Customer Review

149 of 192 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not just for boys!!!!, January 24, 2012
This review is from: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Hardcover)
We love this book in our house. Currently, it is the very favorite among my three year old daughter's bedtime books. It features a good amount of predictability in the text built in- which is nice for preschoolers who like to chime in "Shhh...Goodnight, Crane Truck, goodnight." etc etc. My daughter can pretty much recite the whole book, something she takes great delight in. The drawings are also charming, especially details that are not in the text - the crane truck holds a teddy bear, for example. I would gladly give this book 5 stars. Except.

Here's my only problem with this book: it's not just for boys. I feel pretty strongly about this- hence the use of multiple exclamation marks in the title of my review. I mentioned above I have a daughter. She's three. She loves construction vehicles, adores watching them work in real life, and likes to read about them too. No one ever told her that construction is just for boys. Nor do I believe that anyone *should* tell her this! And so my husband and I were both quite disappointed that every single one of the construction vehicles in this book - a crane truck, a dump truck, a cement mixer, an excavator, and a bulldozer - is gendered as male. There seems no logical reason for this, other than it is widely believed that only boys like construction stuff and that the audience for this book is therefore only boys and boys can only relate to boy characters. Seems to me there is a failure at all these steps - some girls (and some boys!) like construction trucks, the audience for this book is not limited therefore to boys, and moreover, boys can relate to girl characters just as easily as anyone else, if they are allowed and encouraged to do so. I believe that including gendered girl characters in amongst the construction vehicles in this book would have done so much- for both girl and boy "readers" - it would teach that boys and girls can be rough and tough and work hard. Surely that's a lesson most of us can get behind? If we, as a society, continue to want more equality for men and women in all arenas, we have to teach both boys and girls that they can be equal (different, yes, but that they deserve equal treatment and to be interested in whatever it is they want to be interested in despite cultural connotations of boy and girl things). I suppose if you don't agree with that, this criticism won't be a problem for you.

As for our family, we continue to read the book. But after reading it the first time and discovering the lack of female characters, I sat down with our daughter and asked her which of the vehicles were boys and which were girls. She decided that the excavator and the bulldozer are girls, the others boys. So now we switch the genders for those vehicles as we read along. But honestly? There are a lot of pronouns in the text and so it takes a fair amount of work. Which, frankly, is annoying and reminds me each time I read it how unfair it is that we have to do so. My daughter won't be taking away the message from this book that construction vehicles and books about them are just for boys. But only a fair amount a work from her parents prevents this message.
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Comments

Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 15, 2012 5:06:46 PM PST
L. Bell says:
I agree. My two-year old daughter likes this book and so do I; however, I was disappointed to notice that all the pieces of equipment were boys. How hard would it have been to alternate?

Posted on May 7, 2012 6:52:52 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 7, 2012 6:53:48 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 8:25:59 PM PDT
Thanks for drawing attention to this. It's a very important issue to consider. At least the crane truck sleeps with a teddy bear, which wouldn't typically be considered a "male" thing to do.

Posted on Jul 27, 2012 10:55:20 PM PDT
S. Peck says:
I totally agree. I am buying this for my grandnephew; when I read it to him I will follow your lead and ask him which vehicles could be girls. He has 3 older sisters; I bet he will choose one for each of them.

Posted on Aug 23, 2012 9:26:21 AM PDT
Thank you so, so much for this great review! As a mother of 2 girls and 2 boys and now grandmother of 4 girls and 4 boys, I whole-heartedly agree with you. How cute would this be with a female character in the story!! I applaud you for putting forth the effort to change the pronouns as you read the book. Every experience with a child is a chance to teach them a life lesson, even reading a book about a construction site!

Posted on Dec 1, 2012 6:45:52 AM PST
P. Downs says:
I don't understand the complaint here. This book was written with male children in mind by an author who has sons. If you want a book about construction equipment for girls, write it. This is a fabulous book that my sons adores. Why don't we just let little boys have something that is all about them and not over think children's books.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 6:28:22 PM PST
Senior Swede says:
Showed this book to my daughter, the ARCHITECT today and she thought it was great. She put it on her wish list just to remember it!

Posted on Dec 6, 2012 8:34:19 PM PST
I completely agree. I love this book, and I change at least two of the trucks each time so whoever is listening---boy or girl---they can hear that rough and tough can be for either gender, as can slowing down and sleeping.

I'm actually pretty surprised the author and the editor didn't see the market and societal benefits to female trucks.

But my kids and their friends all hear my mixed-gender construction site version when we read this lovely book.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 10:52:05 AM PST
C. McGuire says:
My first reaction is, yes, there need to be female characters in these types of books. However, there are many books written just for girls with princess characters and pink pages. I am a female construction worker and guess what, there are very, very few girls in this industry. Additionally, growing up, I never noticed the lack of female characters in my race car and train books or lego sets. Facts are, this book is well written and illustrated and enjoyed by many children.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 5:56:42 PM PST
I completely agree. We just read it and I don't think my girls even noticed that all the trucks were boys. I also have no problem if you wish to read the story a different way but the author chose to write it their way and so be it. Do we have to make everything in the world inclusive or can we just take the world as it is and learn the lessons necessary to understand our differences? I'm not suggesting we be intolerant only that we don't have to make every story gender-balanced. Will that really teach my girls anything? In fact, they often repeat gender stereotypes to me - a boy can't wear pink! - and I challenge their view (and have told them that most of the guys in my office wear pink shirts and look quite attractive in them).
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