This post is part of a MotherTalk Blog Tour. For 99 other opinions on The Daring Book for Girls (!), as well as links to the authors' appearance on The Today Show and the book's Web pages, click here. You'll also find the book's zippy video trailer.
As a girl during the '70s, I did many of the activities listed in The Daring Book for Girls, the latest book by MotherTalk founders Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.
I told ghost stories and played "light as a board, stiff as a feather" with the neighborhood kids. (And yes, we levitated. No, really.) We played Marco Polo in Lesley's pool and made cootie catchers decorated with boys' names. The bones in my legs must have doubled in thickness thanks to the countless hours I spent jumping rope, both the American and the Chinese versions. (The sequence in, out, in, on, side, side, double, double is forever etched in my brain.)
We bowled candlepins at Sunnyside (and it didn't cost $20+ for two strings). I developed a penchant for scary movies. I roller skated and played intramural basketball and turned roughly 1,543 cartwheels by the time I turned 12.
I like to think I was daring.
Most of the things I did as a kid -- to kill an afternoon, to save myself from another hour of Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry or The Brady Bunch -- I did without much guidance. Sure, there was that Yoga for Kids book from the library, which taught me the child's pose and the downward dog and which I never returned. But there were no skating lessons, no basketball clinics. Not for me, anyway. I just strapped on the skates, grabbed the ball and plunged in.
I was, in today's terms, a hack. A happy hack, but a hack nonetheless.
How much more formidable would I have been if I'd had a copy of The Daring Book for Girls? Would I have finally mastered the back walk-over? Would I have fended off the neighborhood bully with my Karate moves? Would I have impressed my teachers with my knowledge of the Bill of Rights and of important women in history? Would I have saved myself untold hours of math anxiety with a few easy tricks?
Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing's for sure, my daughter will have this compendium of information to help her make that boring hopscotch grid about 10 times more interesting. She'll have handy access to all those handclap games I could never memorize. She'll have a killer booklist for when she starts reading, saving her from the random fate of the Scholastic book club selection. She'll know the basics of public speaking without the baptism-by-fire ritual most elementary school teachers seem to favor. And when her school has its first election for class officers, she'll know what the heck it's all about and what office, if any, she might be interested in.
She'll know all this because I'll read her this book. I'll remind her of it when she's bored or when some of her first challenges come up, for instance, when she negotiates her first babysitting salary.
Before any of that happens, though, I'll finish reading it myself. As crazy as it sounds, I still haven't given up on mastering the back walk-over.