intuitively I think they can follow the story line and learn the words as
they go. For me it is important that reading is also a discussion piece.
So I am underwhelmed when my kids can read a book and more wowed when they can talk about it and tell me what it means to them. I wanted this to be a book kids could grow with and build upon, which is why I included the quotes and poems.
Illustration for The Girl God by www.thegirlgod.com
MAB: I love hearing that! I never used "baby talk" with my daughter nor did I dumb anything down " and she did exceptionally well in school (both public and homeschooling) and now she is a doctor! I feel that there is some cause and effect there.
I remember when my daughter was about 2 years old, she was speaking so much more fluently than a neighbor child who was 5. The neighbor girl was the baby in a family with older children, and every time she was spoken to, the parents or siblings changed their demeanor completely and used that "goo-goo ga-ga" type of "baby talk." So that's what she learned to speak, like many other kids in that area. (This was in the Deep South, and that sort of thing seems to be the trend there.)
People were always remarking on how smart my daughter was - and she was, but to be fair, they were comparing her to kids who were deliberately "dumbed down" by being trained to speak an unclear and fake language.
Of course, the term "girl god" isn't baby talk or "dumbing down," I think it is a very creative way to make a concept understandable!
I also appreciate that you have created appeal for the grownup who is reading the book to their child, too, with the quotations and the colorful illustrations! That is so important. It has been a long time since my daughter was a toddler, but I remember dreading having to read a particular boring story for the 100th time!
Illustration from by Illustration by Elisabeth Lettnes, used with permission
TH: Yes, I so agree with what you are saying. I see this all the time with my kids and those around us. We don't seem to be preparing children for the real world anymore (if we ever did). We baby them in ways that are
actually harmful for their growth. And don't get me started on the
princess culture ...
I think the book has validated both of us in a world where women and girls
are not supposed to be strong.
I started studying feminism 20 years ago, but then got lost in the world
of "making a living." When Helani turned 5, it was sort of a sharp slap in
the face to me - like "Why did you stop fighting!!?? - now your daughter
is going to have to wage the same battle you did."
So, I'm not sure that there is an immediate effect, although I will say
that my daughter is one of the strongest, smartest and most creative girls
I know. Sometimes that is not always easy in a society that does not value
those attributes in girls. But I am very proud of her. And I feel that in
allowing her to be her full self now, she won't have to struggle so much
to know who she is later in life.
So many women really don't know "til they are 40, 50, or 60. We are
stifled - and then we are just busy. When I see my daughter, I smile
because I see the girl I could have been if my full nature had been
embraced and fostered.
are actively working towards translations wherever possible. I think the
world is rapidly changing - particularly in the last few years. When I
started this project, I doubted how well received it would be. Our biggest
problem now is just getting the word out. It's basically my husband, my
mom and whoever I can get to help out! Of course, Joey and Helani help too!
I think that the effect of a girl god can be profound. When we begin to go
back to honoring the divine feminine within each of us, the thought of
raping or beating a woman would be just as obscene as burning down a
Butler's granddaughters reading "The Girl God" by Trista Hendren. Photo by Meryl Ann Butler