I have to admit something to you all today. As a first time mom figuring this whole parenting thing out during a pandemic, I allow my son to watch far too much Little Baby Bum. So much that I wouldn’t be surprised if YouTube was the next word he learned. I know, I know, we should be limiting screentime, but during a pandemic, all bets are off.
And while I don’t necessarily think nursery rhymes are the most harmful content a kid can consume, I was so happy to find a book that challenges some of the outdated messages hidden in these songs. What Are Little Girls Made Of by Jeanne Willis does just that!
After listening to nursery rhymes nonstop for an entire year, I am familiar with the stereotypes in them. Whether it’s the five little monkeys, Humpty Dumpty, or Miss Molly’s dolly, the doctor helping them is ALWAYS a man. Girls are often portrayed as scared, helpless objects and the women always seem to be baking, washing, or having their noses pecked off. So I was thrilled to find What Are Little Girls Made Of to offer my son a little perspective.
From Little Bo Peep rescuing her sheep from mud puddles to Little Miss Muffet petting a spider, this book redefines the roles we often see assigned to girls and women in nursery rhymes. In this book, there are no damsels in distress, Georgie Porgie learns a thing or two about consent, and I’m happy to report that there are TWO female doctors.
The re-imagined nursery rhymes are paired with the cutest illustrations by Isabelle Follath, depicting a diverse cast of characters. The colors are absolute perfection and sure to grab the attention of young readers.
While I won’t be turning Little Baby Bum off anytime soon, What Are Little Girls Made Of gives me a great way to share updated versions of these nursery rhymes and actively challenge the stereotypes presented in the originals. I would highly recommend it for any parent looking to talk about the trouble with stereotypes, regardless of their child’s gender. We all benefit when gender stereotypes are challenged and dismissed for the weird social expectations they are.
What Are Little Girls Made Of is available now, wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. Your support is always appreciated!)
Jeanne Willis is an author based in London who has written over three hundred books. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at jeannewillis.com.
Isabelle Follath is an incredibly talented freelance illustrator who lives in Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at www.isabellefollath.ch.
I would like to thank Candlewick Press for generously providing me with a review copy of this lovely book. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for and I can’t wait to share it with my son.