Representation in books matters for our children. They need to see people who look just like them doing anything and becoming anyone they want to. That was a key message for Ana Maria Medici, author of Dear Mrs. President, a book aimed at showing young girls, and boys, what can be possible in their lifetime.
Books have always played an important role in Ana’s life. When I sat down with her recently, she told me she has vivid memories of books and each time she got a new one, it was a celebration. Even as a young girl though, she wondered why women were not portrayed as leaders, why they were the “damsels in distress,” and why there weren’t more girls who looked like her on the story’s pages.
In addition to the stories that Ana is aspiring to write (this is her third), as a former educator, she had some great ideas on how we can encourage leadership in our girls.
- Independent tasks – even though it might take longer for your daughter to complete a task, it is important to allow her to do more things on her own; everything from getting dressed to chores around the home.
- Mirror language that is used in the classroom – if your child’s teacher is using a particular character curriculum or positive language in the classroom, ask more about that and take it from the classroom to the living room.
- Create a leadership board – work with your daughter to create a collage of women that they admire (you may even find yourself on the board, momma). Add empowered words throughout the collage as well. Help give her something to aspire to.
- Pick a leader of the day – perhaps one day a week, rotate who the family “leader of the day” is. Everyone in the family should get the chance to be the leader (brothers and dads, too). That person can choose what the family does, has for meals, and more! Keep in mind to include service in this role, too. Maybe a volunteer or community clean up activity are included on these days. You could even allow your child to role play and dress up as a leader, whatever that might look like to them.
Don’t leave out the boys! Fill your at home library with fiction and non-fiction books that show women in leadership positions. They can also participate in the activities above. This is a great way to help create future feminist allies.
Ana (did we mention she is from the Bay Area) is excited to be bringing Dear Mrs. President to the screen, too. She just launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the book to life. Early supporters and pledges toward the project receive limited chances for fun rewards, like eBooks, a digital copy of the film, limited edition posters, and even creating a character’s name in the film. The film will be directed by Luke Snedecor and Wyatt Hall with Ana as the Executive Producer (talk about a leader)! Fun fact: a former student of hers is the voice of the lead character, Naya!