As a father, my goal is to raise children that are fearless and brave, understanding that nothing is beyond their reach. For my daughter Lailah, my goal is to create an environment where her dreams and goals are attainable and valid- an environment where she knows the only barrier to her success and happiness are the limits she places on herself. Recognizing her hard work and persistence removes those barriers. I'm aware of the inequities she faces as a young girl, and this pushes me harder to join in the work to remove them for all women since Lailah will follow in their footsteps. We simply all fair better when women are in their rightful place, leading.
Last week, like I've done every year on March 2, I made my rounds to elementary schools sharing the joys of reading with students. Typically, I pick one of Dr. Seuss' books or a book that I can get through with reasonable ease and in a short amount of time.
This year I read, She Persisted: 13 Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, a book befitting of Women's Month. The students in that class hung onto every word in the book. They asked questions and identified with the stories and themes in the book. Their response drove home the point that although for some people it might be cliche; representation matters, especially when we talk about representation for women and girls. It was as crucial for the young girls in the room to see themselves in the characters in the book as it was for the boys to see girls in those roles.
I recommend this book for all parents of both girls and boys. Kids should know what women have done when given the opportunity as well as what they have done when they created the opportunity for themselves. Boys and girls have to understand that women can excel at anything they persist in doing. Fostering a love of reading in youth is essential. Reading is all the more impactful when the themes, stories, and characters reflect who you are.