YES YOU CAN! Children’s Book to Combat Gender Stereotypes
YES YOU CAN shows kids that ALL toys, colours, clothes & hobbies are for ALL children by shining a light on gender stereotypes in a child-friendly way. The book also encourages children to find their spark, do what they love and be proud to be themselves.
Instead of telling our children, they 'can’t play with that, wear that, or do that’, based on their gender, this book aims to counter those restrictive messages and tell both boys and girls, ‘YES, YOU CAN!’
The world has a whole bunch of different ways to tell our children who they are, what they should or shouldn't do, what they're good or not so good at. They are told all of this stuff, all of the time.
From what they should look like to what they should play with and wear, the volume of these expectations becomes louder as they grow. This book, and the bonus rewards that come with it, aims to bust myths fed to our children and empower them to see through those messages to be whatever they want.
Because nobody should have to change who they are to meet unnecessary expectations.
Yes You Can! is a beautifully illustrated children's storybook for 3-8 year olds featuring three bold, adventurous, capable little girls, The Climbing Trees Girls: Eva, the outdoorsy one; Maxi, the creative/skateboarding one and B, the football-loving sporty one.
They find themselves in a strange new world where people are told what they should play with, what they should wear and what they should do for a living, based on the colour of their hair – an analogy I’ve used in the story to explain the futility of gender stereotypes to a young audience.
Because, if we can't shield our children from these stereotypes, at least we can help kids see them for what they are.
The Climbing Trees Girls prefer playing football, building dens and climbing trees to playing princesses; but they know that all children should be allowed to play with whatever sparks joy in them, be that a doll or a dinosaur, a princess or a car. So they stand up for what they believe is right and help the villagers of this new world to break free from their restrictive laws.
There’s a twist at the end of the story as a visit to their local supermarket makes them realise there is work to be done back home too. The book ends with a letter, written by The Climbing Trees Girls, to the store manager, asking him to consider making some changes.
The three main protagonists are girls, (who save the day) because, for my own daughter, I wanted to create some stereotype-busting female characters who didn’t fit the limited stereotypical definition.
But this book is for your sons too.
Boys who like diggers and dolls and boys who like trains and fairies feature in the book. Because toys are for everyone.
The Climbing Trees Girls stand up for children everywhere. They represent another part of the spectrum of what it means to be a girl. They are gutsy and adventurous, bold and bright. They know what they like and have ambitions of becoming a footballer, scientist and artist when they grow up. They celebrate difference and stand up for what they believe in.
It’s important for both boys and girls to see girls with these characteristics.
"Yes You Can" will feature timeless illustrations by talented illustrator, Claire Keay, which bring the Climbing Trees Girls to life on each lovingly crafted page.
And, for every copy bought, (excluding the multiples in school packs) another will be gifted to a school or youth organisation who needs it.
1. The Book
"Yes You Can" will be a beautiful 50 page paperback picture book, measuring 6x9'' (small enough for little hands to hold). The book aims to show children that all toys, colours, clothes and hobbies are for everyone.
It tells the story of three adventurous girls who find themselves in a mysterious new world, and are puzzled by what they find: unable to play with what they want to play with or wear what they want to wear, all because of the colour of their hair! Will they be able to make a difference? Can they help the villagers to be themselves? And will they find their way back home?
“Yes You Can” is a story about being yourself and finding your spark. It’s a story of kindness, courage and freedom of choice, which gives children a voice. It’s a tale that sheds light on gender-stereotypes in a child-friendly way to show children how futile those definitions are.
2. The E-Book – Raising Children Who Are Proud To Be Themselves
As a positive psychology practitioner, I want to equip children (and adults) with the tools they need to flourish, especially given all the pressures that society and the media puts on them. Not measuring up makes us feel down, so how can we lift our children up and equip them to deal with societal expectations? I'm working on a short guide for parents to help them equip children with the tools they need to be proud to be themselves, and to start early in doing so. It’s broken down into, what I call, the 'Five Pillars of Inner Strength' (TM):
- 1. Self-awareness (I know myself)
- 2. Self-belief (I believe in myself)
- 3. Self-compassion (I love myself)
- 4. Self-respect (I respect myself)
- 5. Self-care. (I look after myself).
3. The Kickstarter Exclusive ‘No Limits’ Colouring Book
Kickstarter backers will also get an exclusive ‘No Limits – Be Yourself’ colouring book to go with their copy of Yes We Can. The ‘No Limits’ colouring book features 8 pages filled with images of children who are challenging gender-stereotypes. Each picture shows girls and boys playing with a range of toys, rather than those that are labelled as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’. From the girl dressed up as Spiderman and the boy dressed up as a Princess for Halloween, to the girls climbing trees and playing football, this is the antithesis to the limited examples of girl and boyhood, which proliferate in colouring books, on greetings cards and across other media. It will not only give children something to colour in, but something they can relate to.
4. Special Handwritten Note of Encouragement From The Climbing Trees Girls To Your Child
Imagine if this book had a special note of encouragement from The Climbing Trees Girls themselves, especially written for your son or daughter, to encourage your child to do what they love and be proud to be all that they are? Well, that’s exactly what this reward is all about.
5. Manifesto Poster and “I Can” Badge Set
Two years ago, my daughter and I launched ClimbingTreesKids with a mission to: “empower children to be all they can be without gender-imposed limitations or restrictions; to equip them with a can-do attitude; to enable them to believe in themselves, to feel good about themselves and to be proud of who they are, what they like and who they hope to become as they grow.”
We wrote a manifesto to go with that and created a poster and badge to go with it, so that children wearing the badge can say: I CAN wear this, I CAN be this, I CAN do this. And so they will. The A4 poster echoes this sentiment.
6. The Mini School Kit
This reward enables you us to reach more children as you can get the kit for your children’s school or for a local school in your community, a library or club.
- 10 copies of Yes You Can!
- 10 Colouring Books
- 1 Kit For Teachers including a lesson plan to help children be proud to be all that they are and understand gender stereotypes and how to bust them.
7. Sponsor a Classroom Kit
Do you know a teacher who would love to give her students a children's book that helps them to be proud to be themselves (along with an eBook to guide those children further with the ABC of Being Yourself)? This reward sends your chosen teacher a pack of 30 books and colouring books, shipping included.
There is also an optional Skype call to the classroom where the author will talk about how the Climbing Trees Girls came about and interact with the classroom to find out what their strengths are, what sparks joy in them and what colours, toys and hobbies they love; to then give a few exercises for them to practice in groups and report back at the end of the lesson.
The pack includes a note from the author (and The Climbing Trees Girls) about why it’s important to be ourselves in a world that sometimes tells us what we should wear/do/play with/look like and why the world puts out these messages. In return for your generosity, you'll get a signed copy of the book yourself. This reward is only available in the UK.
8. Yes You Can! Workshop
A 2 hour “ABC of Being Yourself” workshop run by author of YES YOU CAN, Cheryl Rickman (CBS checked and qualified to teach positive psychology) to include:
- Being Proud To Be You: Self-Awareness, Self-Belief, Self-Compassion
- Little Humans: More Alike Than Different What’s Gender Stereotyping?
- Why it exists? What we can do about it.
This reward includes 30 books and colouring books, which Cheryl will bring with her, plus a personal thank you note from Cheryl and the Climbing Trees Girls. This reward is only available in the UK.
Back when my daughter was just 3 years old, she already knew what she loved – Cars, Dinosaurs and Football.
But, ever since she started making those choices, she’s been told by people, shops, adverts and other media that they are NOT FOR HER.
She’s been asked 'why she plays with ‘boys stuff?’ And, when opting for Spiderman to be painted on her face, was told, ‘you don’t want that, it’s for boys… how about a butterfly?’
So, after we’d stopped face-palming, (I mean, seriously) we decided to do something about it.
Two years ago my daughter and I launched our own t-shirt range to say "Hey! Hold on. Girls like dinosaurs and pirates too!" Then, as an Ambassador for Let Clothes Be Clothes, I met with directly with supermarket and department store buyers to ask them to reduce gender-stereotypes in store. And, although I’d managed to persuade stores like Tesco to make girls’ shorts and cardigans more robust and remove labels from Halloween dress-up costumes, I wanted to do more.
So, this year, I thought, how else can we counter these messages? Speaking directly to the children seemed the next logical step.
There’s more to being a little girl than being a pretty little princess and there’s more to being a little boy than being badass and boisterous.
And, while there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, when they’re presented as the only options, science is showing that gender stereotypes of this sort can be harmful. Being a badass and being gentle are not exclusive to any one gender.
Luckily, my daughter hasn’t been put off playing with/wearing what she loves, and celebrates being unique. But I’ve heard many parents say their child stopped playing with toys/wearing clothes that didn’t conform to the stereotype, because they were told they shouldn’t and didn’t want to be different. And yet, our uniqueness is what makes us, well… us!
Meanwhile, with each order we sent out with our t-shirts, we included a little note from The Climbing Trees Girls and a badge saying I CAN. The note reads, “I CAN WEAR THIS, I CAN BE THIS, I CAN DO THIS”, which got me thinking...
I always wanted to do something more with the Climbing Trees Girls and I knew that a book was the next step - to show children that they didn't have to conform to these limited stereotypes and that they should follow their spark.
I decided the best way to go about it would be by rallying support via Kickstarter. So here I am, with my dream to show children and families that kids can be whatever they want to be, even if shops continue to categorise them in order to sell more.
So I’ve written this book featuring these adventurous characters, which helps young children to see these stereotypes for what they are.
I’ve written the story, have our illustrator standing by and our editor ready to edit. We need your help to bring this story to life by hiring an illustrator and editor, printing the first 250 copies, and getting an ISBN.
Then we can get this book into the hands of little humans who deserve to be told THEY CAN BE, WEAR and PLAY WITH whatever their spark calls them to; to speak up for our children, to give them a voice and a choice; to say YES YOU CAN wear that, play with that, be that!
A BIT ABOUT ME:
I'm an author/ghostwriter of 12 business and well-being books. This is my first children’s book (although I've written lots of stories). I qualified as a Positive Psychology Practitioner in January 2017 and I'm an Ambassador for Let Clothes Be Clothes and The Network of Wellbeing. I'm a bit of a chatterbox and love Fiorentina pizza and a nice cup of tea.
Most of the funds will go towards paying the illustrator and printing/shipping the book. Then there's the editing fee, Kickstarter fees and allowing for any changes.
The book has been written, the illustrator has created the front cover, now all we need is to illustrate, edit and publish the book, to get it into as many hands as possible.
As soon as we (hopefully) reach our target, we will commission our illustrator to illustrate every page of the book, before moving through the editing process, securing our ISBN and proof stage to publishing the book and shipping it to our depot. The book and rewards will then be dispatched.
Are you able to support and share this project? We’d be so grateful if you could please say YES YOU CAN and hit the Back This Project button.
Thank you so much for your time and support. It really is hugely appreciated.
Risks and challenges
This is a low-risk project as, among the 12 books that I have written/ghostwritten, I’ve self-published three using the same self-publishing platform. As such, although this is my first children’s book, I have a wealth of experience in publishing and have been a professional writer for 12 years, so I know about storytelling and publishing.
Many people have provided feedback on the look and feel of the characters, with published children’s book authors also providing feedback to get the story just right. It’s been tested to a focus group of girls and boys and the illustrator is ready to go.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)