Saara Wimalendran is a mother of two girls and the author of “Like a Girl.” She wrote this story to eliminate the inferior label placed on girls’ actions. Many females have often heard the discourteous statement, “you throw a ball like a girl!” This children’s book challenges restrictive gender norms and empowers young girls to acknowledge and embrace their potencies. It is poetically written by the author and wonderfully illustrated by M.Isnaeni. This uplifting and comprehensive picture book is highly recommended for children. It is enriched with messages our little girls need to hear about building their confidence. It is the book all children should read to dismantle stereotypes.
As a young girl, do remember having a book like yours?
Saara Wimalendran: As a young girl, I don’t remember having a book like this to read. Not only does it empower young girls to believe in themselves and their capabilities, but the illustrations portray a diverse group of girls – something that was seldom seen during my childhood visits to the library. This book dismantles gender stereotypes that are often overlooked when it comes to children. It teaches young girls, at a young age, that anything is possible. Furthermore, it teaches young boys, at a young age, the important values of gender equality. The title “Like a Girl” is a twist on the common insult heard too often in school yards – “You run like a girl”. I took a phrase that has been known to make girls feel weak and powerless and turned it into a phrase full of hope and ambition. I strongly encourage getting this book to the little ones in your life. The rhymes, the messages and the illustrations come together seamlessly to instill a feeling of confidence and determination to anyone who reads it.
What inspired you to write this book?
S.W: The inspiration behind this book was my eldest daughter. When she was only a year old, we were playing at the park when another child made fun of the way she ran – you guessed it “Like a Girl”. It baffled me that even at such a young age, that child associated doing something like a girl as somehow doing it inferiorly and that to me was NOT OKAY. This incident brought back so many childhood memories of times when being a girl meant being weak. Teachers asking for “strong boys” to help carry things, family members comparing their son’s skills as being superior to mine, and being called a tom boy anytime I excelled at anything related to sports. All those childhood memories of feeling inadequate simply for being a girl came flooding back and I knew I had to do something about it. I have two daughters and I did not want them growing up feeling the same way I did. I wanted to make sure they felt like champions in whatever they chose to do. This reason alone was enough for me to write this book.
You have done beautiful, virtual readings to students. How was this experience?
S.W: On International Women’s Day – March 8th 2022 – I did some virtual readings to students for the very first time. This was a truly rewarding experience. We engaged in conversation about why we celebrate women and what this day means. The kids had such fun and fresh perspectives and were genuinely interested in learning about gender equality. I had so much fun answering all the questions and was pleased to learn that so many of them wanted to write their own book someday. We need more diverse authors, more inclusive books, and more empowering messages – and based on my interaction with these kids, the future looks bright!
This week’s empowerment children’s books:
Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba
“The true story of a girl who had a difficult birth but went on to become the Queen of two ancient African kingdoms.
Revered for her wisdom, courage, and strength, Njinga became a dominant political figure in Angola in the 1600s.” –Our Ancestories, 2021.
Author: – Ekiuwa Aire – an award-winning author born and raised in Benin City, Edo, Nigeria. She is passionate about sharing positive stories on African history with children.
Child of an Immigrant
“A story about young Matilda and her Ghanaian family living in Canada. While learning to adjust to life, Matilda and her sister, Layla, struggle with finding their own identity outside of their family.”
Author: Sandra Anin – A Canadian/Ghanaian author who advocates for women’s empowerment and body positivity.