Peculiar Picks

Peculiar Picks are a selection of odd, funny, interesting, curious, moving, irreverent, and otherwise wonderfully awesome, but perhaps not well known, reads. Peculiar Picks are books for younger readers and their grown-ups, handpicked by the Library's Youth Services Manager, Joshua Carlson.

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
Library Catalog

My wife and I read a lot of books with positive messages for girls to our daughter – books that show girls and women accomplishing amazing things in every field; emphasizing self-determination; promoting equality (and showing the wrongness of inequality); body/image positivity; being heroes in real-life and fantasy; and using intelligence to realize their dreams and change the world. We also read many books that discuss how women were treated in history so that we can discuss how that treatment was unkind and unfair and not the way things should have been, or should be now.

Mary Wears What She Wants, written and illustrated by Keith Negley, read with permission of Harper Collins Children’s Books, is the story of young Mary Edwards Walker, an early women’s rights advocate who *gasp* wanted to wear pants instead of dresses. My daughter loved this book so much we bought her own copy after borrowing it several times from the Library. It sparked so many questions about why Mary wasn’t supposed to wear pants and about the way the world has changed (and hasn’t changed) since Mary Walker’s time. I’m proud to say that my daughter is a little feminist and she’s just as happy to be wearing the frilliest dress as she is to be wearing muddy pants; just as happy to be playing fairy princess tea party as being blaster-wielding Princess Leia saving the galaxy; or just as happy to be a paleontologist digging for dinosaur bones as she is deciding what fancy hair style to have for the day. Like Mary Walker’s clothes, none of those activities are girl activities or boy activities, they are just her activities.

In a poignant moment, my wife and I were recently talking about Harry Styles and the online brouhaha about his decision to wear a dress on the cover of Vogue (he’s the first man to be solo on the cover in the magazine’s 127 years of publication, and it’s only the tenth time men have been on the cover at all). My daughter chimed in, echoing the message of this book: “It’s just clothes! There shouldn’t be boy clothing sections and girl sections in the store, it should just be a clothes section! A dress is just clothes like pants are just clothes.”

If your child wants to learn more about Mary Walker, check out Mary Walker Wears the Pants: the true story of the doctor, reformer and Civil War hero by Cheryl Harness, illustrated by Carlo Molinari (OverDrive/Library Catalog).

For a few more books about people wearing what they want, feel the most comfortable in and represent who they are, check out:

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Kids, Kids, and Library News.

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