Since the rise of the #MeToo movement, a wave of girl power has swept the world. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls raised over $1 million on Kickstarter. Barbie launched an Inspiring Women series with dolls in the likenesses of Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, and Katherine Johnson. And all rightly so: it’s high time girls were allowed to dream bigger than ponies and princesses.
But for one couple, the shockwaves of each new #MeToo allegation against prominent men raised another question: “Is empowering girls enough? Just what are we doing to teach our boys a better way?”
Stephanie and David Miles are mom and stepdad to an 8-year-old son. Like most parents, they worry about him making the right friends and having the courage to resist the crowd. But they also worry the world their son has to grow up in.
“There’s a constant stream of toxic messages about what men are supposed to be,” says David. “Be strong, be powerful, get the girl, be angry instead of vulnerable. You see it in superheroes, movies, commercials—it’s everywhere.”
Stephanie adds, “We want our son to feel free to be whoever he wants and to like whatever he likes. He shouldn’t feel shame because he picked the girl toy at McDonalds over the boy toy. And he should have courage to treat girls and women with respect even when everyone and everything around him says to do the opposite.”
David decided that boys needed better heroes—real heroes that defied the stereotypes and showed boys a better way. He and his wife launched a new children’s book company, Bushel & Peck Books, and the first book on their list was 50 Real Heroes for Boys: True Stories of Courage, Integrity, Kindness, Empathy, Compassion, and More!
The author of the book is Christy Monson, a licensed marriage and family therapist. The book features stories of 50 inspiring people—both men and women—to teach boys what real heroes really are.
“We love the idea of including women heroes for boys,” says Stephanie. “It tells boys that they can have women heroes too, and it builds a healthy respect for girls and what they can achieve.”
Each story comes with a beautiful illustration from one of many international artists the couple is working with. The stories are also paired with what David calls “Special Powers”—a nod to superpowers from classic comics and films: “The ‘Special Powers’ are the core of the book. They include things like empathy, perseverance, kindness, and forgiveness. They tell our boys that strength and power isn’t everything—there are other, better ways to be a hero.”
Some of the people included in the book are the sort you’d expect: Jackie Robinson, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But the couple also worked hard to include other people you won’t see in other books.
“There are so many good stories,” says Stephanie. “We’re including Dav Pilkey, the author of the Captain Underpants books. Despite childhood dyslexia and ADHD, he persevered and became a world-renowned author and illustrator. I love that lesson for kids. And there’s Todd Beamer, whose actions help prevent Flight 93 from reaching Washington on 9/11. He deserves to be called a hero.”
“One of my favorites is Jim Henson,” says David. “You ask a typical boy what they want to be when he grows up, and you’ll usually hear ‘fireman’ or ‘basketball player.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but how great to teach our boys that they can look beyond that and become a puppeteer—or an artist, fashion designer, or dancer. Let’s let boys and girls be whatever they want and forget what’s ‘appropriate’ for their gender.”
The book is beautifully packaged with gold foil details, embossing, heavy art paper, a smooth matte finish, and other fine details. David and Stephanie have already received requests from foreign publishers to license the book in other languages.
People can pre-order the book through the couple’s Kickstarter campaign, where their company has been featured as a #1 Kickstarter Publishing Project, a #1 “Great Books for Kids,” and a Kickstarter “Projects We Love.” Rewards include book discounts, Christmas specials, illustrations of your child in one of the company’s books, personal author phone calls, and more. The campaign runs through December 20, 2018.
Here is one of the stories from the book:
Jackie Robinson (1919 – 1972)
Special Power: Courage
Jackie Robinson grew up in a poor family in Georgia, the youngest of five kids—who all loved to play sports. His family moved to California where he went to college. At UCLA, he joined the baseball, basketball, football, and track teams. He was the first athlete there to letter in four sports. After college, he played football in Hawaii and Los Angeles and then was drafted into the military during World War II. After the war, he played baseball for the Negro league before the major leagues thought about taking him.
He had a chance to show his courage when Branch Rickey, President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, asked Jackie to play for his team. At that time, there were no African-American players in major league baseball. Jackie would have to endure the taunting and mocking the white fans pitched at him. Was he brave enough to help break down the walls of segregation? Jackie told Branch Rickey, “Yes.” April 15, 1947, Jackie took his place on Ebbets Field as first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He scored the winning run that day.
When crowds of baseball fans jeered at him because his skin was a different color than theirs, Jackie stood tall and let the hurtful words hurl by him like foul balls. At a Cincinnati game Jackie and Pee Wee Reese, a white team mate, stood side-by-side resolutely facing the heckling fans. They sent their courage out into the stadium. The fans quieted down. Many people at the game remember that day because they saw an example of friendship and caring.
At the end of that first season, Jackie was voted National League Rookie of the Year. He and his team won the World Series in 1955 where he even stole home base—something no one ever did. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Because of his courage, Jackie opened the door for African-Americans to play in all major-league sports. Jackie led the way as sports fans of every race and color began to see themselves living in peace with each other.
“Life is not a spectator sport. . .. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.”
This content made possible by site supporter Bushel & Peck Books.
Photos provided by Bushel & Peck Books.