September 19, 2016

As a Boy

by Plan International
Second Story Press
24 pp.
Ages 5-9
September 2016

I don’t know why we always seem to set up competitions between boys and girls, or separate them into teams that are boys versus girls.  There may be pockets (sometimes very large ones) around the world that feel the need to treat boys and girls differently and separately, justifying that attitude with archaic ideas from religion or culture.  But As a Boy, which launches today, demonstrates that boys can be just as supportive of girls’ rights as girls have needed to be and the book does so in a superbly photographed fashion with simple but prophetic statements of encouragement and defense.
Beginning with a cheerful spread of a dozen photos of babies whose gender is impossible to discern, As a Boy recognizes that being a boy or a girl is simply a matter of chance.  For the boys, choices will be both presumed and provided as opportunities.  While there are opportunities that boys are very fortunate to have, like education, it’s not all glory as there are expectations to being a man.  However, the boys in these photographs from across the globe, photos of boys with other boys, with girls, as fathers, as brothers and sons, recognize that all children need “to be free to choose what they want to be” (pg. 17) and that “As boys, we can stand up for everyone” (pg. 23). What a powerful message of advocacy for the rights of all to choose.
Perhaps a companion book to Plan International’s earlier Because I am a Girl: I Can Change the World (Second Story Press, 2014) or Every Day is Malala Day (Second Story Press, 2014), As a Boy has its own lesson of advocacy to share.  The message is dominant but it wouldn’t have the impact it does if not for the diversity of photographs taken of babies, boys, girls, and families from around the world.  Every child is here, as they should be, given the opportunity to shine with life and chances and choices.  As a Boy lets the world know that this is the way it should be.

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