Friday, September 25, 2015

Kickstart This! The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls

I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but have been super busy with other stuff and let it slip. And that's really too bad, because I very much love this project and want to see it succeed.

The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls ABC Board Book, by Charles Dowd is a fantastic book featuring his adorable illustrations showing girls doing all kinds of amazing jobs. It's got kung fu champions and jackhammer operators and astronauts.

You may already know Charles C. Dowd from his other awesomely geeky projects such as Lilith Dark and Kidthulhu. Both are excellent and worth reading. For this new project, he teamed up with his kids to create a book showing little girls doing things that might not be traditionally thought of as "for girls."

I was able to chat with Charles about this project and am happy to share some of his comments with you all, in the hope that it will encourage you to back this project. What may have started out as a kind of ironic project aimed more at older geeks has instead turned into a book with a wide appeal. Of course, with few little kids in my world right now, I don't generally buy many board books, but you can be certain this one will be on my coffee table. But it's also an excellent board book in its own right, and deserves a place on the bookshelves of even the tiniest little book-chewer... er... reader.

SRPS: What was your inspiration for creating The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls?

CD: Well, I was discussing careers with my son who's sixteen now and already taking college credit courses in high school, and my daughter got into the conversation with us, and inevitably asked why boys can have some jobs that girls can't have. That question got my mind racing, and we talked about traditional gender roles at home and at work, and how it's silly to think that girls can't do certain things solely based on gender. So being an illustrator, I decided to make a sort of ironically gendered book for girls about careers. It started out as a side project but quickly turned into a whole thing!

SRPS: I love seeing your daughter in the video! How awesome was it to work with your kids on this project?

CD: It was great! They each helped me brainstorm the careers featured. My son helped out with the coloring process, and my daughter helped by narrating and starring in the campaign video. She's going to be a YouTube star one day very soon!

SRPS: How did you come up with an entry for each letter of the alphabet? Or, more accurately, how'd you pare it down to just one for each letter?

CD: Originally we were throwing out some really wild ideas like 'N is for Ninja' and 'E is for Evil Villain,' but as the project progressed I thought it might be better to stick with actual attainable professions. The other criteria was that it had to be fun to draw, so we stayed away from less visually exciting things. In order for kids to want to read it we tried to make the art fun and memorable.

We also made it a point to feature more than a few careers that are traditionally or stereotypically considered inappropriate for women, like Chef. That one always perplexed me, because traditionally, women stayed at home and did all of the cooking, but professionally men would be considered the best cooks. I mean, that's just crazy to me! In my mind that's a perfect example of what we're trying to call out with this book.

SRPS: You've had several Kickstarter projects in the past. Have you noticed any differences in how this one has gone? What has been the reception you've received so far?

CD: The reception so far has been great! The people that have supported the book have been very enthusiastic. I don't think I've ever had a project shared as widely as this one, so that's a great feeling. For whatever reason we haven't received much if any media support, so as a result we're kind of limping towards the finish, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel quite yet.

I did receive some nasty-grams when we first launched the campaign from some folks who disagree with the radical idea that women can do things, but I figure if I get hate mail it just means I'm onto something good. We chose Quarterback for Q, and some people just couldn't handle that one!

SRPS: Yes. Exactly! In this world, that kind of hate mail often means you're doing something right! I love that it's a board book. What was the inspiration for that decision?

CD: I made it an alphabet board book for toddlers so that kids could learn from the get-go that it's OK for girls to want to do things, even things that aren't traditionally considered "girl-things." I feel like biases are taught to children from a very young age, deliberately or otherwise, so I wanted this book to act as sort of a balance to that.

SRPS: What do you hope readers young and old will get out of The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls?

CD: I want them to learn right off the bat that regardless of gender, if a person has the drive, determination and the talent, they can pretty much pursue any career path they choose. Telling someone "You can't do that because you're a girl" is a crummy thing to say, and isn't based in anything but outdated attitudes about gender.

I couldn't agree more. I hope you'll all check it out and consider backing this project. There's less than a week left to help make this book a reality. Go get it!

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