girl features several top books and movies picks on our facebook and blog page weekly. For more Mighty Girl Top Picks, visit our Top Picks page.  

  • A Special Message to A Mighty Girl Supporters on Our One Month Birthday

    Today marks the one month anniversary of A Mighty Girl's public launch and what an amazing month it's been with over 50,000 site visitors and 3,600 new Facebook friends! Thanks to all of you for your enthusiastic response to the launch of A Mighty Girl. Your kind messages of support for the site and its girl empowerment mission have been tremendous affirmation that our efforts in building the site were worthwhile.

    In honor of our anniversary, I'd like to tell you a little about what led to the creation of A Mighty Girl and our plans for the future. A Mighty Girl was created by my husband, Aaron, and me as a resource for people seeking empowering books and movies for girls (and, of course, they're great for boys too). For years, we had sought out empowering gifts for our four young nieces and decided that having a central place to locate these types of products was a void that clearly needed to be filled. Thus, after several months of work, A Mighty Girl was born last month.

    To give you a better idea of who’s behind A Mighty Girl, we'd also like to introduce ourselves. My name is Carolyn Danckaert and I serve as the 'voice' of A Mighty Girl via our Facebok page, blog posts, and emails, as well as being the primary manager of the AMG website and book and movie database. Aaron primarily focuses on the back-end of the site, developing the new features that we'll be adding to A Mighty Girl. While I also work as an independent consultant, AMG has required nearly my full-time attention since our launch. Aaron works full-time in technology so he's been contributing many nights and weekends to the site.

    In terms of the future, we're full of ideas about features to add to A Mighty Girl and have received lots of great recommendations from the Mighty Girl community. A few possibilities include adding toys, clothing, parent resources, or girl empowerment organizational listings. In time, we'd love to add all of these features but each is quite a project in itself. Just building the current book and movie database took us several months and, before adding any new section, we have a list of about 600 new books and movies to finish adding to the site.

    However, we are looking towards the future and we'd like your input as to which areas to focus on next. To that end, we've created the the first A Mighty Girl community survey and I hope you can take a few minutes to share your feedback about our next steps and how we've been doing thus far.

    Many people have written in with product recommendations and asked how else they can help support the site. We really appreciate your enthusiasm for A Mighty Girl and are excited that it’s truly become a community effort! If you find value in A Mighty Girl and want to help support its growth, here are a few easy things you can do:

    1. Please help spread the word. We know that many of you have shared news of A Mighty Girl with your friends, school communities, Girl Scout troops and others and we thank you for doing an amazing job! If you haven't yet, please take a minute to post a message on your Facebook page about the site or send out a quick email to those in your lives who you think would appreciate a resource like A Mighty Girl.

    2. If you’re purchasing books or movies online, please buy them via the Mighty Girl product links. We certainly understand that many of you are seeking out books and movies discovered on the site at the library or local bookstores and, of course, we fully support that. We’re big fans of local bookstores too and encourage you to support them.

    If you’re like us, however, you also use Amazon for these types of purchases. When you click the 'buy from Amazon' link found on each product page and then purchase that item at Amazon, we receive a small commission of that sale at no added cost to you. We also get a chance to see which items are popular on the site – of course, with no identifying information about the purchasers. This data is helpful because we can learn which items are popular with site visitors (like the fact that, among others, Raising Dragons and The Care and Keeping of You were very popular last month).

    To run the site, we have to pay for a number of expenses such as hosting and, at the end of our first month, we were able to cover these basic expenses but just barely. In the long-term, it's our hope that these commissions will reach a sustainable level that allows us to continue to commit the time that will be needed to take A Mighty Girl to the next level.

    If you aren't an Amazon user, another way that you can help is by making a donation to A Mighty Girl. We received our first, and so far only, donation last month from a woman who made it in honor of her friend’s birthday. She told us that her friend is a long-time advocate for girls and women's issues and a big fan of A Mighty Girl. That first donation was very meaningful to us and a deeply appreciated gesture of support for our efforts and A Mighty Girl’s mission.

    3. Please continue to send us your feedback and recommendations. We've received many great book and movie recommendations from this community and look forward to hearing more. The easiest way to send us recommendations is to use the red "Contact Support" button on the right-hand side of the website. And, that leads me to my final point...

    4. Please have patience with us. We have been receiving quite a few messages from you. We love and encourage the feedback and have read each message but we are a bit slow at times in responding so please give us time. Also, we have a long list of books and movies that we have been actively working on adding to the site so it may take us some time to add your recommendation. As you can see, A Mighty Girl is a very small yet mighty operation.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy message. And, most importantly, thanks for making A Mighty Girl's first month so incredible! Aaron and I look forward to continuing to grow A Mighty Girl with the help of you - the Mighty Girl community. It really is our labor of love and it's our sincere hope that our books and movies (and hopefully in the future, toys and other resources) will help more girls discover and embrace their potential as Mighty Girls.

    With admiration,
    Carolyn & Aaron

  • A Mighty Girl Top Pick: The Movies of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

    Since founding Studio Ghibli in 1985, film director Hayao Miyazaki has produced a series of highly acclaimed animated movies that have earned him the moniker 'The Walt Disney of Japan.' And, unlike most Japanese magna-style films, the protagonists of most Miyazaki's films are strong and independent girls or young women who use their wits and courage to save the day.

    Miyazaki's films range from very fanciful ones such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Ponyo appropriate for very young children to ones like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind address darker themes such as war and environmental degradation and, as such, are more appropriate for older children and teens. In general, Miyazaki has stated that he rejects simplistic stereotypes of good and evil and prefers to show children a positive world view.

    If you're looking for thought-provoking movies to inspire and amaze the children in your life - that also feature many of the best heroines ever seen in animated film - A Mighty Girl highly recommends Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli collection.

    To find a complete list of our Studio Ghibli films, visit our Hayao Miyazaki section.

    As on all A Mighty Girl product pages, you can find specific age recommendations listed with product "details" (located under the product description) or you can filter products by age using the left menu bar.

    A Mighty Girl features several top books and movies picks on our facebook and blog page weekly. For more Mighty Girl Top Picks, visit our Top Picks page.  

  • Happy El día del niño, the Day of the Child!

    Happy El día del niño, the Day of the Child! This year marks the 15th anniversary of this annual celebration focused on promoting literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Author Pat Mora worked with leaders of the Latino American community to establish this tradition celebrating children, literacy and bilingualism.

    If you would like to celebrate el día and explore books about Latin America and the Latino/Hispanic American experience, A Mighty Girl has several sections we would recommend (note - many books will be cross-listed in multiple categories):

    To learn more about this annual celebration, visit the El día del niño, the Day of the Child ALA website.

    Feliz Día a todos!

  • Remembering Coretta Scott King

    coretta-scottTo honor the late civil rights legend Coretta Scott King on the 85th anniversary of her birth today, A Mighty Girl has created a special feature on U.S. civil rights history focused on the contributions of women and girls to the struggle for racial equality.

    Long active in civil rights activism, King became an especially prominent leader of the civil rights movement following the assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. She became one of the leading civil rights figures to unify many justice struggles of the day, including women's rights, world peace, poverty, and LGBT rights.

    corettaOnly a few months after MLK's death, she gave a speech calling on women to "unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war." Over the past three decades, King worked on a variety of issues ranging from apartheid and nuclear weapons in the 1980s to LGBT rights in the 2000s and continued serving as an advocate for justice until her death in 2006.

    For these and other reading selections about the women and girls of the civil rights movement, visit our feature on the Top Mighty Girl Books on Civil Rights History. For such a significant figure, it's unfortunate that there are only a few children's biographies about King's life; however, there are several good choices for younger readers, including a board book for toddlers and a lovely new picture book for children ages 4 to 9 entitled Coretta Scott.

    There are also several excellent movies on the civil rights movement, including Ruby Bridges; Selma, Lord, Selma; The Rosa Parks Story; and The Long Walk Home.

  • A Mighty Girl Top Pick: "The Apple-Pip Princess"

    With princesses being the theme of the week, we've selected the "The Apple-Pip Princess" by Jane Ray as A Mighty Girl's top book pick. This wonderful picture book, perfect for children ages 3 to 8, combines a unique fairy tale with beautiful illustrations and compelling messages about compassion, community, and stewardship. The story is also highly commendable for featuring a princess of color, an unfortunate rarity in most fairy tales.

    The story centers on a once-green kingdom that has turned into a dust bowl following the queen's death. In an effort to resurrect the land, the king tells his three daughters to "make your mark -something to make me proud" and that he will select his successor based on their efforts. While the two oldest daughters build grand towers to aggrandize themselves, the youngest daughter, Serenity, plants a tiny apple pip, a gift from her mother, and inspires the renewal of the kingdom to its once lush state. The king names Serenity as the new ruler and the kingdom's diverse people celebrate their land's rebirth.

    For an uplifting story celebrating environmental stewardship and a community-minded interpretation of how to 'make your mark,' "The Apple-Pip Princess" is highly recommended.

    Further reading recommendations:

    A Mighty Girl features several top books and movies picks on our facebook and blog page weekly. For more Mighty Girl Top Picks, visit our Top Picks page.  

  • Happy Independent Princess Week!

    Happy Princess Week! That's right - Disney has declared this week to be the first annual national Princess Week. Here at A Mighty Girl, we're fans of princesses too just not the traditional shrinking violet variety so we're created The Ultimate Guide to Independent Princesses. These princesses are smart, daring, and aren't willing to wait around to be rescued - more than likely, they'll be doing the rescuing themselves!

    Do you know of some great Independent Princess stories, we've missed?  We'd love to hear your recommendations.  Please add a comment or send us a message with your suggestions.
  • An Earth Day Tribute to the Leading Ladies of the Modern Environmental Movement

    Jane Goodall at Gombe

    In honor of Earth Day, A Mighty Girl would like to recognize two of the greatest female environmentalists of the 20th century -- Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson. Jane Goodall is a British primatologist and the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. She is especially well-known for her work running a 45-year long study on wild chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Goodall also founded the Jane Goodall Institute to support the on-going research at Gombe and she works extensively on animal welfare and conservation issues.

    For children interested in learning more about the life and work of Jane Goodall, several excellent books are available including two recent books for younger readers ages 4 to 8. Me...Jane, a Caldecott Honor book by Patrick McDonnell, tells the story of a very young Jane and the toy chimpanzee which helped spark her interest in conservation. Alternatively, The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps focuses on Jane throughout her years working in the field studying chimps and leading a global crusade to protect their habitat. Readers ages 8 and up will delight in the youth-oriented autobiography, My Life with the Chimpanzees and Goodall's inspirational, adventure-filled account of her life in the wilds of Africa and her struggle to protect the animals she came to love. An excellent documentary on Goodall and her work called Jane's Journey is also available and highly recommended for viewers 8 and up.

    Rachel Carson

    Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist, who is particularly well-known for her work on the environmental effects of synthetic pesticides. This research led her to write her seminal work Silent Spring which served as a rallying point for the young environment movement just gaining momentum at the time of its publication. Her book, marking its 50th anniversary this year, and the activism it inspired spurred a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. For her many contributions to environmental conservation, President Carter posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Like Goodall, Carson has also been the focus of a several recent picture book biographies perfect for readers ages 5 to 10: Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder by Joseph Bruchac, Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich, and Rachel Carson & Her Book that Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor. The first two biographies follow similar arcs, introducing Rachel in childhood as a young girl curious about the nature world and following her progression to adulthood and her work on conservation. The third book, just published in February, provides more of an in-depth look at her book, Silent Spring, and its galvanizing effect on the environmental movement.

    For older readers, 11 and up, Rachel Carson: A Twentieth-Century Life by Ellen Levine provides a more comprehensive overview of Carson's life and work. Booklist also notes how in this book, "Levine emphasizes the prevailing attitudes toward women's roles and how Carson was able to overcome those limiting expectations to break ground and become such an effective voice for environmental concerns."

    For more inspiring environmentally-oriented reading recommendations, visit A Mighty Girl's special feature on Top Children's Books on the Environment.

  • A Mighty Girl Top Movie Pick: "Whale Rider"

    Perfect for celebrating Earth Day this weekend, Whale Rider beautifully combines strong girl power and environmental messages. Set within a Maori tribe in New Zealand, the film follows eleven year old heroine, Pai, as she sets off to convince her grandfather, the tribe's chief, that she can be his successor. Throughout the film, the tribe's intimate relationship with the nature world is emphasized. At the film's climax, a group of whales is washed to shore and subsequent events give Pai and her community a new appreciation of her true capacity as a leader. Highly recommended!

    For more Earth Day movie picks, visit our special feature on the Top Environmental Movies featuring Mighty Girls.

    For our list of recommended books with environmental themes, visit our feature on the Top Children's Books on the Environment.

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